Mask Magic…

Something that still bugs me are performers that are still using facemasks in their shows as if they are topical. They really aren’t, it’s lazy creativity. I’ve written about this before (you can read it here), and my thoughts haven’t changed.

Not too long ago I figured out what the problem with 99 % of the mask tricks are:

YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE MASK OFF TO DO THE TRICK

By simply doing the trick, you are defeating the purpose of the prop. That’s the flaw in all of these tricks. The rare exception is something like a color changing mask. If someone came up with a trick where you didn’t take the mask off for the trick, that would make it make sense.

Keeping the mask on really limits what you can do. That condition pretty much leaves you with a color change, with out doing some actual thinking. Here’s some ideas that I don’t have a method for:

  • Tongue thru mask
  • Eating / drinking thru the mask
  • shrinking / growing mask
  • things appearing on the ear loops: Kinda like the Ring Flite trick
  • Broken and restored ear loop
  • It moving by itself: Running gag: while you are talking it keeps moving up your face. You move it down, and it moves up again
  • Multiplying: you keep taking them off, and there’s always one on your face. You’d have to remove a large amount, so that it’s clear you didn’t just have four masks on.

All of the above tricks keep a mask on your face. However you still have a problem to face, it’s a used hygiene product you are using. Doing a trick with a tissue from the box uses a clean hygiene product. Doing a trick with a tissue you just blew your nose on is a used hygiene product. That’s something else to consider, technically once you touch or take it off with your bare hands, you are supposed to wash your hands.

How do you solve this?

I don’t know the answer, but then I also really don’t want to do a trick with a facemask, so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself if you want to do a trick with a face mask!

Finally Trying a Trick…

One of the best books on stand up magic as far as tricks go is Jim Steinmeyer’s The Conjuring Anthology. It’s full of mostly stand up style magic, there are other things in there as well, like stage illusions. This book is a tremendous resource.

The Conjuring Anthology by Jim Steinmeyer

Recently I was making a bunch of videos for a client and needed some inspiration. I was flipping through this book and there’a trick that uses confetti in it that’s caught my eye in the past. Essentially loose confetti turns into a full sheet of tissue paper.

I went out, got the stuff to build the prop and got two work on it.

The first thing that I noticed was that this trick is a great lead in to the torn and restored tissue. If you put the two tricks together you’ve got a 3-4 minute routine that takes up virtually no space in your case, or could easily be made in a hotel room.

I’m glad that the project I was working on had me go back and flip though that book. I also think that if I had played with that trick at another point in my life I may not have had the same results as I did.

Fixing the Fridge!

In 2014 we bought a new refrigerator and shortly after it was out of warranty our ice maker stopped working. I checked all of the water supply lines, followed the troubleshooting from the owner’s manual, nothing worked. We called a repair guy and he couldn’t fix it. For the last 4 or 5 years we’ve been buying bagged ice at the store. Not a huge deal, kind of inconvenient and not that expensive at a couple bucks a week.

This weeks I’ve been working on some home projects and one of them ended up looking at the ice maker. It turns out there’s an unmarked, tiny square of plastic on the bottom of it that looks it doesn’t move, well that’s is actually a reset button! I pushed it and we’re back in the ice business!

OK, what does this have to do with magic?

How often do you got back and revisit magic tricks you were working on and hit an wall you were unable to get through, so you stopped practicing the magic trick?

I’m not saying you should schedule a weekly revisit, but you should every now and then flip though old notebooks, or watch old videos of yourself. I can’t tell you how often I’ll watch an old video of mine and see me do a trick a think, “why did I stop doing that?” Usually there’s a good reason, but that doesn’t me I can’t revisit now it to try to fix that reason.

Online Instructions…

Each year more and more magic tricks are coming out that come with online instructions and that’s the only way to get the information. In theory everyone wins, you get video instructions, it drops the cost for the creator, and possibly the buyer as well. It also makes things cheaper to ship.


Now for the downside, not everyone will have access to the information. What I mean by that is that access won’t last forever like the instructions in some physical form. Sure you can download the instructions (usually), but that only is good for as long as the tricks producer has the video online.


