It’s the most common ‘prop’ magic shops sell, if you don’t count Bicycle playing cards. Almost every magician owns one. For many it’s their first introduction into performing magic. Whether they received it in a public magic set, witnessed a sales pitch in a toy shop, or were recommended one by a fellow magician. The Magicians Thumb tip has become an iconic symbol of close up magic.
Why are magicians doing so little with it?
For the last couple years, we have been asking customers in the shop what they plan to do with their thumb tip as they purchase one. The answer 9 times out of 10 is ‘Make a silk vanish’
That’s fine… But it’s really a waste of probably the most useful prop, any magician can carry with them. Used with imagination, the humble Magicians Thumb tip is an entire magic act all in one.
Whenever the team is commissioned to give personal tuition, we always start with the thumb tip. In fact, we recommend that one should go in your close up case and a second one in your car’s glove box, even if you never plan to use it. ‘Why?’ we hear you scream at your screen:
Simply by carrying a magicians thumb tip, you have a complete magic act ready to go, whenever and wherever you are.
- When you travel to a gig and find out you didn’t pack correctly and you have no playing cards.
- If your bag goes missing at the airport.
- When you are not planning a show, but suddenly need to impress a future client or lead.
Your magicians thumb tip is going to be there as a trusted back up. It’s very small, doesn’t run out, and best of all it allows you to perform magic with the appearance that you don’t use ANY magicians props at all.
‘But my playing cards are my back up!’
Yes, that’s true. BUT if you do happen to have a deck set aside as a backup, you are limited to card tricks all night. Some magicians love that, but many performers want a variety of different close up magic tricks in their sets, and audiences expect that too. Unless you are booked specifically as a ‘card magician’ you really should have a broad range of magic tricks in your working set. A thumb tip will give you that, and you never even have to go near a little silk if you don’t want to.
‘But it looks just like a big plastic thumb’
Don’t be fooled by that. It actually doesn’t matter what the thumb tip looks like. You can spend a fortune of hyper realistic thumb tips, but they will not be any better than the Classic Vernet Thumb tip which is the most popular tip used by magicians all over the world.The super realistic tips are sometimes nicknamed ‘paranoia tips’. We think that’s a bit harsh as they have their place. The team at the Merchant of Magic tend to only recommend realistic silicone ‘tips’, when a magician reports that they don’t want to use a tip because they feel it would be too noticeable. Before we sell it, we always try to point out the following..
The spectators see what they THINK is there, rather than what’s ACTUALLY there.
Thumb tips work so well because the human mind is lazy. It simply can’t be bothered to process ALL the information that flows in from the eyes. It’s just way to much data to process constantly. Instead, it uses past knowledge of the world to ‘shortcut’ much of the processing needed to understand what the eyes are capturing. Your mind knows what hands look like. It’s seen more than a few in it’s time, and it’s own body probably has up to two of them itself. The brain scans over a hand and registers that it looks fairly normal. It fills in the gaps in its perception and moves on.
The danger is when a trigger is given out that the spectator should pay more attention. For example, a magician looking a little paranoid about his hands. Now the data gets processed much more slowly and ‘double checked’. That tends to be why people who are worried about using a thumb tip have bad experiences with them. They ‘telegraph’ the fact that their hand is ‘odd’ and a vicious circle starts. That’s when a hyper realistic tip does have value, as it can break that circle and make the magician relax.
Learn as many tricks as you can with your Thumb Tip
Magic shops are stuffed full of books and DVDs providing ideas for your magic thumb. We recommend that you learn as many as you can. You never have to use a small silk ever again if you don’t want to.
You probably already know a load of different tricks you can do with your magicians thumb tip. If you don’t, we recommend the following resources. View each new magic trick you learn for the thumb tip as another level of insurance, cover and time very well spent. The thumb tip we most often recommend:
DVD’s to expand your use of a thumb tip:
Recommended booklet of ideas for the thumb tip:
What to do next:
Take a moment to design a small ‘act’ of 8 tricks you could perform with just a thumb tip and some everyday object you would find at almost any gig you do. Grab a small piece of paper and write them down. Put them into groups of three or four tricks that would flow nicely together. Now roll up that paper and put it inside your thumb tip. It’s your insurance policy document. It’s there for you, should you ever need to make a claim.