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I would like to share a few more of my lockdown projects / challenges with you, however, instead of opening a different topic for each, I will just list them under the one heading with a very brief description.

By the way, none of the following items were made to sell, they are purely for my own interest.

I have put the link to all the photos at the bottom of the post.

First up is my version(s) of the brilliant Magic Wagon effect "Crystal Mental Die" (which I own). I have actual made six versions with different size cubes (die) and decorative designs. They have the same modus operandi as the MW effect, however, I have made a couple of upgrades to the E where I thought necessary. The three examples shown, are:

30mm Crystal Die - this one is finished similarly to my Die Box effect in my previous post.
40mm Crystal Die - a similar design finish to the original Magic Wagon - Crystal Mental Die (I have given this version an aged finish)
50mm Crystal Die - with an Egyptian themed finish

Next up is a Scarab Beetle effect. The spectator selects / hides one of the four scarabs in a small box and I am able to reveal the one the spectator has selected. Each scarab beetle is identified by the colour of its eyes.

You have probably guessed by now that I like Egyptian themed magic, so I apologise if it is not your thing.

Okay, next is my version of the Lucky Light effect called "Beat the Devil". The spectator is allowed several attempts to the light the eyes of the large skull motif by pressing the small coloured skulls (switches), but fails each time, whereas I always succeed. This one also has a little bit of a kicker ending!

Next up "Gods of the Pharaoh". Synopsis of the effect - I display both an ornate chest containing eight Egyptian figurines (ancient gods) and an ornate burial tomb with a sarcophagus on top. A volunteer from the audience is asked to help. I turn my back to the audience (or leave the room) while the volunteer removes one of the gods from the ornate chest and places it in the burial tomb. I return or turn around and instantly name the god in the burial tomb.


After the chosen god has been placed in the burial tomb, I presents eight cards each showing a picture of one of the gods. The cards are spread on the performance mat and a small creepy bust of Nefertiti is introduced. The lid of the sarcophagus is removed to reveal a mummy. The Nefertiti bust is slowly passed over the cards and when it passes over the card with the photo of the god chosen by the volunteer, and which is in the burial tomb, the eyes of the mummy start to flash green. I have successfully found the chosen god.

Last for today is actually my two versions of "The Temple of Goo" by Jack Ruda. I have called them the "Temple of Little Bud (Buddha)" and the "Temple of Tiny Bud", the photos Temple of Tiny Bud is on the left. They have a similar modus operandi as Jack's effect, but with a main difference! I don't need to be anywhere near the temple(s), in fact I could be in a separate room, and still know the selected position of the figurine.

J M Talbot
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Beautiful work Bill! Thanks for sharing, you have some considerable building skills!
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Really lovely! Thanks for sharing your work.
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Hi Lin and John, good to hear from you and many thanks for taking the time to view my posts and for your kind words, all very much appreciated!

The next three items I would like to show folks are of projects where I have looked at the original effect (that I own) and made some changes / added items to hopefully enhance the performance. This of course can be a bit subjective and wouldn't suit everyone's performance needs!

I am not at liberty to go into any more detail regarding the effects for fear of exposure on open forum, however, if you own the effect then you will understand my thinking behind these projects.

As before, I'll put a link to all the photos at the bottom of the post.

First up is Magic Wagon's - Telegraph Chest

I wanted the "Key Box" part of the effect to be more like a box that could be casually shown inside and also have the facility to be brought into play without going near the key box, and at any time during the performance.

The photos show my Key Box are on the left and the original MW Key Box on the right.

Second, is Magic Wagon's - Brainbow Divination

This is a nice effect, however, it can be a little bit tricky during performance to gain the information required to make the revelation!

So I decided to make a small, lightweight, additional wooden module that attaches to the bottom of the Brainbow Divination box. With this module fitted I don't need to go near the box to get the information required to make the revelation.

Everything can be fully examined before, during and after the performance.

BTW, IMHO the photos don't do this justice and when the module is fitted it just looks like part of the small box. I showed the Brainbow Divination box with the additional module fitted to my wife and she didn't question or spot anything out of the ordinary....and believe me my wife is a hard critic.

