Economy Of Motion

When I was at Tokyo Disneyland at the magic shop, one of the things that stood out to me was how the demonstrator moved his hands. There was no wasted motion, it was very efficient.

Tokyo Disneyland magic shop

One of the things with sleight of hand is Economy of Motion. You don’t want more motion than is necessary to do the sleight of hand, or you want to try to reduce motion. However that is with hidden motion, and it doesn’t necessarily apply to the visible motions that are made openly. Sometimes doing something like taking a card and putting it into the deck doesn’t need to look efficient or slick. It can look sloppy and that sloppiness can hide the sleight of hand, or enhance the effect.

A good example of where I try to be less efficient is when I do card to wallet. I used to be soo efficient with removing the card from the wallet that some of the effect was lost. Now I take my time opening the wallet and fumble while pulling out the card. That reinforces that the card doesn’t fit easily into the wallet, so I couldn’t have easily snuck it into it!

Take a peek at what you do and figure out when to have as few motions as possible and when you need more!


Cards for Color Changing Card Backs

When I was buying some props at a Walmart I came across the Nertz game that is put out by Bicycle. It’s got different colors of the rider back cards. These would be great for making color changing card tricks. The only downside is that these appear to only come in jumbo index.

and a funny little thing that I noticed is on the back it lists all the colors and which ones are new. It lists red as a new color?!

Cards for color changing backs magic trick

If you’re working on a color changing card effect, I think it’s worth it to pick up a pack of these!


Thumb Tie and the Linking Safety Pins

The last couple of days I’ve been working on using a giant set of safety pins onstage for a linking pin routine. Recently I started adding a thumb tie to it to add length. One thing I quickly learned is that there’s a ton of dead time at the end of the routine when I’m having the tape cut off of my thumbs.

My first attempt for fixing the dead time was to add a trick to the end. What I was doing was taking the tape and turning it into an animal balloon. That went over fine, but it’s not the right fix for the routine.

I think my second attempt is a reasonable solution to making the dead time of cutting the tape off my fingers worth it. I’m moving the thumb tie to the first half of the trick. After the thumb tie, the tape is cut off, then I move into the linking pins routine. This has been playing a lot better!

Now I need to keep adding meat to the routine to get it good.


Doing a Bar Gig

I don’t do a lot of bar gigs anymore, I’m not opposed to them, but they don’t normally make sense with my schedule. Last week I headlined a comedy show at a speakeasy. It was a fun gig!

One of the skills you need for these gigs is to be able to follow any act. The act before me was a comic that was fairly blue, and I do a “TV clean” show, so there’s contrast and the audience has to shift mental gears from his style to mine. There’s nothing wrong with what he was doing, that’s his art. When there’s contrast like that, you need to come onstage with confidence, you’re bringing the audience into your world.

Before the show I always try to do some close up magic, that will have people in the audience already on your side!

close up magic

The “green room” was in a back corner of the bar and the cool thing was I could watch the show on the TV!

comedy show

Also I don’t normally have merch to sell at bar gigs, but I took some of my faux children’s books C is for Conspiracy: The ABC’s of Conspiracy Theories and pitched them from the stage.

bar magic show

They sold well after the show, so that was a bonus!!

Bar gigs have a lot of challenges, like sight lines, rowdy crowds, challenging stages, however I find them very rewarding as a performer. Because they are typically smaller venues you can connect with people a lot more than in a larger venue.


The 10 Count

About a month ago I went to Disneyland with a bunch of entertainers after an event we were all at. While not everyone was specifically a magician, everyone there had a magic component in their show. Somehow the “10 Count” with sponge balls came up.

The 10 Count is a little thing where a sponge ball travels from one hand to the other while you count to ten. Each number has a physical action associated with it. It’s a great framing for a quick trick and isn’t limited to sponge balls. I first learned the 10 Count from a sponge ball book when I was a teenager, however it looks like it was probably created by Martin Gardner using matchsticks.

If you don’t know it, it’s worth looking up!


Card Production

A few nights ago I was dinking around with a deck of cards while watching a movie with my wife and came up with a production of the top card of a face down deck.

It’s not the greatest production, but it’s something. The action of the card reminds me of something in Ernest Earick‘s book By Forces Unseen.

I think the next step to making it better would be a way to have it come out of the center of the deck…but not sure if that’s possible!


Update For Nick Trost’s Mexican Monte

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Nick Trost’s Mexican Monte packet trick (read it here). I was thinking about it and the end with the card with a different colored back is okay, but I think it needed something a little punchier.

Here’s what I came up with:

@louiefoxx Vintage Magic Trick – Updates for Nick Trost's Mexican Monte #magictrick #packettricks #cardtrick #sleightofhand #louiefoxx #nicktrost #vintagemagic ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

The ending doesn’t play well on camera and from the straight down angle as well as in real life if the change is done by rubbing the card on your sleeve. The Tree of Hearts is think is a more visual ending and having the face change is more of a punctuation on the trick, than the original ending of simply turning the last card over.


The Wagon of Whimsy

A few months ago I was performing at an event with Ky Dobson and his Wagon of Whimsy. This is a pedal tractor that pulls a wagon that’s got a buttons that do all sorts of funny things, and he tells jokes and does magic and juggling. Ky is a trained clown, and very personable.

He wanted a something to do with an egg that was dinosaur related. This is what we came up with:

Ky had some dinosaur parts and for me the obvious thing was using the dinosaur head like Bob Farmer’s Little Hand trick. It’s a fun simple little trick that was getting great reactions from the kids!


Remembering an Old Seattle Magician

Recently I was hanging out with some magicians working on some new magic and someone looked up and saw the cards on the ceiling and wondered who put them there.

card on ceiling magic trick by cliff gustafson

I immediately knew, it was Cliff!!

I'm here on Wednesdays
A short film about magic cliff gustafson

In the 1990’s I met Cliff Gustafson, he was a Seattle magician who worked a lot of bars in the Seattle area. It feels like he worked 1-2 bars a night seven nights a week! He stood out, he wore a tuxedo with a bowtie and everyone knew him!

Cliff wasn’t the best technical or original magician in the world, don’t get me wrong, all the tricks he did were solid! What he excelled at the hardest part of performing magic, he was likable! When you watched Cliff perform, you instantly liked him!

Cliff was always really cool to me, and you can watch a short documentary about him that has some clips of him performing at:

Cliff passed away in 2016, and Seattle lost it’s hardest working magician!


Sponge Peeps – 2nd Attempt

Yesterday I wrote about a failed attempt at making sponge bunnies that look like Marshmallow Peeps (read about it here). I made a second attempt, and this one turned out much better. Instead of using actual Marshmallow Peeps to create the mold, I sculpted them out of clay.

sponge marshmallow peeps magic trick

My mold is one full size bunny and then two smaller ones. My thinking is that I can get a full set out of two castings in the mold. I can make additional molds if this is something I want to make a lot of.

I used foam in the mold as I already had that at home, so it was easy to make a test with.

sponge marshmallow peeps magic trick

They came out with a workable density, I think that I would like them to be a little bit softer, so I’ll have to explore some other densities of foam. The next step will be to play with adding pigment to them so that they’re yellow.