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Topic: Latest project
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 1, 2011 07:20PM)
This is a set that includes the Sewell Block Appearance, and the Baker-Tysl Block Vanish.

In effect, the 3" block is removed from the pagoda cabinet, and the rod replaced through the cabinet. The block is vanished via the squarish box with the lid, and it reappears inside the pagoda cabinet, THREADED on the rod!

There is a ton of work involved in these with some very cool mechanics going on. It takes several months to make one to these specs. The block appearance cabinet is a creation of Len Sewell, and described in an obscure little booklet published in the 1940's. It can also be found in one of the Albo books. The Block vanish is a creation from me and a collector who I made the first set for. Very fast vanish of a block that can be handled freely and seen on all six sides.

I have only made a handful of these in the past, and this is one of a current run of three sets. The other two sets will be worked on as time permits, and then I'll offer them for sale.

FYI for woodworkers... The two columns on the front of the pagoda are made by doing half turnings. Basically, two pieces of wood are screwed together and then turned as a single unit. Afterward, when the piece is cut away from the waste, it separates into two identical half pieces, profile on the front and flat on the back.

Enjoy!

~michael

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sewell2011-01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sewell2011-02.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sewell2011BT-01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sewell2011BT-02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: billappleton (Aug 1, 2011 07:25PM)
Michael this work is insanely great. I'd love to see a performance to get the feel. Awesome.
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Aug 1, 2011 08:01PM)
Beautiful! Looks like a set of Mahjong tiles...

I want one!
Message: Posted by: Chris Stolz (Aug 1, 2011 08:34PM)
Darn you and your ability to make things square :)
Message: Posted by: Dr. Solar (Aug 1, 2011 09:47PM)
Beautiful job Michael,

I'm going to go out and throw my tools away and just buy my stuff from you. How much? Why wouldn't you just turn the columns then run them through the band saw and cut them down the middle?

Doc
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 1, 2011 10:54PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-01 22:47, Dr. Solar wrote:
Why wouldn't you just turn the columns then run them through the band saw and cut them down the middle?


[/quote]

Have you ever tried to do that?? This is actually much easier and more accurate. It's a cool technique, just keep your lathe tools away from the screws! :)
Message: Posted by: curtgunz (Aug 2, 2011 12:35AM)
This beautiful work. If you post any more pictures please put a ruler or dollar bill or something for scale. I'll admit, I don't really know how big the piece you made is (I just know that it looks wonderful and sounds like a great effect).

Thank you for sharing.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 2, 2011 12:46AM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-02 01:35, curtgunz wrote:
This beautiful work. If you post any more pictures please put a ruler or dollar bill or something for scale. I'll admit, I don't really know how big the piece you made is (I just know that it looks wonderful and sounds like a great effect).

Thank you for sharing.
[/quote]

3" block.
Message: Posted by: curtgunz (Aug 2, 2011 03:42AM)
Wow, as nice and detailed as it is, I thought the block was much bigger. I'm even more impressed.
Message: Posted by: veegates (Aug 2, 2011 06:58AM)
Hi Michael,
Absolutely fantastic. I am not even completely sure what it does. I just know it is beautiful and it is something that I would be proud to own!! Great job. Detail is perfect!
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Aug 2, 2011 11:44AM)
Gorgeous as usual, Michael. Thanks for the post. And thanks too for the tip on the half columns; I now seem to remember seeing it somewhere. but certainly wouldn't have thought of it if I wanted to turn something!
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Aug 3, 2011 12:06AM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-02 12:44, George Ledo wrote:
Gorgeous as usual, Michael. Thanks for the post. And thanks too for the tip on the half columns; I now seem to remember seeing it somewhere. but certainly wouldn't have thought of it if I wanted to turn something!
[/quote]
Ditto!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 3, 2011 12:58AM)
I have some more of the half turnings to do for a couple more of these sets, but likely won't even begin that until I get back from Colon. I'll try to remember to shoot a couple photos of the process as I go.
Message: Posted by: darylrogers (Aug 3, 2011 01:31PM)
Beautiful work, absolutely beautiful. Are those real Chinese ideograms on the block (I assume they are Chinese)? If so, do they have a particular meaning or message?
Message: Posted by: wkitwizard (Aug 3, 2011 02:33PM)
Nice workmanship! My best regards to you!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 3, 2011 03:41PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-03 14:31, darylrogers wrote:
Beautiful work, absolutely beautiful. Are those real Chinese ideograms on the block (I assume they are Chinese)? If so, do they have a particular meaning or message?
[/quote]

The Chinese characters are to be read individually, not in groups. I don't recall each one specifically (I'd have to check my files again), but I made a point of using characters that represented various things in nature, applicable to much of the philosophy of Okito type design, or fundamentals or emotions applicable to a magician (by my definition). There have been other pieces that I put out that had either the word "magic", or "magician", or "wizard", or "Michael" (wink!).
Message: Posted by: ViolinKing (Aug 3, 2011 05:14PM)
To any woodworkers, RE: turning half columns:

Michael Baker, I have no doubt that your method works, but I thought I would mention something that a college professor taught when I was taking "shop class" for a design major.

We glued two pieces of wood together with a sheet of newspaper in between them. (Clamped, dried.) When it was dried, we centered the lathe mount on that line, where the newspaper was.

After turning a form of some kind or another, we wedged a chisel in there and it usually popped apart into two pieces easily.

Maybe something to experiment with, if you are an avid turner of wooden pieces.

~Nick
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 3, 2011 05:59PM)
Thanks for the info, Nick. Paper mounting is a common technique used for some lathe work where a face plate, chuck screw, etc. are impractical. I've found for half turnings, screwing the pieces together is faster than waiting for a glue joint to dry with any kind of security. There is also zero chance of the pieces coming apart, such as could happen if a gouge dug in. I put the screws in about 1/2" from the end, with heads going opposite direction to equalize the balance. The waste is very little. The key is to know how far you can turn toward the waste and avoid the screws. Hitting one would totally wreck a good (and expensive) lathe tool.

Yes, the lathe centers have be right on the joint, or the pieces could end up any ratio other than 50:50. Off center along the line is not so bad, but it still pays to shoot for the middle.

But I guess like many things, there are often more than single ways to accomplish the task! :)
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Aug 3, 2011 06:51PM)
Wow... Really beautiful work, Michael! Great detail. lol... I can build big stuff... as long as you don't get tooo close! I admire your craftsmanship.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Aug 3, 2011 07:27PM)
This is simply stunning work Michael. Yet again, I am not surprised.
Message: Posted by: wandmgc8 (Aug 4, 2011 12:43AM)
That's just awsome Mr. Baker! Just makes you want to grab it, and, hold it!

Bowing to your craftsmanship...thanks for sharing that.

Michael
Message: Posted by: Regan (Aug 8, 2011 09:36AM)
Michael, that is fabtastic! As always!

Regan
Message: Posted by: Made to Measure Magic (Aug 9, 2011 04:31PM)
I'm with violin king I have always glued the two halves together with newspaper in between.

But there is more that one way to skin a cat so whatever you are comfortable with.

Dave.

http://www.madetomeasuremagic.co.uk
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Aug 11, 2011 04:34PM)
Michael...you do such beautiful work! Would you like an adopted son? I am up for grabs!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 11, 2011 09:38PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-11 17:34, Mike Maturen wrote:
Michael...you do such beautiful work! Would you like an adopted son? I am up for grabs!
[/quote]

Ha-ha!! Not sure I need an adopted son. My 18 year old son is here and learning the ropes on building magic. He's doing a great job, too!
Message: Posted by: kennewhitson (Aug 14, 2011 08:26PM)
Another amazing piece.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 6, 2011 01:37PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-04 01:43, wandmgc8 wrote:
That's just awsome Mr. Baker! Just makes you want to grab it, and, hold it!

Bowing to your craftsmanship...thanks for sharing that.

Michael
[/quote]

Michael, I hope to one day see your work first hand. What shows on you website is very impressive.

~michael
Message: Posted by: Darkwing (Sep 6, 2011 03:01PM)
[quote]
On 2011-09-06 14:37, Michael Baker wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-08-04 01:43, wandmgc8 wrote:
That's just awsome Mr. Baker! Just makes you want to grab it, and, hold it!

Bowing to your craftsmanship...thanks for sharing that.

Michael
[/quote]

Michael, I hope to one day see your work first hand. What shows on you website is very impressive.

~michael
[/quote]

Michael,

I have five Moonlight Magic's wands and they are all a sight to behold. Beautiful workmanship that is second to none. Michael Myatt is an expert craftsman and you and he would hit it off immediately.

David Williams
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 7, 2011 11:05AM)
Thanks to everyone for their kind words. I am in process of making a few more sets, and will add photos here, as they come out.
Message: Posted by: TRUMPETMAN (Sep 8, 2011 01:27PM)
You never fail to amaze me with your museum quality work man :D

Hope life in the midwest is treating you well...
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 9, 2011 12:00AM)
Hey Mark,

I'm very much enjoying my digs here. The weather is really nice right now. It makes work more than a pleasure! :)

~michael
Message: Posted by: SmittyWitty (Sep 11, 2011 08:19AM)
Very, very nice work.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 22, 2011 01:57PM)
Thanks, SmittyWitty.

Here is the latest incarnation of the same effect(s). Finished it this morning.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2011z04.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: billappleton (Sep 22, 2011 03:19PM)
Please post a performance video if that is not too much trouble!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 22, 2011 04:10PM)
No can do. Sorry.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 23, 2011 04:30AM)
I should clarify...

I lack the capabilities to shoot, edit, and upload videos efficiently. I am also not a dedicated fan of videos of magic posted on the internet. Additionally, I leave the performance of these pieces to those who own them. I only build these, and only perform magic that I have brought up to what I consider performance level. To attempt this just to show what it does, puts both the effect and the method at risk. A public forum is not the place for that.

I have posted photos of these pieces in "The workshop", for the enjoyment of other magic builders. They are not being advertised for sale via mass consumption. A "demo" is therefore unnecessary.

I hope that doesn't offend anyone.

A brief description of the effect may however be in order...

The block may begin inside the low Pagoda cabinet. It is shown by opening the front door. The block is threaded on the rod which runs horizontally through the cabinet. The rod and block are removed. The rod is replaced and the cabinet closed.

The block is then placed into the box with the large round holes in the front and back. The lid is placed on with the large round holes 90 degrees to those in the box proper. This effectively blocks all openings to see the block inside. The lid is then removed and the block has vanished.

The door of the Pagoda cabinet is then opened, and the block is seen to have returned, THREADED on the rod.
Message: Posted by: Regan (Sep 23, 2011 09:26AM)
Michael, that looks fabtastic! Did you use the adhesive-backed flocking from Edmunds for the interior lining?

Regan
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 23, 2011 10:06AM)
[quote]
On 2011-09-23 10:26, Regan wrote:
Michael, that looks fabtastic! Did you use the adhesive-backed flocking from Edmunds for the interior lining?

Regan
[/quote]

Actually, it was a very similar product that Magic Ref told me about (if I recall, it was from McMaster-Carr). I'd bought both kinds several months ago to experiment, and found them equally good. It just happened to be the roll I was working from when it came time to do this project. The lining is only on the bottom of the box on the pedestal, and the top of it's lid.

~michael
Message: Posted by: Regan (Sep 23, 2011 10:11AM)
I thought it looked like that type of material. I love that stuff!

The prop is absolutely beautiful!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 7, 2011 09:26PM)
...And here is the latest rendition... same essential apparatus as the others, just different colors by customer request.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2011d01.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Oct 7, 2011 09:41PM)
Wow... Absolutely beautiful work, Michael!
Message: Posted by: silking (Oct 7, 2011 10:49PM)
THE ONLY THING I CAN SAY IS-----------------BEAUTIFUL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 8, 2011 08:20AM)
Gulp!
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Oct 8, 2011 08:36AM)
A touch of class Michael!
Ray.
Message: Posted by: billappleton (Oct 8, 2011 09:09AM)
So great. I love the classic style.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 8, 2011 11:31AM)
Thanks, guys! There are 2 more sets in the works for customers, one like the red set, one yet undecided. I may make one for myself, but then I think I'll take a break from them so I can focus on some new stuff I've been wanting to dabble with.

