Shell Sequence…

Yesterday I wrote a post about what playing with gimmicked shells, pea and table for the three shell game. Here’s a simple sequence I put together with them to highlight what you can do with the combination:

My end goal is going to be having “zones” on my table that make the balls appear under that specific shell. I think will have some interesting possibilities…

Shell Game Embellishments…

When I was a teenager I ended up with a set magnetic set of shells for the Three Shell Game. If I recall they were Martin Swindle Shells. This set of shells had a magnet in them and a magnetic pea. I never really used the magnet as I couldn’t really figure out a way to get the pea off the magnet. That function seemed to be simply for a vanish of the pea, and that’s it.

Over the weekend I was playing with the idea of getting the pea off of the magnet while in the shell. The second phase of the video has what I’ve come up with:

My solution to getting the pea off of the magnet in the shell was to use a stronger magnet in the table. When the shell goes over that spot, it pulls the pea off the shell and onto the table. The larger idea is to have multiple magnets in the table, so it can be a larger routine with more phases.

Working On It…

One of the hardest things about creating magic right now is that due to restrictions I can’t really audience test things. I’ve written about my endings to the three shell game on this blog before and one that I’ve started doing post-COVID is the solid shell game.

One way to break things in are on live streams. My buddy was doing a live stream a few night ago and needed a guest, so I popped in, hung out and worked on some material.

Here’s the shell game from that live stream:

It’s coming along, just being able to do for something and not the wall at home makes a big difference! If you’ve got stuff you’re working on, go out and be a guest on someone’s live stream. It’s a much better space that doing your own live stream show, and there’s a lot less expectation for you to carry the show.

Shell Game Ending…

When I perform and have tried doing the solid shell kicker, it never played how I’d like. I think there’s a disconnect between the shell game and when the solid shell is reveals, it’s a little out of left field. I was playing around with an ending as a topper to the kicker of the solid shells that I found in an old notebook of mine.

You can read this post about it from about a month ago.

I don’t think I ever posted video of it. Here’s the first version of it. I need to remake it, but you get the idea

I’ve done this a few times over a livestream and so far it’s playing really well. I can’t wait to try it out for real people, whenever that will be!

Shell Game Ending…

If you read this blog or follow me on social media, you know I’m not the Three Shell Game. I’ve come up with several original takes on the classic trick, which is great for a routine that’s basically been unchanged decades. I just built an ending for the shell game that I think is pretty cool.

Before I tell you what I did, let me tell you the two types of tricks that I think are usually the most lazy ways of being creative with magic. They are items that are hollow and turn solid and items that turn into glass (or clear plastic). Yes, there are execptions, like when Jerry Andrus and Danny Korem first did the Omni Deck. If you take a marker an turn it clear…great, but unless you have a really original take on the switch, it’s just a color change and no different from turning the marker from red to black.

So now, let’s get back to the shell game. Personally I’ve never done the ending where the shells turn solid. Why? I don’t think it makes sense. It’s a kicker ending that’s not really logical and doesn’t really move the ending forward. It’s too different from what has happened the whole time. It’s a “what?” moment because it thinking of the audience has to shift a lot from what was happening the whole routine. It’s almost like it’s the beginning of a new routine.

How did I fix the solid shells? I took it a step further. I used it as the starting point for another effect. Here’s how the routine plays. You do a few shell sequences, then cover a shell and pea with a shot glass. They are mixed around and guess where the pea is. When they lift the shot glass, then the shell, they see no pea, and then they discover the shell is solid. Now it’s a mystery they just discovered. They will turn over the other two shells to check them, and they are solid as well. Having them discover the solid shell is soo much better than you revealing it.

Now for the new ending:

When they look at the shotglass that’s sitting on the table, they see the pea under it. When they pick up the shotglass, they realize the shotglass is solid! The pea is embedded in the solid shotglass!

three shell game

This is a solid (pun intended) ending for the solid shell game. It takes the routine one step forward to an ending that’s more logical than just the solid shells.

Large Three Shell Game…

One of the silver linings of the current “social distancing” is that I’m able to get work on some of my back burner projects, things that I aren’t a priority, but would like to get done. In the past, I have made a couple of giant shells for the three shell game out of a resin, but used a casting method to where the shells weren’t uniform. I’ve wanted to make a set where the shells inside and out were more uniform.


Yesterday I 3D printed a giant shell which will be the original that the other shells will be made from.

Giant Walnut for shell game

The next step is to make a silicone mold and cast them in resin. I’ll probably put a magnet in them so that they handle more like a chop cup than a shell game set.

Catch your whale

Right now we’ve all found ourselves with a lot of extra time. I’ve been using mine to try to catch my “Great White Whale” of tricks I’ve always wanted to create. This trick has been in my head for over a decade and a lot of things had to come together to for it to happen.