Third (last) is Magic Wagon's - The Golden Sphinx

This is also quite a nice effect, however, as with the Brainbow Divination it can also be a little bit tricky during performance to obtain the information required to make the revelation!

So I decided to introduce a small ornate wooden hexagonal shaped base unit to mount the various props on. With this in play I don't need to go near anything to get the information required to make the revelation.

Synopsis of the effect - I show an ornate wooden box and a small round platform with an Egyptian Sphinx Statue. The round platform with Sphinx are placed on the box and six different objects are then placed around the box. These can be Egyptian figurines, ESP cards, Tarot cards or any small borrowed objects from spectators. With my back turned I asks an audience member volunteer to think of one of the objects and turn the Sphinx so that it faces towards the chosen object. A round dome lid is then placed over to completely conceal / cover the Sphinx. Now, I turn round and without going anywhere near the box I am able to divine the chosen object. The effect can then be repeated straightaway, if required.

The effect can also be performed without the round platform by simply placing the Sphinx directly onto the ornate wooden box. Also, instead of using objects around the box, it is possible just divine one of the six coloured gemstones on the periphery of box as selected by the volunteer with the Sphinx.

Everything can be fully examined before, during and after the performance.

Now for something different, my Ghost in the Machine.

It is based on an effect by the late Peter Jefferies called "The World's Most Complex Card Force", and although a bit of fun, it is actually very complex and was difficult to build!

Synopsis of the effects - A beautiful, walnut wood box is displayed. I explain that Nikola Tesla (the Electrical Engineering genius) made several devices / contraptions while experimenting with electricity, some of which went beyond the realms of belief or explanation. Today a few of his devices linger in obscure collections, occult museums and occasionally are discovered in dusty attics. One such device became known as the "Ghost in the Machine" and what you see before you is possibly the last remaining example of this device to exist, as all known copies were destroyed by god fearing people who believed it to be possessed.

I remove the lid to display an area that is divided into ten rectangles and another area in the top right corner (spectators view), under a Perspex sheet, that matches the configuration of the rectangles.

Effect 1. A dual pack of Mini Patience Cards is introduced and one pack is selected. The cards can be shuffled or shown to be well mixed, then placed face down on the table and cut by the spectator. A card is selected by the spectator and remembered (example the Queen of Hearts). Nine more random cards are selected, giving a total of ten. The spectator shuffles all ten cards and is then invited to place a card face down in each of the rectangles in any order of their choosing. On completion, I invite the spectator to ask the Ghost in the Machine to find their chosen card (Queen of Hearts). Suddenly, in the top right hand corner, the eyes of the small skull motif glow green and red lights can be seen flashing on and off in the small wooden grid. After a few seconds the red lights stop flashing to leave one light on. Then an eerie voice is heard to say "your chosen card is the Queen of Hearts". To verify, the card that occupies the same position as the light is identified as the spectator's chosen card....i.e. the Queen of Hearts!

Effect 2 (with no voice). An envelope containing a prediction is placed to one side. Ten face down Mini Patience Cards are introduced. A spectator is invited to shuffle the cards face down and then place a card face down in each of the rectangles in any order of their choosing. Suddenly, in the top right hand corner, the eyes of the small skull motif glow green and red lights can be seen flashing on and off in the small wooden grid. After a few seconds the red lights stop flashing to leave one light on.

The card that occupies the same position as the light is identified and removed. Attention is drawn to the envelope containing the prediction. This is opened and a single card is tipped out. On showing the faces of the two cards they are seen to match. Say, for example that they are the Ace of Spades, comment, "I know what you are thinking - all of the mini cards are the Ace of Spades - wrong! The Ace of Spades is the only red card out of all of these black cards!" Tip the cards off of the Ghost in the Machine and turn them face up to show that they are indeed all black.

BTW, in Effect 1, I could also use the other Mini Patience Deck in conjunction with, for example, a Switch Witch (or similar), to give a dual prediction.

Last one for this morning is another Egyptian Theme effect and it is my version of the superb "Mental Chess" by Hardini.

I have called my effect the "Chess of the Pharaoh".