A good example would be a trick that’s been out for several years, but you just bought it at a magic shop. You open the trick, find the download card and go to the site, but the site no longer exists. What do you do? If the company is out of business, you’re out of luck. I guess you could return it to the magic shop, however that’s doesn’t solve the problem of product being out there where producer of it got rid of content that was paid for.


Personally I don’t do online only instructions, every magic trick I sell comes with a DVD or print instructions. I do offer “bonus content” online for tricks I sell or for stuff in my lecture notes. The pain in the butt with these things is that I just changed my hosting on my website and I had to service all of those links, many are to products I haven’t sold in a few years. Unfortunately a lot of creators don’t do that.


The hard part now is that less and less computers have DVD players, how do I deliver video content without it being online? The current solution I’m considering is thumb drives. The downside is that they cost much more than DVD’s, but the upside is that they are small, and versatile. I could order 100 of them and use them for a variety of different products.


If you’re a magic producer, you need to think about what’s going to happen when someone buys your trick 5 years from now…unless you’re just in it for a quick money grab (but then you’re an a-hole).

First Attempt…

Yesterday I finished my first attempt at making a clear coin for the Silver Extraction magic trick. I made the mold in silicone and cast it in a clear resin. The clear coin ended up having a lot more air bubbles in it than I would like it to have. At the end of the … Continue reading “First Attempt…”

Yesterday I finished my first attempt at making a clear coin for the Silver Extraction magic trick. I made the mold in silicone and cast it in a clear resin. The clear coin ended up having a lot more air bubbles in it than I would like it to have. At the end of the day, it’s a clear coin and would work for the trick.

After doing some research on the causes of the air bubbles, what it will take to remove them from future castings is something I’m not really set up right now to handle. I learned a lot from making this, mostly that clear castings are going to be a pain in the butt!!


Closure…

Material cycles in and out of my show fairly frequently. One trick that has been out of the show for a while is my Applause Please trick. This is my version of milk in lightbulb that uses an applause sign instead of a lamp. I took this out of my show a bit after I … Continue reading “Closure…”

Material cycles in and out of my show fairly frequently. One trick that has been out of the show for a while is my Applause Please trick. This is my version of milk in lightbulb that uses an applause sign instead of a lamp. I took this out of my show a bit after I started selling it to magicians.


Currently I have a need for the trick in the show. In my color changing handkerchief routine at the end when the original handkerchief is gone, the audience is left missing some closure to the trick. What I’m doing is using the applause sign throughout the show, then when it comes to the end of the color changing handkerchief routine the silk reappears from the lightbulb.


I’m hoping the reappearance of the silk will be a better end of the routine for the audience. Always look at your show and try to find things that don’t feel right and try to fix them, don’t settle for just OK.

On my flight home yesterday I started reading an ebook called Building An Act by Tommy Wonder that you can get on Tom Stone’s Website. I had bought this ebook a long time ago and hadn’t read it. I’m only about a dozen pages into the book, but so far it’s great! One of the … Continue reading “”

On my flight home yesterday I started reading an ebook called Building An Act by Tommy Wonder that you can get on Tom Stone’s Website. I had bought this ebook a long time ago and hadn’t read it. I’m only about a dozen pages into the book, but so far it’s great!

Building an Act by Tommy Wonder

One of the things that he mentions, that you build up enthusiasm for what you are creating and that enthusiasm carries you, but also inspires others to help you. Thinking back on things that I’ve created, and the help I’ve gotten from essentially strangers. I’ve gone into industrial shops tell them what I’m trying to do and they go out of their way to help me or teach me how to make something, usually for free. I always offer to pay, it’s amazing how many are fine with just me buying the few bucks in materials.


Another thing he does is puts a time limit on it. This is something I don’t do, however when I’m creating something new that I’m passionate about, I tend to get in done within the time limit that Tommy Wonder mentions in the book. I really like the idea of imposing a time limit to get at least a basic, version of the trick done.


