Week 1 - Getting Caught

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Hello and welcome. My name is Timothy, and I'm new here. I'm not new to coin magic, blogging, or the pain that is "existence," just new to the Copeland Coin blog posts.

It's a privilege to be among the likes of Jeff Copeland (the main man himself), Rooster (sir box-a-lot) or other coin guys like Curtis Cam (who is quite frankly just showing off now). I have yet to create a well-loved coin magic company, revolutionise coin box magic or have palms of steel - they're more like soggy pasta! However, I am a working magician and I am performing coin magic in every set. 

Much like the others here, my coin magic has been battle hardened by drunk spectators and dealing with things going wrong in real life. I have a lot to say about my real life experiences and how I got to where I am, today. My posts will be a little bit real and very silly...Strap in!

Today, I want to talk about using gimmicks in coin magic. When I first started, I leaned on them like a crux. They were the stabilisers that let me walk before I could classic palm. At some point, however, I resented that I needed them, and, like a moody teenager, I flew the nest and performed only gimmickless routines.

A weird thing happened, even though there were more sleights to hide, I felt freer. I wasn't worried about denting my shell, exposing a copper/silver or snapping the band of my flipper. These worries would usually keep me up at night because I knew without them I'd be about as magical as a tax return. I could finally sleep easy!

It also helped me relax about having 'different' coins. I live in the UK so I thought, it's even weirder because I have old American coins. However, I knew the coins weren't special and that came across in performance. I let people check the coins and was honest as to why I had them: I told them they were nicer than English coins. Everyone agreed and moved on with their lives.

In short, I learnt to stand on my own two sleights and felt like a better magician.

I've come back to gimmicks because I realise, when used well, they can create some of the strongest magic anyone has ever seen! However, my little adventure into the world of sleights constantly comes in handy.

One time in particular comes to mind. I was performing Imagination Coins by the amazing Garrett Thomas. I didn't control my audience well enough, the spectator picked up the shell, looked at the back and said, 'Ha! I knew it!'

Busted! Left out in the cold with my pants down and it was all my fault. When performed well, the routine is amazing and fooling. However, I had an off day. I let my audience, myself, and, most importantly, Garrett down.

Normally, that would have ruined me. I would have run away with my wand between my legs and cried into a copy of Bobo's. But I didn't let it phase me. I put my hands up and said, 'You got me!' I put the shell away, asked her to inspect the coins again and performed a gimmickless coins across. It fooled her! Somehow, I managed to give her that magical moment even though she had caught me out. In fact, she seemed even more impressed that I could do that without any sneaky props. For me, this solidified how useful it is to learn gimmickless routines. 

I still think magic is stronger with gimmicks and worry that people avoid them out of some kind of purity. However, I'm constantly glad I know strong routines without them, I feel freer and more prepared for life in the wild. What are your thoughts on gimmicks? What's your favourites gimmickless routines? Have you got any horror stories?

Have you seen our two Carnival of Coins releases buy Mott-Sun and Alex Soza? Mott-Sun has two amazing and practical routines, justing just ordinary coins. Alex has two killer downloads that allow you to make coins disappear and show both hands empty, using just skill and devastating routining. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Until next time. Stay magical.

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  • Tim Woodbridge

    Hi Matthew, thanks for the comment! It’s nice to talk to you properly. I love your videos. The copper/silver is just so versatile and fooling.

  • Joel

    Luis Piedrahita, in his epic book Coins and Other Fables, gives the sage advice that “I recommend that you bring out the shell only when everything in Bobo has already danced through your fingers. It is essential to come yo the trick coin with strong expertise.” Kainoa Harbottle in his booklet Shellshocked also discusses what led him to decide to make use of the shell in his work. We must be careful with this double edged sword.

  • Daniel E.

    Welcome, Timothy! Thanks for engaging with us on this blog! I have noticed that if something goes wrong when I am relying on a gimmick, it can be hard to recover. But when I am using sleights, I may have other ways to turn it around and still pull off an end to the trick. As a less experienced magician, I also find it boosts my confidence when I have built up the trick through sleights, and I think my audience tends to pick up on that. To really get the most out of gimmicks, I think I will need to build up to another level of experience and skill. Cheers!

  • Matthew M.

    I started out with a purity mindset of no gimmicks, but slowly incorporated them, inspired by several of the people mentioned in this blog post, with the copper/silver being my favorite.
    I am a fan of Tim’s, so am very happy he has joined the team!

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