Synopsis of the effect - I display three Egyptian chess figurines on a thin, gilded stand - the Pharaoh and two Anubis figurines. A member of the audience is asked to check everything - including the three blue ornate covers. I then turn my back to the audience while the volunteer arranges the figurines in the order of his / her liking and covers them with the blue covers. I turn around and instantly name the location of the Pharaoh.

For the next stage it is made even more difficult. This time the volunteer is asked to put one of the figurines, and its cover, in a velveteen bag; to place the other two back on the stand and then to place the covers over the figurines. I turn around and name the position of everything correctly.

The major difference from Hardini's original (apart from the design) is the way I get the information regarding the position of the figurines.....I don't have to be anywhere near the fact, I could be in another room!
Michael Baker
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Your work is very impressive.
~michael baker
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Hi Michael,

Wow, it's a real honour for me to receive an accolade from a true artisan such as yourself.....many thanks.

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Okay, so this is probably going to be my last post in this series, for a while anyway.

The next few items follow on with my fascination with Egyptian themed magic.....sorry!

The link to the photos can be found at the bottom of this post.

About 20+ years ago I bought an effect from Mephisto-Huis called "Stone of the Pharaoh" by Paul Picha.

You can see an example on Andy Martin's great website using the following link -

It is a very well made effect and works flawlessly every time, but not very magical. It's pretty much self-contained and I don't think it would need a rocket scientist to work out what is going on....i.e. the big E!

So the challenge I gave myself was, can I improve on the original effect / concept. After some thought, it seemed to me that if I could separate the two main elements, i.e. the mummy selection and the crystal display then that would add a bit of mystery to the effect....also, wrap it up in a good story line / routine.

This is what I came up with, and I have called it "The Pharaoh's Test".

Everything can be examined before and after the effect.

Synopsis of the effect - A golden sarcophagus sits on top of an ornate burial tomb. The lid of the tomb with the sarcophagus is removed to reveal four mummies, each identified with a different coloured, red, green and blue. The lid of the sarcophagus itself, is removed to reveal a resting place for one of the mummies. Another display stand is shown and the lid is removed to reveal a mysterious looking, clear crystal. The crystal is once again covered, and while I am out of the room or with my back turned, any one of the four mummies (no force) is placed into the sarcophagus and covered. When I turn round (or return) I asks the spectator / volunteer to uncover the crystal and concentrate on the colour of the mummy they selected. For a short period nothing happens, and then after about fifteen seconds the crystal slowly starts to glow the colour of the chosen mummy! It gradually shines brightly revealing the hidden selection. At this stage I would remove the mummy from the sarcophagus, simulating the passage of the Pharaoh to the Underworld. The crystal then slowly fades back to clear, simulating that the Pharaoh’s rebirth and transition to the Underworld was successful.

If seen for the first time it looks amazing, and the effect may be repeated immediately.

BTW, the crystal stand can be some distance away from the golden sarcophagus and it will still work.

The next effect I have called "The Egyptian Jewel Box Prediction"

Synopsis of the effect - I present a nicely decorated Egyptian Jewel Box sitting on a decorated performance surface depicting the Eye of Horus. The jewel box houses four small wooden tablets. Each tablet shows a different image from ancient Egypt....a scarab beetle, bust of Nefertiti, the Sphinx and Tutankhamun's death mask. I instruct an audience volunteer to place one of the tablets from the jewel box (free choice) in a smaller decorated box and to close the lids of both boxes. This is to be done while my back is turned (or I am out of the room). When I turn round (or return) I am able to reveal the tablet selected / removed from the Jewel Box.

The next one I would like to share with you is a bit of fun!

I have called it "Horus Knows" and it is based on an idea by my good friend the late Peter Jefferies.

Synopsis of the effect - An unusual, ornate, ancient Egyptian artifact / chest and a deck of Mummy Playing Cards are both presented to the audience. The cards are shuffled and one is chosen by an audience member. The chosen card is returned and lost in the deck. After some by-play and several attempts by myself to find the chosen card (which fail), I state that I will ask for the help of the Egyptian God Horus, the Sky God with the all Seeing Eye. Several cards are selected from the deck and placed one by one into a houlette on top of the Egyptian chest. As each card is placed into the houlette I ask Horus if this is the chosen card. Initially nothing happens, then suddenly one card is rejected / jumps out of the houlette (on its own accord) and this card is found to be the chosen card! The card actual shoots into the air and can cause folk to jump!

