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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Versatility & Usability (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jaz
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I've tried this before but got very little input. Hopefully I can explain it better here. My feelings are that this topic can help with prop management.

There are a great many magic items that are only good for one effect or do one thing well. Pulls vanish, Swamis predict. While the effects are nice, they suffer from a lack of versatility.

Besides your hands and mind, what I would like to see in this topic is your opinions on the most versatile gimmicks, gaffs and props in magic, some reasons why you feel they are the most versatile and possibly the effects (below) that they can be used for.
Some of the effects:
Productions, Vanishes, Transpositions, Transformations, Penetrations, Restorations, Animation, Invulnerability, Predictions, Thought Reading. Feel free to add effects.

1) Which props do you feel are the most useful and can be used in the largest number of effects or routines?
By props I mean normal items like markers, lighters, coins, handkerchiefs, close up pads and the like.
Because of the vast number of possble effects that can be done with a regular deck of playing cards, they are a top candidate for being the most versatile of all props.

2) Which gimmicks, gaffs, etc are the most versatile and can be used to create the largest number of effects?
In my opinion the TT, which can be used for productions, vanishes, transpositions, transformations, restorations as well as switches, makes it the most useful and versatile.

Your responses are appreciated.
Craig Peterson
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I was actually laying awake on Sunday night considering the same question. It makes a difference when you have a limited budget. I have three thoughts:

1) Is versatility to be measure by the number of separate effects to be found or by the number of essential effects (e.g. vanish, production, color change, etc.) that can be accomplished with the prop or gaff?

2) Is versatility the big issue, or is a prop or gimmick with one very powerful use more valuable that one with many uses but little impact?

3) Is versatility a function of the visual appeal of an object? For example, the eye never gets tired of watching beautiful silks for effect after effect, but wooden blocks (a la chink-a-chink) may have less staying power.

With that said, I think I decided that cards certainly take the cake for most versatile. The most versatile gaff is the Thumb Tip, I agree. Also, the wand is a versatile prop simply because it goes without saying that a wand appears with a magician, and people love seeing it.
karbonkid
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1) Which props do you feel are the most useful and can be used in the largest number of effects or routines?

Well, definitely cards, but, outside of that, I feel that coins are the strongest. They are plentiful, visual, and everyone understands them. It's like when you perform magic with money, it isn't money any more, but, some enchanted object.

2) Which gimmicks, gaffs, etc are the most versatile and can be used to create the largest number of effects?

While I feel that the TT is great, I feel the shell of a coin is the strongest and has unlimited number of uses in coin magic. It accomplishes so much, vanishes, productions, transpositions, and it's one of the few gaffs/gimmicks that can just be out in the open with absolutely no attention drawn to it.
Jaz
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Thanks for the replies.
Josh the Superfluous
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I did read you post Jaz but I slightly disagree with the premiss and the limitations. With your mind, all gimmicks have room to grow. Take for (your) example the pull: With an identical object hidden, a transposition occurs. With the duplicate under the table, a penetration. A different colored object palmed, a transformation. A solid duplicate palmed, a restoration. With three predictions held as one and a pull with a clip attached, mind reading. I could go on, and that was just the first example you gave. With a little thought, a nail writer could be used to connect a circuit, mark a card, or make a knife wound jump to the other arm.

Every small prop can be used to replace a wand or wiffle dust. Every large prop can carry a load for the next effect.

Cards have many reasons for all around usefulness. But with thought, ice, sand, ants, teeth, and license plates could each be worked into a full routine. IMHO
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Jaz
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Excellent thoughts Josh, and you're right.
Thanks for pointing out other possibilites with things that are known for one effects but can used for other effects.
Bill Palmer
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The most versatile things we have to work with are our hands and our minds. Everything else is an extension of those.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Jaz
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Yes Bill.
I did say, "Besides your hands and mind, ...".
RJE
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For me, it is not the prop, but the routining.

The opportunity and the challenge to be creative and to weave together many props, perhaps often overlooked, into an entertaining routine is something I enjoy doing very much.

The way that Pat and I run our shows requires us to constantly be creating. If we were unable to revisit and recreate with our existing props, we would surely go broke. Even still, there is a constant need for some ongoing investment.

So, in this sense, all the props are versatile. You just need to sometimes look at it from a totally different perspective.

All the best,

Rob
Jaz
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I agree that it's about routining.

One simple prop I'm looking at is a shoelace.
Why?
1) Because I'm nuts and want to minimize on props.
2) Because I use it for a finger ring and string routine and want to use it for other effects as well.

A shoelace is not as versatile as say a handkerchief so I've been exploring knots, color changes, cut and restored effects and other uses.

