A question I recently got asked about my Take Up Reelfor the vanishing bird cage is how much can you move around with it on. My answers is that it gives you pretty much full range of motion.
For the last month I’ve been performing 2-3 shows a day and my 45 minutes show ends with the vanishing birdcage. I’m pretty physical in the show, and in the middle of the show I do some trick roping with the take up reel on my left wrist with the pull set to the long position.
Right after the trick roping routine, I could reach over, grab the cage and vanish it. I don’t as the cage is about 15 mins later in the show, but in that picture the working end of the take up reel is in my right sleeve.
For me and how I perform, using a take up reel allows me to do the vanishing birdcage. It’d be impossible using just a wrist to wrist pull.
I’m just wrapping up run of 8 days of shows using the Riser/Summers Baby Lindy Vanishing Birdcage. This is the first long run of shows that I’ve done using the cage. First of all, this cage has really no break in time, it’s good to go right out of the box and for me it’s the perfect amount of rigidity.
I use a Nielsen rubber canary in my cage, and currently the Riser/Summers cage comes with one, which is nice. I’ve noticed that there are two types of the canaries that Nielsen has put out over the years. One of them is a lighter yellow and one is a brighter yellow. The lighter yellow one is a thinner latex than the brighter yellow one. I prefer the lighter one inside of my cage as it collapses much flatter and if any of it is sticking out of the cage, it doesn’t really provide any resistance if it catches on my sleeve.
This cage works perfectly with my Take Up Reel, so I’m able to close the show with it. The other thing that’s great about this cage’s size is that I’m able to bend my elbow with it all the way up my sleeve, making the motions of my arm much more natural feeling (at least to me) after the vanish.
I’m having a great time with this cage and if you’re in the market for a cage, I recommend the Riser/Summers Baby Lindy Vanishing Birdcage! -Louie
A while ago I order one of Daniel Summers’s Baby Lindy Vanishing Bird Cages. This is the Jim Riser Baby Lindy Vanishing Cage that’s built by Daniel. Jim Riser’s cages are sought after for magicians as he didn’t make a lot of them as he’s not currently making them, didn’t sell them to just anyone, you had to prove you could do the cage for him to sell you one. It’s great that Jim has authorized Summers to make them for him.
Mine showed up in the mail the other day:
It comes with a pull, canary and carrying bag.
When collapsed it will fit through my wedding ring:
I hooked it up to my Take Up Reel and in theory, I won’t need to change the pull length as it will take the corner to the same spot in my sleeve as the Owen Vanishing Bird Cage that I’m currently using.
After practicing with it, there’s a lot I like about it. It’s just the right amount of rigid, not too stiff and not too floppy. It’s smaller than I thought it would be, for some perspective, it’s slightly larger than a Milson Worth Silver Meteor Vanishing Cage. When the vanish is complete, the bottom goes past my elbow, so I have more use of my are than I do with the Owen cage.
As for what I don’t like about it, there’s really nothing I don’t like about it. If I had to come up with something, I guess it would be the price. I’m not complaining about the price, I understand what goes into making them, it’s just a big leap from the cost of an Owen cage. I do think the Summers/Riser cage is 100% worth it!
I really like this cage, and can’t wait to start to use it in my shows next week! -Louie
One thing I’ve realized as I’m out there talking more and more about the vanishing birdcage is how many magicians have never actually seen it done live. Many have seen it on an old video of Blackstone, but not live. At a virtual magic lecture someone asked me about my Take Up Reel that I used with a vanishing birdcage, so I gave a quick talk about it.
I think most magicians dismiss the cage as they think it’s much simpler than it actually is. There’s a lot more to doing it consistently than simply pushing your arms forward. However when they see it done in real time they realize how amazing the trick is! -Louie
Yesterday was a building day over here. Just me with my headphones in listening to music and working on building props for other performers. I’m very thankful for days when I can spend the day just building props without any distractions.
It’s also nice to be able to get ahead and build some extra things so I have some things in stock. Today I managed to be able to get a couple of extra Take Up Reels finished, so now I have some in stock and can ship them out immediately.
Before 2020, I really didn’t keep anything in stock, and everything was made to order. At that point you could really only get my magic tricks from Hocus-Pocus.com. After the venues closed in 2020 I started offering my magic trick for sale here and have a lot more in stock, that’s ready to ship out than I did two years ago.
It’s been great to learn that making items in batches, even when I only need to ship out one of them is a HUGE timesaver. It’s like in sleight of hand, it comes down to the economy of motion. With magic manufacturing, making four of them is usually the same effort as making one.
Now look at what you do in performing. Do you do several different shows, that may share a prop? Would it be easier and ultimately save you a lot of time if you had two of that prop, so you didn’t need to move it case to case? Could you have more than one of your show costume to save time taking it to the cleaners? All of these things could potentially save you a lot of time when you add up all the wasted time over the months and years.
There’s a lot of misinformation around about the Vanishing Birdcage. I have never really considered myself an expert about that trick, but recently it’s become clear that I know a lot more than most people, but still don’t consider myself an expert. It’s a trick I’ve been fascinated with for a long time, I’ve used off and on since I was a teenager and tried different styles, at one point I even did the Tommy Wonder vanish with the sleeves rolled up.
