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Topic: Jim Sommer
Message: Posted by: mysticalmike (Mar 8, 2005 08:09AM)
Anyone tell me anything about his illusion. I just thinking about buy some but want your opinion. is his stuff worth buying.
Message: Posted by: Osiris (Mar 8, 2005 09:24AM)
If you mean "Jim Sommers" the general concensus of the "Politically Motivated" magic community is to stay away from him.

Long ago Jim got caught up in a controversey surrounding the Zig Zag Lady and he's never fully recovered from it. Nonetheless, he is a genius in his own right and builds ok quality equipment (depending on his mood that day and how bad he needs the cash.) Then there's those tales of people that ordered something that they needed in three months time and didn't see it for a year or better.

If you can sit down and talk his leg off, Jim's a great guy and can teach you a heck of a lot. If you are looking for ideas in how to build "Portable" illusions, Jim is once again, a master-mind at solving such puzzles (He packs a two-hour illusion show in a two-door sedan on a regular basis... watching him pack and unpack is more mesmerizing than his shows!)

I know, I've probably confused you a bit but then Jim can be confusing... He builds a great (very practical) Asrah form that's a bit unique to other "folding" forms (I used one for years!), has a dynamite Thin Model Sawing system (ask him about the Kirkham cabinet he helped build... it's unlike anything you've probably ever seen in the past and is very practical in several ways the others aren't!)and I happen to love his round "Parrot" cage vanish, which is very clever in its own right.

Well, best of luck!
Message: Posted by: MikeDes (Mar 8, 2005 02:40PM)
I have purchased two illusions from Klamm/Sommers (one of them is on my avatar). Osiris is right, if portability is an issue, Mr Sommers is a great choice. He is great at making things that break down for transportation and that are relatively light.

The drawback to this is that the illusions usually wear out faster since the material is lighter.

If you are a busy touring professional you may want to pay the extra and get more road worthy illusions. If you are a one man weekend warrior like me, his illusions are a great fit.

Message: Posted by: mysticalmike (Mar 8, 2005 02:48PM)
Mr. Deslauriers,
That levitation and doll house you use is that from Sommers. If so how do you like it? See I just a weekender and don't have a lot of money for right now.I mean if I can get a couple of years or a year or something out of them that great. then I would have enought money to get some better stuff. Plus I can pass it done to my kids to use to you know. Thank both of you. You have been a great help.

Message: Posted by: johnnymystic (Mar 8, 2005 04:09PM)
Well I have a Chair Suspension from klamm/sommeres and it has lasted for almost seven years and it is still in great shape!

Message: Posted by: MikeDes (Mar 8, 2005 06:41PM)
The walk-away X is pretty good for the price ($400). The downside is a little bit of wobble and movement as the assistant gets on or off the board. Add a Blaney hoop and it is a pretty good suspension to use with a smaller assistant. I have been using it for 5 years. It breaksdown for easy transportation.

The doll house is also from Sommers and I love it. I have had it for 3 years and its still in great shape.It is very reasonably priced at $1200 and the whole thing breaksdown and folds flat. I put the case (with a bunch of other stuff) in the trunk of my car.

My assistant for both illusions is my 10 year old daughter so she is pretty small and light which helps. The doll house could probably handle an assistant around 5'2".

I only perform my stage show about 8 times a year and everything has to fit in my car. These illusions have been great for me. Now if only I could get my daughter to stop growing :)
Message: Posted by: mysticalmike (Mar 8, 2005 07:22PM)
Great thank a lot Mike. That helps me out alot. I am glad some can tell me something good about his stuf.
Message: Posted by: Chezaday (Mar 9, 2005 01:11AM)
Hi Mike .. let me tell you a little about Jimmy. He's a brilliant builder ... some of his work amazes me. Keep in mind you get what you pay for .. but he really does nice work for the money .. and everything folds into a suitcase .. well not really .. but you get the idea.

One of his best illusions is the Lightbulbs Thru Girl. It's flashy, practical and priced right for a begining illusionist. Jims a great guy ... he'll be glad to help you out.

Message: Posted by: Magic Monkichi (Mar 9, 2005 09:34AM)
I have yet to order anything from Jim prop wise. But when I called and requested cataglogue. His service is great, he's very personable and accomadating to your needs and will answer any question you could have.

Magically yours,

Matt Kielbiski
Quick Change Artist
Message: Posted by: Marshall Thornside (Mar 9, 2005 11:56AM)
I recommend Jim.

He's an old fashioned minded illusion builder.