Here’s the trick, and be sure to watch the whole thing:


I’ve been fascinated by the idea of using a nested replicas of the main prop as a final load ever since I read Gary Oullett’s cups and balls routine in his Fulminations column in Genii magazine. Then about 10 or 15 years ago I thought about applying it to the shell game. The hurdle was getting shells to nest and enough of them.


Then the breakthrough came when I got a 3D printer. I could print the shells, however the problem was they didn’t look like shells. They looked like plastic things that kinda looked like walnut shells. A friend of mine sent me a link of how to make molds and I tried to learn off of youtube videos with limited success. I ended up taking a 4 hour class on making molds and resin casting that really helped speed up the learning curve.


I kept making baby steps to get towards the end result and finally got there. I’m not done yet, ideally in the future I’ll have some shells that look a little bit better, but for now I have a workable version of the trick!


Social Distance Magic

Well, in the span of two days the world has really changed, or at least the United States has. In a span of 48 hours we’ve have bans on events of over 100 people and entire states close their school districts for over a month! Many performers are complaining about this, instead moving forward and … Continue reading “Social Distance Magic”

Well, in the span of two days the world has really changed, or at least the United States has. In a span of 48 hours we’ve have bans on events of over 100 people and entire states close their school districts for over a month! Many performers are complaining about this, instead moving forward and innovating.


Right now as a performer you don’t have control over attendance caps on events or the venue being able to sanitize it, so let’s look at something we can control, close up magic. Right now no one wants to touch anything. Everything is getting wiped down and people are constantly sanitizing. It’s gotta be a hard time for a close up magician. One of the advantages is that people can touch the props and the magic happens in their hands.


Currently having someone hold sponge balls isn’t socially acceptable, I’d argue it hasn’t been for a while as they are full of germs. Even if you wash them every night, they are gross by the time the second person holds them. Sponge balls are crutch for lazy close up performers. It’s easy for a beginner to get a reaction with them, and I’ll admit it’s a good trick. If you took it out of your close up set, would people like your act the same?


I’m looking at my close up show and thinking about what I can do without people touching anything. I don’t do sponge balls, or sponge anything, so that’s no problem. My ambitious card routine (technically a multiple revelation) needs one bit cut out of it, which is the card to mouth phase. This is a bit I started to get uncomfortable with a few years ago, and this is what I need to force me to take it out. My linking pins routine has two in the hands phases, however those are newer additions to the routine, and I can revert to the old routine which is almost as strong as the current one. The shell game,and cup and dice routine all can be done without people touching anything.


Look at your close up show, can you do it in our current climate of “social distancing”?

On The Job Training…

One thing that’s been a staple of my close up work is the Three Shell Game. It’s been something I’ve done since I was a teenager. It’s a great trick, everyone knows what it is and how to play it. This week at my gig at the airport I added the Trade Show Shells. These … Continue reading “On The Job Training…”

One thing that’s been a staple of my close up work is the Three Shell Game. It’s been something I’ve done since I was a teenager. It’s a great trick, everyone knows what it is and how to play it.


This week at my gig at the airport I added the Trade Show Shells. These are a jumbo set of shells and they work differently than a standard set of shells.


I’ve owned a set of a long time, and never really had a place to use them. When I do stage work, it’s hard to make them play, as I’m usually on a raised stage with the audience below me. That makes it hard to see the pea or follow it.


What’s cool about doing this at the airport is that they want the people to win. We’re playing it for prizes, so it’s not a “magic routine“. What that means is that I get to practice handling the props and doing the manipulation. In each group, there’s one person that I use the gimmicks on and am working out a routine that way. Essentially I’m getting paid to work out a routine for the trick!!! It’s great!

Four Dollar Routine…

This week I was on the road performing for a few days. Earlier in the week Barry Mitchell in his Facebook group posted a picture of some kids magic tricks that Target was selling for dollar each. At one point I was at a Target so I picked them up. Two of the tricks that … Continue reading “Four Dollar Routine…”

This week I was on the road performing for a few days. Earlier in the week Barry Mitchell in his Facebook group posted a picture of some kids magic tricks that Target was selling for dollar each. At one point I was at a Target so I picked them up.


Two of the tricks that Target sells are the Ball and Vase and the Burglar Box. The Burglar Box is a clear box that a ball penetrates the bottom of to end up inside. Unlike the Ball and Vase, the Burglar box isn’t the best first trick for a kid as it will take a fair amount of practice to do well.


My initial idea was to buy three of the Burglar Boxes and do some sort of shell game with them. I bought three of them and three Ball and Vases. Here’s the little routine I came up with:


It’s a decent little routine for $4, and a fun little exercise to try to make more out of a beginner’s trick.