In a facebook group someone posted a link to a reel that was being sold as a door closer. Then this conversation happened:
You really can’t beat a wrist to wrist pull for the actual vanish of the birdcage. The power needed for the vanish happens before the vanish happens and there’s no way a reel or elastic can reasonably come close to the power your arms can. For the flash vanish, right before you are going to put tension on the pull’s cord by pushing the cage away from the body as hard as you can. This is going to start building up energy and when you let go of the cage you are releasing all of that energy and that explosion of power is what sends the cage up your sleeve. Once you let go of the string the pull doesn’t really do anything…except at the very end, it may help keep it high up your sleeve so it doesn’t peek out.
Most magicians think it’s pull dragging the cage up your sleeve, and not the cage shooting up your sleeve. Yes, you can vanish the cage by pulling it up your sleeve, however it’s an inefficient use of energy and you need a lot of arm movement to accomplish this. Having the cage shoot up your sleeve requires very little arm movement. The exception to this is Billy McComb’s Slow Motion Vanishing Birdcage, however it’s still a situation where a reel or elastic would be inferior as you lack control of the vanish.
When using a reel or elastic for the vanish (this is different from how a Take Up Reel is used) you are going to have constant tension on the corner of the cage that’s attached to the elastic. That means you are going to be fighting that tension to keep the cage upright. It would virtually rule out using an Abbott’s / Blackstone style Vanishing Birdcage, and make using a semi-rigid card really difficult. From the audience’s perspective your arms are going to be tense the whole time you’re holding the birdcage. You’ll be holding it like it’s 20 pounds, not less than a pound. This is the huge advantage of a wrist to wrist pull, you can instantly add the tension to the line whenever you want. In the case of the vanishing birdcage, you can do it a fraction of a second before the vanish.
For the actual power of the vanish, to get a reel strong enough to match the tension you can put on the cord with a wrist to wrist pull, the reel would have to be massive. Same with an elastic cord, it would be very thick.
Something else to consider is that with elastic or a reel is if there is any clean up, or to keep the cage up your sleeve. If the arm that it’s anchored on moves away, the cord will stretch. That will cause you to have to make exaggerated motions to compensate for the stretch to move the cage in your sleeve. Also after the vanish and the cage is in your sleeve, the cage’s weight will be pulling on the line, so you’ll be fighting it wanting to crawl back out of your sleeve. Sure you could have the elastic super short, but then there will be constant tension on your arms after the vanish.
I think people want to complicate the vanishing birdcage by adding things to it because a wrist to wrist pull is too simple to be what’s connected to the complex cage. Yes, a Take Up Reel is something that an addition to the trick, but something that helps with everything except the trick. The Take Up Reel has done it’s job before the vanish happens. When the actual vanish happens the Take Up Reel is functioning like a wrist to wrist pull.
If you’re going to do the Vanishing Birdcage, learn to do it with a wrist to wrist pull before you start playing with elastic, or whatever. That will give you a baseline for how the vanish should look.
Yesterday I posted about finally being able to find the clips that I use on my personal Vanishing Birdcage. They just showed up and here’s what they look like:
Here’s it in comparison to the one that’s on my personal Take Up Reel that I use for the Vanishing Birdcage:
Before the clip is usable, I have to cut off the swivel. I could leave it on, but that’s just extra bulk that’s not needed. The cord allow any rotation needed for the effect.
A side by side comparison of the two is that my old one is a bit wider than the new ones and the new ones are a bit shorter than old one.
Now that I have these, I’m going to start including them with all future take up reels that I make. I’m not sure that I’ll be selling these separately, as I may not be able to get them again in the future.
Ever since I put out my Take Up Reel, I’ve been invited to a lot of magic zoom get togethers to answer questions about and the vanishing birdcage. I never really thought of myself as an expert at the vanishing birdcage, but apparently I am (or at least people think I am). I don’t think I do anything groundbreaking with the cage, but I have put a lot of time into it and know what I like and don’t like with them.
During one of these magic meetings, someone asked me a great question. They mentioned they showed a video of someone doing the vanishing birdcage to their girlfriend and asked what she thought of it. The girlfriend’s impression of it was the cage looked funny. When asked how she thought it worked she said it was a trick cage designed to disappear. She didn’t know how…
This is a very important observation and it highlights the problem with most vanishing birdcage routines.
The problem is most people only present it as the effect. The cage disappears. When the only thing in the routine is the cage disappearing you live and die by the prop. For example you walk out onstage with a funky looking tiny birdcage with a rubber bird dangling in it. Then the only real “routine” is how impossible the vanish is…of course it’s not going to hold up for a modern audience.
This is where Billy McComb got it right. He started used a mouse not a bird, and it’s a little cage for the obviously not real mouse. The mouse then does some comedy, and then the cage vanishes. The routine isn’t about the cage disappearing, it’s about the mouse doing stupid things.
I think the way to make the Vanishing Birdcage good is to not make it about the cage. You’re selling something else, and the vanish of the cage is a punctuation at the end of the routine!
The last week I’ve had a lot of people ask me if my Take Up Reel that I use for the vanishing birdcage trick works with an Abbott’s / Blackstone style vanishing birdcage. The answer is yes it does, I made a quick video that I’ve been sending to people who ask, here it is:
The cool thing about the Take Up Reel is that it can be used for more than just the vanishing birdcage, it can be used for any trick where you would use a wrist to wrist pull. If you want it to go up your sleeve and stay there, then it will work for that!