Mind Paintings II
While the trick has been around in various forms for many years, we are pleased to announce its newest revision! Several years ago, one of the best selling projects we did with magic Wagon was a piece entitled Mind Paintings. I wanted a different take on a classic mentalism piece where the performer could theme the subject matter to the venue he or she was playing. The concept was four miniature picture frames where the performer can insert their own picture or painting. The original piece came with black and white icons of musical instruments. These icons could be removed and replaced with any picture the mentalist could conjure up in their mind. Thus, I felt Mind Paintings was the perfect name for this remake.
The newest take on this piece will be slightly redesigned. Furnished in Teak wood, the picture frames included will be miniature portraits of Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali and Pierre Auguste Renoir, allowing you to perform this piece immediately after receiving it. Of course, like the original, the portraits can be removed and replaced with any pictures you have in mind. The box measures approximately 5.1″ (14cms) square by 3.14″ (8cms) high. It’s ideal for formal close-up and parlor performances.
A small wooden box is displayed and opened revealing a tray containing four different portraits of the performer’s choosing. The performer then removes the tray and shows that the box is clearly empty. A velvet bag containing a prediction is then placed inside the box and the tray is replaced. Now, the spectator is asked to freely select their favorite portrait and then write down the catalog number on the back side of the frame. The performer now lifts the tray and clearly shows the velvet bag that was previously placed inside the box. The prediction is now removed by the spectator and read out aloud. Amazingly, the prediction matches the portrait chosen including its catalog number!
• The prediction was indeed placed inside the box BEFORE the spectator makes her selection!
• The spectator has a completely free choice of the four portrait displayed! No force!
• The effect can be immediately repeated with a different outcome!
Production began about two weeks ago and we’re expecting them to arrive here in about four weeks. We will send an email and post it on the Trickery website as soon as we know they are on the way. As with most of the nicer items we’ve produced over the last 19 years, the quantities are limited. If you have questions, please call Howard at 973-657-0446.
You create the content for your show. It’s solid. The material is commercial. You know you’ll get good reactions from your audiences. But is there production value?
Production value is the combined technical qualities of the methods, materials, or stagecraft skills used in the production of an artistic performance. It matters not whether you’re a musician, juggler, magician, clown or comedian. Successful entertainers set the stage for their performances by applying a solid set of production values into their act.
So…what exactly are production values?
Production values encompass creating the look and sound of your show, turning your content into a full scale production instead of a bland showing of what might be some very good material. You always want to ask yourself, “How can I take this to the next level?” Probably the greatest example of production value is the rock band, Kiss. In the early days when monies were not abundant, nor was equipment, the members quickly realized it was about the show; the presentation. A wall of stacked Marshalls served as the backdrop on stage. Only two of cabinets actually contained speakers that worked. Man! What a statement that made! Without hearing anything you knew these guys would rock and it would be good! When the curtains open, this is the first impression your audience sees.
Even in the smallest venues such as dinner theaters, banquet rooms, beer halls and the like, you have to create the show, the scenery, the visuals that compliment or even enhance what you do. Everything doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands of dollars, either. Keeping an open mind will allow your creativity to take over and accomplish some pretty amazing things on a tight budget.
While I am a musician and have played out in many venues in another life, I’ll focus mostly on creating your magic show since this forum is all about the magic. Quite often, large venues such as theaters and clubs will provide a stage, curtains, audio and video equipment. There will also be lighting and sound persons at your disposal and usually one or two backstage hands. Most entertainers work the smaller circuits which will be the focus of this article.
Let’s talk first about the backdrop or background of your show. There are expensive portable backdrop systems that set up in a few seconds. They usually start at about $750 and work their way up to several thousands of dollars. For many on a budget, the first place I would look is a camera shop. Most of the more advanced photo/video stores like B&H in NYC stock simple lightweight background packages that are mostly used for photographers and videographers. A quick google search will offer you many choices. Expect to spend between $250 and $500 for an adequate system. They usually consist of 1-4 panels and 2 tripod stands along with carry case. If you or a spouse or friend can sew, you can pick up just the tripods and purchase your choice of fabric in bulk from a fabric supplier and create your own panels or drapes.
There have been many venues where a stage and curtains are simply not part of the package. How boring, or dare I say low rent, for an entertainer to perform his show in front of an exit sign or ugly paneling left over from the 70’s or walls that haven’t been painted in at least a dozen years! It doesn’t set the stage and create excitement for your performance. More often than not, this is the case for many entertainers. Creating your stage and atmosphere will have you stand apart from most of your competitors not to mention have you looking quite professional. As a magician who used to perform kids shows for quite some time, I always turned the room into a 3 ring circus so to speak. A side table to my left, main table centered and another side table to my right. A small portable backdrop system and the room magically turned into a small temporary theater!
Having a backdrop also allows for behind the curtain storage of cases, props, or even for you to hide for a moment before your grand entrance. If props need to be set, you now have a place to do so without the audience watching with a curious eye.
Part 2 of Production Values will cover music and microphones which is one of the most important aspects of your production.
Every now and then I get my hands on something and have to purchase it for myself! Dave Powell’s Balloon to Dove Chest is an example of magic that I would classify as definitive! And the very cool thing…
You can use it to have a chest full of cash magically appear!
