When I was younger I used to dice stack and was pretty good at it…but that was 20 years ago. I’ve played with it off and on over the last few decades, but never really worked too hard at in. I’m trying to keep up the skill, and not sure what I want to do with it, but I’d like to get past a bit of the basic skill I’ve retained.
This week at the AirBnB, I put my dice and cup in the kitchen and whenever I walk by it I have to practice!
I have a little three phase routine that I have to do. It’s four dice one at a time, then two pairs of two and finally all four dice at once. If I fail on any of the stacks I need to start over. This should help me get my skills back a little bit. Once I get those stacks consistent, I’m going to start working on some more exotic stacks.
I made it to the last day, and despite a late night, I got up on time! FISM is the longest magic convention that I’ve ever attended. You can really push yourself with lack of sleep at a three or four day magic convention, but with FISM at a week long, it’s really a marathon!
The final day of the convention ended with Stuart McDonald’s act, which I’d seen last year at Abbott’s Magic Get Together. I thought he was going to be a strong contender, but it got a very different reaction to the act at FISM than he got at Abbott’s. You should follow him on Facebook and read his post about how he feels he act was received and why it was received that way. It’s very honest and I think correct in thinking that it was the wrong act for this specific contest.
After the contest, it was off for lunch. I’m amazed that this area of Quebec City after having around 1,500 magicians in town for a week, people still asked up to show them tricks when we were at restaurants or bars.
I think that’s a testament to how strong the magic is at FISM both on the stages and in the audiences. No one is doing bad magic here, and everyone even informally has brought their “A game”.
The contests ended with the Winner’s Gala and the Awards Gala, which were to separate events. The Winner’s Gala was first, where the first place acts of all the categories in stage and close up performed their acts. Unfortunately due to some really bad camera work, Markobi’s close up card act was unwatchable. It’s really disappointing for people who bought tickets to the show, to have an act that you couldn’t see because the camera was pointed in the wrong spot. After Markobi, was Luis Olmedo who won Micro Magic and should be given the “boss status” award after the camera work was bad or non existent, he simply stopped and said, “I’ll wait” and did just that until the tech team got their sh*t together.
Then the evening ended with the Awards Gala, which didn’t make sense as we already knew who the first place winners were. While I congratulate everyone who got second and third place in their categories, it was pretty anticlimactic. The only surprises were the Grand Prix and Special Awards, but that wasn’t enough to carry the Awards Gala.
On the official FISM schedule after the Awards Gala was a “party” in the banquet room. This party was moved to the back of the dealers room and was exactly what had been happening the previous few nights. For an amazing week that really could have ended on a HIGH, the last two events were a bit of a let down. While I should have hung out at the party, I had an early flight the next day and did my farewell tour saying goodbye and made it to my hotel for a solid five hours of sleep.
The day after FISM ended, when people were heading to the airport the texts started coming in. People were testing for COVID before returning home and they were testing positive for COVID.
Luckily I tested negative, but I still have a few more days before I’m officially in the clear.
Exposure to COVID aside, I had as much fun at FISM as I did when I was a teenager going to magic conventions. It rekindled my desire to attend more magic conventions and will probably carve out a week each summer to go to a magic convention. I left feeling inspired, and overall it’s good for my soul as an artist to be exposed to high level art!
I’m trying to get ahead of orders and have a few more things in stock. Yesterday I needed to make a new mold for my Russian Shell Game trick. I figured I show you what goes into it. I had already made the bottom part of the mold, so here’s how the second half was made.
I put left the shells in the mold and gave it a coat of mold release, otherwise the silicone would stick, and I’d just have a block of silicone with some shells inside that I couldn’t get out.
Then I measured out the silicone and mixed it up:
That gets poured into the existing mold:
Once it poured, I need to wait until it’s fully cured:
And violia! I’ve got the second part of my mold!
Now I take the resin, color it and mix it up, and that goes into the mold:
I put the top on the mold and let that cure until it’s finished hardening:
Once it’s done, I pop that out and I have the almost finished shells. They still need to be sanded. This is a quick way to produce the sets of these shells.
And here’s what the finished product does:
I hope this little walk through of what it takes to make some of my magic props will give you a little insight into the work that goes into prop building! -Louie
During that jam session on the take out production box a well known magician said I should release it soon “before it gets out there and someone else does“. While I agree with why I should release it soon, honestly I don’t like the idea of putting out things before they are ready. It’s a sad state of magic where someone would hear about the idea and rush to beat me to market, however that’s the nature of the business world. I’ve always said magicians need to play business like it’s a real business, that means protecting things with patents, copyright, etc. So it’s really my fault if someone gets ahead of me on putting the Take Out Box Production on the market.
It’s taken forever, but I’m getting to work on assembling a briefcase magic show. I dug out of the shed an old Pelican 1525 case that I bought for a specific gig a while ago, then used for my outdoor kid shows in the summer of 2020.
This case had a flange on the bottom, and I took that off. It used to have a bunch of custom 3d printed holders in it, but I took them out when I started using the case for the kid shows. I did leave my Sharpie holder in the case. This is a pretty creative solution to keeping pens easily accessible. The yellow holder has magnets in it, and so do the pens. They will pretty securely in the holder, but are easy to reach in and remove.
