Almost all close-uppers seem to use a close-up mat (or pad) in some form. These days, we have excellent close-up pads at our disposal. Durable material, well made, and in all colours and sizes. But it wasn’t always that way.
When I started, a close-up pad with a foam surface and rubber backing was a rarity. We had to deal with self-made felt pads, with or without decoration at the borders. Felt by nature produces bits of fluff, and that is what we had to deal with on these mats.
One thing I learned was to resort to billiard cloth. Buy some two or three meters, and double or triple the material, which gives a nice “give” for picking up cards or coins, and dampens the thud in Cups and Balls routines.
Billard cloth is durable and does not produce these annoying bits of fluff. They make it with heavy use in mind, and therefore, will last a lifetime for a magician – even if performing extensively. I prefer the Spanish brand of cloth.
Billard cloth is available in different colours, even in a nice yellow (which is perfect for TV and video, as Ali Bongo once taught me). I used it to cover all my street tables, magic tables, and even made small close-up pads from it. When I perform my fun version of Albert Goshman’s “Salt and Pepper Act,” I use a tripled billiard cloth as my surface, covering a good part of the table. I am not sure, but I believe Goshman used billiard cloth in his act.
If used on billiard tables, it shouldn’t be washed. But for our purposes, putting it into the washing machine before use makes it even better.
Try it – I am sure you will never look back.