Most magicians when doing close-up work use a black mat.
What is the back magic mat? The purpose of the mat is to provide a clean plain background to the tricks. The mat also has a slightly spongy soft texture that makes it easier to pick up objects smoothly. They are perfect for card spreads and greatly improves the look of the table.
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Using Black Magic Mat For Magic Tricks
Magic mats come in a variety of sizes and colors.
The color is really a matter of personal preference, I have just found that, in my opinion, the black ones look more professional.
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I like the contrast against the white playing cards.
Maybe it is just me, but I find the colored ones distracting.
As for size, I use a mat that is 18″ x 14″ and that size, in my opinion, is big enough to work on comfortable, but not so big it becomes difficult to use.
There are some tiny ones out there, but they are somewhat limiting in what you can do, and cannot do, on them.
I feel they are a bit of a waste of money.
Talking about money, you may be wondering how much a magic mat is going to cost.
There is quite a range of different price points if you visit a magic shop.
Prices tend to vary from as little s $10 to as much as $45.
The price of the mat will relate to both the size of the mat and more importantly the quality.
What you do not want is to have a mat that is worse for wear, it totally spoils the image of your act.
Most mats have a thick rubber backing that both gives the mat the soft spongy feel, but also assists in gripping the table-top.
You do not want the mat sliding around at the wrong moment.
Keeping the mats pristine is very important if you want to maintain your professional image.
Fortunately, they can be wiped down easily with a damp cloth.
Of course, allow plenty of time for it to dry before your next performance.
Why Magicians Use Magic Mats?
You may be wondering why so many magicians use magic mats and why they just don’t keep it simple and just use the table.
Some magicians like to travel light and do not want to have to bring along a magic mat.
I can respect that and understand why they might feel like that.
The belief is that keeping it simple and nice and casual makes the magic flow better, with no setting up, just finding a table and off you go.
It is a valid point of view, but I think with that approach you are losing far more than you gain.
By covering the table with a magic mat you are making a statement, establishing the area on which they should focus.
You are also providing a backdrop that offers contrast and most importantly the surface is smooth, the cards slide easily and because of the rubber backing, the cards pick up easily.
Psychologically by having a mat that defines YOUR working area, the mat will reduce the number of incidents where people try to grab the props.
The Disadvantage of Magic Mats
A common problem it seems is that when you first unpack these rubber-backed mats they carry a heavy rubber smell that is quite overpowering.
It is the kind of problem that could be quite distracting for both the magician and the audience.
Do not worry though, the problem is not insurmountable, just ensure that plenty of time is allowed for the mat to air before you use it the first time.
Given a little time, the mat will lose the pungent rubber smell of its own accord.
I suppose a good indication about whether using a map is wise, or not, is to ask what the best close-up magic performers do.
Shim Lim, probably recognized as the best close up magic practitioner in the world uses a mat, very similar to the ones I have described.
Give it a try and see why these top magicians tend to use magic mats when performing close-up magic tricks.
Where To Learn Magic Tricks
There are many websites and YouTube channels where you can learn magic tricks.
YouTube is obviously a free source and most of the websites that I listed in my overviews below are free as well, or they offer teaching programs for a pretty low and reasonable price.
If you find it hard to find good sources, I prepared the following lists of best websites and YouTube channels where you can learn magic tricks step by step:
There is no doubt that magic mats are useful props that will help you when practicing and performing all sorts of close up magic tricks.
I personally find it very useful especially when it comes to card tricks.
Close-up mats are not expensive so if you’re still not sure which one to choose and if it will really make your performance better, just go for a cheap option – you can find mats that cost around $10 and that’s a no-brainer decision.