I’m starting to play with the layout of things in the case:
I have to make some choices, like using poker size cards, or moving up to parlour or jumbo sized cards. I think that choice will end up being made for me by what props/routines end up in the show. -Louie
I redesigned the pulley for the double action birdcage pull that I made yesterday. The main difference is that it’s slightly larger and the hole on the non pulley side has been moved 90 degrees.
Here’s a side by side comparison with the one that I made yesterday. The old one is on the left and the new design is on the right with the strings on it.
I foreseeing possibly making it wider with the ends flaring out, so that it doesn’t roll inside the jacket and twist the line. We’ll see if that actually ends up being a problem, or if tension alone will straighten out or keep the lines straight. I’ll play with it a bit and see what happens.
If you’re curious about this style of pull, I think I first read about it in Jim Steinmeyer‘s book The Magic of Alan Wakeling. In that book it’s used to vanish a fan, however I think using a pulley on a wrist to wrist pull is much older than Wakeling using it.
This week is the final week of my “fair” season. I end my run on Saturday after performing 66 shows over 22 days at a State Fair. I really like performing at state and county fairs across the USA in the summer. One of the things that I really like about it is that in my preshow I get to work on tricks and jokes that aren’t ready for the main show.
In my show I have materials that’s A, B and C material. A is the stuff that’s finished and plays well. B are tricks that aren’t quite done yet, they’ll be things missing, like maybe the trick is there, but needs some jokes, or the routine is there, but the method or something isn’t quite right. Finally, there’s the C material, and that’s stuff that’s just ideas.
My goal for the summer is to move as much A material out of the show as I can. I do that by levelling up all the other stuff. I work hard at figuring out what’s missing from the B material, and try to move it up to the A level. Once that happens, I stop doing an A routine and put the former B trick in it’s place.
Then there’s the C material, I work on that during my preshow. The goal is to move it to B or drop it. Some ideas are just that…ideas. They may be great ideas, but they’re not for me or my show. It’s good to learn that fairly early on, so you don’t waste too much time with them. This is also why I’m a huge fan of getting material on stage as quickly as possible. That’s the easiest way to figure out if there’s something there or not.
It’s also crazy how quickly things can level up if you put in the time and effort and you have three shows a day for 22 days to work on them. For example the version of the Invisible Deck that I started doing this month (see an early version here) has moved from a C trick to B+ or A- routine in a few weeks. Once I got the technical side down and then found the presentational hook, it was just polishing it up. The routine works as is now, but there is on small technical thing I’d like to figure out…however if I never solve the problem, the routine works great in it’s current form.
I’m very fortunate to have a venue to actively work on new material!
I’m was home for a day and in the mail that had been accumulating was a book called Bingo Bango by Jeff Stone. It’s a book about the classic practical joke item that makes a loud bang and surprises people.
The book is a fun read and has over 100 things you can do with the Bingo Device. There are jokes, magic tricks, gags and more.
What surprise me was that apparently at some point I had helped Jeff figure out some of the history of the is joke. I know a bit about about, when I used to work at Market Magic Shop in Seattle, I sold a ton of them. They came in many different forms, sometimes hidden in books, or pens, or even on that is held on your hand like a joy buzzer.
It was very sweet of Jeff to send me a book, and he wrote me a nice note as well:
This is a fun book, and if you’re into practical jokes it’s great! Another fun thing about this book is to see how brainstorming on one idea can lead to soo many different ideas!
After one of my shows yesterday at the fair I’m performing at, I had a guy tell me something interesting after the show. He was a caterer and has worked with a lot of local performers, so he’s seen some magicians, and told me that. The caterer told me that my product wasn’t a magic show, it was my personality.
I 100% agree with his assessment and that’s the goal with the show. It’s not about the tricks, while they are important and I select them to hopefully move the story of my personality forward. What I’m selling is how I work, not what I work with.
Some magicians live on the the tricks that they do and that’s an easier route than trying to live on your personality. One of the hard things is when people don’t like your show, that directly means they don’t like you. Where if you do an effect driven show, if they don’t like the show they don’t like the tricks.
This week I’m performing at a 9 day fair and it’s been a little while since I’ve done my full stage show, so I’ve had a few little road bumps. The biggest one is that I’m not doing my cracker card trick. It’s a fun trick with some twists and turns and it’s an unusual trick.
The problem is the cracker packaging I need to do the trick doesn’t appear to be made anymore. I need to load a cracker into a cracker wrapper and seal it, and all of the packing that I’ve found recently don’t work for the resealing part, and are super tight making the loading really difficult without damaging the cracker.
After much searching, this cracker finally popped up. The packaging looks looser that what I’ve been able to get recently. While that solves one of the issues, it doesn’t solve the other. The placement of the seam on the packaging is in the middle, and that won’t work for the resealing of the cracker package.
I’ve got an idea of how to make it work, however you can’t just order one or two crackers to try out the idea. I need to order a box of 500 of them and after shipping I’m about $50 into crackers! The trick is worth the gamble, let’s hope it works when they show up on Thursday!