Magical Effects for more than one hand

Before we conclude our palm rolling series with Part 3, here's a question for you: "Does anyone know someone who's an expert in acrylic glass?" - for a long time now we've been looking for someone who knows how to make coloured acrylic glass...

TWO-HAND-PATTERNS

With two hands, the range of possible patterns is obviously much wider than if you only use one. There are similarities to ordinary juggling here if you look for them. As we don't intend to use it in our show (Wolfram always pokes his shoulders forwards when he's doing two-handed stuff, and that looks really naff), there are probably far more possibilities than we are able to describe. Perhaps someone will write Palm Rolling Part 4 - we hope so. But for now, let the patterns roll...

Start rolling two balls in one of your hands - let's assume it's your right (Fig. 1) - without letting them touch. Hold another ball on the fingers of your left hand. Bring your hands together and as one ball rolls along the inside edge of the right hand, make it pass into the left hand, without interrupting the flow if possible. Immediately start turning two balls in your left hand, again without letting them touch each other (Fig. 2). When you've mastered this transfer in both directions, you're ready to switch hands on every rotation. Keep the balls rolling in a figure-of-eight (Figs. 1-4). To make this pattern look easy and smooth, try to keep your hands in the same position relative to each other all the time. Of course, you can make the balls turn in the other direction. In that case, it is the thumb, rather than the ring and small finger, that gives the push. We call this pattern - you've guessed it - the Reverse Cascade.

This is like the normal cascade, except with 5 balls. In other words, instead of turning two balls separately, you turn three, again rolling one ball into the other hand in alternating directions (Figs. 5,6). This pattern also works backwards and forwards. By adjusting the speeds of each hand, you can roll this pattern almost "clicklessly". If you have trouble learning this, try lowering your fingers a little and turning the balls backwards in both hands first. The rhythm comes virtually automatically, and it's easier than the forward direction because here it is possible to hold two balls next to each other on your fingers. The pattern as a whole looks like a snake twisting its way around your palms. (Of course, the pattern could be extended to more than two hands. Each additional hand holds two balls. This is much more difficult, though, because you have to synchronize your timing with somebody else, and the transfer no longer takes place only over the inside edge of the hands.)

3 BALLS

Put your palms together with the inside edges of your hands touching and three balls lying in the middle. You can now turn these three using your fingers only, without any help from your thumbs (Fig. 7). Since just three balls huddled together in a big double palm look a bit lost, you could now make the pattern bigger by rolling the balls separate from one another. Place the 3 balls on your fingers so that they are not touching and set the right one rolling with a push from your right thumb (Fig. 8). While this one is rolling into your left hand, move the other two one position to the right (Fig. 9). To begin with you can stop after each shift of position to get the feel of what's happening. If this comes easily to you, try the move without interruptions. The balls should stay roughly the same distance apart all the time.

4 BALLS

When you've got the hang of three, try turning 4 balls without letting them touch. It's almost the same as with 3, except for the starting position (Fig. 10). Again, give the ball on the outside right enough kick to get it into the left hand. You should try to build up speed so that the balls are really circling. The centrifugal force pushes them against the outside ridges of the palms. If you find this pattern really hard, you can let the 4 balls touch each other while rotating. They then alternate between the positions shown in Fig. 11 and Fig. 12. You push with the right or the left thumb, depending on which direction you want to turn the balls.

5,6 AND 7 BALLS

Basically the same as 4 balls touching each other, except that you now have one, two or three more to handle. Again the balls alternate between the positions shown in Fig. 13 and Fig. 14. Make sure that the balls are really always in a neat row. With 6 balls, you can start by turning three backwards in your left hand and three forwards in your right, then bringing your hands together, passing one ball over top and bottom, and then separating the hands again.

HORIZONTAL CIRCLES

Two-hand horizontal circles are possible with 3-7 balls. With a little trick, even the 11-ball circle becomes possible. But let's start with 3.

7 BALLS (THE FLOWER)

This pattern is one of our favourites. You put 4 balls in your right hand, 3 in your left. Now bring your hands together: you get the pattern shown in Fig. 15. The left hand now holds 5 balls. Now push your right hand, balls included, a bit further forward - as you do this, the back ball should drop into your right hand, while the front one should roll into the left hand (Fig. 16 and 17). Now pull the right hand back again, without moving the balls, to arrive back in the Fig. 15 position.

11 BALLS (THE PYRAMID)

This is the same pattern as the Flower, except that now you place a small 4-ball pyramid on top (see Kaskade 32, p.f33). I had trouble getting this pattern to rotate - either the bottom layer of balls kept slipping out of my hands, or the 4-ball pyramid would collapse on me. However, we found that it helps a lot if you stick the top four balls together with acrylic glass adhesive (invisible!). There are plenty more "magic" effects you could achieve with this set of four balls glued together. Think about it...

MISCELLANEOUS

FRONT-TURN

You can do the front turn with two hands. Take four balls and put them in your palm as shown in Fig. 18. Now you can turn them either to the right or to the left (Fig. 19). The important thing is to keep the two little fingers at exactly the same level.

THE TWIST

It's best to try this pattern with balls that have a gripping surface first, as it's a lot easier than with smooth-surfaced balls. Put two balls in each hand (Fig. 20). Use the fleshy part of your palms to push the back two together, which sets them rolling upwards (Fig. 21). Now, using your little fingers, pull the front balls via the bottom to the back and, using your thumbs, push the back balls via the top to the front (Fig. 22).

THE CLAPPER

One variation on 3-balls in one hand is to move the rear ball backwards and forwards while the front two rotate around each other. This pushes the rear one back (Fig. 24). (By alternating between ordinary rotation and the Clapper, you can beat out a rhythm.)

EPILOGUE

This article makes no claims to having covered everything. On the contrary, we're sure that there is a whole range of palm-rolling possibilities still waiting to be discovered. The names of the patterns are just ideas that sprang to mind while we were practising. There are no "official" terms.

We'd like to take this opportunity of thanking our photographer, Barbara Bechtoff, who took the photos on which the illustrations were based. If some of the balls look like eggs, it must have been because of Easter.We hope you enjoy trying out these patterns - good luck!

Eva and Wolfgang, Duo Wirbelwind,
Dortmund, Germany