In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at a new item. I'm making 13 numbered sets for Stevens Magic Emporium. It's our spin on Okito's Sleeve Production. For reference, the overall height is about 15 1/2". They should be available through them in a few weeks.

[img]http://www.themagiccompany.com/2011_sleeve_prod_a.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.themagiccompany.com/2011_sleeve_prod_b.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 8, 2011 12:58PM)
Double-gulp!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 8, 2011 02:00PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-08 13:58, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Double-gulp!
[/quote]

:) Don't they sell that at 7-Eleven?
Message: Posted by: Chezaday (Oct 10, 2011 10:06AM)
Wow .. you're work looks awesome! Nice job ...

Steve
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Oct 10, 2011 03:40PM)
Beautiful and inspiring work, Michael. Wow!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 10, 2011 06:47PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-08 15:00, Michael Baker wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-10-08 13:58, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Double-gulp!
[/quote]

:) Don't they sell that at 7-Eleven?
[/quote]

Yep. And I think it's bigger than your Sleeve Production. (Why does that sound like a "That's what she said." joke)?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 10, 2011 10:32PM)
Alright kiddies... take this as a lesson... Don't photograph your Sleeve Production and post it on the Internet. It could come back to haunt you. ;)
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Oct 11, 2011 12:53PM)
Beautiful workmanship. Are the lithos painted or appliqued?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 11, 2011 02:27PM)
It's actually a combination of techniques. In some cases you are seeing paint, in others, you are seeing printed images. I make and print my own transfers. I also use different papers for different effects.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Nov 16, 2011 02:29PM)
Well Michael, I see you did it again. You should sell some of your props at the next Abbotts Get Together.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 16, 2011 05:10PM)
Maybe they will ask me. ;)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 17, 2012 07:13PM)
This is my spin on the Okito Zombie Cabinet, I am calling "The Temple of the Golden Dragon". The ball visibly appears inside the box, floats out and upon returning the door is closed and reopened to reveal the dragon's face. I changed several features, including the general appearance, and how some of the mechanics operate.

For those familiar with the original Okito version, it had a skull instead of the dragon face, and although I'd like to eventually use the skull idea, I'd rather use that for a gothic/graveyard-themed cabinet. For an oriental theme such as this, I thought the dragon made more sense.

This is the first of 3 units. I'll have one or two of these available.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/zombie_cab_01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/zombie_cab_02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Feb 18, 2012 11:33AM)
Too beautiful for words. This is what Oriental themed magic should look like!
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Feb 20, 2012 03:55PM)
Gorgeous, Michael. The detailing is unreal!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Feb 20, 2012 08:22PM)
Stunning. Simply stunning.
Message: Posted by: TheGreatNancini (Feb 21, 2012 01:29AM)
Beautiful work as always Michael! We still have and use your Pagoda on a regular basis! You are very meticulous in your workmanship and that always shows in your final products!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 21, 2012 03:34PM)
Thanks everyone for your kind words! I have some other projects in the works, so I'll show them here sometime down the road.
Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Feb 24, 2012 10:39AM)
Michael --

I believe I have the booklet on which your project is based.

I believe my shop is fairly well-quipped.

I believe my skills and experience in woodworking are reasonably proficient.

I believe you couldn't pay me enough to attempt this project, so I'll just leave this here:

:righton:
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 24, 2012 11:04AM)
:)
Message: Posted by: Chance Wolf (Feb 24, 2012 01:21PM)
Michael,
I really love the "The Temple of the Golden Dragon" as well as all your other pieces.
I lurk on your thread and always can't wait to see the next release.
The really are some awesome pieces and you should be proud.
You really are digging deep to find your own style and niche in this little pie we call MAGIC.
Keep up the great work!
Chance
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 24, 2012 01:54PM)
Thanks, Chance! That means a lot!

I guess there is a style emerging, some of that because of the customers' requests, but my brain still runs in eclectic ways. There is a lot that I can envision, but haven't been able to bring about yet.

Oh, and by the way... if you keep at it, one day your hair will be as long as mine is! ;)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 12, 2012 10:48AM)
Ok, something new from the workshop...

This is "The Mystery of Three Boxes". The effect is based upon some other similar concepts from past and present. Three boxes, one containing silk, one with tea, and one with a borrowed signed bill, rearrange their order a couple of times within a tube. Then, the "money" box vanishes and reappears between the other two boxes inside the tube.

I made two sets.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/3boxesmystery01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/3boxesmystery02.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/3boxesmystery03.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/3boxesmystery04.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/3boxesmystery05.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (Apr 12, 2012 01:32PM)
Gorgeous work!!!


Larry
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 14, 2012 12:21PM)
Thanks, Larry!
Message: Posted by: SmittyWitty (Apr 15, 2012 08:17AM)
Michael, very nice.

Jeff
Message: Posted by: Dr. Solar (Apr 15, 2012 10:22PM)
Beautifully done Michael.

Doc
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Apr 16, 2012 07:37PM)
Each piece gets better and better Michael. Simply stunning!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 17, 2012 09:36AM)
Thanks for your positive comments everyone! I sold one set immediately, and may hang on to the other. But, it looks like we may be releasing a run of them through Stevens Magic.

I have for some time, been toying with the idea to produce a cooler version of "Skeleton in the Cupboard (Closet)". I haven't completely settled on my design for that, and didn't want to step on Michael's cool "Mis-Made Monster" over at Wack-O. I also want a considerable difference with the effect and routine. I have a few ideas that I've toyed with for a few years, but haven't allowed them to gel yet.

But, then I ran across an old Donald Holmes effect that used, among a few other things, a stack of tea chests. There was a similarity to the old Thayer "Bewildering Blocks", as well as the skeleton effect, and of course U.F. Grant's "Strat-O-Sphere". I figured since I'm already waist deep in producing the oriental stuff, that I'd tackle that first, before the skeletons.

The Holmes trick had some random peripheral stuff going on which I thought made things a bit confusing, so I changed the routine and props considerably, and the result is above.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 4, 2012 12:49PM)
Latest item completed...

This is my spin on the Okito Miraculous Production, which is also known in various incarnations as, Box, Tray & Screen, Ming Production Box, etc. The table is spun around to show it unprepared. Then, the box placed upon it, which is dismantled to show it also quite empty. The parts are reassembled and a very large production is made... livestock, or whatever.

It utilizes an elevator load chamber, not the rotating chamber as Gwynne developed, and as was made by Thayer. This provides a very large load capacity, maybe 90% of the size of the box.

My intent was to minimize the apparent size of the load space in the table, something I considered a weak area with other makes of the same trick. This was done both in design and coloration.

I began making two, although have only finished this one. The other is only partially built.

[img]http://www.themagiccompany.com/boxtrayscreen.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 4, 2012 02:14PM)
Beautiful, Michael. The base looks very deceptive. Great job as always.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 4, 2012 06:30PM)
Drooling...
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 4, 2012 08:05PM)
Well, that there is a fine bundle of mystery. Nicely done as per usual.

I can't wait to see what you do with Skeleton in the Cupboard. While your current line is exquisite, I would love to see what you do with the "dark side" of magic. One of my prize possessions is your Vampire Block Escape. It's just a strikingly beautiful thing to look at and perform with. Creepy elegance is how I would describe it.
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Jun 4, 2012 08:09PM)
Very Nice!!!


Nick
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 4, 2012 10:15PM)
Thanks much, guys! As always, I'm very appreciative of your kindness.

Wizard, glad you still like the Vampire Block Escape. Those are a fun design. Just enough of a Goth twist to make them more interesting. I do want to make more Halloween-themed magic... several ideas in the works. I did make a couple sets of Halloween theme nested boxes recently, that have a really clever load system that I devised.... at least I've not seen the idea used before. One set went to a friend and the other, is for me. They were decorated with images of vintage Halloween decorations, another hobby of mine.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 16, 2012 09:26AM)
OK... Just finished another Livestock Production like the one above. Currently working on a table that a friend plans to use in his close-up act, and a couple units of a one-door checker cabinet modeled after the Arturo Oriental Fantasy. The table will be done in the next two weeks, but the checker cabinets have no deadline. I think that they will be some of the best work I've done. I'm keeping a photo log, but can't really post much here because it would expose too much. I may eventually compile it into a webpage for the magic builders.

In the meantime... It is a rainy day while the cold front pushes in, so I decided to do something besides make sawdust. I'll share the results as it progresses.

A neighbor was kind enough to give me a bunch of Roma tomatoes from his garden, so I decided to make some roasted tomato soup.

This photo shows the tomatoes halved and on a sheet pan, along with some onion, garlic, and fresh basil. There is also a whole garlic in the center of the pan, which I decided to roast at the same time. Purty, ain't it?? :)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/readytoroast.jpg[/img]

All this has been drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground peppercorn medley. This latter is a McCormick product found at most grocery stores. If you even somewhat like black pepper, you'll love this stuff!

Anyway, it is now being roasted in the oven at 375 F for an hour. The smell in my kitchen is absolutely amazing!

I'll shoot another photo once they come out of the oven. They will likely look shriveled and slightly burnt, but that's what makes them good! I'll likely work on this slowly, to time it with supper.

In the meantime, I'll be searching recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches to see if I spot one that speaks to me. GCS is after all, the perfect accompaniment for tomato soup!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 16, 2012 09:45AM)
Perfect!
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/roasted.jpg[/img]

These will need to cool and will later be put through the food processor and then through a sieve to remove seeds, bits of skin, etc.

More later...
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 16, 2012 03:57PM)
Welcome back...

Once I had a chance to get back to this, the tomatoes had been resting in a bowl in the fridge. I ran them through the food processor with a couple of the roasted garlic cloves (the rest of those are being reserved for a butter spread another day).

Once pureed well, this was pressed through a sieve to get rid of the seeds and any other large stuff (there wasn't much, as the puree process took everything down fairly well).

This tomato puree, which in this state would make an excellent Marinara sauce, was put into a pan large enough to contain it, 2 cups of chicken stock, and about a cup of heavy whipping cream. This was heated thoroughly, just short of a boil. No other seasoning was needed. I garnished the soup with a little fresh shredded Parmesan Cheese and some finely sliced fresh basil.

To go along with this, I made grilled cheese sandwiches using Extra Sharp White Cheddar and Oatnut Bread (no special recipe, just what I had on hand).

Oh, my... was this ever good! :)

Try it sometime. Super easy!

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/soupson.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Aug 16, 2012 07:32PM)
Michael, I may be in love with you...I feel guilty about this...but I can't deny my feelings.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 16, 2012 10:37PM)
Ha!!!

You notice my clever way of sliding this under the radar by including it in my own thread where my real friends are more likely to see it, and the mods can't move it to the NOTS?? ;)

Trust me, I'll keep the magic stuff coming, but you can also count on an occasional bit of fun here, too! I used to do the same for the meeting notices I wrote when I was in B'ham. I think there are more than a couple magic books that have also included recipes and some other peripheral enjoyment. I can't put the naked women in like Ricky Jay did in "CAW", but hopefully someone can still have fun by saying, "Wow! Nice tomatoes!!"
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Aug 16, 2012 11:20PM)
Wow, nice tomatoes! Creativity is creativity and it tends to spill over into all aspects of your life. Someday we'll have to get together for that meal we talked about. I'll even bring the wine!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 17, 2012 04:52AM)
Heck yeah! Maybe you'll even share your recipe for Whirled Peas! :)
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Aug 17, 2012 09:22AM)
Michael,

That looks fantastic. I have a whole bucket of romas setting on the counter just need to hit the store for some cream. I like the idea of recipes with with magic.

I thought about doing this yesterday when I first saw the post but it was hot and sunny here. By supper time the temps had droped and it was pouring rain,It would have been perfect. I forgot how well soup and rain go together. Or it may be I just forgot how it feels when it rains.

