The vanishing bird cage that I won at the recent Potter and Potter auction showed up! The description said they thought it was from the 1930’s, I think it’s a little bit later than than, but it’s really hard to say.
The cage is 5 inches by 4 inches and 4 inches tall and made of brass. That makes this thing HEAVY! When you’re doing the vanishing bird cage, one of the things that you are fighting during the vanish is gravity. The weight of the cage doesn’t help you win that fight!
To put it in perspective, I have another cage of similar construction and dimensions.
The brass cage on the right is 337 grams or almost 3/4 of a pound! The cage on the left is 165 grams, that’s essentially half the weight of the brass cage. The cage on the left also collapses into a thinner profile. I suspect the brass cage was made as a DIY vanishing birdcage, and not something that was mass produced for sale to other magicians.
I’m glad to have added this to my collection, and gotten to compare it to something similar, but half the weight to really confirm my suspicion that weight does matter in a vanishing cage!
A little bit ago I came across someone selling a used folding nickel.
It turns out they have two of them:
The one with the straight cut appears to be more homemade and the profile cut seems to be a more professional job. With the nickel being soo small, I don’t know why you’d need it to fold into more than one piece, unless it’s to hide the cut. It appears the one with the straight cut, the cut goes around the building on the tails side to hide the cut.
I honestly have no idea what you would use it for. I checked and a nickel won’t got into a bottle, so you could use it for that, but the effect won’t have nearly the impact as a doing it with a quarter or half dollar.
A quick google search didn’t bring up any listings for anyone selling these folding nickels, so the may be something that someone made a batch of and never sold.
I kind of want to buy them and try to figure out a trick to do with them. If you have any ideas beyond coin in bottle and coin through ring, let me know!
One of the issues I have with the Die Box magic trick is that I’m not sure what it is. It uses two very unusual props, a giant die and the strange box. Well, yesterday I was at a junk shop and found this box. It’s not a die box, but it sure as heck looks like one.
The shop owner didn’t know what it was for. Now that I’ve found something that looks like a die box, that’s not made for magic, it really doesn’t justify it as a prop.
As part of my going through the book The Artist’s Way, I’m trying to do more reading. A few years ago I was at the William McIlhaney auction and picked up the book Of Legierdemaine and Diverse Juggling Knacks.
I started reading it when I first got it, but didn’t get too far into it. I’m restarting reading it and there’s a lot of interesting things in the book. The book is John Braun’s column from the Linking Ring a long time ago. I found it fascinating that people used to take notes of other people’s shows. They are in John’s column from historical magicians. It will list the tricks they did and the run time of their program. It was surprising to me that most of the magicians from the early 1900’s only did about 20-30 minutes. I just assumed most of them had a 90 minute show.
In the one of the columns they mention Herrmann doing what we now call the Muscle Pass!
I’ve encountered another past reference to the muscle pass, but done with an egg in the book It’s Fun To be Fooled by Horace Goldin. In it he mentions shooting an egg out of his palm into a spectator’s mouth!
I love learning little bits of history of what we think of as a modern move, that has been largely forgotten.
Last month when I was at the Abbott’s Magic Get Together, I was doing my trick Out For Beers. This combines a brand new gag card with a classic principle. Many of the magicians who I showed it to asked if I would sell it to them. I didn’t have any with me to sell, so I couldn’t. Because of that demand, I made up some sets for sale.
Here’s what it looks like:
What I like about it, is you are using the gag to get into the trick. Where most of the tricks that use the Out to Lunch principle, the cards are the focus of the trick. They have no reason to be there aside from the trick. That’s what makes Out For Beers great, the trick is unexpected.
Here’s What You Get: *Gimmicked card to show the full beer pitcher *50 cards showing the empty pitcher *Rubber band *Instructions *BONUS: 5 extra cards that show the full beer pitcher
I’m still going through the book The Artist’s Way, which is a book about being more creative. It’s a 12 week program that has a lot of writing you need to do. I’m just starting week two, and I’ll say, I’m getting more than I expected to get out of it.
For me, the big thing is the morning writing you do each day. It’s just putting a pen to paper and writing for three pages. It’s a free writing scenario, you write whatever’s on your mind. I’ve had a couple of great ideas come out of the writing. It’s also giving me more depth as a person on and off stage as it’s making me explore some internal things that I might not really have looked at.
One of the ideas that came out of the daily writing is a trick with a jar of candy. The jar is full, then I produce candy and when you look back at the jar, it’s now half full. You then put the candy you just made appear back into the jar and it’s full again. The method is solid, and practical. I wouldn’t really have this trick it if it wasn’t for the daily morning writing. I still need to make the trick…but it wouldn’t exist on paper at least without the morning writing!
I’ve been working on this Silver Extraction coin trick style routine at the fair this week. I’ve learned a lot. First of all, I think the more complex method I’ve come up with to switch the coins, has some advantages over simply doing a shuttle pass. A shuttle pass is a solid method for doing the trick, however the advantage of my complex method is that I can hold the coin more openly after the switch.
One of the problems I’ve encountered working on this is getting the shell to stick to the magnet on the lighter. The solution was simple, I added a second magnet to the lighter and some more shim steel to the shell coin.
Having more magnets and more steel to grab solved the problem. The lighter really firmly attaches to the coin.
Another thing that I’ve learned about the trick is that I need to call attention to the three layer of the coin. Most people have noticed the layers, but never really thought about them. The trick has been getting great responses from the people at the fair this week. I really like how strange the trick is.
Yesterday I started messing around with the Silver Extraction coin trick. Traditionally how the trick goes, is you give them the coin that they hold in their fist. You then pull the silver (silver blob) through their hand and they are left with a clear coin. I think the pulling through the hand is fun, but I think this particular set of coins has a different effect possible.
here’s the idea:
I like the visual of the shaking and having the silver blob sliding around on top of the copper center of the coin. Method wise, I’m not sure it’s an improvement over just a shuttle pass. I’ll be trying out both methods today at the fair.
Many years ago when I was working at Market Magic Shop, I used to demo and sell a trick called Silver Extraction. The effect is you take a half dollar and it ends up turning into a blob of silver and a clear coin. Then at some point someone made a coin that was just the copper center of a half dollar. I don’t know what the routine was, but I’m going to assume it was a similar effect.
I always thought it would be great paired with the blob of silver that came with the Johnson Silver Extraction. Unfortunately they stopped making the Silver Extraction a long time ago, so that was something I never did. Well, recently I came across one of the blobs of silver and bought it.
Now that I have the two of them, I can try it out!
Many years ago I bought a trick in a bin of discount magic that was a change of a spoon to a fork. When I opened the package, I thought it was garbage, and as written in the instructions, it really was garbage. Then I started presenting this as a transposition between and fork and a spoon and it played much better. It’s a real fooler for audiences.
This trick has basically lived in my preshow for years, but never made it up into the main show. It was missing something. I ran the trick through a workshop group I’m in and they all thought it needed a surprise ended. They were pulling for a spork, which is funny, but I think it lacks visual contrast from a spoon or fork as an ending.
Here’s what I came up with yesterday:
I do like the surprise of the knife. Now the routine needs to be fleshed out a bit more and performed for an audience a bit and we’ll see if it goes anywhere…