He has a great shop and great ideas.

I don't say so cuz he lives 20 mins from us and
we visit him.

I say cuz its true.

He's been a long family friend for many years.

He's also funny funny too.
Message: Posted by: Lothar (Mar 9, 2005 12:45PM)
He is going to fix my zig zag this weekend. (My builder went bankrupt and just gave me what he had finished. ) It's just missing the rollers and needs holes cut out. He did a great job of trimming down my mismade cabinet blades.
Message: Posted by: mysticalmike (Mar 9, 2005 12:50PM)
Thanks everyone I have decied to buy stuff from him know that I know. thanks all.
Message: Posted by: MikeDes (Mar 11, 2005 07:32AM)
On 2005-03-09 13:50, mysticalmike wrote:
Thanks everyone I have decied to buy stuff from him know that I know. thanks all.

Let us know what you buy and give us a review.

Message: Posted by: mysticalmike (Mar 11, 2005 08:14AM)
Well I have decied not to get it from him. I found out a friend would build me my illusion. so that where I am headed. then at least I know what I am getting thanks you all for your help.
Message: Posted by: gulamerian (Mar 12, 2005 11:58AM)
I have two of Jims illusions and I have been using them for years. They have sereved me well.
Message: Posted by: MikeDes (Mar 12, 2005 01:19PM)
On 2005-03-12 12:58, gulamerian wrote:
I have two of Jims illusions and I have been using them for years. They have sereved me well.

What do you have?
Message: Posted by: gulamerian (Mar 15, 2005 03:04PM)
Mike, I have Light Fantastic and a Fire Cage.
Message: Posted by: Autumn Morning Star (Mar 15, 2005 04:29PM)
MysticalMike, I hope your friend has had experience building illusions. Otherwise, it may be an expensive endeavor in something that never quite works right.

For example, my sub-trunk lid warped one time. This was especially troubling, because it was a top-loader. I went to a friend who owned a professional cabinet and woodworking shop and asked him if he could build a new lid. No problem. Easy.

When I picked the lid up, I was informed that this lid had originally been built a bit "off center" and the cabinet shop had "fixed" the problem. OMG! Imagine my grief when there was not enough clearance to -uh- metamorphosize with this lid perfectly centered. Am I being cryptic enough here?

I had shows coming up the next morning and had to work with the cabinet guy half the night to get this built correctly. If you have ever built a magic trick yourself, you will understand that the smallest variation means the difference between magic and mayhem. I suggest you make a prototype first.
Message: Posted by: mysticalmike (Mar 15, 2005 06:52PM)
He has for along time. he does awsome work. he has some of his own ideas going out with his stuff to. thank you for the warning
Message: Posted by: magicfest (Sep 2, 2005 07:32PM)
How do I contact JIm Sommers, does he have a website ?
How is his imaplement
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Sep 2, 2005 08:02PM)
Jim Sommers is a great person, but when I tried to contact him by telelphone, he would never answer the phone or return my calls. Thus I never got to purchase any of his illusions.

If you want anything from Jim Sommers, you will have to purchase them through Klamm Magic. Just do a yahoo search. It comes up every time for me.

My wife was the lady in the controversial Zig-Zag in 1969 at the Hollywood Calvalcade of Magic in Los Angeles. His assistant did not come with him then so at the last minute my wife was asked to assist and the picks were in the newspaper.
Message: Posted by: Caveat Lector (Sep 2, 2005 11:50PM)
On 2005-09-02 20:32, magicfest wrote:
How do I contact JIm Sommers, does he have a website ?
How is his imaplement
I have seen his impalement up close and I can say that it is not the best looking and according to this very well know illusion builder who was repairing it, it does not work all that good. But, he said it is worth the money you pay since his start at $7500. The sword could be made to look better and his harness is not all that great. I own a Bill Smith version and you can definately see the difference. Just my opinion, but it is good I think if you are looking for a deal on one.
Message: Posted by: magicgraham (Sep 3, 2005 03:29PM)
I have Jims Shadow box and guillotine and just recently acquired a fire cage he made, his stuff is practical packs small and looks good. I have used them for many shows and they still are in great condition
Message: Posted by: Lusion (Sep 4, 2005 12:16AM)
I spoke to Jim 2 days ago things are slow now because his wife is in the hospital (prays to her and him) I purchased illusion from him such as my crystal casket and a few others and you get what you pay for I am happy with them. Jim is a very excellent source when it comes to illusion building and shows, I think he's a great guy and I speakto him on the regular.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Sep 4, 2005 08:30AM)
Jim Sommers is a great guy,, no he is AWESOME.... Great source for show ideas and he does build stuff that flats pack... Yes, he is a busy man,,,, and it is hard to get intouch with him... I just keep calling until he answers his phone. Old fashion guy no email, fax or credit card.... He helped me with a few illusions that I needed ASAP.... and built my clock timer.... Just send him payment and you have his attention and he will build things over night if needed..... Prices are nice and he will hepl you with your show ideas
Message: Posted by: magicgraham (Sep 5, 2005 12:07AM)
He has a great soft style case he packs his illusions in anyone know if he makes them ? Or can I source them from somewhere I have a couple of smaller props I need some for
Message: Posted by: Christopher Starr (Sep 6, 2005 08:25PM)
This is an interesting thread to read. Glad that Jim is still building illusions.