So the last of my last Egyptian themed effects (for the time being) is my adaptation of Fabrice Delaure's great effect the "10 Little Giants". I have called my one the "8 Little Tuts (Tutankhamun)".

Synopsis of the effect - I display an ornate chest containing eight small identical busts of Tutankhamun. A volunteer from the audience is asked to help. With my back turned to the audience (or after I leave the room) the volunteer removes any number of busts and places them in a silk lined bag. I turn around (or return) and instantly reveal the number of busts that the volunteer removed.

Obviously, this can be expanded to make it more entertaining / mystifying by adding a routine to the final revelation.

Everything can be examined before, during and after the effect!

The next project I want to share with you was developed as a bit of fun.

I thought about the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp, and I wondered if, like in the story, I could make a lamp that when rubbed would cause something to happen, i.e. produce a jet of flame, a puff of smoke or even cause something to happen in a remote location.

The first challenge was to try and find the correct design of lamp. Unfortunately, anything with an aged feel to it was either unsuitable in design or way too expensive to modify (i.e. an antique). However, I did eventually find something online that I could work with, although not perfect!

BTW, one of the main requirements that I set myself was that the lamp must be able to be handled freely without any suspicion. However, having said that, I wouldn't be giving the spectator / audience member a screwdriver to take it apart!

I decided after a few attempts that an optimum solution would be to have the lamp (when rubbed) produce an action in a remote location......produce a flash of flame, light a candle, burst a balloon, possibly open a box and have a Genie appear. To be honest, this part is only limited by ones imagination, because, IMHO, the clever part is the lamp and the way that it works and interacts with the peripheral props.

Anyway, to give you an idea, this is something that I came up with, and is called "The Genie Lamp".

BTW, it is not an effect that I would use on a regular basis in this form, i.e. with the chest (only for the right audience), as it is only meant to be a bit of fun and as a way of demonstration.

Synopsis of the effect - I present an ornate Oriental Chest and an ornate Golden Oil Lamp. The small lid of the lamp is removed to show it full of precious gem stones. An audience member is invited to volunteer and hold the lamp with one hand and to point it towards the chest. The volunteer is then directed to rub / polish the side of the lamp with his / her free hand. All of a sudden the lid of the chest springs open to show a Genie and this is followed by a jet of smoke and a flame approximately two metres high erupting from the chest. The chest is seen to be full of precious stones.

Okay, I am running out of steam, so I'll make this the last one.

It is an effect that I don't own (in either of the two original versions) but it has intrigued me for a while and it is Magic Wagon's superb "Enigma Chest - E".

I gave myself the challenge of building one from scratch, with the following requirements:

1. Keep the chest size as small as practicably possible. It ended up being 100mm x 79mm x 125mm
2. Operate without having to go near the chest after the drawer is closed
3. Able to withstand casual inspection
4. Hold predictions that don't seem too out of place and in different formats
5. Be as silent in operation as possible

I have called my version "The Mystery Chest"

Synopsis of one effect (others are possible) - I direct attention to a beautiful wooden chest and the drawer is opened to show that there is nothing inside. I produce a small wooden tablet and state that this is my prediction. The wooden tablet is seen to be placed in the chest and the drawer is closed. A spectator is handed a small aged wooden cube with a different ESP symbol on each side. While my back is turned the spectator is asked to place the ESP cube in a small wooden ring style box, remember the symbol on top and then close the lid. The choice is completely free and there is absolutely no force of any kind. I then turn round and invite the spectator to slide the chest drawer open and remove the tablet / prediction. Surprisingly, the prediction placed inside the chest earlier matches perfectly the chosen ESP symbol on top of the wooden cube!

There is absolutely no force of any kind!

Note: The packet of playing cards in the photos is there to give an indication of size and not required for the effect detailed above.

Until the next time....stay safe!

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OMG - this is truly beautiful
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