Gimpy
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 17, 2012 11:02AM)
Yeah, it rained pretty good here, too. Knowing I was looking at a stretch of really nice weather for the next several days, I took it as an excuse to do something besides the usual. I'm now enjoying this better weather to get some shop work under my belt. Plus the tomatoes would just sit there and rot if I didn't do something with them. :)
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Aug 18, 2012 11:20AM)
Everything on this thread looks great!

Which were you first Michael, a woodworker or a magician? You have great skill at woodworking and obviously all the necessary tools. I'd love to do stuff like that, but I can barely afford to pay attention- let alone pay for a lathe. :D

Maybe one day I can buy one of your pieces of art.

And get some soup as well...
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 18, 2012 02:01PM)
I've been told that if someone asks me what time it is, I will tell them how a clock is made. So, hoping to avoid that, I'd have to say that learning to be a magician and learning to build things pretty much happened concurrently. If I am any good at either is due only to the fact that I've had LOTS of practice time. I live in the house of 1001 prototypes, and that number grows daily. :)

PS - My lathe was less than a hundred bucks on sale at Harbor Freight.
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Aug 21, 2012 11:38PM)
All of those pieces are gorgeous! Also, for some strange reason, I have a craving for tomato soup....
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 22, 2012 05:28AM)
[quote]
On 2012-08-22 00:38, Herr Brian Tabor wrote:
All of those pieces are gorgeous! Also, for some strange reason, I have a craving for tomato soup....
[/quote]

'Tis the season for tomatoes! If I have the time (and gather the ingredients), I make a killer summertime Bruchetta, and would be happy to share that.

I did make some fresh Basil Pesto yesterday, but by the time I remembered the camera, I had already chopped everything up in the food processor, so maybe another time. Most of the basil I have growing for this year is at the end of the line now, though. The small batch I made yesterday will make some lovely pizza tonight!

...and thanks for the kind words about the magic pieces I made!
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Aug 22, 2012 09:22AM)
Got around to cooking the soup last night for dinner and we loved it. This was super easy and made enough for a bowl for lunch today lucky me.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 22, 2012 09:50AM)
Cool! Thanks for trusting me and giving it a try! Ha-ha!! I only got the one bowl. My son polished off the rest before I could get to it the next day.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 31, 2012 09:52AM)
I just became a first time Grandpa! :) Gavynn Michael was born at 8:21 AM today, 6 lbs. 8 oz., 19". I will get to see him this afternoon.

He is at least the 5th generation of first born sons. That's as far back as I can trace.
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Aug 31, 2012 01:33PM)
Wow, congrats!
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Aug 31, 2012 03:07PM)
Best Production ever! Congratulations Michael.
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Aug 31, 2012 03:27PM)
Congratulations Michael!


Nick
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Aug 31, 2012 04:02PM)
[quote]
On 2012-08-31 10:52, Michael Baker wrote:
I just became a first time Grandpa! :) Gavynn Michael was born at 8:21 AM today, 6 lbs. 8 oz., 19". I will get to see him this afternoon.

He is at least the 5th generation of first born sons. That's as far back as I can trace.
[/quote]
I'm just having a snifter or three,so.Here's to you and yours!
Congratulations Michael!
All the best,Ray.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 31, 2012 08:31PM)
Thanks everyone! He is a beautiful and VERY serene baby!

My son was born as a hurricane was passing through the area, and we always said that gave him the swirl cowlick in his hair. Looks just like a hurricane map. Well, the remnants of Isaac are passing through this area now, and sure enough, there is the same hurricane map on the crown of his head!! Ha! He was also born on a full moon, and two days after his daddy's birthday. Something very special with this baby! :)
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 1, 2012 02:52PM)
Congrats Gramps.
Message: Posted by: zoltan (Sep 1, 2012 04:13PM)
Congratulations Gampa!

Just wanted to say that I am drooling all over this thread and absolutely love your work. I know as a craftsman your work and attention to detail is impeccable but I think that it's your eye for design that sets you apart. Its the lines and colours along with the images you put on them that really make everyone's mouth water.

Loving the Chinese style and I love your mou-shu (ghostly-kills) translation for Magic!

If I win the lottery I want you to re-build everything in my house including a giant disappearing box for my TV ;)
Message: Posted by: zoltan (Sep 1, 2012 04:17PM)
PS - A stupid question no doubt but why wouldn't you just turn one piece of wood and saw it in half for the columns? Would a table saw or bandsaw just destroy it? I see everyone has different ways of attaching/ removing the waste wood but no one says why you would have to go through all this.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Sep 1, 2012 04:23PM)
Congratulations on your new grandson! Patti and I are so happy for you!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 1, 2012 09:58PM)
Thanks again for the kind words here folks!

Did not have a chance to see the baby today, because my son and I were helping my brother move. It was an interesting day to say the least. Most of the day it was POURING rain (remnants of Isaac). Of course nothing compared to hurricanes on the coast, but it didn't make for a fun moving day. Then to top it off, on the drive to his new town (I was driving the truck and he was following in his car), his car sort of blew up! I looked in the rear view mirror and all I saw was a huge cloud of smoke suddenly blow out from his hood and him trying to steer off the road. Not sure what happened... that's for the mechanics to figure out I guess. But we had to take everything he had in the car and squeeze it into the truck. So the three of us and the cat drove the rest of the trip, so we could then unload everything in the rain. Kind of glad it's over! Ha!

Zoltan, to answer your question, it's actually easier to do the split turnings than try to run a turned piece straight through a saw. Some of the split turnings are only about 4" in length and about 5/8" in diameter. I suppose a jig could be built that would hold the pieces securely for sawing, but this is really more simple than many people think. You also get PERFECTLY flat backs, and both pieces are exactly the same.

Also, I saw your thread asking for Lippincott plans. I don't know of any, especially the double boxes, but I will say that the tolerances for those need to be very close. You want to make sure that closing the outside box also COMPLETELY closes the inner box. Even a slight gap will blow the secret.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 4, 2012 12:29PM)
OK, as promised, here is a really good summertime Bruschetta. Super easy and super refreshing!

You'll need a large French loaf, sliced into about 3/8" slices.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/brusch1.jpg[/img]

Lay these out on sheet pans and drizzle with olive oil.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/brusch2.jpg[/img]

Put these in the oven at 250 degrees. bake for about 30 minutes then turn them over and bake another 20 minutes or so. You want them to be nice and crispy all the way through. A little browning is OK, but not too much, as the nutty flavor might overpower the good stuff that you'll top these with. You are just making some nice crouton planks that serve as a base. Set these aside to cool.

You'll need some Roma tomatoes, some onion, and fresh basil.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/brusch3.jpg[/img]

The quantity that you use will depend on how much of this you want. I used 5 medium Roma tomatoes, about 1/3-1/2 of the onion, and about a 1/4 cup of chopped basil. I used a sweet Vidalia onion, but yes, you can use red onions, green onions, or whatever you choose. I like the mellow sweetness of the Vidalias.

You might also notice that the basil leaves are quite small. This is only because my plants are very near the end of the season, and all their energy is going to flower tops.

If you cut the tomatoes as shown here, you can squeeze and shake out the seeds. You don't need the seeds.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/brusch4.jpg[/img]

OK. The tomatoes, onion, and basil all get chopped. Put them in a container, and add about 1/4 cup of vinegar. I used white vinegar, but yes you can use red wine vinegar, balsamic, etc... it's your meal! :)

Also add about 1/4 cup of olive oil, about a teaspoon or so of sugar (to balance the acid in the vinegar), and salt & pepper to taste. Toss to coat everything, and stick in the fridge for awhile to marinate (30 minutes up to a few hours, you call it).

This shows the basic ratio of the mix.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/brusch5.jpg[/img]

When you are ready to eat, lay out as many croutons as you want to make, and top each with some of the tomato mixture. Good idea to use a slotted spoon, or some way to let some of the marinade drain away. Too much will make the croutons soggy after awhile.

Now, comes the kicker! Top each with some crumbled Feta cheese, and sprinkle with roasted sunflower seeds.

Oh, my..............

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/brusch6.jpg[/img]

Any extra croutons are great topped with cheese and stuff, or broken up for salads, soup, etc.
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Sep 4, 2012 01:15PM)
Oh geez, I'm going to show my wife this she'll love it! She's on a food kick, and just made crab-stuffed-mushrooms that were amazing. This looks awesome, hopefully she'll want to make this too! (I am sick so I'm not cooking right now; normally we both do)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 4, 2012 03:01PM)
I had some for lunch today, but it makes a good munchie when you have a few folks over, and you're waiting for the grill to fire up.

Get well, Herr Brian Tabor!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 4, 2012 08:30PM)
That looks awesome Michael. I ate dinner, but now I'm hungry again.
My wife has a lot of food allergies, including wheat...which eliminates the bread. However, thanks to the popularity of alternative food stores, there are quite a few non-wheat breads that she can eat. Unfortunately, they don't always perform like wheat, i.e. I don't know if they'll bake well. Still, I'm going to give this a try. It looks well within my reach.

Thanks for posting these. It's a fun distraction.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 4, 2012 09:12PM)
Hi Wizard,

I hadn't put my mind to this aspect before, because I don't really know anyone with serious allergy issues (except my brother with seafood allergies). But I thought about this for a second to see if I could envision an alternative. As long as she could handle the other ingredients, I'd bet it would rock wrapped in a nice crisp Romaine leaf. Slightly different "crunch" texture, but other than that the bread is really just a vehicle for the other stuff. It would also save time and keep from heating up the oven.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 4, 2012 09:29PM)
3 day old Gavynn Michael Baker (trying to wake up), and Grandpa Happy.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/gavynnandgrandpa1.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 4, 2012 10:18PM)
From the workshop...

A table made for a friend for his close-up act.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/winstontable1.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/winstontable2.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 5, 2012 08:03PM)
Great baby. Great table. Life is good.
Message: Posted by: Chance Wolf (Sep 5, 2012 08:34PM)
Happy Grandpa Day Michael!! Great job on the table!!
If I am ever in your neighborhood...YOU'RE doing the cooking :)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 5, 2012 09:23PM)
You guys are welcome to my humble digs anytime.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 25, 2012 07:00PM)
This is a show I'll be doing in combination with a couple other local magicians. Not exactly a new product build, but it will require a couple things to be constructed and brought back to life from my Halloween shows of the past.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ppwposter.jpg[/img]

This event isn't of the magnitude of the shows I did at Sloss Fright Furnace in Birmingham, but it's the first Halloween event I've done in three years. Looking forward to the fun!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 25, 2012 07:38PM)
Looks like fun. I wish I lived closer.
Nice poster!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 25, 2012 08:15PM)
Thanks! I worked that up, along with a less complex version to be used as table tents and flyers. The posters (window cards) will be 12x18. Just found out that Budweiser should be printing all these for us. Way cool and a nice way to save a few bucks. The room only holds about 50-60 people, so we aren't looking to get rich.

Everyone we are dealing with so far has been very receptive to the idea, so this could prove to be a launching pad for a larger theater-based spook show, at least regionally. Halloween is a natural beginning.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 2, 2012 09:58AM)
Hey guys and ghouls... here is a great find for Halloween!! Full size, 5 ft, articulated, made of plastic. Found him at Walgreen's of all places for only $30.00!! I bought two! They will only be used as decor this year, but have plans to incorporate into an illusion. I had planned on buying a medical skeleton anyway, but for this price, it was a no-brainer.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/fred01.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 2, 2012 03:38PM)
New from the kitchen...

This is an apple-stuffed pork loin. I forgot to photo-document the process, but I'll definitely do this one again down the road. It's really good on a nice Fall day. Pretty easy, but there were a number of steps. I can post the recipe later if anyone is interested.

I served it up with a brown/apricot sauce (optional), Au Gratin potatoes, and broccoli with lemon brown butter. Plenty of leftovers!

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/porkloin1.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/porkloin2.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 2, 2012 08:43PM)
OMG...soooooooooooooooo good.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 1, 2012 01:25AM)
Just got home from the Halloween thing tonight. Three one-hour shows with 3 other performers.