Back in 1979 I purchased a Thin Sawing & MisMade Girl from him. The mismade girl held up better than the thin sawing. The thin saw legs weren't anchored well, and we were on a slightly rough surface and had a middle leg break. I had it repaired and sold it off as soon as I could. The props looked good enough, photographed well, but as has already been said are not made for regular trooping. In the end, they are made for the part-timer who might use them a couple off times per year.
Message: Posted by: magicgraham (Sep 7, 2005 11:51PM)
For anyone interested there is a slightly used Jim Summers shadow box for sale here in Arizona at a great price , comes with the cases and is basicly brand new. I have the exact one and have used in excess of 150 times and have been very happy with it, contact me at magicgraham@hotmail.com for details if interested
Message: Posted by: Beaudini Magic (Sep 12, 2005 12:58PM)
It appears that Jim makes some nice illusions, but I do have one question. With all the buzz here about "rip offs", Intellectual Property and stealing others creations, I just wanted to know why this doesn't seem to apply to the effect by Jim Sommers called "Thru & Thru".
Isn't this effect "Interlude" with another name? How can members here destroy others for "rip offs" and disregard some of Jims questionable products??
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Sep 13, 2005 03:07PM)
On 2005-09-12 13:58, Beaudini Magic wrote:
It appears that Jim makes some nice illusions, but I do have one question. With all the buzz here about "rip offs", Intellectual Property and stealing others creations, I just wanted to know why this doesn't seem to apply to the effect by Jim Sommers called "Thru & Thru".
Isn't this effect "Interlude" with another name? How can members here destroy others for "rip offs" and disregard some of Jims questionable products??

Mr. Summers illusions are totally different in construction then any of the originals. He makes his illusions out of light weight materials and makes them to break-down very small. No other illusion maker would do what Mr. Summers does. Therefore, a need is filled and products sold.
Message: Posted by: Jack Murray (Sep 14, 2005 08:54AM)
So let me see if I follow your line of thinking:
As long as you build a prop that was created by someone else, but you use "light weight materials and make them to break down", there is no issue of Intellectual property, rip-offs,"stealing".....all of the terms that have been used here by passionate magicians to describe those who don't recognize Intellectual property???
Someone jump in here and please explain the thinking behind the post made by the above.

Message: Posted by: Beaudini Magic (Sep 14, 2005 11:43AM)
Hey Jack,

I cannot follow the thinking behind that statement. I wonder what Mr. Steinmeyer would say if you ran that idea by him. I could make an interlude out of balsa wood, and duct tape, would that be fine by its creator? I think not. Also, with regards to "a need for the product...and the product to be sold"... I would love to purchase a light weight version of Oragami for $1,500.00, but that is not reality. If I were to do that, I would most certainly be persecuted here on the Café. Just my thoughts.


Beau Alexander
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Sep 14, 2005 12:38PM)
I'm always intrigued by how magicians apparently think that we need to abide by different standards than the rest of the world. Yes, Jack, to a certain degree, I think that if someone can create a better mousetrap, they ought to be able to market it. If being lighter and able to break down is perceived as "better", perhaps it isn't "ripping off."

Outside of magic, very few inventions remain the sole property of the inventor. Patents expire. A few changes (whether they are perceived as improvements or not) are often all it takes to be legally recognized as a new product. I think it was intentionally set up that way to promote commerce and the continued improvement of inventions.

I respect a magic inventor's creations and their right to profit from them. But there also should be room for improving upon these creations in order to keep magic moving forward.
Message: Posted by: Jack Murray (Sep 14, 2005 01:16PM)
So anyone can build any Illusion designed by anyone and sell it as "their own" as long as it is built to break down, and uses lighter/different materials?

