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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Best book(s) for constructing small props (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Michael Baker
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Quote:
On Jan 28, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 30, 2018, Michael Baker wrote:
Https://www.lybrary.com/magic-handbook-s......EALw_wcB

I bought this at my drug store for six bits.



In what century? Haha!!
~michael baker
The Magic Company
ringmaster
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Inner circle
Memphis, Down in Dixie
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[quote]On Jan 28, 2019, Michael Baker wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 28, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 30, 2018, Michael Baker wrote:
Https://www.lybrary.com/magic-handbook-s......EALw_wcB

I bought this at my drug store for six bits.



In what century? Haha!!
Look at the guys blazer.
One of the last living 10-in-one performers. I wanted to be in show business the worst way, and that was it.
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
11174 Posts

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[quote]On Feb 12, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 28, 2019, Michael Baker wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 28, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 30, 2018, Michael Baker wrote:
Https://www.lybrary.com/magic-handbook-s......EALw_wcB

I bought this at my drug store for six bits.



In what century? Haha!!
Look at the guys blazer.


No kidding! Haha!!
~michael baker
The Magic Company
IncantoMagic
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Isn't there a lot of this info in Tarbell? I know that at least the Squared Circle is in Vol 6.
Michael Baker
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On Feb 13, 2019, IncantoMagic wrote:
Isn't there a lot of this info in Tarbell? I know that at least the Squared Circle is in Vol 6.


There are many books that show the basic methods behind props. But, that is a far cry from actual building plans. I build magic props for a living, and would tell any aspiring builder to learn basic woodworking, as well as other disciplines like simple metal work, sewing, drafting, and more. Learn these skills and use them to construct a simple box. This will teach how plans are written and illustrated, and will also give hands-on experience in cutting and milling wood, types of wood, joinery, and finishing. It wouldn't hurt to also go buy a couple of model kits, both plastic and wood... cars, airplanes, or whatever. Follow the instructions and build these kits. This will give you hands-on experience in following directions and actually constructing something from parts.

Once these skills are at the very least competently understood, then it will become an easy task to use them and a general method for how a prop operates to draw one's own plans, materials lists, cutting lists, and assembly order. The advantage is that you won't have to ask these kinds of questions, as you will know how to solve just about any need, except for projects that are beyond your skills, your finances, and the quantity and quality of the tools in your workshop.


But, never fear... I began constructing my first props from cardboard cigar boxes. My first illusion was built in my bedroom of my apartment, with a hand saw, a hand drill, a hammer, and my bed serving as a sawhorse.

As far as books, there are many that describe how props work, even if they are not considered actual building plans. Tarbell is loaded with prop descriptions. Also find copies of all the Hoffmann books.. Modern Magic, More Magic, Later Magic. At least one of these is a Dover reprint and I'd guess by now they can be found as free PDFs in public domain. The basic goal would be to build your library... even look at old magazines which you can likely buy for the cost of shipping if you ask for them. Many of these are loaded with cool prop ideas, that most people have never seen or forgotten all about even if they did read it.

All you have to do with any such information is apply your learned building skills, and some imagination to update the look to suit your particular needs. I continue to laugh whenever I hear someone say that the information in the older books is outdated. Learn to think outside the box (no pun intended), and to be a lateral thinker. Look at everything for its possibilities, it's pros.. not it's cons.

If you look at my website, which you can probably access in my profile here, you will likely find many props whose roots go back a long way. I just give them my own spin. I've done exactly what I've described here. Anyone can do the same.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
gimpy2
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The books Michael mentions above work more like a spring board for me as well. I look at an old tired prop and begin to develop a new version. In the process many times the method is improved and the end mechanics are completely different. Sometimes the end product is so different that I almost forget where I started.

You would think that magic builders spend much of there time on the magic secrets but that's not the case for me. I spend much more time on the production questions. How to build something in the most efficient way is the real puzzle. I built a piece last year called "4 wrongs make right". There is no magic secret in the prop. You would think you just go out and start cutting and putting together. In fact about a week was spent sketching. setting up, building patterns. constructing jigs, experiments on assembly, products research, finding all the parts, ect.

