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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Street Magic » » Blackstones Floating Light Bulb (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Brent McLeod
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This is 1 effect I would love to have seen Live!!!

This would be a real treat to perform properly in a theatre with the rehearsal & set up-Wow-If Only!!

From Many books etc I've read this is the effect that so many people remember from his show above all others -which is amazing considering all the beaut Illusions etc -A true classic!!
JoeJoe
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Myrtle Beach
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Blackstone's floating light bulb is not suited for street ... but ...

... I once saw a clown on TV (Mark Wilson's show maybe?) that did a floating lightbulb using the old T.T. gimmick. It was well done and looked very magicial, if you gimmick a lightbulb to light up it would look great on a dark street.

Problem with lightbulbs is they tend to break easily, find one of those cheap plastic lightbulbs that light up in your hand and use that for a gimmick - then you won't be leaving glass on your street.

JoeJoe
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ace_spade
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Ontario
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You could easily adapt this to streetmagic.
I would use Fearsons hookup and attach the Strong IT to the top.
You could easily make a light bulb that lights itself.

I am 14 now and I remember as a kid of 8 years old sitting in front of the television watching...."Grand Illusions" I think it was on the discovery channel.And One time the whole epeisode was based on Harry Blackstone SR. I watched so intently when they showed clips of the floating light bulb.
I sat there and pondered the solution...but inside I didn't want to know...the illuson was perfect..so perfect.......

..::Ace::..
"Believing is seeing" Smile
The Magician
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Liverpool
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I have seen the floating light bulb on a magic program last year and I thought it was an incredible trick
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Jluvlace
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The Disney movie that aired a couple months ago had this trick in it. That's the only time I've seen it.
Shane Baker
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Yes, as performed by the late great lamented Harry Blackstone, Jr., it was a true masterpiece with nothing left to chance. A couple of the details I remember: the musicians in the pit had to turn out the lights on their music stands (was it done without music?), and when he gave the bulb to be examined before floating it out over our heads, he brought it to my grandmother (just noticed Hoffman's _Later Magic_ recommendation that materials to be examined or held should be given to "the fairer sex" because they are "eager to please" and thought of Blackstone's choice -- how much more docile an elderly lady, huh?). And man, it was beautiful when she held it and it floated right up out of her hand... real magic!

PS -- Just saw the thread on "Zenda Waltz" and music for the lightbulb, so it was clearly performed WITH music, but still recall the pit being admonished to darken their lights.
JoeJoe
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I don't think you could get a lightbulb to float on a single strand, but I am confident you could gimmick a lightbulb to float on a single strand - my Thread Tube package would provide some insight on how to do something like that, although I don't address a lightbulb directly in it. You would basically need to gut the insides and replace the metal.

The lightbulb wouldn't lightup, unless you could rig a VERY lightweight battery and LED into it. I doubt you could do all that with a standard size lightbulb, but a smaller one yes. With kelvar thread, no doubt about it ... but I personally dislike kelvar thread.

If you really wanted a close-up floating lightbulb, may I suggest a small christmas tree light? Rigged to a battery, it would float easily on a single stand.

JoeJoe
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sinnead zenun
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Mt. Makiling
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Well I know this is off topic
but I just want to share my sentiments...
the first time I saw this is when I was seven yrs old... in a tv show...
and after watching it... it changed me... I want to be a magician Smile
Father Photius
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Harry Murphy pretty well said it all. The illusion done by Uncle Harry and Cousin Harry was actually multiple effects blended into one, and requires special lighting and off stage assistants. Pretty much the same with their dancing hankerchief. Uncle Harry's show bills often lists a single illusion as 3 or 4 illusions, he just names the various parts of them in the playbill. Combining several effects together to produce one stage effect is as old as magic. Harry Murphy, you sure know your magic!
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cornfarrell
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I think there are a lot of excellent ideas here. Use what you saw as inspiration for your own method and ideas. Experiment with them and work it all out from start to finish.Don't take it out until it's clean. Exploit whatever environment to its fullest capabilities. If it is inside or outside, how can you control sightlines, Anchors etc..? With some time you may end up with somthing all your own.
FLIM-FLAM
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Brett Daniels does a really nice routine with the Floating Ball.
Skip Way
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I had the pleasure and displeasure of watching Harry Blackstone Jr. perform the floating lightbulb at a theatre in Williamsburg, Virginia in the late 70's. Pleasure because it was a beautiful effect. Displeasure because Mr. Blackstone actually stepped up to the front row of the audience with the floating bulb hovering just out of reach...until some jerk in the front row jumps up and swats the bulb sending it flying and smashing to the floor. This also exposed parts of the illusion...of course. Mr Blackstone was livid and immediately walked off stage...I'm sure, to avoid striking the fool...who was immediately escorted out of the theatre. Fortunately, our local SAM assembly was in attendance. Bob Chambers (Williamsburg's Colonial Conjurer), Henry Aldritch and Bill Robinson, assembly officers, took the stage while Mr Blackstone's crew recovered. They kept the audience entertained until Mr Blackstone composed himself and returned to the boards about 30 minutes later. Mr Blackstone graciously apologized to the audience for angrily leaving and thanked the SAM members for their assistance and support. A truely incredible man. I was told then that the smashed bulb was the original floating bulb used by his father...explaining Mr. Blackstone's extreme anger and sense of loss...although, I don't personally know this to be true. I'm surprised that this incident isn't more widely known.
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Mike Ching
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Aloha;

Had the pleasure of doing several phone interviews with Harry Blackstone Jr., Charles Reynolds and others while researching a book on the Dancing Handkerchief. We did not talk specifically about the Lightbulb routine, but I know it was very special to him and it came into the conversation now and then.