Sometimes, in an effort to better cash flow, especially these days, we drop ship the more expensive items. If I know the builder and I’m familiar with their work, I have no problem selling a prop sight unseen. I don’t do this often, but I’ve come to respect and love the quality of work I’ve seen in the last few years from Dave Powell.
After we ran this item for a while, I decided to purchase one for myself. This piece will replace a Mikame Money Chest I’ve incorporated into a new formal show. I’m using the chest full of money concept as a finale to my Bye George routine.
The piece arrived today and after a little while assembling the plexi case I tested it out! Wow! It’s absolutely perfect!
The base is fabricated from Walnut wood. The finish couldn’t be nicer! The hardware combined with the base make this piece look sleek and elegant. The electronics run on 2 9V batteries. It comes with a back-up remote, too. It is sure-fire so long as your batteries are fresh. When Dave called me when he was thinking about making this gem, I asked him to put in a manual release as well. Not that I doubt his electronics, but should we forget to change the batteries I wanted to see a fail-safe method as back-up. I asked for this knowing I’d purchase one for my own use. While I’m certain Dave cursed me a few times when adding the fail-safe feature, it works like a charm!
Most parlor or stage workers don’t work with doves today. Dove From Balloon Tray versions used to be a constant part of my stage show for years. As I pulled a balloon from my pocket and began to blow it up, Rose would enter from stage right with the tray. She’d spin it once proving it empty and allowing the audience to see all sides. I’d walk toward her and affix the balloon on the tray. I’d walk back to the other side of the stage and shape my hand like a gun and aim it towards the balloon. Just as the music hit the crescendo, a large fireball would shoot from my finger tip across the stage and just as it got to the balloon, the balloon burst and in its place a live dove! It always got ooohs and aaahs from the audience! Indeed it was a startling routine.
Today I no longer work with birds. And while I miss that routine, the use of the dove tray concept came back with Dave’s new version. I do like the plexi encasing so if you’re working with birds, they don’t fly away on you. That almost happened to me about 20 years ago at an outdoor show at a yacht club in Maryland. Thankfully I was quicker then and got the dove before he got too far! A quick comment about a sexy duck across the pond amused the audience and saved what was almost an embarrassing moment!
Spring bills make a perfect appearance piece for this device. Due to the largeness of the prop, four or five packages of spring bills will fill the entire space. I like to mix a few real bills in with the spring bills. While the spring bills look real at a very close distance, it adds to the realism. In my routine, Bye George, I start by borrowing a dollar bill from someone. In a series of moves, 8 quarters are produced from their bill and then a jumbo coin! The natural progression of the effect had me create the ultimate finale by placing their bill into the chest and then having it replicate itself what appears to be 100 fold! I then reach into the pile of bills and return the borrowed bill to them bringing the entire routine home!
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In our industry, the wand is key to creating the magic. It directs the energy used to make something magical happen. Depending on the magician’s presentaion, it is the source for the Magi’s powers or it channels the Magi’s power to a particular place.
For years I’ve stocked an item simply called the Appearing Wand. A wand would magically appear from nowhere. Another presentation may have a silk scarf visibly and instantly turning into a magic wand.
A few years ago these wands were made from metal and while they very well, they often the the hands of the magician dirty with an oily residue. We recently brought in a different style of wand. This is made from metal and it never ever leave any residue or oily film on your hands or the scarf. The beautiful thing about this newer version is that it is smaller than its predicessor. This makes it absolutely perfect for bare-handed productions. I use old cigarette moves to conceal the wand in its collapsed position. My hands are small and the new wand is hidden without effort. Of course you can still attach a scarf for a Silk to Wand type of effect.
Two years ago I was hired for a week long engagement at a theater in Philadelphia. One segment was an elaborate Do-As-I Do routine with an audience member. When their scarf didn’t react magically like my scarf, I turned my scarf into a magic wand, took hold of their scarf and with aid of the magic wand caused their scarf to come alive in my hand!
If you work parlor or stage events, and of course kid shows, this new version Appearing Wand is a perfect addition to your act.
We’re rolling out our brand new affiliate program!
We weren’t planning to launch the new program until early 2012, but we finished work ahead of time. You can earn a piece of the pie even if you don’t have a website. Imagine your own virtual magic shop through Facebook and use our products to populate your Trickery Boutique. By signing up for our affiliate program, you can start selling our items anywhere online. Once approved, we will provide you with the tools you’ll need to create customized links that will credit you with every sale made through your online listings.
We’re giving you 10% of the sale you make. Let’s say you sell a Mini Card Star for $349.00. Your commission is $34.90. Once you hot the $50.00 payout total, we will pay you based upon your selected payout method. The quickest way to get paid is through Paypal.
Several years ago I purchased a Mingus Blooming Orange Tree from a friend. It’s one of my treasured pieces of magic that I am proud to own and perform. It’s been used to close a formal parlor show at an upscale wine bar and shop where I used to perform a while back. I also took it to Philadelphia in the summer of 2010 as a closer to a week long engagement at a theater not far from where I grew up.
While the video clip doesn’t show my performance it gives a brief history of this incredible illusion and the magic it creates.
I hope you enjoy it.