Bench built props or one of a kind pieces many times don't turn as good as a production piece. Not as much time is spent in the development phase and learning curve in bench building. By the time you figure out the best way to build it your done.

In other words its not how it works but how to make it work.
David Todd
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Let's keep this topic going by listing more resources on constructing your own magic props.

I'll start with pointing out a great series on build-it-yourself props which ran in Genii magazine from 1991 - 1995 titled “Under the Banyan Tree” by Ali Bongo. (If you have a subscription to Genii magazine , one of the advantages is that you also get access to all past issues of Genii from the beginning in 1936 to the present day.) In his column Bongo did not necessarily provide full "workshop plans" for building his clever ideas , but most are within the capabilities of the average builder.

I have occasionally run across examples of Bongo’s creations described in his Genii column that were used on the Paul Daniel’s Magic Show (Ali Bongo was the head magic consultant on the Paul Daniels series) I came across this today on YouTube. I remembered it from Genii.

After the show titles, it is the first effect performed, from 0:30 - to - 6:57 :

Paul Daniels Magic Show 12 October 1985 -
https://youtu.be/vGcZZV5o_9g?t=30




Ali Bongo explains:

“In 'The Bongo Book', which was published in 1966 by Magic Inc., I described the 'Blooming Assistant', later marketed as 'Bongo's Bloomer'. Briefly, a large mug was filled with milk - upturned on a piece of card and placed on a volunteer assistant's head. The card was slid out, then the beaker was lifted to reveal a bunch of flowers crowning the victim's cranium. A simple plot with considerable comedic possibilities, which served me well over many years for both adult and children's shows. Here is an updated version which was performed by Paul Daniels in his T.V. show. Paul gave it a 'medicine pitch' treatment as a cure for baldness, with hilarious results.”

The full description of the routine and the props is found in Genii, October 1992.

One thing I greatly admire about how Paul Daniels handles this effect (which is similar in plot to the "Don Alan Comedy Egg Trick") is his convincing acting when placing the card on top of the mug and slowly (carefully) turning it over to place it on the volunteer's head. He handles it as if the mug actually contained liquid that he is being very careful not to spill. Too often when magicians perform any sort of trick that involves supposedly pouring liquid or breaking an egg or some some other potentially "messy" ingredients the magician handles the container too freely as if does not contain any liquid . (the magician is aware that there is no chance of actually spilling anything , so he subconsciously telegraphs this to the audience by his actions).


------

Other resources ?

Off the top of my head I can think of the books "The Make-Up Of Magic" by Mickey Hades (which someone mentioned previously) , "The Table Book" and "The Table Book 2" by Eugene Gloye, "Fantastic Tricks with Plastic Cups" and "More Fantastic Tricks with Plastic Cups" by Eugene Gloye. There is also "How To Build Your Own Illusions" by Jim Sommers, and the Paul Osborne series on illusions that ran for many years in Genii and the numerous books by Paul Osborne. (although building illusions falls outside the scope of the original topic on "constructing small props") .


I will also mention I've been very impressed with the episodes I've seen of "Every Trick In the Book" by Dan Harlan (which covers every trick in the Tarbell Course in Magic). Dan shows you how to construct the props necessary for many of the effects described in Tarbell and he also offers some clever improvements/updates for many of the props.

https://www.penguinmagic.com/tricks/tagged/tarbell


.
Jean André
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Metz
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Those Ali Bongo articles ("Under the Banyan Tree") which ran in Genii in the 1990's were wonderful resources for the build-it-yourself magician.

A more recent series that ran in Genii was by Jonathan Neal , "Secrets Within Secrets", that ran in 2019 and 2020. He covers many classic stand-up/stage magic effects and includes the real work, with detailed instructions on how to make them for yourself. J. Neal's articles were a refreshing change from the usual card tricks and coin tricks that seem to be the bulk of the tricks published in Genii in recent years. (other than Steinmeyer's articles).
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