Still have my old copy by the way! Good stuff. I also vaguely remember writing you all a letter (on paper!) around that time, too.
So thanks for the book! It certainly changed my life for the better in many ways.
How did the research process work while developing a book?
There's also a line from the Klutz Book of Card Games that ended up being an in-joke with my family that we still use 20+ years later: "You poor fool, I can read you like a book!"
Thanks for all the fun! <3
Does Klutz Books still exist? I always thought it would be an amazing place to work.
Have you considered bringing back a physical Klutz store?
I have a slight sour taste from the very end of the book, which discourages people from trying to go to higher numbers such as 5 balls. So after learning 3 balls, I set juggling aside. Much later, after meeting jugglers and seeing what people could do in videos online, I was inspired to learn a lot more... including 5 balls.
If you want people to excel, don't tell them they shouldn't expect to be able to do things, and that it's not worth the effort.
Something about learning 3 on your own makes it almost impossible to shake the bad habits to get to 5+
In programming we have debugging. You have a program that does X, but with some bugs. You later improve the program by removing the bugs.
Why can't we do this in "real life" as well? You learn how to add multi-digit numbers from right to left. You then later relearn that by going from left to right. You learn to swim with your head above the water, then later learn to keep your head in the water, and turn it every two strokes to get a quick breath.
In fact, I read about this concept of "debugging" bad habits exactly in the context of juggling. Seymour Papert covers this in Mindstorms , p 111. He explains that the most common "bug" that prevents people from performing 3-ball juggling is following one ball with the eyes. Once you are aware of that, you the fix is quite easy: keep your eyes pointed at the apex of the ball's trajectory. In a later chapter he goes on to say that other things can be "debugged" as well; one example is relearning skiing to replace a v-type position to a parallel ski position.
At the British Juggling Convention I taught a workshop for absolute beginners to pass 5 clubs following http://passingpedagogy.com/ . Most of those who'd never picked up a club got on pretty well. Whereas some people who'd passed clubs in a different way were skeptical; you could tell their heart wasn't in it, and then unsurprisingly some of them didn't get it.
I do understand the resistance to going back to basics to fix things though. I can hoop (as in "hula-hoop") fairly well, and know some tricks. But I mostly hoop in one direction (counter-clockwise). If I try to do a trick clockwise, it's frustrating and I don't feel like carrying on, so I tend to give up, or go back to hooping counter-clockwise (fortunately one of my favorite tricks involves reversing the direction of the hoop). This weakness of mine was actually really useful (back when I still hooped with people). If I was showing someone else a trick, I could try it clockwise, which was an excellent reminder of how hard the trick really is, and to understand how/where it goes wrong.
One thing that your idea prompts is thins: as I have gotten better at learning things I have gotten better at just adopting as-close-to-perfect form as I can from the get go.
When I learned to play guitar at age 20, I had horrible form, and I did go through a period of unlearning habits (after a period of trying to have a "style" LOL).
When I learned to play pedal steel guitar in my late 30s, I was careful to start with good habits from the get-go. Same with snow skiing, banjo, and yoga. :D
I dunno how I'd approach this lesson when dealing with younger folks... it was a painful process, but learning that starting with good habits/ form makes things so much faster and easier is maybe just a thing people have to experience on their own.
Tom Brady, who many people consider the greatest quarterback in the history of American football, still has a throwing coach (Tom House ), and he's still debugging his throwing motion. After 20+ years of throwing in a professional league.
So, for sure, unlearning habits is difficult, but learning only proper form from the start is probably an exceedingly rare exception. I think for most people the process of learning will involve learning incorrect form first, and attempting to fix this later.
My pole dance teacher once pointed out how different my style of training was: most students would try a difficult new move a few times, then go back to practicing stuff they were ultra-confident at for a while, while I'd be more likely to keep on trying the new move with a bunch of different little variations, and to pay a lot of attention to her when she'd come over and point out things I was doing wrong, especially if it was a wrong thing that would make me more likely to hurt myself!