I was aware it was something many considered his personal signature effect. He had taken it further than anyone else. Some thoughts which I believe to be accurate:

* No, Lance Burton is not using this rig for his floating Birdcage. That one is more like the OKITO floating rig.

* Yes, the Blackstone Lightbulb floating is a "Mixed method" routine (Several techniques are used).

* Yes, you can probably do some type of Floating light Bulb on the street if you have enough control of your conditions. No, you can't do the Blackstone version.

* Probably the best single source of Floating lightbulb ideas available is a rather inexpensive paperback by BURLING "VOLTA" HULL, called, (I believe) "FLOATING LIGHT BULB ROUTINES". It gives several methods and is well Illustrated., but does not describe a float out over the crowd.

* Blackstone Sr. did the effect in his show, but did not send the Bulb out over the crowd, the version most here are describing was nurtured and honed by Harry Jr.

* Blackstone accepted an element of risk when doing this routine. the reason it looked like it was floating out over the audience is because IT WAS FLOATING OUT OVER THE AUDIENCE!

* The "Gentleman" who swatted the lightbulb onto the stage destroying it..... (Shakes head, rolls eyes, says something I won't print here) This is an ILLUSION, an artistic presentation, created to thrill with wonder and possiblities. So sad there are some in the world unable to understand that.

* If you wish a Floating/Animation routine for the street, these are my suggestions"

1. Packet style RISING CARDS
2. Perry Maynards' LIGHT FLIGHT
3. Fearsons FLOATING CIGARETTE (conditions allowing-that is to say control over wind & Lighting)
4. Interior-lit ZOMBI (Conditions allowing)
5. Kevin James FLOATING ROSE (Conditions Allowing)
6. A FLOATING BILL routine (Conditions allowing)
7. An interior-lit ZOMBI
(Try using a hollow white plastic Baseball from TOYS R US and lighing with an led or micro-flashlight using diffusing material to cast an even Glo.)

ZOMBI on the street? Oh yeah! Spent some time in San Francisco during the height of Street Performance Rennaissance hanging out with several of the best known, (Harry Lovecraft, "Butterfly" Bob Nelson, Michael Davis, A Whitney Brown). You'd be amazed what people got away with!

Hope this helps.

For any interested NEW ANIMATIONS has just been reprinted. There is some info on it under the DON WAYNE FLOATING BALL thread. It would never have been what it is without Harry Blackstone Jr.

Magical Aloha;

-MikeC
plainman007
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I think abracadabra magic has a floating light bulb which works without threads or wires. Its cheap too. And ive heard from the company staff that the bulb can light up and float up down left and right (not too much) and also revolve while its in the air. Its even supplied with a hoop which you can pass over while its floating. And the thing is it says NO THREADS ABSOLUTELY. The thing is its self contained. More like the steve Fearsons floating cigar. But not with threads. I mean you don't need a hook up. So this migh work on a street. Maybe in a slightly dark ambience. But they said it needs at least 10 feet distance from the spectators. Hope this helps you.
mrbuzzsaw
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After reading these posts I would have to say led light would be by far the best choice for lighting they are small and require allmost no power and can cast light brightly. an led and a small watch batery and a couple of resistors is all you need
how you would hollow out a bulb is another matter.
Mike Ching
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Thoughts re mrbuzzsaw & plainman007

First, enjoyed your thoughts!

Took a look at ABRACADABRAs site. Ad for their DH says "No VISIBLE Threads". I am frankly unsure what method they are using. It could be as simple as the thumbtube style gimmick.

mrbuzz; strongly suggest NOT using glass for any floating lightbulb when plastic bulbs are easily available in Novelty stores for the old light-up-in-the-hand gag. it is the nature of rehearsal that you WILL drop the bulb. These are easy to clean out the works, or use as-is but the AA batteries are probably too heavy for many thread methods.

Easiest light source may be the easily obtainable tiny LED keychain bulbs, Set it in the twist-on base and diffuse the light by covering it with a small patch or two of white silk for an even glow.

-MikeC
ringmaster
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Jeff McBride use the light-up floating cane outside in on of his videos.
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Alan Munro
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Quote:
On 2005-11-10 16:34, ringmaster wrote:
Jeff McBride use the light-up floating cane outside in on of his videos.

Video is one thing. You can pay actors to be the audience, if there is an audience on the video.

When you are actually watching it up close, not on video, and it amazes you, then that would be something.

You're not the only one deceived. "News" broadcasts deceive people everyday.
Dannydoyle
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I saw Harry perform this when Jay Marshall took me to a performance. It was amazing to say the least. When some people do it they make it look like it is hanging from a thread. Harry managed to give it life. I personally HATE floating effects, this one touched me and that is magic in and of itself.

As for Darren Romeo he is in Branson Mo. for a few years now. He does this effect and once again it he breathes LIFE into this. Just as with the rest of his show. No doubt. Again he does several floating effects which have depth to them. I loathe most floating stuff, but again, he makes me like them. If you have a chance to be in Branson, he is a must see.
Danny Doyle
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The Great Dave
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I saw Harry Blackstone Jr. perform The Floating Light Bulb at Hank Lee's Magic Conclave with his wife the year before Harry passed away. It was a small auditorium in a local school and the effect was incredible. I had a version of the Floating Light bulb purchased from Hank Lee and had used it under controlled circumstances on stage several times, but until I say Harry do the routine I had no idea how beautiful it was. His act that night included the Dancing Hank , Disappearing Bird Cage, and several other classics - it was magnificent. I would encourage anyone who wants to do this effect to seek out the video of Harry's performance. It will bring the entire routine into focus.
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