I’ve always loved the vanishing birdcage, ever since I was a teenager and was told about Bert Allerton doing in close up while table hopping. Then I saw Blackstone Jr. do the vanishing birdcage where all the kids put their hands around the cage, I’d seen Lance Burton do it with his round cage. However the one that really did amazed me was seeing Billy McComb do the vanishing birdcage. Here’s a video of it:
What made Billy’s version different was that he did his whole act and ended with the cage. He didn’t have that cramped posture, he had a full range of motion. I don’t think Billy was the first person to use a take up reel for the birdcage, however he’s the one that made an impact on me.
Over the years I’ve owned several take up reels, including the one that was sold with the Billy McComb vanishing birdcage set. Right now I own a funky one that was made in Germany.
If you don’t know what a take up reel is and how you would use it for a vanishing birdcage, it’s pretty simple. All it does is shorten the length of the string on the pull. That’s it. But that simple little thing makes all the difference in the world!
Having used a take up reel, the thing I didn’t like about them was the weight of them. They are metal and heavy. For someone like Billy who it appears did the cage at the end of an act, the weight is probably less of a problem then when used by someone doing a 45-60 min show.
Recently I got a 3D printer and started playing with it and ended up designing a take up reel. This is a lot lighter because it’s plastic. I’ve been using this for months and I will say, I think I’ve finally come up with a solution for me to do the birdcage in my show!
Using a take up reel isn’t just for the birdcage, there’s a lot of cool stuff you can do with them. I’m not going to go into detail about other tricks you can do with them because there’s soo many. I’m just glad I came up with a solution that works for me.