1st show had some glitches because one performer got stuck somewhere at the last minute and was late getting to the show, so a couple of us picked up the slack and added in some other routines, things we had in reserve, but had not planned into the original set list. It kind of threw our timing off because we were having to wing it in a round robin show. One guy on stage while the other was prepping new stuff backstage, until we knew we'd filled the needed time. Oh, well...

Not a disaster because it was a light attendance, no real screw-ups, just not according to plan and a bit off on the timing.

Second and third shows went exactly as planned and were a blast. Second show was more for kids, as was the first. Third show we turned up the volume on Halloween scary and gore. Great response for both of those shows. Not sure if anyone got video or photos.
Message: Posted by: Bob1Dog (Dec 21, 2012 10:40PM)
Michael, I just got into this thread and I gotta tell ya, I wish I knew about that roasted tomato soup last summer. I'm gonna plant some roma tomato plants in the spring just for that soup! Looks wonderful! So does the apple stuffed pork loin. Not to mention your magical creations in wood, one of which I proudly own, display and use very lightly! Belated congratulations on your being a grand daddy several months back, and finally, here's to a very merry Christmas to you and your family!

ps...keep those recipes coming! :)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 22, 2013 11:50PM)
It has been quite awhile since I've posted here, so please allow me to update...

Here is something that I've had in the works for about a year. It is a Checker Cabinet, based on Arturo's "Oriental Fantasy". For size comparison, the pagoda roof is 24" across from tip to tip. The checkers are about 5" diameter. The effect is a basic transposition between the stack of checkers and a glass filled with rice, silks, or whatever.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ccof_01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ccof_02.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ccof_03.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ccof_04.jpg[/img]

Next, is my spin (pun intended) on the Card Spider. Selected card appears when the web is spun.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cardspider.jpg[/img]

...And here is an Okito-style Hindoo Inkwell. This causes a transformation of a borrowed watch placed in the cubby, into a lemon, etc., while allowing you to secretly steal the watch for later reproduction from a Nest of Boxes, etc.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/inkwell2013.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Chance Wolf (May 23, 2013 12:13AM)
WOW!! Awesome job Michael!
I am not sure which I like the best so I will vote for them all :)
The Checker cabinet is top notch and an absolute cool design! Excellent execution.
The Hindoo Inkwell is not only cool looking but I am fascinated with the concept. I would love to learn the full effect and maybe see it demo'd.
Pat yourself on the back my man!
It looks like the hard work has really paid off.
Someday, when the lil lady loosens the purse strings, I REALLY want to purchase one of your pieces.
Chance
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (May 23, 2013 10:19AM)
Michael, those are AWESOME!!!!
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (May 23, 2013 01:26PM)
Fantastic! How do you do it so well?
Message: Posted by: john wills (May 23, 2013 02:37PM)
In one word: S U P E R I O R.
Message: Posted by: Cardstuntman (May 23, 2013 08:54PM)
On a whole nother level to most. Amazing. Love it. Wish you could make a video of them in ACTION.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (May 23, 2013 09:47PM)
Breathless...
Absolutely stunning work Mr. Baker.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 24, 2013 01:42PM)
I appreciate all the kind words, folks!

I made a few of the Card Spiders, and have already sold about half of them. The Inkwells will be the next project for Stevens Magic. They will have 13 of them. Joe Stevens and I are also discussing a run of Checker Cabinets for the future, but they will likely be made with a stack of tea chests, instead of checkers. More presentation possibilities that way.

In the meantime, I will be working on one more, as seen above. I had started two initially, but focused on the one to get it finished. The other is only partially constructed. Down the road I'd still like to consider a 3-door cabinet, but so many other things to do.

I wanted to add another new item here that I forgot. This is an oriental version of the trick I released previously as "Dice Trio". The effect is fairly common... one die removed vanished and reappears in the box. This is different only in the sense of theme... oriental designs instead of numbered dice.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/dice_trio_oriental.jpg[/img]

I also have a larger version of the Watch Cabinet done, but I need to shoot a photo first.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (May 24, 2013 08:02PM)
Michael, what are the approximate dimensions of the Inkwell?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 25, 2013 10:42AM)
The top is 13" wide. The first one I made many years ago was bigger, but I thought too big. Okito's version, of which I believe there was only one, was smaller, but watches back then would have all been pocket watches. I wanted this to be used for wrist watches. Of course the steal can be a bit bulky, but my intructions suggest using a small hanky or silk to "polish" the watch prior to placing it in the cubby. Then, in the action of moving the inkwell stand aside, the watch can be stolen, with the hanky offering plenty of cover under a natural series of actions.

If you understand the basic mechanics of a 3-door Checker Cabinet, the inkwell stand operates internally in a very similar manner. This causes the switch from watch to lemon or whatever, and also positions the watch over a necessary t*** d***.

The stolen watch can be directly loaded elsewhere, or shuttled off to an assistant so they can do it. Assume that "impossible" location is a nest of boxes, the lemon would then be later cut open to find a key inside, etc.

Okito's original version, along with full mechanical description, can be found in the Albo series.
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (May 25, 2013 04:39PM)
Wow! Absolutely fantastic...as usual. Thank you for showing what magic props can look like.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 17, 2013 11:42AM)
Latest item...

This is my spin on the Okito Tea Canister Transposition. (You're actually seeing more than you should if you were the audience! :) ) I'm making a small run of these and will probably have some available. I plan to keep one for myself... something I rarely do.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/otcm01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/otcm02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: wandmgc8 (Jun 17, 2013 04:18PM)
The hits just keep on comin'! Wonderful to behold. Someone needs to set up a hidden video camera so the rest of us can benefit from watching Michael work. He should do a DIY book, or at least do a coffee-table book full of these wonderful photos. My grandest compliments Mr. Baker!

Michael
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 17, 2013 06:55PM)
Fantastic Michael!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 19, 2013 12:16AM)
Thanks for the kind words. Not sure about that hidden camera thing, though. Ha-ha!! I generally require people visit me in person before I let them see the luster knocked off "The Magic Company"!
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 19, 2013 12:48PM)
WOW!
Message: Posted by: BanzaiMagic (Jun 19, 2013 08:49PM)
I love my Oriental Dice Trio. Great job Michael!

How much will the Okito Tea Canister Transposition be (in other words, how much should I be saving up for)?

Alan
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 19, 2013 10:27PM)
Alan, I sent you a PM on the Tea Canister Trick. I'm glad you like the Oriental Dice Trio. Thanks for that! I like the trick and think the new version is a pretty little piece.

~michael
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Jun 20, 2013 02:36AM)
Those tea caddys are excellent Michael!
As usual,your eye for complimentary colours,doesn't fail you.
Ray.
Message: Posted by: TheRaven (Jun 20, 2013 08:14AM)
Fantastic work as always Michael! Just visited your site for the first time. I have been searching for "Panello" for several years -- a trick I owned as a youth but didn't know the proper name in order to be able to find it. Nice surprise to find it.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 20, 2013 09:46AM)
Ray,

Thanks for using the spelling "colours". It gives my work a tone of importance! LOL! That orange/red color is actually that... orange and red sprayed together. I thought it looked better on that piece than either would alone. I was using a particular brand of paint which unfortunately has a limited variety.

TheRaven,

I had made a Panello for myself and had the materials on hand to make a couple more, which I did. They have been sitting there ever since. Ha! This is a trick that would definitely sell better if demonstrated.
Message: Posted by: wunceaponatime (Jun 30, 2013 09:53AM)
Beautiful work. Love the checker cabinet.

David
Message: Posted by: msillusions (Jun 30, 2013 12:16PM)
I don't know which is making my mouth water the most: the Okito Tea Canister Transposition or the Pork recipe. Both look fabulous!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 30, 2013 07:41PM)
Ideally, if you can eat the pork and perform the Transposition at the same time, you've pretty much done it all.
Message: Posted by: MartiniMagic (Jul 1, 2013 01:06PM)
Wow, Wow, WOW!!!
Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Jul 7, 2013 12:36AM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-02 12:44, George Ledo wrote:
Gorgeous as usual, Michael. Thanks for the post. And thanks too for the tip on the half columns; I now seem to remember seeing it somewhere. but certainly wouldn't have thought of it if I wanted to turn something!
[/quote]

George, have you visited the Missions? The Padres brought the technique with them from Spain. I've seen examples at Mission San Gabriel Archangel and San Miguel; you might see it on display near you as well. :o)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 5, 2013 08:18AM)
Can you smell the blueberries? I can! :)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/blueberrypie.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Aug 5, 2013 07:56PM)
OMG. I am digitally drooling.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 5, 2013 09:15PM)
Blueberries are plentiful and really cheap right now. I am filling my freezer, too. Danny Hustle posted a photo and recipe on Facebook for Blueberry Ice Cream. I'll probably try it later this month when I have guests coming. It would rock with fresh peach pie!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 5, 2013 09:18PM)
I just finished a few of these Mini Vampire Block Escapes. Pretty much the same as the regular one I make, but about half the size.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/vampire_mini.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: BanzaiMagic (Aug 5, 2013 11:27PM)
Really nice, Michael.

I just bought one.

Alan
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 5, 2013 11:54PM)
Thanks, Alan! :)
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Aug 6, 2013 08:57PM)
What can I say? I have the larger version, and it needed a son. Just ordered...
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 6, 2013 09:53PM)
Thanks, Wizard!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Aug 7, 2013 08:03PM)
Got my eye on that Card Star Michael...just saving the dough.
Message: Posted by: BanzaiMagic (Aug 15, 2013 08:16PM)
[quote]
On 2013-08-05 22:18, Michael Baker wrote:
I just finished a few of these Mini Vampire Block Escapes. Pretty much the same as the regular one I make, but about half the size.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/vampire_mini.jpg[/img]
[/quote]

I love the quality of this Michael. I showed it to my magic club this week.

Alan
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 15, 2013 08:29PM)
I hope they liked it. Our club meets next week. We are doing Halloween theme this month because of other things going for the next two meetings. I was planning on showing it to our members!

FYI - If you are on Surplus Magic Exchange (SME Talk) on Facebook, Christopher Faria is offering a free PDF download of Halloween Magic ideas.
Message: Posted by: BanzaiMagic (Sep 13, 2013 09:50PM)
[quote]
On 2013-05-23 00:50, Michael Baker wrote:

...And here is an Okito-style Hindoo Inkwell. This causes a transformation of a borrowed watch placed in the cubby, into a lemon, etc., while allowing you to secretly steal the watch for later reproduction from a Nest of Boxes, etc.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/inkwell2013.jpg[/img]
[/quote]

I love this effect and apparatus - and now I'm getting one. Woo Woo!

Thanks Mark Stevens!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 13, 2013 11:47PM)
Ahh.. glad to hear it! Just a heads up... I will soon be making a Watch Box that will coordinate with this. Of course, with the Inkwell, you can designate anyplace for the borrowed watch to end up. This will be a nice companion piece. Best part is, this new Watch Box can be used to make things appear inside, or you can steal away items locked within. It can also be used for a coin in ball of wool, or any number of other applications.

This is one of the first ones that I made for one of my own Inkwell customers (before I made the run for Stevens Magic). The new run of Watch Boxes will be very similar.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/watchbox2013.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: john wills (Sep 14, 2013 01:39PM)
Grrrrrrrr, you are making me jealous!!!!
It's wonderful....
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 14, 2013 04:17PM)
Hide your eyes john wills. Michael's work just keeps getting better and better which leads to increased jealousy and wallet content draining. Hide your eyes. Hide quickly.
Message: Posted by: john wills (Sep 15, 2013 01:46PM)
It's giving me nightmares.....
Message: Posted by: BanzaiMagic (Sep 16, 2013 11:15PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-14 14:39, john wills wrote:
Grrrrrrrr, you are making me jealous!!!!
It's wonderful....
[/quote]

I was looking at this for a while, but couldn't justify spending the money back when Michael was making them.

Then, just when I get a flash email from Stevens that he had a few of these beauties for a special price, my wife asks me to tell her what I want for my birthday. A coincidence too good to pass up!

Alan
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 17, 2013 12:15AM)
Just a point of clarity...

