Play is important! You should play with magic as a creative exercise. Learning from a book is good, but sometimes just fiddling around with a deck of cards or whatever with no purpose will lead to some fun things.
There’s not much to it. I discovered I could drop an outjogged, double card from the deck into my hand below it. Once I kinda figured out the technique, I needed to figure out what to do with it. That ended up my a slightly flourishy card change.
Will I ever seriously use this? No. Was it fun to figure out? Yes
Sometimes during my morning writing I will explore ideas for tricks like What’s Next that uses the spot card. This is routine where the number of spots on each side keep changing, then there’s a sucker explanation followed by a series of surprises. The prop in that trick resembles a domino and Norm Nielsen made a version of it that has the correct color combination for a domino. Someone else had made a version of one that’s a cookie with the chocolate chips being the spots.
What’s next is a trick that is perfect for trying to theme, you just need to figure out what the spots are. They could be zits on a teenagers face, or my favorite idea I came up with, bullet holes on a road sign. If you’ve driven in the rural USA, seeing a road sign that’s been shot up is common.
It’d should be simple to make this. Just use bullet hole stickers for the spots on the what’s next card, and cover the white board with art that’s a street sign. I’m going to imagine that the gimmick’s black art to hide the magnets would still work with the bullet holes.
If you wanted to do some work, you could do a kicker ending by building a flap card gaff to one side of it to reveal something.
Honestly I’ll probably never use this, so feel free to make one up. Creating things you know aren’t for you is still a good creative excercise!
Right now I’m on a cruise ship and it’s pretty bumpy out, and I noticed that all of the floors at the stairwells have “sick bags”. These look like paper lunch sacks, but are made of plastic and have a tab at the top to seal them.
I grabbed one and took it back to my state room to see if I could figure out something to do with it. Here’s my brainstorming from this morning:
Chew up some food, spit it in…then blow up the bag and pop it and it’s confetti
Someone reaches into the bag and pulls out a single cookie (it’s the only thing in the bag). You take a few bites and spit them back into the bag. Shake the bag and dump out a whole cookie
You have the bag sealed. You tell the audience you breathed into the bag after breakfast and have someone try to guess what you ate. You have a note that confirms they are right!
Someone from the audience breathes into the bag, and you tell them what they had for breakfast
you have a line of people onstage. With your back turned, someone breathes into the bag and seals it. It’s handed to you and smell the bag and tell whose breath it is
You put food into the bag and it turns to rubber vomit
You say you opened the bag on the plane and captured the air at your seat. Someone smells the air and guesses your row and seat number.
What I like about this is the specific property of the bag, it being plastic and sealable ended up taking me away from tradition paper bag tricks. I really like the idea of trapping air in the bag. I think that the row and seat number might be the winner as it doesn’t involve anyone’s breath, so it’s not cringy.
I don’t know if I’ll ever do this stuff, but it’s a fun creativity exercise. -Louie
Last week I was working with Lanky the Clown and he always has tons of little gags in his clown costume. He showed me a fun little gag where you offer someone “a sip of water“, then offer them a tiny bottle of water.
I thought the gag was hilarious and he gave me one of the tiny bottles.
After playing with the gag, I have a little magic trick with it. I do the gag, then the bottle disappears and reappears from a handkerchief, which ends with the production of a full size unopened water bottle!
If you’re a Paul Harris fan, you’ll recognize this as King Soloman’s Drink from his book the Close Up Entertainer and in republished in The Art of Astonishment Volume 2.
Sometimes playing with an idea without a real goal in mind will lead to something unexpected. Originally my first idea using and SD card was pen thru SD card (pen thru bill). That’s really an unoriginal idea, it’s just putting the pen thru something unusual, but doesn’t really contribute anything to the effect.
