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
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
When you get into comedy, one of the things that you need to get out of the way is your first experience of “bombing” onstage. Once you do that and realize it’s not soo bad, it’s much easier.
Doing the Vanishing Birdcage, I’ve had a fear of it not going up my sleeve all the way ever since I started doing the trick. It’s not something you can really have an out for…you can’t tap dance around a cage hanging out of your sleeve.
Last night at the fair on my last show of the day, I went to vanish the cage, and it got stuck, with about a quarter of the cage hanging out. Honestly in retrospect, I don’t think the audience really noticed it. In the moment it was a scary moment as a performer.
What did I do?
I pushed the cage all the way up my sleeve, then pulled the bird out of my pocket. It got applause. However the bigger lesson was seeing peoples faces, they seemed to still be amazed by the trick. I think if I had more of the cage hanging out it may have been a much bigger deal.
I feel good that I finally got my first vanishing birdcage failure out of the way and it’s no longer something I’m scared of!
I redesigned the pulley for the double action birdcage pull that I made yesterday. The main difference is that it’s slightly larger and the hole on the non pulley side has been moved 90 degrees.
Here’s a side by side comparison with the one that I made yesterday. The old one is on the left and the new design is on the right with the strings on it.
I foreseeing possibly making it wider with the ends flaring out, so that it doesn’t roll inside the jacket and twist the line. We’ll see if that actually ends up being a problem, or if tension alone will straighten out or keep the lines straight. I’ll play with it a bit and see what happens.
If you’re curious about this style of pull, I think I first read about it in Jim Steinmeyer‘s book The Magic of Alan Wakeling. In that book it’s used to vanish a fan, however I think using a pulley on a wrist to wrist pull is much older than Wakeling using it.
When I was driving home from Abbott’s Magic Get Together, I stopped and visited a magician in Minnesota to talk about the vanishing birdcage. He was thinking of adding it to his show.
His fear was the cage hanging up on his sleeve. The thing with the cage vanish is that people think it’s easy, until they start to work with it and then realize how hard of a trick it is to do. The first thing you do is try to eliminate anything that will snag on your sleeve. The second thing you do is use proper technique for the vanish. That’s putting a lot of tension on the pull and making the “hand tunnel” correctly.
Here’s me vanishing the cage at the fair yesterday:
Once you’ve gotten the snags removed and the technique down, the last thing you have to do is commit to the vanish. When you make the cage disappear you don’t do it timidly, you vanish it like it’s going to go up your sleeve. Committing to the vanish is where I think a lot of people have trouble. They’re worried about it not going up the sleeve, so the don’t pull as hard as they should.
I just added a new cage to my vanishing birdcage collection.
This is a Thayer Vanishing Birdcage and is the non-rigid style cage. For some reason, I thought that Abbotts was the only one that made a non-rigid vanishing birdcage. I don’t know who made them first, however based on the timelines of the two companies, I think Thayer made them before Abbotts, however someone could have made them before both.
This cage is a bridge between the older metal rigid cages and the semi rigid cages, like the Lindhurst cage. This is rectangular and has the fixed perch, where the abbots which I think came after was square and eliminated the fixed perch. I think then the Lindurst style cage grew from the Abbott’s cage.
Another neat thing about the Thayer vanishing birdcage is how the pull is connected to the cage:
It’s permanently attached to the cage, and not clipped on. The red ribbon extends down the cage onto the pull. This in theory smooths out the cage going up the sleeve and eliminates some possible snag points. Having a clip like a modern cage adds places for the cage to snag.
I’m glad to add this to my collection, as I think it’s a missing link from the older style cage to the more modern cages.
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.
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!