I kinda feel like I can do this because I remember how I improved my art by the long, painful process of analyzing what I was doing wrong. And also because I have much less ego invested in the new thing - I already have a thing I can do the heck out of, I don't give a shit if I look like a bumbling beginner when that is what I am.
"How to learn" is a skillset, which you have to learn along with everything else you learn in the first two or three decades of your life. Once you have it down it's a lot easier to learn stuff if you're willing to put the energy into doing it right.
Or is that just one of possible approaches? Or does pretty much everyone draw from boxes?
You start by drawing boxes. And balls, and tubes, and eggs, and cones, and prisms, and a bunch of other shapes that are simple enough to describe in a few brief lines of code. Get good at them, learn to draw them from a lot of angles, learn how to think about them as three-dimensional shapes and how light plays across them.
Then start laying out rough, crude versions of things using these primitive shapes. What you use for a particular thing depends on what you're drawing and what suits your approach. Cars are big boxy things, maybe big wedge things if they're really areodynamic. People are mostly collections of long tubes, though some parts can get very boxy, eggs are helpful for some ways of constructing skulls too. A lot of people go through a phase where they like to draw stick figures with balls at the joints, I've never really been a fan of that and find it tends to result in stiff figures, but some people love it. Sausage people, box people, ball-and-stick people, there's a lot of ways to approach this and a pro will have played with them all and found out which one works best for them most of the time, and which ones work best for them in situations where their favorite way breaks down.
You work out a pose this way, as a bunch of sticks and balls and boxes and whatnot, then you have a solid framework to work on top of and sort of "carve" into a more realistic shape by applying your knowledge of anatomy. Which is a thing that takes multiple years of study to acquire, human bodies are complex things!
(Boxes are especially useful because there are some simple tricks you can use to make it easy to take a flat view of something and project it into perspective - if you draw an X from corner to corner on the face of a box in perspective, then you can draw a line that goes through the center of that X and lines up with the same vanishing points the sides are on to divide the face in two in perspective, then use a grid built up that way to transfer a head-on drawing into perspective and work from there.)
Eventually, as you progress as an artist, you can do more and more of this in your head. Most of the time I just lay down some really sloppy, loose shapes to plan out a pose, with a lot of parts going pretty quickly to a recognizable caricature of that body part that I can quickly turn into something good-looking when I come back and throw down some loose solid color shapes that I quickly refine into something with an appearance of anatomy, then come back later and add some shadows/highlight to really bring out the forms. I'll put out a little bit of cubes/balls/eggs/cylinders/etc when I really need to think about a weird angle, but every time I do this a little of this lingers in my head for next time, and drawing that angle again becomes something I can kind of... pull out of cache, so to speak, because I remember all the thinking I had to do on the page last time.
Loomis' books are super solid and have a lot to teach you. Bridgman is some super useful reference for anatomy too. But the teaching that really helped me the most was a life drawing for animation class whose instructor was working out of the Vilppu drawing manual, that stuff is amazing and will help to keep you thinking about how to instill a sense of life into all your work from the ground up.
The same stuff applies to simpler cartoon characters, too. You just use different proportions and don't spend as much time trying to nail down anatomy that isn't absolutely necessary to the story the drawing is telling.
Or, do they? If a program is built with a bad architecture, but "works" for all the inputs seen so far, it's much hard to fix than if it were built with good patterns from the start, even if it has some mistakes that need to be fixed.
Maybe with a caveat if they learned to juggle three in a circle, which only taught them throws with one hand and no timing at all. Even then, they would be learning a three ball cascade from scratch.
The fundamental jump from three to five is that you now have things which can collide in the air. You are throwing one ball between two others that are airborne. This takes both speed and accuracy and then a lot of practice to discover the timing. Juggling three is so basic in comparison -- only one ball is in the air most of the time -- that there are hardly any bad habits one could have developed. Even if someone were juggling completely "wrong", if they have the ability to make it to five, they surely have the ability to relearn three.