The Inkwell pictured above is one of two I made for private collectors prior to making the arrangement with Stevens Magic. The item sold through Stevens is pictured here. They are very similar, but with some differences, notably the style of the feet and the fact that the lid has a second tier on the newer version. I also believe the interior mechanism is better and quieter on the newer version.

I got that flash email, too. The sale price is a steal.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/inkwellsme.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 17, 2013 08:50PM)
Both renditions are stunning. This really is one of your most beautiful pieces Michael. It is simply elegant on every level.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 17, 2013 09:42PM)
Let me give you a couple recipes that I made this weekend. I didn't get any photos, but you can imagine how these look.

[b]Halloween Salad[/b]

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar

Mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl..

1 bunch of broccoli cut into small florets
1 head of purple cauliflower cut into small florets
1/2 head of orange cauliflower cut into small florets
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 3 oz container of bacon bits, or 6-8 strips cooked crisp and crumbled

Be sure to cut veggies into small enough pieces that it can be eaten easily. Toss veggies with dressing and refrigerate for 3-4 hours to marinate (or til the next day).
This has all the fun colors of Halloween, and it tastes great, too!

[b]Fried Chicken & Harvest Fruit Salad[/b]

2 cups cooked chicken cut up (I used fried chicken left over from our magic club picnic... just the meat)
1/2 apple, chopped
1/2 pear, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped

Mix with a little squeeze of lemon juice and just enough mayo to pull it all together. I had this on a sandwich using Catherine Clark Brownberry bread. http://www.brownberry.com/products/sliced-breads/natural/natural-wheat

OK, both salads are mayo-based, so if that's not your thing then I'm sure a lighter alternative should work... but these are dang good!
Message: Posted by: BanzaiMagic (Sep 18, 2013 01:12AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-17 01:15, Michael Baker wrote:
Just a point of clarity...

The Inkwell pictured above is one of two I made for private collectors prior to making the arrangement with Stevens Magic. The item sold through Stevens is pictured here. They are very similar, but with some differences, notably the style of the feet and the fact that the lid has a second tier on the newer version. I also believe the interior mechanism is better and quieter on the newer version.

I got that flash email, too. The sale price is a steal.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/inkwellsme.jpg[/img]
[/quote]

I plan on using mine so it is great that I got the one with the quieter mechanism.

Thanks for posting this picture so that we can see the (minor) differences between the versions.

Alan
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 18, 2013 08:23PM)
Michael, the recipes are great, but your post lacks flavor without the pictures. I think to defend your reputation you may need to remake the dishes, photograph them, post them, (and then eat them of course).
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 18, 2013 09:01PM)
It has been a long day, and I am tired, but I took time out of my day to make myself supper [b]AND[/b] photograph it for you. I hope you're happy, because it was a real effort.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ccrunch.jpg[/img]

And now something else to chew on... They used to say, "Captain Crunch stays crunchy, even in milk." But if a two year old pours a box of it in the toilet, it pretty much turns into yellow quicksand. They don't tell you that, and I just want to know why??
Message: Posted by: lin (Sep 18, 2013 09:26PM)
I don't know. Maybe it's the milk... because... if said two year old happens to dump it into a hotel toilet, it floats marvelously and refuses to disappear even after repeated flushes.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 18, 2013 09:34PM)
Fair enough lin, just please, don't post any pics.

But thank you for your pic Michael. Good to see that the artisans slum it up once in a while like the rest of us. ;)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 18, 2013 10:28PM)
Lin, I think we are uncovering a conspiracy manned by two year olds.

Oz, you have no idea.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 19, 2013 09:31PM)
Well-played my friend.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 29, 2013 09:11PM)
This is C.J.

We lost him on 9/11 this year. He was 16. We got him when he was 4.

Sweetest dog ever.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cj.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Sep 29, 2013 10:59PM)
Sorry for the loss of your buddy.
Message: Posted by: john wills (Sep 30, 2013 08:40AM)
You're missing are dear friend.
Message: Posted by: BanzaiMagic (Sep 30, 2013 07:51PM)
He looks real sweet. Sorry for your loss, Michael.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 30, 2013 07:51PM)
What a great face. Sorry for your loss Michael. They really are our best friends.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 30, 2013 09:40PM)
Thanks everyone.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 2, 2013 05:33PM)
Latest item... a simple thing. It resembles a Jap Box, or Handkerchief Box, but the method is different. Box and tray are shown and assembled as shown. Immediately, the box is filled with flowers. This is immediately repeated. It can also be used with silks. Size is approx. 7 x 5.5 x 5

I made six and sold three of them today.

Two views of the same box...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/flowerbox01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/flowerbox02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 2, 2013 07:01PM)
Great as per usual Michael.
Message: Posted by: john wills (Oct 3, 2013 03:13PM)
Wow!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 7, 2013 02:40PM)
Just finished making a couple of giant Vampire Block Escapes. Block is a bit over 4". Here is a photo of the whole family, regular, mini and now the giant.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/vampireblockescapegiant.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: john wills (Oct 7, 2013 03:11PM)
B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l-!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 7, 2013 05:32PM)
Thanks, John! I just sold one of the giants. Now, I have to get him packed before the sun goes down!! Ha-ha!!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 7, 2013 08:02PM)
I'm drooling. That looks incredible Michael. Stop being so *** talented.
Message: Posted by: Chance Wolf (Oct 8, 2013 07:51AM)
FINALLY!!!
A VAMPIRE Block escape that uses...hmmm...
a actual VAMPIRE!!!
In a CASKET!!
This really has got to be the coolest version I have seen as it visually makes sense!!

Why the hell did I miss this??!! :)
GREAT thinking Michael!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 8, 2013 01:28PM)
Hi Chance,

Why? I'm guessing because you have been doing more important things?? ;)

I started making the regular size about 5 years ago, wanting something with a more gothic look (too many cartoon bats out there = "Let's not scare anybody.")

The mini size came earlier this year, and I recently decided to make two of the giants.

Thanks for the compliment! It's a good day when I can please one of the best prop designers out there!
Message: Posted by: blamobox (Oct 8, 2013 07:24PM)
Michael,
Your Vampire Block Escape looks fantastic, great work sir!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 8, 2013 09:11PM)
Thanks much blamobox!

I saw your listed interests... Magic and Cheese and Tea. Great choices! Me too! I had some of each today. In fact, I have some of each most days!
Message: Posted by: TheRaven (Oct 9, 2013 05:53PM)
Great work as usual.

Just saw the post about your dog. Sorry to hear. Difficult to lose a beloved pet. Been there.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 27, 2013 12:39AM)
OK, something different. This is one of my favorite recipes. My aunt taught me this back in 1974 at her New Year's Eve party, and it has been a tradition for me ever since. I make it one or two other times during the year, and over time I've modified the recipe a bit to suit my own tastes.

I also used this as an appetizer at a restaurant that my dad and I owned in the late 1970's. It was very popular.

[b]Spanakapita[/b]

1 large yellow or sweet onion, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 TBSP dry dill weed (or 1/4 cup fresh, if you can get it)
2 12 oz bags frozen chopped spinach, thawed (squeeze out as much water as you can)

12 oz Feta cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (see note below)

1 box frozen Fillo pastry dough (thawed)
salt and white pepper to taste

Olive oil, divided usage, as noted

Combine 1st 3 ingredients in a large skillet and saute with a couple TBSP of olive oil until the onions soften and turn translucent.

Let cool for a couple minutes and combine with spinach in a large bowl.

Add crumbled Feta, lemon juice, and yogurt (or sour cream) and toss lightly. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

The mix will look like this:
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/span1.jpg[/img]

Arrange all of your components around you so you have easy access to all of them. These will be, the spinach/feta mix, the fillo dough, a bowl of olive oil, a pastry brush, and a cookie sheet. You may also find having some paper towels handy will help you keep your hands clean as you work.

Now, you will begin to wrap the individual pastries. Fillo is extremely thin dough, which comes in a stack of many sheets, rolled. Some brands have 2 such rolls in a box.

You must carefully unroll the stack and place where you can take a sheet at a time to work with. Fillo also dries out very quickly, so you must work quickly, or keep a slightly dampened towel to cover the stack of fillo sheets. Once you get the hang of the next process, you'll do fine without the towel. The fillo that I was using was already somewhat dry, so it presented a few challenges, which I'll discuss in a moment.

Begin by laying a single sheet of fillo on the counter (I use a large cutting board on the kitchen table. I cover the table with newspaper to keep any mess contained). Using the brush, dot the surface of the fillo with olive oil.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/span2.jpg[/img]

Lay another sheet on top and dot again with oil. Repeat until you get 4 layers of dough.

Place about 1/2-3/4 cup of the spinach/feta mixture on the dough, as shown:
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/span3.jpg[/img]

Fold the near edge over the top of the mixture.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/span4.jpg[/img]

Dot the fillo with more oil, and fold over the sides, as shown:
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/span5.jpg[/img]

Dot those newly exposed fillo surfaces, and finish rolling/folding, so the package resembles a burrito. (You can see a couple of them already on the cookie sheet.)

Repeat this process until you have used up your ingredients. Brush the outside of the pastries liberally with olive oil.

You will get a knack for judging the correct amount of mixture to use in each pastry, so you don't end up with leftover one or the other when you are finished.

[i]Special note:[/i] The Spanakapita size described above is an entree size. This recipe made 8 the size shown. You may decide to make smaller, appetizer size (about the size of egg rolls). Use only 2 sheets of Fillo, and then fold that stack of 2 over to make it 4 layers thick. Continue as above, but with a decreased amount of mixture inside.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes in a preheated 425F oven, or until golden brown. Serve hot or warm. Here are two of the finished Spanakapita plated, and ready to eat!
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/span6.jpg[/img]

[i]Notes:[/i] Try to find feta that is packed in brine. It is much better, and moister. Sheep's milk feta is the preference, but use what you can get. Drain the brine and crumble the cheese. Next best is chunk style feta. Avoid crumbled feta, as it is the worst of the group. Feta varies in saltiness, so check the mixture before adding salt.

The yogurt or sour cream is added to increase the moisture and give a creamier texture. When I made this batch, I did not have any of either on hand, so I used a couple tablespoons of ranch dressing. Works great!

When working with fillo, remember that is is fragile and tears easily. If you tear a sheet, don't worry. Just use the pieces and patch everything together into a size, shape and thickness that you can use to wrap the mixture inside. If you find a couple sheets stuck together, don't panic. Separate them if you can, but if not, just use what you can. It is better if you can oil between all the layers, but just do the best you can.

Serve this with a Greek or Caesar salad for a nice dinner.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 27, 2013 02:17PM)
Magically delicious.
Message: Posted by: Scotty Walsh (Oct 30, 2013 02:24AM)
The Handkerchief boxes were decorated beautifully, Michael!
Message: Posted by: joseph (Oct 30, 2013 02:11PM)
I can make that food disappear easily. :) ...
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 30, 2013 09:54PM)
Happy Halloween to all my Workshop friends!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yss3ZOCLrwQ
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 31, 2013 09:04PM)
Love this Michael. Never watched it before. Thanks! Happy Halloween.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 1, 2013 01:47AM)
Ahh, glad you liked it! I found it years ago as a VHS from the History Channel (back when they actually had shows about history). I converted my tape to DVD so I wouldn't eventually lose it, but was glad when I found the full program on You Tube.

It's informative, entertaining and nostalgic!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 23, 2013 09:16PM)
Michael...no Christmas recipes for us to drool over? Are you slacking over the holidays?
I have parties to go to and food to bring ... where's our favorite magic chef's recommendations?
Signed,
Sad and Hungry in Cleveland
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 23, 2013 09:37PM)
Ha-ha!!

My family isn't doing dinner until Sunday, but here is one of the recipes I'll be making...

Chocolate Chip-Bourbon Pecan Pie

1 9" unbaked pie shell
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
3 TBSP Butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
2 TBSP good quality Bourbon
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375F. Cover bottom of pie crust with pecans. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and melted butter slowly. Add corn syrup, sugar, bourbon and chocolate chips. Stir until combined. Pour mixture over pecans and place pie on heavy duty cookie sheet. bake for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350F and continue to bake for 25 minutes, until set.

