Sometimes a prop just looks cool and I want to figure out a way to use it. One of those props is the brass plates for the trick Collectors Workshop’s Jaks or Better. The prop consists of two brass plates that are screwed together and dangle from a chain.
Personally I’m not a fan of the trick that the brass plates come with. The Jaks or Better effect is basically a drawing duplication. Someone picks a card and puts it between the two plates. You then draw the picture that they put in between the two brass plates. The effect is fine, I’m not a fan of the method.
The original props looked like this:
About a year ago I bought a set and unfortunately they had changed the brass plates to a powder coated set of red plates. The red plates lack the character that the brass plates have. According to the Viking Magic (who owns Collector’s Workshop) website they switched to the powder coated plates because the brass tarnished.
Personally I think that the tarnished brass is what makes it look cool and interesting.
I’ve had the red set of plates kicking around on my desk for a while and I hadn’t come up with something to do with it. Then as I was heading out to a week or so ago to do a roving magic gig, I had an idea. What if a signed card came out from between the plates?
The method would simply be a double backed card. All I had was a red/blue double backed card, but I grabbed it anyway and put it between the plates.
After arriving early to the gig, I was playing around with the plates in my dressing room and realized I really didn’t need the chain, so I took that off. I also noticed the ring that served as the hinge was too big for what I wanted and didn’t hold the plates tight enough. Luckily I had a small key ring that I could put on it.
Here’s the altered plates:
It really doesn’t look like much difference, but the small ring for the hinge makes a huge difference!
I use blue decks, so the card coming out of the plates out have to be red.
The routine was simple. During my close up set I took the plates out and set them on the table. Then later during my ambitious card routine, after the card has some out of my wallet, I say, “You can keep the card or trade it for what’s in between the metal plates“. 100% of people took the metal plates. What’s fun, is someone every time also said they bet it was the card.
When the plates were unscrewed and a red card came out, it was a great moment to release tension as it clearly wasn’t there card. Then the card is turned over and it is the signed card, and the reveal had a huge impact.
initially my plan was to simply put the card back in between the plates and move on. On the second group I tried it on I handed them the card face up, and was surprised I got a bonus trick when they turned the card over and noticed it now had a blue back!
I thought the color changing back would signal that something fishy was going on, but to my surprise it was interpreted as a trick and it had a great impact!
I don’t know if I’m going to keep using the red powder coated plates, or try to find a brass set, but I do know I’m going to keep doing this bit!
Yesterday I posted a video about how to use evaporation with one hand using a thumb tip with a cork on it. Here’s a tutorial on how to make the thumb tip. You’ll need a thumb tip, cork, screwdriver, screw and scissors.
I start by trimming off a little bit of the end of the thumb tip. I think that makes it easier to get your thumb into it.
Than I use the screwdriver to punch a hole in the fingernail side of the thumb tip. Just push and twist until you have a hole.
Put a screw onto the screwdriver and drive it through the thumb tip a little bit.
Recently in a Facebook group someone was asking about a way to make it look like their puppet was drinking. My Evaporation prop was mentioned and I immediately had some people ask me how to use the prop with one hand.
The clock routine I’m working on uses the Pitata Magic Time Hacker. It’s no secret how it works and they give it all away on their website, however I have made a modification to the gimmick.
A while ago I accidently broke the pin that engages the clock. When I went to order a replacement, they didn’t have them, just the new gear style attachment that engages the clock. Personally I don’t like the gear as it requires double stick tape which I felt was unreliable after practicing with it.
My solution was to glue the gear with pin from the clock to the gear attachment and it works like a dream!
The nice thing is that it’s easier to detach from the clock than the original pin attachment that came with the Time Hacker trick. This arrangement is easy to change if it gets worn down. I’m glad I stumbled onto this solution!
Also in my routine the clock is “broken” so it doesn’t matter that the the clock is non functional at the end of the routine.
Over the last few years I’ve started to really prefer the Sanada Gimmick over a thumb tip for stage use. I primarily use it for a bill switch and it allows me to not fold up the bill as small as with the a thumb tip. This makes it play a little bit bigger, but also I think looks more fair.
When I use something like a thumb tip or Sanada Gimmick, I try to stock up on them so that I always have them. I just had 10 arrive in the mail.
These are just for general use whenever I need them. Having access to a lot of them allows me to make some custom gimmicks with them like my tennis ball to confetti gimmick.
If there’s something you use, stock up on it, you never know when they’ll be temporarily or permanently unavailable.
I’ve always thought Charlie Frye‘s trick Frye’s Chips was a great little flourishy thing. I didn’t like that I was made as a poker chip and not a coin. A little while ago I found a coin that I could do the flourish with and finally put together the gimmick:
A couple of weeks I wrote a post about making a themed What’s Next prop that’s a road sign with bullet holes in it.
I ordered a cheap What’s Next prop that was black with white spots. I peeled off the stationary white spots so I was left with a black metal board and put an arrow that I cut out of vinyl sticker paper on both sides of the board. Then added the two bullet hole stickers to one side and five to the other side. For the gimmicks, I simply added the stickers to the tops of gimmicks that came with the set and trimmed them around the stickers.
It came out looking pretty good and works great!
Here’s what I don’t like about it: It’s a prop that pretends to be something in real life, but isn’t. Ideally it would look more like this:
However if I used a sign that was more like that, I’m worried that the bullet holes would be harder to see against the text. The simple design that I used makes the bullet holes clearly visible. It was a choice that had to be made, a realistic sign or visibility and I chose visibility.
One of the challenges of the sponge tennis ball routine I’m working on is to make it more “magically sound”. I’ve gotten a lot things figured out. Yesterday I posted about the steal of the FS2 gimmick and the ditch of the final palmed sponge ball. Something I didn’t like was that a lot happens between the false transfer and the reveal that the sponge balls is gone.
The sequence is: 1: False transfer 2: Hand palming the ball takes the book that I’m holding under my arm, gestures and says a line. 3: Put the book away in my case and ditch the palmed ball. 4: Reveal the ball is gone
There’s a lot of motion, and I think it would be easy for someone to doubt they actually saw the tennis ball in my hand. I wanted to show it after the ditch and I remembered recently reading in a set of Tommy Wonder’s lecture notes about appearing to show the item after the ditch. I also remember seeing this in action the time I was lucky enough to see his act live.
Here’s Tommy Wonder’s act:
For the vanish of the lemon, he’s able to show its there after it’s been ditched. That’s the part that inspired my path to show the tennis ball after the ditch.
This is a simple addition to the back of the FS2 gimmick. Now the tennis ball can be seen after it’s been ditched in my case. It’s been a long road to get to to this point with my sponge tennis ball routine. I’ve always said that creating magic is solving a series of problems and this sponge tennis ball routine is a good example of that!
Last week in Seattle, he had an ice storm where the city got covered in a sheet of ice from freezing rain. That gave me a day off to play around, no shows or emails to return. I used this time to get to some ideas that have been in notebooks for awhile.
Here’s a close up dancing hank style magic trick that I had a while ago:
The ending with the smoke in the jar was an idea I had for another trick that didn’t work out, but added something to this trick.
Is this trick better than a standard floating bill? I don’t know, it’s potentially more workable as there’s less issues with the IT being visible. It could work in a parlor type setting. It would take away my biggest issue with using IT and that’s dealing with lighting or having to cut the bit because you can’t make it work with the existing lighting.
I may play with this a bit more, as the jumping action for me works better with my performing persona that the bill floating.
-Louie PS I’m aware that this is essentially a smaller version of Sean Bogunia’s Extreme Dancing Hank, but with a different, but similar gimmick and a slight variation in method.