> Juggling three is so basic in comparison -- only one ball is in the air most of the time
This makes no sense. Balls colliding in the air is an incredibly common problem for people learning to juggle 3 balls. You have multiple balls in the air every time you throw any ball.
Three ball has a simple exchange on both sides that can be extremely slow. Five ball demands accuracy with respect to the pattern in the air. There is no "pattern" in the air with three ball outside the exchange -- it is a single ball while the hand each hold one as well. Five ball has a minimum of 3 in the air and each ball will have to pass between two others from the other side, requiring accuracy and timing not needed in three ball.
It's like playing a musical instrument properly.
I was trying to think of some impressive sounding examples when someone-said-I-couldn't-do-something-but-I-did-it-anyway but I can't think of any. It's more common that (A)+(B) occurs for me.
The store closed in 2009, well after they had become part of Scholastic. The remaining product line looks to be just a "greatest hits" collection. Sad.
I've actually got the Klutz friendship bracelet book sitting right next to me. My sister got it as a gift when we were kids (17 years ago) and I appropriated it when she didn't use it after a year.
That book not only gave me a lifetime hobby, but it also helped me create my first business at the age of 15. Helped me learn the lesson that if you deliver quality, you can sell a product at 20x the market rate. I would sell the totem pole bracelet designs at a premium to my friends who wanted it for their girlfriends. I'd sell chevrons and other diagonal based patterns to friends who wanted their school flag colours. Sold the latter at a premium too because the material I got with the Klutz book didn't fray after the first wash (helped me decide what materials to continue to purchase later on).
All this helped pay for several shows and sporting events I wanted to go to.
I continued to make bracelets for my girlfriend (now wife) and those ones are seated on the table in our bedroom.
That book created a ton of good memories. But it got left behind when I left home when I was getting married :( .
Recently I discovered it at home and the clip (rusty) still works. And now I'm teaching my 4 and a half year old son the art of friendship bracelets too.
All that from 1 book. Thank you for all the memories given and the memories to come.
I had the "juggling for the complete klutz" book growing up, had a lot of fun with it. Thanks!
Calvin: "That gives me a fabulous idea!"
Hobbes: "Uh oh"
I’m trying to remember the title of my favorite Klutz book and your recollection sounds the closest.
Apparently there's a company called Cassidy Labs that's bringing back (and in some cases, improving on) some of the Klutz originals (e.g foxtail, now with an LED so you can play at night). Hope they do well.
Some are more eternal than others (Icky Poo) but as a child I never had one that I didn't completely devour. Any time I need a gift for a friend's young child, Klutz immediately comes to mind.
The juggling book also worked for me. Good times.
It's a small thing, but that was kind of a big moment for me in terms of developing my critical thinking.
Also taught me the constrictor knot, which I have used instead of the clove hitch ever since.
Please comment as much as you like. I've also unclogged the pipes so that your blocked comments have now all gone through.
Duncan Imperials are thinner and the de facto standard for yo-yos, Butterflies are good for tricks but a little unwieldly, but the Klutz was a happy medium between the two and perfect for beginners and we always wound up falling back to it.
Magnetic Magic, which featured a metal cover and five ring magnets
Kids Travel: a Backseat Survivors Guide, this was one of my favorites since it seemed to have a little bit of everything, but I really liked the puzzles included
The Klutz Book of Magic, with fake thumb for doing a disappearing handkerchief trick
I even sent a letter to Klutz (using an address from inside the book) asking for a catalog. I dreamed of owning all of their books and learning everything they had to offer. Nothing else in my childhood inspired such wonder as these books.
What's fascinating to me is that this is yet another product of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, even though it has nothing to do with computers. It reminds me again of why I moved here from across the country 25 years ago.
I still have the book, as well as the deck of cards that came with it. The tuckbox has held up surprisingly well!
Hold the three balls in your hands. Now, drop them. Get used to this.
Was happily juggling by the time I boarded the flight.
Haven't succeeded with Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, either ;)
I wish I still had them.