Take Up Reel – FAQ

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!

Releasing New Magic…

take up reel

Recently I released my Take Up Reel through Hocus Pocus and the response has been amazing. Honestly, I thought they would sell two of them, but they are selling as quickly as I can make them!

I just want to say “thank you” to everyone that has supported this magic release. It’s been several years in the making. From the initial development of it to me road testing and tweaking it…to having other people road test it and doing some more tweaking.

Here’s the next batch of Take Up Reels that are going out.

I wish these reels were easier to make, they take about a week from start to finish to make…and I can only do them in small batches.

Here’s some advice if you are thinking of putting out a magic product, actually put in the time to work it out. Don’t rush ideas out to the market. There’s soo much that’s put out that you can tell wasn’t really tested out on audiences in the real world…whether that’s an in person or virtual show.

Take Up Reels are out there!

After about a year of me selling my Take Up Reel via word of mouth, I’ve finally made them available through a magic shop.

If you don’t k now what a take up reel is click here for more info!

take up reel

You can get them from Hocus-Pocus.com. People frequently ask me if I would prefer they ordered from me or them. The nice thing when you order from a magic shop is you are supporting a magic shop, and helping to pay their employees. Sure, I make more in my pocket when you buy direct, but when I agree to sell them a product to a magic shop I’m happy with the terms. The advantage is that they normally have them in stock and can ship quickly. If you order direct sometimes there will be a delay due to me travelling, or whatever.

I’m not saying “do not order from me“, but more trying to show you the advantages and disadvantages of ordering from a magic shop. You can’t complain about them disappearing, if you don’t support them.

Making Some Take Up Reels…

One of the magic products that I put out and that I’m the most proud of is the Take Up Reel that I created. What a Take Up Reel is used for is to shorten a length of string and was popularized by Billy McComb and Tommy Wonder in their Vanishing Birdcage routines.

As far as I know I’m currently the only person / company that makes a Take Up Reel for sale. I’m working on a batch of them this week. It takes about a full week to make one from start to finish. Here’s one of the locks coming out of my 3D printer:

Magic is being revolutionized by 3D printing, especially stage magic. It allows you to affordably make soo many custom props that would have cost tons of money to have fabricated 5 or 10 years ago.

If you’re not out printing stuff, I highly recommend learning how. It’s pretty easy, and you don’t even need to own a 3D printer as there are companies you send the file to and they’ll make it for you.

Click here for more info on my Take Up Reel!

Test it !

One of my favorite creation is my take up reel. It’s something that I’ve wanted to use forever and went out and created a way to make it happen. Normally when I put out magic props, I put out what I use. When developing this, I got it to work great for me and thought I had a final product. I then sent it out to some people and they didn’t use it like I did. That led to me improving it and ended up with a better final product!

It’s always great when I get emails from people who have one:

“Louie’s Take-Up Pull is incredible. If you want to perform the Vanishing Birdcage in the “real world” you need one of these, but you can do much more with it. I have several Take-Up Pulls made by Hammerton and Martin but this high quality modern recreation is every bit as good and at a fraction of the price of any of the others. I highly recommend Louie Foxx’s Take-Up Pull!”

Marc DeSouza

Getting emails like this makes all the work in testing it worth it!

Vanishing Birdcage…

I’m fascinated by the Vanishing Birdcage trick. I remember hearing stories of Bert Allerton doing the vanishing birdcage close up at tables. The story I remember reading was that he took the sides off of his cage so that it would vanish quicker and have less bulk in his sleeve.

There have been many other people that have done the cage, and solved many problems. For example, using a Take Up Reel to allow you to do the cage later in your show.

The biggest challenge is how do you deal with the cage after the vanish (if it’s not your closer)? There are a lot of solutions ranging from using a small, flexible cage and just leaving it in your sleeve, to having a secret pocket in your pants your ditch it in.

Recently it hit me, that a virtual magic show is a great place to use the cage in the middle of the show. After the vanish you could have a title card that says “no rubber birds were hurt in this trick” or something like that. Then in the few seconds that plays, you ditch the cage. As long as you use title cards previously in your show, it won’t feel out of place.

Vanishing Bird Cage…

Every now and then there are tricks that you can’t get out of your head. One of them for me is the Vanishing Bird Cage. I’ve revisited it several times over the years, and in the past hit stumbling blocks with it. The birdcage is probably one of the most difficult tricks I’ve worked on. There so much you need to overcome, it’s not as simple as the old magic catalog ad makes it seem.

One of the issues that’s easy to overcome is the issue of doing the birdcage later in your show. This was solved by Billy McComb with the use of a Take Up Reel. It was popularized by Tommy Wonder in Volume 2 of the Books of Wonder. By popularized, I mean people became aware of it. After that book came out, there were still not many people used one, simply because of price and availability. If you could find one or get someone to make you one they’d cost you somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000 or more!

One day I was driving and an idea hit me for a way to produce the second lock of a Take Up Reel on my 3d Printer, I pulled over and drew it on the back of an envelope. After using it and having some other people use it and gotten their feedback, I’ve finally decided to offer them to other magicians.

