When we talk about magic tricks we think of a show in which mysterious forces are involved, moved by accumulated energy that is displayed. In fact, magic, or more accurately prestidigitation, is a practice, the results of which depend exclusively on manual dexterity. This book will help you discover the magician within you, and the fast results will more than compensate for the work done while learning. No one can resist the curiosity to see the hands of a professional in action and be charmed. Because of this, everyone likes the idea of being able to feel like a little bit of a “magician” themselves, a friendly manufacturer of illusions.
A show of illusionism is fun and a safe way to entertain a group of friends at home or on special occasions. Children are mesmerized by simple games that use colourful objects. For them, the fun is the show, but even more so in the preparation of special effects. Following the instructions provided, parents and educators can accompany their children and walk them through this enchanted world. We may not all be born prestidigitators, but constant practice of correct advice can help the novice obtain satisfactory results. The games featured in this book are almost all easily performed, although like any test of ability, they require regular practice in the beginning.
Within each chapter, the games are presented in order of difficulty, starting with the simplest. The majority can be made of materials that are available to everyone and do not require special materials. Only a few games need, for a perfect success, a box or a frame, and in order to obtain the best effect, it is necessary to maintain a considerable distance between the magician and the audience. During performances, the audience should usually be at a level lower than the magician. Where it has been possible, instructions have been provided to make the necessary instruments by hand. The imagination in preparing the show at a very detailed level will undoubtedly increase the amazing effects each spectator expects to see in an exhibition of “magic”. Finally, in the diagrams, when the presence and placement of threads, rubber bands and other tricks need to be made clear, they have been featured on clothing and on a background. Obviously, the aspiring magician will have to adopt the opposite principle and choose colours that are as “mimetic” as possible.
The materials you frequently use must become yours in the deepest sense of the word. You have to get used to having them in your hand, to manipulate them, to make them a kind of natural extension of your body.
A good magician has a symbiotic relationship with their deck of cards. In a deck of new cards, freshly opened, playing cards are rigid, they slide, and they are difficult to manage. The first step that must be done is to spread out the cards and then, with a little patience, handle them one by one. Each card must be bent and rubbed over the edge of the table (fig. A), first on the back and then on the front. Afterwards, the card has to be wound around a thick marker (fig. B); stretched and wound around again, beginning first at one end and then on the other one, both the front side and the back side. These operations must also be repeated by rolling the card on the longest side. At this point it is unlikely that the cards are still slippery; otherwise, you have to use a white pencil rubber and rub the card uniformly and with constant pressure: since the rubber will render the surface opaque when this is not done correctly, very obvious signs will appear.
To succeed in many of the card games, it is essential to have a “guiding card or “pilot” card. This is produced when the deck is prepared, cutting a strip of less than a millimeter from the upper end of a card (fig. C). This makes it recognizable because, when the deck is closed, it does not align with other cards. Alternatively, a card can be reinforced by pasting another card (from an identical deck) on the back. It is recognized more easily when the deck opens like a fan.
For some games it may be useful to place the pack of cards in a precise order: for example, place the first five cards of each suit, then the second five, and finally the figures. The suits always alternate with the same sequence (it could be the original: hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades, or one of your preference).
In some games it may happen that the deck has to be shuffled, keeping the position of one or more cards in their original position. These have to be the first or last cards of the deck. In order not to alter the top card when shuffling, you have to hold the deck in your left hand. While the thumb of your left hand is holding the card or the cards that must not change position, your right hand moves the other cards, holding them and mixing them in blocks behind the left thumb that is blocking the top cards. The last movement of the right hand should consist of placing the block held with the left thumb on top of the deck in its original position. To avoid moving the last card in the deck, the movements are exactly the same, but reversed: the left hand mixes the cards, while the thumb of the right holds the signaled card (or the cards) that do no need to be moved.
“Forcing” a person to choose a card is really easy. You take the deck remembering the top card and, without moving it, shuffle the cards. Ask a spectator to cut the deck and pick one of the two halves. If the half they chose is the one that has the card you are interested in on its top, ask them to take the first card. If the spectator chooses the other half of the deck, suggest that they take it with the backside downwards and put it, in cross, on the other half; thus, the selected card is the first in the deck that shows the reverse and is underneath. Distract the spectator and the whole audience with a discussion, with a musical interval, or a good joke. Focus the attention again on the cards and invite them to observe the point where the deck has been cut. Lift the top group of cards (the one which has the right side upwards), move it, take the one from below and ask them to observe the first card. It is the card that we had wanted to be chosen.
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