Thanks for all your thoughts.
BrianMillerMagic
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I will actually answer the question.

The most versatile props to me are cards and a marker. The marker can not only be used for writing, but also as an "emergency wand" for ditching and retrieving things in your pocket, as well as borrowed coin to cap routines and such. Using the flipstick move you can do vanishes and appearences with a marker as well.

The most versatile gimmick of course has to be the TT, simply because there are too many things that can be done with it.
Jaz
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Thanks Brian.
I knew someone would suggest a marker or other writing tool.
Recap, Snapper, finger ring climb or on/off wand effect and when combined with with a Swami
Excellent choice.
DStachowiak
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I'm oddly fascinated with the ways adhesives-wax, poster putty, double faced tape, glue dots, etc, can be used to produce apparent miracles. You can vanish, produce, levitate, transport and transpose all sorts of objects, by the judicious use of the appropriate adhesive...
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Jaz
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Good stuff DS!

A little poster putty and/or wax can be a plus to the toolbox.
Thanks.
Bob Sanders
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Quote:
On 2007-02-11 15:13, DStachowiak wrote:
I'm oddly fascinated with the ways adhesives-wax, poster putty, double faced tape, glue dots, etc, can be used to produce apparent miracles. You can vanish, produce, levitate, transport and transpose all sorts of objects, by the judicious use of the appropriate adhesive...


Holdouts in general have always fascinated me. I think they are very under used.

Bob Sanders
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Bill Palmer
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I used to carry a whole bunch of stuff with me when I went out on a gig. Now it's very simple. I have three decks of cards, one straight, one ID, one with a couple of gaffs I use all the time. These are distributed in various pockets.

I have a Ring Flight, which also contains the keys to my van and my house, a card wallet, a Sharpie, a TT, a silk, a small wallet containing coins, a pocket chop cup and its loads. I can do a LOT of close-up with this setup.

Sometimes, I eliminate all the cards.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Dannydoyle
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Jaz, I am going to be oddly helpfull here, as out of character as it is for me.

Obviously cards, and coins hit the top of the list, BUT, my chop cup is the cup I use for the card under glass. I use the marker for the ring string thing.

I do see what it is you are getting at, the idea of not always taking out one thing, doing one thing, and putting it away, seeming as if that is its only function. I don't use a wand, I use the marker.

As I said, obviously cards are used for mentalism, as well as for card tricks, so there is a nice way to kind of multi task those.

I told you I would shock you with the answer LOL. I have come to this school of thought doing table work. I simply do not walk up with anything BUT my chop cup. The rest is in pockets. SO I don't have lots of room. I like the question, it does teach prop management.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Jaz
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LOL. Thanks Danny and the rest of you as well.
You're always helpful Danny. Sometimes your posts are a bit abrasive but I do understand that your an experienced, working magician, have a love and strong opinions about magic.

Again. Thanks for the useful replies.
BarryFernelius
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My most versatile prop: A deck of cards
My most versatile gimmick: Indestructible Black Dress Pants!

I have several pairs that have been modified to be more useful for walk-around magic.

First, the pants are a little bit baggy, and all pockets have been modified to be larger than normal. Second, the front pockets have pockets within the pockets to aid in prop management. Third, the inside of the front waistband has been altered slightly so that I can hook up the thread that I use for the haunted pack.

Fourth, when I'm wearing a jacket, I have Butt Magnets(tm) (thanks to Scott Alexander for the terminology) that are attached to the inside of the pants. (My tailor thinks that I'm crazy.) The magnets are at just the right height so that my jacket will cover anything that might be attached to them. The coins that I use have steel shims in them, and the deadly butt magnets make it possible to do some very baffling coin work.

Fifth, the pants also have mods that make it easier to carry and conceal the large final loads for my chop cup routine. This enables me to do my routine standing up.
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dxsare
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For a little while now I've been carrying around a little belt pouch that I got at TJ Max that surprizingly enough happened to be Prada, and I always have a deck of cards, 2 packet trick holders that can hold 5 packet tricks and business card tricks, a purse frame, stone purse, 2 color changing knives, rubber bands,a mini sharpie and a 3" jumbo coin. If I really want to I can also fit a hot rod, but it gets pretty crammed. Everything fits perfectly in it's own place and it's actually pretty small and compact. I also keep in my pockets a TT and silk, and two small coin purses, one in the other that holds hopping halfs, 4 kennedys, copper silver, and english penny, a chinese coin, coin in bottle and 4 Ikes. Packs very small, plays huge, considering I almost always have it with me. Oh and in my left rear pocket Kolossal Killer. And if I know I'll be performing magic for sure I'll throw in a mini chop with final loads.

Stevie D
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