I will also be making some Tom & Jerry batter for my own indulgence... maybe later tonight. I'll follow up with that recipe, too.
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Dec 24, 2013 12:31AM)
Merry Christmas, Michael.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 24, 2013 01:30AM)
Merry Christmas, Tim!!

OK, as promised... Here is a recipe (with photos) for Tom & Jerrys.

First, a bit of history...

[b]The Legend of the Tom & Jerry[/b]

Jerry Thomas was America's first celebrity bartender. During his career, he exhibited his mixing skills around the globe. Thomas's shtick included the Blue Blazer, a mixture of water and Scotch lit aflame and poured between two mugs. He even had his own brand of bitters.

Fame bred a level of eccentricity in Thomas that might have kept him off television were he alive today. In Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail, author William Grimes describes an 1882 article in the New York Sun, for which Thomas gave an interview while "two white rats pretty enough to be guinea pigs cut capers upon his shoulders, caressed him at the corners of his mustache, and mounted occasionally to the top of his derby hat." In comparison, Mario Batali's trademark bright orange clogs seem utterly inconspicuous.

In 1862, Thomas published How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant's Companion, the world's first bartending guide and one that modern mixologists reviving classic cocktails look to for inspiration. Case in point: the sweet, eggy Tom and Jerry, once known as the Jerry Thomas. bIn the original recipe, beaten eggs, rum, and hot milk are combined into an ideal cold-weather treat. Thomas was so adamant about it being a winter drink that he refused to serve it at his own bar until after the season's first snowfall. Celebrity bartenders, it seems, do as they please.

The following recipe was taught to me by my dad, who made them at Christmastime. Even before I was old enough to drink, I was allowed "a little taste". I'm sure it helped insure that I would be sound asleep when Santa came to my house! ;)

Separate 6 large eggs...
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/tj01.jpg[/img]

With an electric mixer, beat the whites until they form stiff peaks...
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/tj02.jpg[/img]

Beat the yolks in a separate bowl until light in color. Then incorporate powdered sugar, about a cup at a time. Beat slowly at first, then increase the speed as you can. You will add about 1 pound or a little more of powdered sugar in all.

Notice that I changed over to larger bowls for both whites and yolks.. You'll need them.

Eventually, the yolk/sugar mixture will be quite stiff, almost like taffy. You can do this with a decent hand mixer, but a stand mixer is better.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/tj03.jpg[/img]

Now, combine the two mixtures, folding together. You will end up with a light but thick batter, about the consistency of pancake batter.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/tj04.jpg[/img]

OK... time for the fun part!

Put a few spoonfuls of the batter in a mug. You can adjust the amount to satisfy your own tastes.

Add 1 1/2 - 2 ounces of rum, bourbon, brandy, or any combination of those.

Fill the mug the rest of the way with boiling water, stir gently and top with a dash of nutmeg.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/tj05.jpg[/img]

Drink several of these on a cold night (It's about 0 degrees F here right now), then take a selfie to document your progress...
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/tj06.jpg[/img]

Warning: Wear suitable eye protection because spoons don't care who they poke. Stay away from your power tools, too. ;)

This quantity will make enough Tom & Jerrys for several people. You can adjust quantities if you like. This is best when first made and usually the next day. After that, the batter will begin to separate and go flat. You can still stir it back together, and it will be OK, but it's better to make a new batch if you can.
Message: Posted by: Anverdi-museum (Dec 24, 2013 06:21AM)
Beautiful work on the magic effects, also on the recipes! Love the vampire block!!



Chuck Caputo
Message: Posted by: TheRaven (Dec 24, 2013 09:01AM)
Great work on the Tom and Jerry. Another great construction.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 24, 2013 10:37AM)
That looks delicious Michael. I knew you wouldn't let us down!
Happy holidays everyone!!!
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Dec 24, 2013 11:05AM)
If it were only cold enough in So. Calif. to whip up a batch. Thanks for the recipe.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 24, 2013 08:26PM)
Here's something in the food category... perhaps too late for your Christmas eats, but it's a tasty appetizer... maybe for your New Year's Eve party.

[b]Sausage Cheese Balls[/b]

This is super easy...

Gather your ingredients:

1 pound of pork sausage
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups of baking mix (like Pioneer or Bisquick)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sausageballs01.jpg[/img]

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Work this into a stiff dough until everything is well-incorporated.

Form into small balls, a little larger than an inch, but smaller than a golf ball. Arrange them on a cookie sheet.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sausageballs02.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sausageballs03.jpg[/img]

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Serve warm. After baking, you can refrigerate or freeze for later use. Just heat and eat!

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sausageballs04.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 24, 2013 08:59PM)
Michael, seeing that it's Christmas Eve and all, it would be very un-PC of me to thank you for sharing your balls with us. But thank you anyway.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 24, 2013 09:52PM)
Ha-ha!!! Something like that SNL skit??
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 24, 2013 10:13PM)
Yes indeed Michael...a fine segue into Schweddy balls...
http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi886046745
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 25, 2013 10:25AM)
[b]M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S ! ! ! [/b]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 25, 2013 11:31AM)
Back at ya!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 9, 2014 09:00PM)
Back to magic...

After a series of unfortunate recent events, I have finally been able to finish the first of three of this latest project.

I bet you don't have one of these! :)

I call this, "The Orb of Time".

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/orb1.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/orb2.jpg[/img]

The large red cabinet has a door on the front, and all 4 walls are hinged to open down.

The smaller green and orange box is actually tube-like, no top or bottom. It also has a slide-up "peek" door in the front. There is a separate base for it to sit on, as seen.

The tube/box (minus the base) can also fit inside the large cabinet.

The ball is 4.5" diameter.

It is shown how the parts fit together and how the ball passes through the tube. Ultimately, the ball resides inside the red cabinet and the tube is set aside on its base.

The door of the cabinet is opened to clearly show the ball inside, while the slide-up panel on the tube verifies that it is empty.

The ball vanishes from the red cabinet as all the walls are opened out to reveal nothing inside.

The ball is found in the tube.

The mechanics on this are VERY cool! The illusion is perfect. Based upon an obscure Eric Lewis idea with my embellishments.

~michael
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jan 9, 2014 09:16PM)
Michael, I want some of what you (or Mr. Lewis) are smoking. This is awesome!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 23, 2014 10:14AM)
One of my latest releases, this is Card Dice. Six cube dice are shown. They each have potions of playing cards on their faces. The dice are stacked so that they show a random display of those card parts. The stack can be shown on all sides. The faces are indeed scrambled with a variety of playing card parts depicted. The stack is then covered with a handkerchief.

Two playing cards are then selected from a deck and their faces kept unknown for the moment. Upon disclosing the stacked dice again, one side has transformed to match the first selected card. The stack is then covered again to accommodate the other selected card, and when revealed a second later, it shows a scrambled display of random card parts. This is an apparent failure on the part of the magician, but when the second selection is show, it matches the scrambled card display perfectly! Magic with a comedy kicker!

I will very soon be adding these to my website. The box shown in the photo is a display/carry case for the cubes.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/carddice01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/carddice02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 23, 2014 10:32AM)
Here is something for a Sunday morning to go with your coffee... Cherry Danish. These are quick and easy. All the goodness of fresh baked, with a fraction of the work of scratch-made.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cherrydanish.jpg[/img]

1 can Jumbo Crescent Rolls
1/2 can cherry pie filling

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons of milk

Open the canned rolls but leave the dough in its rolled condition. Slice the log into 4 rounds. Turning flat side up, press each round into a flatter, wider round, pressing down the center more to create a well.

Put a spoonful or two of cherry pie filling in the center of the well of each dough round.

Bake at 350F for about 17 minutes, or until golden brown. I set my oven timer to 15 minutes, but left them in for a few minutes beyond that.

When they come out, let them cool for a bit while you make the glaze. In a small mixing bowl, just mix the last three ingredients from the list above. It should be somewhat thick, but you can adjust by adding a few drops more of milk if too thick, or a little more powdered sugar if it seems too runny.

After the danish have cooled for a bit, spread them with the glaze, or as I did:

Take a small size Ziplock storage bag and put it into a coffee mug, as you would a can liner, folding the opening's edges out and around the rim. Scoop the glaze from your mixing bowl into the bag. Remove the bag from the mug and cut off the very tip from one of the bottom corners. Use this as a disposable pastry bag to get a better control of the glaze while you are squeezing it onto the danish.

Of course you can use other fillings, such as apple, peach, blueberry, etc.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 23, 2014 05:12PM)
[b]Skeleton/Zombie in the Coffin[/b]

This is basically the Skeleton in the Cupboard (Closet) with a couple of added embellishments. The tube has a dilapidated coffin facade. The blocks are reversible, with skeleton on one side and zombie on the other. Use one or the other. The blocks are slightly larger than the other models generally available. This make the usual vanish of the head block less apt to be palmed, so the small tombstone device is used to vanish that block... kind of my own creation, but based on other principles.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/skeletoncoffin01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/skeletoncoffin02.jpg[/img]


[b]Silk Cabby[/b] - This is my newest design for 2014. I have also added tiny bushings to the pivots which drastically improve the action.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cabby2014a.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Mar 23, 2014 11:16PM)
Everything looks great. Now I want a danish.
Message: Posted by: pkessler (Mar 24, 2014 09:00AM)
Awesome!
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 24, 2014 02:32PM)
Thanks for that gorgeous looking stuff above....Oh the magic looks good also.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 25, 2014 03:53PM)
Glad you guys like them!

Here are a couple more things...

Breakaway Production Box

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/breakawaybox01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/breakawaybox02.jpg[/img]

Gwynne Sucker Rabbit Vanish

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/gwynrabvan01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/gwynrabvan02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Mar 25, 2014 08:10PM)
Someone had a productive winter...
Incredible work Michael. Particularly fond of the Skeleton/Zombie in the Coffin.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 25, 2014 09:07PM)
Most of the winter was spent cutting and sanding wood, then assembling. Painting has been really slow due to the cold. I use kerosene heat in my workshop. On the really cold days I was lucky to get the temps up above freezing. Hard to work like that. Playing catch up now.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 23, 2014 10:05PM)
Latest project... a bit of a departure from my usual stuff. This is Wraithbone, a mechanical Talking Skull. He has sold, but I have two of his clone-brothers on the bench now.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/talkingskull.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Apr 24, 2014 08:46PM)
Oh you dawg.

Just the right amount of irony in the visual presentation (style and horror) to fit into a variety of presentations. If this is your idea of departure, then get the h**l out of here more often. This is awesome!!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 24, 2014 09:27PM)
[quote]On Apr 24, 2014, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Oh you dawg.

Just the right amount of irony in the visual presentation (style and horror) to fit into a variety of presentations. If this is your idea of departure, then get the h**l out of here more often. This is awesome!!! [/quote]

H**l?... Howl? Heel? Hall? Hurl? Hail? Haul? Heal? Hill? Hull? ... Oh.

I figured I needed to step away from the oriental stuff for a moment. I think in this case, the bow tie looks better than a Mandarin hat would. ;)

The guy who bought it helped me come up with the name.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 19, 2014 05:33PM)
Silk Frame, aka Fantastic Frame. I made two like this. Not shown in the photo are tassels that hang from the ends of the rod. The silk cabby above makes a nice companion piece. They have both sold. There is another set here with a different design, which I will photograph another day.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/silkframebirds.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 23, 2014 03:35PM)
Here is another Silk Frame with a matching Cabby.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/silkframeblue.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (May 23, 2014 07:54PM)
That's so elegant Michael. I love the subtlety of the decal design.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 23, 2014 08:14PM)
Badass avatar, Oz!!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (May 23, 2014 10:48PM)
Thank you good sir. Finally, after 2,500+ posts I have something cooler than the generic top hat and bunny.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 27, 2014 06:40PM)
I figured I'd stick this here rather than start a new thread...

I was just at Menard's to pick up a shelving unit. The 6 items or less lane (next to mine) was bogged down with several people and a poor old guy at the head of the line holding a piece of lumber. It had no tag, so the cashier turned on her blinking light and a supervisor made her way over there. In hand, she had the magic book of UPC codes. So she asks the man what size it is. He says, "It's 3/4" by 1 1/2" by... pretty tall."