Well, last night I came up with an idea, where the effect is essentially pen thru SD card, but different. Here’s what I came up with:
From a creative standpoint it’s a much more interesting solution to penetrating the SD card with another object. This effect was inspired by the Flexible Mirror trick and the old Paper Coin Fold trick. Method wise, it’s different from the Paper Coin Fold, which was fun to figure out. The shape of the SD card makes the method work, where if it was done with a coin, you really couldn’t do the move. Sometimes changing the prop will open the door to a new method and that’s why play is an important part of creating! -Louie
This morning I was doing the writing I do in the mornings and started playing with the idea of using an SD card for magic. I quick Google search makes it seem like no one has really worked on much with them. The SD cards are essentially coins, with them being about the diameter of a half dollar.
My initial idea was to do a Pen Thru SD Card as all of the props are related at office things. There’s really no new territory to explore there, it’s either a gimmicked pen or SD card and a pretty basic idea. However that idea got my brain going, so it did have its place.
One of the ideas I liked was having a 32 gb SD card, magically split it into two 16 gb cards, then finally split one into two 8 gb SD cards.
Another idea was doing a color changing SD card or a transposition with one black and one blue card.
Then I started thinking about making novelty SD cards with my 3D printer. Since they are essentially plastic, it would be easy to make a jumbo one, or a stretched one, or whatever.
A couple of days ago I had a Facebook memory pop up that had a video I made while I was on tour in Canada about four years ago. While I travelled I used to do a videos of magic tricks in my hotel room. It’s been a while since I’ve made one, however I think this was a very interesting video as it uses Canadian money. If you’ve never played with them, they are plastic bills, that don’t easily fold and hold a crease, and most Canadian magicians dislike them. Here’s a cool trick I came up with using them:
What I think is really cool about this trick is that it takes advantage of the hologram and clear spot that’s in the Canadian bill. I don’t know how well this would play in Canada as there’s a discrepancy in the trick that virtually no one outside of Canada would notice.
I think this is a fun social media trick, but really wouldn’t make it into an in person show.
The idea of using a take out box from a Chinese restaurant for a production box is starting to make some progress…and hitting a wall. The progress that I’ve made is that the box now has a Asian looking logo on the outside. This makes it instantly identifiable from a distance as a Chinese take out box, not just a random box. It also helps make the clear when the box is opened up, that you are showing the inside of it.
Adding the graphic seems like a small thing and it may not have totally been necessary. I think that it makes the trick a little bit more deceptive and play a little bit bigger. It’s that small step further that makes me happy. In one of SH Sharpe’s books he wrote that when you perform with props you made, “the pride you have in making them comes through in your performance” and I do agree. I think using props that I made, I have a sense of pride performing with that I don’t have when using something that I simply bought. Internally, I know all of the work that went into it!
I’ve now finished the 12 weeks of the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book was suggested to me by a performer friend over the summer. The book is laid out by week and while it’s a bit “hippie” for me, I stuck through it and I’m glad I did.
Let me start by saying, that I don’t think I’m this book’s target demographic. A lot of it feels like it’s trying to get people to step away from negative people who say you can’t do art for a job. I did that years ago, however it did encourage me to deal less with negative people and I’m a happier person because of that!
Did the book make me more creative?
Sort of. It’s given me some tools to get my ideas out a little bit faster, and while I play a lot, it’s encouraged me to play a lot more…and write a lot more.
I think anyone who commits to the book will get something out of it.
It’s been two months and I’m still going through the book The Artist’s Way. I will say the book is a bit “hippie” for my taste, but if you can get past that, it’s a great book. I honestly think the last eight weeks (the whole book is twelve weeks) have been a very creative time. I’ve really ramped up my creative output of the material in my show.
If you decide to get the book, commit to it. There’s some spiritual stuff that I’m not a fan of, and I just plow through that and do the work. I also feel it’s not written for someone who is out there actively doing their “art” for a living. A lot of the book addresses things that block you from showing people your art. Do the exercises anyway, you may learn a little bit about yourself.
As for creating magic, I find that I’m doing a lot more brainstorming with myself than I used to do. I’m essentially having a morning magic jam in a notebook. It’s great!
Despite all of things I don’t like about the book, the things that I like outweigh them, and I really recommend it! -Louie