Having a second set of eyes helps a lot when working on things. Every now and then when I do virtual shows I’ll sneak a friend into the zoom and have them write notes on the show. Recently my friend noticed a rookie mistake I made.
In my three shell game routine (my Russian Shell Game routine) I have a graphic overlay pop up with the numbers 1, 2 and 3.
I wear a white shirt and the numbers are white. My friend pointed out that they blended into my shirt. It was a simple fix to add black borders to them for the future
Now they’ll work with pretty much any background.
Having a fresh set of eyes watch your show for little things make a big difference!
One of the silver linings about having the entertainment industry shut down during the COVID pandemic is that I’m getting play around with making a lot more props. One thing that I’ve wanted to make for a while are peas for the threeshell game.
I had some time some the other day and made some molds for the peas. Then I picked up some urethane and made them. The urethane I used was a 40A on the Shore Hardness Scale.
They have a little bit of give, but are pretty firm. I like them so far!
One thing that I like about the Three Card Monte is that it automatically engages the entire audience. It’s a game they all can play with being the person playing it. That’s why I think things like the 3 Card Monte or the Three Shell Game are perfect for virtual shows. The level of engagement is great!
Here’s a video from a practice session:
I’m working out the sequence, right now it’s:
Mix and the money card is in a different position
Set aside a non-money card, do the mix and the money card is now the one set aside
cards change so the two non-money cards are now the money card and the money card is now the non-money card
all cards change into jokers
There’s a lot of magic that happens in that sequence. It’s a pretty amazing sequence, and basically using the three card monte premise as a presentation hook for card color changes.
One of the Facebook groups that I belong to is a Magician’s 3D Printing group. It’s an interesting group, a few people in it are making some cool stuff. Recently someone asked if anyone had made a chop cup before. I mentioned that I had and made stack of nested cups as a final load for it.
I no longer have the set of cups, but here’s an idea of what they looked like:
This set was 100% inspired by Gary Ouellet‘s column Fulminations in Genii Magazine where he had a series of nested cups as the ending for a cups and balls routine. This led to my Russian Shell Game trick, which is a Three Shell Game that ends with a ton of shells on the table.
The fun thing about the time we live in, is with a little bit of tinkering around, you can make virtually any prop you’ve ever wanted with 3d printer!
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!
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.
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!
One of the things that I try to do in my show is not to use props that other people use. It could be the same prop, but mine looks different. Usually the reason mine looks different is because I made it myself (or had it made for me). I read a long time ago … Continue reading “Make It Yourself…”
One of the things that I try to do in my show is not to use props that other people use. It could be the same prop, but mine looks different. Usually the reason mine looks different is because I made it myself (or had it made for me). I read a long time ago in an SH Sharpe book on magic theory that when you make the prop the pride your have from making it will show in your performance and that’s something that’s stuck in my head.
Recently I searched for a set of large walnuts to make my own set for the three shell game. I finally found some in the Ukraine had them shipped to me. I altered one of them a little bit and made a mold of it, and then cast my own set of shell game shells in resin.
These shells are larger than most shells, but not too large. I’ve used them in a couple of gigs and they’re working out great. The next step is to learn to reduce the tiny air bubbles in them.
A while ago I posted a picture of some newly acquired three shell games sets for my collection of them. Michael of Wack-O-Magic offered me a set of clear walnut shells he had made, but never figured out a use for. He sent me the only two sets he had made. This isn’t the first … Continue reading “Another Day, Another Shell Game Move”
A while ago I posted a picture of some newly acquired three shell games sets for my collection of them. Michael of Wack-O-Magic offered me a set of clear walnut shells he had made, but never figured out a use for. He sent me the only two sets he had made.
This isn’t the first set of clear shells, I also have a set of La Maggiore Cristallina shells, which are beautiful! I never really used them much as they don’t fit into the routine that I do.
With Michael sending me two sets, one set went into the collection and the other set sat on my desk for me to play with. Here’s what I came up with:
Staring at the shells led me to some out of the box thinking that gave me another unique shell game move! I think Terry Seabrooke mentioned how he creates with a prop on an old VHS tape. He said, he puts the prop somewhere where he’ll see it all the time, a place where he’ll basically trip over it every day. That makes him think about the prop in short chunks all day.
I think Terry’s method is a good one, it makes you think about the prop, but you aren’t sitting at a desk having a staring contest with it. I know I’ve come up with many tricks simply using stuff that’s within eyesight of my desk.
One of the things that frustrates me is when people say that they aren’t creative, or that all the good ideas have been had (for a specific trick). Those are both excuses for being lazy. Creativity takes work, it’s not something that magically pops into your head. Here’s a good example of something new within … Continue reading “Nothing New Under The Sun…”
One of the things that frustrates me is when people say that they aren’t creative, or that all the good ideas have been had (for a specific trick). Those are both excuses for being lazy. Creativity takes work, it’s not something that magically pops into your head.
Here’s a good example of something new within something old. Bob Sheets has a great move he uses in the Three Shell Game. That’s a trick that’s virtually unchanged since it was created. However, Bob created the “Sheets Aquitment” which I think is revolutionary.
Many years ago I came up with a move for the shell game that uses a finger ring:
While not as earthshaking as Bob’s move, it is still something new for the shell game. My advice is to keep plugging away with whatever trick you love and you’ll eventually leave your mark on it!