I just started laughing. The supervisor is then desperately looking for that size in her book. "I can't find any 3/4" lumber." Apparently Menard's employees are unable to recognize a 1x2. (sigh...)

So, while I'm waiting in my lane, I see the soft drink cooler and a bottle inside that says, "Local Root Beer". OK, since I like root beer, and habitually buy new brands when I see them, I think, "This might be interesting," and I add a bottle to my cart.

After I pay and get to my van, I opened the bottle and took a big swig. ICK!!

I look at the label and it doesn't say Local Root Beer... it says Lo-cal Root Beer. Apparently, I cannot recognize a hyphen when I see one. :(
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (May 28, 2014 03:52PM)
Those hyphens will get you every time.
Message: Posted by: blamobox (Jun 23, 2014 04:28PM)
Those Silk / fantastic frames look superb Michael!
Top hat doffed to you sir!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 23, 2014 07:34PM)
Welcome to The Café blamobox!
Message: Posted by: blamobox (Jun 24, 2014 02:02PM)
[quote]On Jun 23, 2014, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Welcome to The Café blamobox! [/quote]

Thank you!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 24, 2014 10:24PM)
Something for the summertime!

Watermelon salad, with cucumbers, feta and fresh mint. Drizzled with some homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Yum!

I'd never made this before but it sounded good. I'll be doing it again, for sure!

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/watermelonsalad.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 25, 2014 08:01PM)
Now were talkin' magic!!!
Can you publish the recipe, or did you just wing it?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 25, 2014 11:19PM)
The salad ingredients are listed and my proportions are sort of indicated by the photo. No biggie if you go more of this, or less of that. When I was first starting out in cooking, an old woman gave me the most sage advice of anyone, ever. She said, "If it tastes good to you, it'll taste good to someone else."

There are a lot of recipe variations all over the internet. I cut the quantity down to a single serving. Just me here, and I figured this is better fresh than kept for awhile.

The dressing was olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper (I use a peppercorn medley grinder... McCormick). Tweak away to suit your taste. I did make enough of this to have some around... maybe a cup and a half. It should work for salad greens or pasta salad.

BTW - I used white balsamic vinegar, so the main salad ingredients would retain their nice colors. Like magic, the presentation is important... even when I'm cooking just for me.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 26, 2014 09:49PM)
Thanks Michael. Your food posts are one of my favorite things about this site. Fitting of course...since it's a Café.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 26, 2014 11:50PM)
[quote]On Jun 26, 2014, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Thanks Michael. Your food posts are one of my favorite things about this site. Fitting of course...since it's a Café. [/quote]

Ha-ha!! I never really thought about it that way. Maybe I can become the Magic Café's resident chef!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 27, 2014 10:04PM)
Seriously! I bet you could convince the management to create a new area for recipes with you (deservingly so) as the Resident Chef. Me thinks there are many a magician who dabble in the kitchen as well who would love to share and learn.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 27, 2014 11:26PM)
Yeah, there are some very talented cooks here. We've shared many things in the NVMS section. Before I went into magic full time, I was a chef. That was a long time ago. It's more fun doing it for fun than for money. I was kidding about the resident chef thing. Too much work to keep up with that and magic building. I will continue to post recipes and such as time permits. I recently wrote up a detailed process for making smoked pork for pulled pork, and will post that soon.

What about you Oz? What do you like to eat?
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 28, 2014 09:18AM)
I'm very opened minded about food and enjoy pretty much anything if it's prepared well. High blood pressure and cholesterol run in my family, so that unfortunately limits my diet. Cheese is the main loss there. I think I could each wine and cheese exclusively and be happy.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 28, 2014 09:52AM)
Feta is a good choice for anyone needing to keep an eye on cholesterol. A brine packed feta would even work better for the watermelon salad, because it is saltier than dry-packed or crumbled feta, and that saltiness is the main virtue that it brings to the taste of the salad. It does the same for Spanakopita.

Parmesan can be another good one, as it takes very little to impart the necessary flavor.

I am a cheese freak and eat way too much, although I am fortunate to have good cholesterol levels. I take meds for HBP and my numbers are very good there too. I'm overweight, so I'd likely have to be on the meds even if I cut out the cheese. If I couldn't eat cheese, I'd probably end up on pills for depression! ;)

I'm not what anyone would consider picky about food, but there are probably some things that I would not eat, although not thinking about a list of those at the moment. There are also some things that I have eaten that if offered again, I'd turn down.

Just yesterday, I saw an article about a chef in Canada that is foraging for and serving woodland soil in his restaurant. Yup... dirt! Not up my alley.
Message: Posted by: bluemagic (Jun 28, 2014 10:08AM)
You make very beautiful magical props.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 28, 2014 12:10PM)
Thank you.
Message: Posted by: blamobox (Jun 29, 2014 07:16PM)
I am a cheese freak and eat way too much, although I am fortunate to have good cholesterol levels. I take meds for HBP and my numbers are very good there too. I'm overweight, so I'd likely have to be on the meds even if I cut out the cheese. If I couldn't eat cheese, I'd probably end up on pills for depression!

ME TOO!

If they ever introduce Crack Cheddar I'm a dead man!
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jun 30, 2014 01:50PM)
I love the food postings. Truth be told I probably would put cooking above magic as far as a hobby. Pulled pork is one of my specialties and cant see what tips Michael has.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 22, 2014 08:45PM)
You strike while the iron's hot! Both peaches and blueberries are in season right now. More than I will be able to eat, but not so easy to make half a pie when all the pans are the same size.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bluebpeach01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bluebpeach02.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bluebpeach03.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jul 22, 2014 08:51PM)
I'll be right over.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Jul 22, 2014 10:10PM)
Michael, look like you ARE a Baker!
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Jul 22, 2014 10:12PM)
I mean, it LOOKS like you ARE a baker.

(Well, that typo ruined THAT joke, now, didn't it!)
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Jul 22, 2014 10:13PM)
I mean, it LOOKS like you ARE a baker.

(Well, that typo ruined THAT joke, now, didn't it!)
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Jul 22, 2014 10:14PM)
(And sorry for the dupe; I'll get the hang of this sooner or later.)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 22, 2014 10:41PM)
Welcome to the Café StevieDee! (...and thanks for putting 4 of your first 5 posts here! :) )
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jul 23, 2014 10:17AM)
Looks yummy. Looks like a nice thick crust, just the way it should be. Been doing some peach deserts here but have so far been disappointed in the flavor of the peaches this year but will keep trying.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 23, 2014 12:44PM)
It's too early for local peaches and southern peaches are shipped when they are still green. I bought some southern peaches at Kroger and let them sit for a few days until softened a bit and they developed some sugar. They aren't the best, but the blueberries definitely picked it up.

I'll get that BBQ pulled pork stuff up when I can get it organized. It will be a long post.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jul 23, 2014 09:02PM)
Pulled pork, long post. I'm on to you Mr. Baker.

StevieDee, humor is always a great way to enter anyplace new. Welcome! I think you'll find a lot of great advice and really decent people in this area of the Café. I haven't built a prop (or a pie) in probably 30 years, but I still love thinking that I may. So, I come here and listen to other people talk about what I wish I was doing. Not a bad way to pass the time.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jul 23, 2014 09:42PM)
Welcome Steviedee.

Bring on the pork talk Michael.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 26, 2014 11:14PM)
OK guys... Time to show some magic again. You've seen a few variations of this, but this is my latest one and the first that I have made available for sale on my website. All others were by commission order. Spread the word! :)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bts201401.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bts201402.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bts201403.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bts201404.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jul 27, 2014 09:21AM)
Michael, its just fantastic. The gold accents are stunning. I never have been able to get gold paint to look very good at all.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Jul 28, 2014 11:52PM)
Fabulous as always, Michael. As a "new diner" at the café, I just want to thank you for all the great information you have shared with the rest of us wannabe craftsmen.
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jul 29, 2014 11:54AM)
Absolutely beautiful...as always!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jul 29, 2014 09:17PM)
My head is bleeding from me hitting it on the table when I fainted after hyperventilating when I saw how stunning this was. Thanks for making me bleed Michael.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 30, 2014 07:13PM)
Comfort food night. :)

Fried chicken breast pieces, hash brown casserole and green beans. Enough left for tomorrow, too.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/frchix.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jul 30, 2014 07:54PM)
The magic word is, "Yum."
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jul 30, 2014 08:17PM)
Looks great my friend.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 31, 2014 12:49PM)
One of my customers had asked if I could make a base for the Skeleton (Zombie) in the Coffin. I thought it was a great idea, and something that I should have thought about all along. I wanted to do something a bit more fitting to the theme than just a generic stand of some kind, so I came up with this idea to make an old-fashioned wooden cart, such as those used a long time ago to wheel coffins around. This is the result. I have supplied these to those who have already purchased the trick from me, and plan to include them with all future sets.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/gravecart.jpg[/img]

This shows the full set. If you didn't read previous description of the set, the blocks are reversible, so it can be performed either with a Skeleton or a Zombie.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/graveset.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jul 31, 2014 08:51PM)
Very nice. You are quite literally thinking outside of the box.

Seriously though, the cart prop would work great in the story telling process...I love it.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 31, 2014 10:33PM)
Yeah... especially since the wheels work!
Message: Posted by: john wills (Aug 1, 2014 12:49PM)
Sooooo beautiful!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 5, 2014 11:12PM)
Some recent restoration work...

Carl Williams Giant Ball Vase. The finish on this was quite bad, so I removed it and re-did it.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cwballvase.jpg[/img]

Walter Sheppard table for "Where Does the Bunny Go?"

Restoration of top and legs (legs not shown)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/shepbunnygo.jpg[/img]

Thayer Glass Penetration Frame

This is a piece that was in a collection I bought last fall. It arrived with some kind of hard gunk stuck all over the wood, the glass, and one of the metal clips. It took quite some time and effort to get it off without further damaging the prop. After I had it all removed, I re-stained the wood and the results are pretty good. I adjusted the spring clip tension, but did not elect to polish them. It's a nice piece again!

(Those who are more observant will notice that I also fixed that pesky hole in the glass! ;) )

Before...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/thayerframebefore.jpg[/img]

After...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/thayerframeafter.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Aug 6, 2014 01:58AM)
Beautiful...as always, Michael.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Aug 6, 2014 07:21PM)
Outstanding Michael. I have mini-collections of ball vases and penetration frames, so these are dear to me.
How did you achieve the darker tones on the yellowish surface of the ball vase? It has a lovely antiqued patina.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 7, 2014 03:01AM)
When I received the ball vase, it had areas that were void of finish. We did not know if the original finish had worn off, or if Carl Williams had deliberately done this. While that sounds strange, he has been know to replicate a piece down to the original flaws. I have heard this story from a couple different people. Apparently, he even included paint drips on a piece, because the original Okito piece had them. I cannot personally verify that, so consider it an interesting anecdotal rumor.

This particular ball vase was supposedly duplicated from a piece connected to the Louve, and that Albo borrowed it from someone in order to have Mr. Williams make some. I heard that the actual owner of the piece was upset by this. I do not know this for fact either.

What I do know is that it is a very interesting ball vase, with a method unlike any that I have ever seen. It took a bit of research and a friend speaking with Mr. Williams to attempt to put the routine together. The parts are quite simple, but their use is diabolical, if what we heard is in fact, true.

OK, so about the finish. When I began to remove the old finish, I started a quick take down with fine steel wool. At a certain point, I knew that I would begin to get into the actual wood, and wanted to avoid that.

So, I switch to rubbing the surface with lacquer thinner to dissolve any remaining finish.

Because some areas were devoid of a finish (varnish, or whatever was used), I assume that handling the piece over time imparted natural oils and dirt into the wood. Areas still sealed would not have the same "weathering". So, the wood ended up with some areas darker than others. this included the natural darkening in the crevasses that occurs to any piece over time.

I have replicated this look with some pieces using different shades of stain. It is very effective for faux antiquing a piece. If you go to my website and look at the "Custom & Restoration" page, the first and last Oriental Block Vanishes were done this way.