I fly again tomorrow, and I’ll finish up reading it on the plane.

Foolproof Isn’t Always…

One of the things that drives me nuts are people who use electronic mentalism effects and aren’t prepared for what happens when they don’t work. I was recently at a trade show and there was someone else using a trick on the same frequency as me. I quickly realized that and went into my other … Continue reading “Foolproof Isn’t Always…”

One of the things that drives me nuts are people who use electronic mentalism effects and aren’t prepared for what happens when they don’t work. I was recently at a trade show and there was someone else using a trick on the same frequency as me. I quickly realized that and went into my other method of doing the trick that didn’t rely on the electronic device.


I learned that the other person didn’t realize it and they were frequently unable to “read minds” as they were getting my signal. This is the problem with these fool proof type tricks, they are easy to do amazing things…until they aren’t.


When I realized someone else was on the same frequency as me, I turned off my receiver, but still used the prop as it’s part of my tradeshow set. Unfortunately my prop was still sending out a signal. Now the ethical question is should one of us have stopped using the trick? In my opinion the answer is no, we both are entitled to do the trick.


They never came to me to ask me to turn it off, and honestly I probably wouldn’t have turned it off as I’m equally as entitled to use it as they are. It’s a learning lesson, what to do when more than one person is using your frequency. One that I’ve anticipated, and spent time figuring out how to deal with. If you are performing in any setting where there is more than just you performing, you need to be aware of this and have a backup plan.

Fishing Pole and the Ball of Yarn…

One of my favorite things is figuring out magic tricks. A couple of days ago I made fishing pole reel to wind up the yarn from the coin in the ball of yarn trick. Yesterday I used it in a show and learned a few things about it. First my method of attaching the yarn … Continue reading “Fishing Pole and the Ball of Yarn…”

One of my favorite things is figuring out magic tricks. A couple of days ago I made fishing pole reel to wind up the yarn from the coin in the ball of yarn trick. Yesterday I used it in a show and learned a few things about it.


First my method of attaching the yarn to the string needed improvement. The yarn was threaded through a small hole and then knots were tied in the yarn to keep in from pulling back through the hole. Well, the knot pulled itself through the hole. I’ll need to either tie a lot more knots, tie something to the end that’s larger than the hole, or simply just tie it around a post. This is an easy fix.


Second thing that I learned was that while my pole is collapses, I should have it fully extended before the show. It’s a waste of time to have it extend it, and I also use an extendable pole in my show, so I don’t want a feeling of duplication.


The final thing that I need to do is to change the method for the trick. Right now I’m using Vernet Magic’s amazing trick The Yarn as my method for making the billet appear on the end. This is a great method for getting the billet on the end of the string when the trick is done in your hands. Unfortunately using a five foot fishing pole has created an unanticipated challenge when the string is five feet from your hand. I’m solving this by changing the method for this trick, and the bonus of the new method is that the trick will play a lot larger!


I love that this fishing pole is in my show, and I’m hoping that I can figure out both the technical part and the presentation part so it stays in my show!

Old Style Magic…

I’m a huge supporter of magic clubs. They are very useful for learning magic, as well and giving a sense of community. I made a couple of comments about a few things being an “older style of magic“, unfortunately I don’t recall the specific things I referred to. We also had someone new to magic … Continue reading “Old Style Magic…”

I’m a huge supporter of magic clubs. They are very useful for learning magic, as well and giving a sense of community. I made a couple of comments about a few things being an “older style of magic“, unfortunately I don’t recall the specific things I referred to. We also had someone new to magic at the magic club and they asked what I meant by “older style of magic“.


Like anything people change the way they do things and there are trends that come and go. An example of this is card tricks. More modern card tricks have less work that is tabled, however that’s changing due to the popularity of close up acts for TV. Modern card tricks also tend to have a lot less procedure and higher payoffs than the card tricks in Tarbell.


Stylistically what people are doing is more in your face than it was 20 years ago. I’m not saying that it’s good or bad, but different. Being aware of the styles and trends will keep your magic feeling up to date and fresh.