I'm just wondering if you can get others to agree with this thinking. The posts here have been VERY protective of designers like Steinmeyer, and of course DC. The illusion in question....is "Interlude" and Mr. Sommers "Thur & Thru" the "same"
I know Magic Auction won't list Thru & Thru.
Just like to see more FB on this.

Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Sep 15, 2005 07:07AM)
I wonder question if it is an effort to improve things or simply to profit off the genius of some one else's idea.

Horace Marshall years ago came up with the significant improvement on the color changing plumes that now is almost standard in every rip off set out there. When the imports started from India in the 1960's (yes even then), he tried to get the federal trade commission to intervene to no avail. He even had Ed Mishell involved on it.

Sure patents expire but in this small business if you want to continue to see ideas from guys like Jim Steinmeyer be brought forward, this theft and piggybacking on others ideas has got to stop.

This is why the big working pros pay top dollar for exclusive use of an idea.

Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Sep 15, 2005 10:23AM)
Now you're putting words into my mouth, Jack. I didn't say anyone can, or should, start making them as their own. I used some qualifiers such as "perhaps," and simply suggested that there should be room for improvements.

There is no black-and-white in this arena. Who's to say what number of changes, or how many, exactly qualify as different enough to make something "different"? Is Blaney's suspension different enough from Gwynn's? Is "Modern Art" different enough from "Zig Zag"? Is Andrew Mayne's "Shrink Boy" different enough from Dan Summer's similar illusion (was that called "Compressed"?) How about "Tricky Bottles" vs. "Topsy Turvey Bottles"; I think the only difference there is one's made from cardboard -- and you can add to that mix the version Abbott's had with the mechanical tin bottle.

As for intentionally buying "rip offs", part of the fault lies with our industry's lack of adequate manufacturing methods. Someone addressed it in another forum quite clearly, but the upshot was that *every* illusion is essentially a prototype and that's why it costs so much. Let's face it, the only reason someone buys a "rip off" is to save money. If someone can go to a local carpenter and get a quality prop built for 1/3 the cost, that tells me that the illusion builder is either A) charging too much, or B) an ineffective builder.

I take that back -- there is another reason someone might buy from a "rip off" builder: it's the only place to get what they want, such as a prop that breaks down, is lighter, or build better. Which again puts the problem back into the lap of the designer and "Official" builders. Build a better mousetrap ...
Message: Posted by: Jack Murray (Sep 15, 2005 10:37AM)
EVERY one of the props I build have my exclusine "No-bolt" assembly process, and I don't use steel unless the customer requests it. I use lighter aluminum or wood, so your argument doesn't apply to me.

Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Sep 15, 2005 11:09AM)
Jack, I'm not trying to categorize builders, nor was my intention to direct anything at all to you or your products. I was just giving an example. I've never seen one of your props, but I'll assume that a lightweight/no-bolt prop would be very attractive to many illusionists. Everyone has personal preferences and needs -- that's why we have vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. I just think it's being shortsighted to assume that one single builder is the only one doing a particular prop the "right" way, thereby eliminating all the other ideas, choices, and options by applying the blanket statement of "rip off."
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Sep 28, 2005 06:11PM)
On 2005-09-14 09:54, Jack Murray wrote:
So let me see if I follow your line of thinking:
As long as you build a prop that was created by someone else, but you use "light weight materials and make them to break down", there is no issue of Intellectual property, rip-offs,"stealing"

I don't know, Jack. I happen to know a guy for whom you built an Origami. Was that stealing?
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Oct 10, 2005 03:49AM)
If I am not mistaken thru and thru illusion of Sommers is based on a slightly different method then the creators...

Sommers is the master of building things light and easy shippable...

To answer another poster question... Sommers has a case company that builds those “soft” cases...

Plus, anyone is allowed to build make, create anything that they desire for themselves... As long as it is not for resell. IE one could make a BMW as long as they do not massively market, produce and sell it….

One would be surprised what is actually copy righted in the magic industry…. Lots of “rumors” and very little fact. Look up the US copy patent and see what is actually listed…. SO get your hammer and saws out boys……..
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Oct 10, 2005 07:09AM)
Yes, get out the hammer and saws and see why all the magic inventors and magic manufacturers stop releasing items to the public.

Patents are only part of the picture when it comes to the rights of things.

Build a BMW and if BMW determines that your model is hurting their business by reflecting on them poorly, they can sue (and probably win). Commercial sale of the reproduced item again is only part of the picture.

Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Oct 10, 2005 03:08PM)

You are allowed to build anything for personal use... It goes on the therory would it hold up in court... .Of course you would win... BUT at a hefty cost to you....

Besides,,,, many magician know... that profesional built items are much better, magical and in the long run more cost effected...... :)

Keep in mind there are hundreds types of autos out there.... they are all different but.... they all take you to places (well they expose to take you to places) hehehe ... so illusions basic concept they are all magic... but amazes in different ways....

So invent, expand and enjoy
Message: Posted by: chmara (Oct 10, 2005 05:44PM)
First -- you are all right --and you are all wrong.

I have dealt with Jim directly over the years, and have never been dissatisfied with the product at the price. (Sometimes, as now when personal and family health matters intervene Jim's schedule and yours might not agree -- but MOST illusion builders not in the league with mulitple employee Owen and Smith face the same problem.)

Jim's experience (which he can readily share with you) comes from performing on the move -- USO-- schools in multi states, etc. He quickly saw why Lewis and Clark carried canoes -- not Chris-craft boats.
He has a unique ability to make very portable illusions out of sturdy materials by knowing what can be done. For instance there are pieces I have built out of 3/8 wooden material instead of 1/4 or 1.2. BUT the material is seven ply baltic birch - stronger than any 4 ply 1/4 and probably equal to the half inch at a much lighter weight.

Jim tends to use more common hardware for assembly -- and I know why. Even Podunk has a hardware store so you can get "one of those" to fix whatever it is that needs fixing.

He also keeps things as technologically simple as possible to create the magic. There is nothing worse than having a gimmick, that is complex hang up in performance. Most of Jim's pieces I have worked with can be rectified in front on the audience -- and they are none the wiser.

And why magicians "in the know" never discuss how Jim has been ripped off several times -- with one pro even stopping production of a prop when it was found that Jim was the originator .

I have some great stuff from other builders -- and love my See thru Guillotine from Wellington. I think my Chalet stuff is priceless. But it is NOT as portable and easily repaired as Jim's work-a-day portable illusions.

And yes - there is a piece or two over the years EVERY builder has sold that has not quite been right. At least with Jim's stuff I know repair and maintenance is well within my capability.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Oct 10, 2005 08:54PM)

You said it all....... ....
Message: Posted by: gulamerian (Oct 12, 2005 03:20PM)
I agree with everything that Gregg has said. I have mentioned in past posts that I own two of Jims illusions and they have served me well for over 18 years. Have they had to be repaired? Yes, so have my illusions from Wellington, Alcorn, Chalet, Owen, and Rand Woodbury. If you use them they will need to be repaired at one time or another. I have also spent many hours on the phone talking with Jim. He is a great guy and has a wealth of knowledge.
Message: Posted by: KeirRoyale (Oct 25, 2005 02:57AM)
Does anyone know Jim's website??? I cannot find it on google...
Message: Posted by: Magic Monkichi (Oct 25, 2005 09:52AM)

Message: Posted by: KeirRoyale (Oct 26, 2005 04:44PM)
No I am looking for Jim Sommer's site. He used to have a banner on Magic Auction for his site.
Message: Posted by: magicdoctor (Oct 26, 2005 04:55PM)
I don't know for sure he has his own web site.He sells his illusions through Klamm unless you call or see him at a convention.
Message: Posted by: RVH Magic (Oct 27, 2005 07:52AM)
Dear KeirRoyal,

I don't think Jim Sommers had a banner at the magic-auction site since he is selling rip off illusions !
On the other hand Daniel Summers did have a banner at the magic-auction site till recently...
Message: Posted by: todsky (Oct 29, 2005 06:56PM)
I called Klamm magic and spoke to Mr Klamm himself, who kindly gave me Jim Sommer's phone number. I spoke to Jim. and he was very helpful with my questions about his pack-flat Zig Zag illusion. A nice man, with much knowledge and experience.

Message: Posted by: KeirRoyale (Oct 30, 2005 12:28AM)
El Rafael - Thanks I believe you are correct...
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (Nov 11, 2019 07:36PM)
Now that jim has passed... has anyone taken over any of his business? I'm interested in who has the rights to his sword basket design.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 19, 2019 12:14PM)
Only the magicians in Chicago, could advise information about the Jim Sommer's illusions. Magic Inc. will not talk to anyone, I tried several time so talk the new owners and they don't answer the phone or claim they don't know anything.

There is a book available with some of the Jim Somer's plans.


Seems it is popular, most are out of stock, this site says they have 3 copies left.