Here’s the promo:

When something’s in your head, if you keep chipping away at it, eventually you’ll come up with a solution!

Click here for more info on my Take Up Reel or order one!

Travelling…

Newer performers frequently ask me about how I travel with my show on an airplane. People are worried about lost luggage. Unfortunately the only thing you can really do about that is to either carry everything on, or accept that can happen. I guess there’s a third option and that is having a show where … Continue reading “Travelling…”

Newer performers frequently ask me about how I travel with my show on an airplane. People are worried about lost luggage. Unfortunately the only thing you can really do about that is to either carry everything on, or accept that can happen. I guess there’s a third option and that is having a show where you can find all of your props in your destination city. Then there’s combinations of the three.


Unfortunately for my show, I can’t do it all in my carry on. Some of the items I use can’t be taken in the cabin of the plane and can’t be sourced locally, so I’m stuck checking at least some of my show. Since I have to check a bunch of stuff already, I check almost everything.


Currently here’s what I carry onto the plane in my backpack:

The white tube has my vanishing birdcage. If that wasn’t so easy to break by someone who examining it, I’d check it. In the zipper compartment is my cage pull, a thumb tip, mismade bills and a thumb drive with everything the people running the theater would need (cue sheets, video, music, intro, etc). Then in the yellow case is my audio gear (mics, mic packs, audio ape, etc). Everything else in the backpack is my personal stuff, so books, my laptop, etc.


I’ve had my luggage “lost” by the airline once, and they had it delivered to me within six hours. I also have had TSA screen my bags and forget to put a couple of things back into it, luckily after weeks of phone calls I tracked down my props!


What do I do if my luggage gets lost?


I’m lucky that I can do a lot with simple stuff and in the past I’ve done a lot of standard magic, so I can source a show locally. It’s not the ideal situation, however I can go to the Walmart in any city and pick up a two deck of cards, rope, scissors, yarn, pad of paper, duct tape, a couple of handkerchiefs and some markers and I’m good to go. This isn’t the show that I want to present, but I can do a decent show with that.


Always Be Tweaking…

Over the last year I’ve been working on a Take Up Reel of my own design. If you don’t know what a Take Up Reel is, it’s a complicated process to do something very simple. All it does all you to have a piece of string and shorten it. That’s it. It becomes very handy … Continue reading “Always Be Tweaking…”

Over the last year I’ve been working on a Take Up Reel of my own design. If you don’t know what a Take Up Reel is, it’s a complicated process to do something very simple. All it does all you to have a piece of string and shorten it. That’s it. It becomes very handy if you use a wrist to wrist pull and need freedom of movement before using the pull.


What I designed works great for me, however I designed it for how I use it, not how other people may use it. Recently I sent some out to other performers and am getting feedback. Based on that feedback, I’m working for it to hold a thicker gauge line.

Adding a thicker line is a small change, but it adds a bit of an engineering challenge to the device. Hopefully it’s not too hard, I’m working on the first adjustment now and we’ll see how it is once it’s done printing.


Being open to other people’s feedback is something that I think is very important, especially if it’s something that I want to bring to market.


Vanishing Bird Cage

I’ve always loved the vanishing birdcage, ever since I was a teenager and was told about Bert Allerton doing in close up while table hopping.  Then I saw Blackstone Jr. do the vanishing birdcage where all the kids put their hands around the cage, I’d seen Lance Burton do it with his round cage.  However … Continue reading “Vanishing Bird Cage”

I’ve always loved the vanishing birdcage, ever since I was a teenager and was told about Bert Allerton doing in close up while table hopping.  Then I saw Blackstone Jr. do the vanishing birdcage where all the kids put their hands around the cage, I’d seen Lance Burton do it with his round cage.  However the one that really did amazed me was seeing Billy McComb do the vanishing birdcage.  Here’s a video of it:

What made Billy’s version different was that he did his whole act and ended with the cage. He didn’t have that cramped posture, he had a full range of motion. I don’t think Billy was the first person to use a take up reel for the birdcage, however he’s the one that made an impact on me.

Over the years I’ve owned several take up reels, including the one that was sold with the Billy McComb vanishing birdcage set.  Right now I own a funky one that was made in Germany.

If you don’t know what a take up reel is and how you would use it for a vanishing birdcage, it’s pretty simple.  All it does is shorten the length of the string on the pull.  That’s it.  But that simple little thing makes all the difference in the world!

Having used a take up reel, the thing I didn’t like about them was the weight of them.  They are metal and heavy.  For someone like Billy who it appears did the cage at the end of an act, the weight is probably less of a problem then when used by someone doing a 45-60 min show.

Recently I got a 3D printer and started playing with it and ended up designing a take up reel. This is a lot lighter because it’s plastic.  I’ve been using this for months and I will say, I think I’ve finally come up with a solution for me to do the birdcage in my show!

Using a take up reel isn’t just for the birdcage, there’s a lot of cool stuff you can do with them.  I’m not going to go into detail about other tricks you can do with them because there’s soo many.  I’m just glad I came up with a solution that works for me.

Louie