Plate Spinning

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Plate Spinning

Postby Chris » 12 May 2017, 17:37

Many of the old Punch Shows featured novelty scenas, speciality sequences not related to the Punch story, just there to add variety. One of these, still popular, was of course the Boxing Match. Another was the Chinese Jugglers or Plate Spinners. The puppets actually spun the plates on long thin sticks and tossed the spinning plates from one puppet to another. Sometimes the characters' heads were conical and one would catch the spinning plate on his head. The late Jack Codman, grandfather to Llandudno's current Punch Prof Jason Codman, was expert with the Chinese plate spinning routine, as is Professor JIngles (Bryan Clarke).

I mention all this because I spotted in Matalan a childs game set called "CIRCUS GAME" at £4. It consists of a set of 8 plastic spinning plates and sticks, enough for two teams of children. But the interesting point is that these spinning plates are smaller than those normally available - about saucer sized- and would, I imagine, be ideal for a puppet to use. Th e spinning plates are normally really only possible in a hands above head booth but it might be possible to use these smaller sized plates hand in front of face. If you have a Matalan near you it might be worth investing £4 and experimenting.
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Re: Plate Spinning

Postby Richard Coombs » 23 May 2017, 19:17

I was very busy puppet making before the Mayfayre , and then hosting Damien Wies the French Guinol performer at my place for a week.

So it was only yesterday that I managed to make use of Chris' advice and get myself along to Mattalan.

There were plenty of boxes of the Circus Game on the shelves at my local store.

I grabbed four boxes , thinking that like most seasonal toys , when this run of spinning plates has sold out , they will probably never be seen again.

Luckily I then thought to open a box and try them out.

You know the saying about 'if something seems to good to be true: then it probably is'....

Sad to report with these that is the case.

They really don't spin well and keep falling off the sticks.
I can spin regular sized plates really easily on my own or using puppets ... but these are super difficult.

Plate spinning with the pukka plates is actually so laughably easy, that it really is childs play.

This specially designed child sized version is actually proper hard work.
Like reinventing The Wheel to be Square !

So I put the boxes back on the shelf , left the shop and validated my car park ticket to exit the car park.

Then I parked the car and went back into Mattalan and bought two boxes anyhow.
Because I had thought of a way to utilise two small plates of the same colour as part of a future routine , where I don't actually need to spin them ...just have them as 'props'

It is nice to have the smaller size for what I have in mind - and as I said at the start, i suspect once these have sold out:they are never to be seen again.

So my verdict is :
If you want some good looking ( and very cheap) spinning plates that are a unique small size for use AS PROPS
then yes go grab yourself some before they disappear
If you actually want to spin them , or worse have a puppet spin them , then forget it!
They are hopeless.

But a big Thank You to Chris for bringing them to my (our) attention.
They will indeed be useful in the future , just not in the way the manufacturers intended.

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Re: Plate Spinning

Postby Chris » 25 Jun 2017, 13:23

Alec Powell, Midlands Punch man, comedy magician and magic dealer can also spin plates expertly. He confirms Richard's experience - these small size plates are useless for spinning. Sad, if they did work they'd be very useful. I guess there will be a lot of disappointed children too. The worst thing is that the kids won't know that they are failing because the plates are useless, they will just assume that they haven't the skill. It's only people like Richard and Alec who can spin plates who will realise that this is not a case of the bad workman blaming his tools.
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