So, with the ball vase, I did not know what finish was used before and did not want to apply something that might react with whatever was already in the wood.

BTW - The black bands were painted, but obviously made to look like Ebony. I had to touch all of those up. That was an exercise in having a steady hand! :)

Once I had them painted, I polished the entire piece using Carnauba wax on a muslin wheel. It worked perfectly.

If you look in the photo of that ball vase, you'll also see a small Morrison Pillbox that I will be working on soon.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Aug 7, 2014 09:52PM)
Well, the time and effort looks to be worth it (of course only you can be the judge of that...since it was your time and effort ;))
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Aug 7, 2014 10:34PM)
For Gods sake Michael do you have anytime to sleep? JUST FANTASTIC!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 7, 2014 10:49PM)
The Glass Penetration Frame is mine, so it was done in spare time. I've had it since last fall and just got tired of looking at it all covered in that nasty gunk. I'm glad I devoted some time to it. I may make a Mahogany stand for it. I've seen one on another frame and it made for a nice display.

Gimpy, I rarely sleep more than a couple hours at a time, but I may do that a couple times a day. I wish I could get more work done than I do.

Two main projects on the docket right now. One is a large Checker Cabinet that I've had promised to a gentleman for over a year. The other is a half dozen Sucker Block Boxes in oriental style. Those will be available through Stevens Magic Emporium.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 13, 2014 08:06PM)
Foodie fix...

Boneless pork loin chop baked with slice of Honey Crisp Apple and Thyme sprigs, with sage dressing made with combination of bread and cornbread. Broccoli salad on the side.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/plssplated.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 13, 2014 08:12PM)
Here is a refinish project. Passe-Passe Dice. Started this with a found product and gave it my spin. I like it. Pretty good trick, too!

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/passedice.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Intrepid (Sep 13, 2014 09:19PM)
Micheal, where do you get the oriental artwork from? I did a search once for a project I was considering doing a while back but was unable to find a good source for old Chinese artwork.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Sep 13, 2014 10:29PM)
Both of your last two posts are very tasty, Michael, and appreciated.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 13, 2014 10:35PM)
[quote]On Sep 13, 2014, Intrepid wrote:
Micheal, where do you get the oriental artwork from? I did a search once for a project I was considering doing a while back but was unable to find a good source for old Chinese artwork. [/quote]

That's kind of a trade secret. There is no one good source.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 13, 2014 10:35PM)
[quote]On Sep 13, 2014, StevieDee wrote:
Both of your last two posts are very tasty, Michael, and appreciated. [/quote]
Thanks!
Message: Posted by: pkessler (Sep 14, 2014 09:39AM)
Beautiful work.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 14, 2014 10:41AM)
Visiting Michael's house would be the perfect experience. Sit down, have a great meal, talk about great magic. Then go visit the workshop, see great magic. Sit down and eat another great meal, talk about great magic...
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 14, 2014 11:21AM)
Glad you guys like the stuff! The food is usually pretty good, and the coffee pot is always fired up. But regarding the workshop... trust me... I'm the epitome of a cottage industry. Some collectors and fellow builders have paid me a visit and I always joke with them that seeing the workshop will knock the luster off "The Magic Company"! Ha! It's a tight fit, hot as hell in the summer, cold as a well digger's ass in the winter, the roof leaks, and the dust collection system that doesn't work all the time is me with a broom. But on the upside, there are often enough paint fumes to make the day a bit less boring.

I'm in the process of organizing my own collection into "The Dungeon". You actually have to go through the workshop and down to get there. It will become my magic man cave of epic proportions (at least to me). I will be able to sit in this low-rent Xanadu of Conjuring, and ponder the meaning of it all, until the house claims another soul.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Sep 15, 2014 01:14PM)
I have been to Michaels shop and its a day I will always remember. Should anyone get the chance to visit don't pass up the opportunity. I cant believe the work he turns out in such a small space. I took my wife with me so there is no chance I will ever get to build That big fancy shop of my dreams. Just goes to show, you don't need a huge shop with 10s of thousands of dollars worth of tools to build world class props.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 15, 2014 03:37PM)
Gimpy, you and your lovely Mrs. are welcome here anytime! (Sorry about raining on your dream shop. Ha!)

I have seen photos of Granville Taylor's shop which is in his attic. It looks like it was built in a tree house. THAT blows my mind!!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 15, 2014 07:35PM)
Like this: http://www.freewebs.com/taylormademagic/theatticworkshop.htm
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 15, 2014 10:03PM)
[quote]On Sep 15, 2014, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Like this: http://www.freewebs.com/taylormademagic/theatticworkshop.htm [/quote]

Yes!! That's Granville Taylor's attic workshop.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 28, 2014 11:52PM)
A little over a year ago, I posted photos of a checker cabinet, based on Arturo's Oriental Fantasy. At the time I made it, I also started a second one. This is the sister, although with a much different paint and decal scheme.

The photos were shot quickly with very bad lighting, so overlook my lack of photographer skills. The colors are not completely true in some of the photos.

Two slightly different views of the cabinet...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/barryof01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/barryof02.jpg[/img]

Detail of the roof...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/barryof03.jpg[/img]

The checker stack and the cover tube...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/barryof04.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 29, 2014 07:49PM)
That is quite simply a thing of sheer beauty. Absolutely stunning work Michael. I envy whomever ends up with this in his or her collection.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Sep 29, 2014 10:37PM)
Insanely gorgeous. The best part for me is the delicate filigree on the "roof". Most folks would have left it plain, but the design adds a wonderful touch. And oh, it does a trick too?! Even better!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 2, 2014 05:28AM)
Thanks, guys!

Here are two more views taken the next morning with better light. It has been delivered to the new owner. I have had a request to make another one... so, back to work! :)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/barryof05.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/barryof06.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 2, 2014 09:35PM)
I am truly speechless Michael. This may be your best work to date as far as complexity goes, would you agree? How many hours on this baby?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 3, 2014 01:17AM)
There is definitely a lot of work in this. I don't log the time, as it might be too depressing! Ha!

I started two of these a couple years ago, but could only work on them at times. Once you start spreading out the various parts, they really eat some space. When I am having to work inside, which is all through the winter and many other times through the year (due to weather, pollinating trees, etc.), I can choose to either make sawdust, or paint... never both at the same time for obvious reasons.

I rarely make just one of anything... even if I know I only have one (or none) spoken for. Some projects like this, I will only make two. I simply don't have the space to accommodate more. Also, it is often expensive investing in materials and keeping expensive product tied up, unsold. I still have to pay the usual bills, too.

I finished the one that I knew was already spoken for. It took several months from inception to delivery, but there were times when I had to back burner it to handle other projects with various time considerations. The second one was finish after someone committed to it and I was able to clear out enough space to work on it.

So, just to give you an idea (and I know I am leaving some out), here is a list of tasks needed to make one of these.

1) Design the prop(s) needed and draw workshop plans with all dimensions, including a detailed parts list. This will include details such as routed edges, holes drilled, etc.

2) Estimate the materials needed and purchase at least enough to get the project started. Some material will be purchased later, as needed.

3) Layout the various plywood parts needed and cut according to a parts list. Not to be mentioned again until later will be front doors, attachment strips for them, and a top. The top will not only close the top of the cabinet, but will be functional in the use of the turntable. It will have a hole positioned to match a corresponding hole in the bottom. This is where the turntable pivots will be. There is also a half-circle slot, about 4" in diameter around this hole in the top, on the back side. This where a post will extend, and by which the turntable maybe rotated.

4) Route groves, rabbets, drill holes, and sand all parts.

5) Begin assembly of main body and turntable with glue and brads. The top is allowed to remain loose, and will be screwed down much later. Countersink all brads and fill the holes.

6) Add spindle hardware to turntable, making sure they align perfectly.

7) Grain fill and sand the cabinet body.

8) Cut the various pieces of molding that will trim the base. Add them to the cabinet.

9) Miter cut the molding that will become the feet. There are 4 pieces for each foot. Assemble these and sand them. Glue them to the bottom of the cabinet.

10) Turn the half columns on the lathe.

11) Mark their location on the front of the cabinet and mask those areas before any sealer, primer, or paint will be applied. These columns will be glued on later and it's best to go bare wood to bare wood.

12) Apply sanding sealer to entire cabinet, inside and out, and to turntable. Also do the same for the front doors and the good sides of the columns. Light sand, apply another coat, and fine sand.

13) Apply spray primer to all these parts (except where noted above).

14) Check all parts for blemishes (which show up better after primer has been applied). Patch with filler, sand and prime. Fine sand all primed surfaces to achieve a smooth finish.

15) Cut 24 checker blanks. I use mahogany because it machines well and is light weight without being soft.

16) Drill a 1/8" hole in the center of 20 blanks. The remaining 4 have 1/8" holes drilled only halfway through, but have 1/16" holes through the rest of the way.

17) Cut 1/8" brass rod that will serve as a centering device for the blanks.

18) Assemble a stack of 12 blanks, threading them on the rod. A small piece of double-sided carpet tape is between every blank. The tiny holes are to the outside at each end.

19) Chuck this entire stack on the lathe, using the tiny holes to locate the centers, and begin the slow process of turning the stack into a smooth, uniform-dimensioned cylinder, consisting of twelve equal-sized discs. Mark the spaces between the discs with a pencil and turn fine grooves (just for aesthetics).

20) Make an identical stack from the remaining blanks.

21) Sand all discs and grain-fill as necessary.

22) Make your 200th pot of coffee.

23) Cut the centers from 10 of the discs to accommodate one of two glasses that will be used. Sand the cut discs (now rings).

24) Using very thin aircraft ply (1/32"), add a false top to one of these rings. Sand and blend the edges as needed. This will be a hollow disc that will appear solid from the top. It will sit third from the top of the fake stack, with two solid checkers above it.

25) Select six of the rings, which will later be glued into a stack. Mark the side which will actually be glued together, so as not to seal, prime, or paint those surfaces.

26) Seal and prime all other surfaces of discs and rings, as you did with the cabinet parts.

27) Measure the circumference of the hollow stack (with two solid discs on top). Cut a piece of sheet steel for height and width that will become the cover tube. Understand that the tube will later be velvet lined and the checkers will be painted, and pray to God that you are cutting the metal to the correct size. It must later fit over the fake checker stack with no slop. Too much space between, the stack will not lock in the tube properly.

28) Cut the notch that will be part of the bayonet catch that locks the checker stack in the tube.

29) Roll this piece of metal into a tube, and solder the joint, or as I did, spot weld it and later blend the seam with a metal filler. You only need to do this on the outside, as the inside will be lined.

30) Pre-cut a bowl blank that will become the top of the cover tube.

31) Turn this on the lathe, hollowing the bottom to accommodate the metal tube.

32) Sand, seal and prime this piece.

33) Cut parts and make three platforms upon which the checkers and the glass(es) will rest. These are elevated on three small feet, so they are easier to pick up during the performance. One of these has a donut-shaped ring on the top, cut from 1/8" stock. This must be slightly smaller in diameter than the metal tube. The hole in the center of this must be large enough to hold the base of the glass. The purpose of this ring is to slightly elevate the checker stack while the tube is over it. Thus, when the checker stack is locked in place, this minimizes any chance of checker color flashing at the lower edge of the tube when it is later lifted.

34) Begin to make the various parts that will become the roof. It is best to cut parts as you go, to insure a good fit. Start with a simple frame with lips on the lower edges of the front and two sides. These will center the roof.

35) Cut the curved "pagoda" corner beams, notching them so fit together in an "X" fashion. Attach this to the frame using glue and dowel pins.

36) Add the molding trim, both upper and lower to the edges of the frame.

37) Measure the front and sides for the sloped roof sections. Cut those pieces and glue them in place using cleats on the underside for a secure joint.

38) I have the addition of the crown piece which has the little dragon. I just made that all in one piece, minus the dragon which was to be attached later.

39) Mask the top of the beams and the underside of the crown where they will be glued together.

40) Seal and prime all necessary parts.

41) Up to now, no color paint has been applied. Time to start doing that. I have purposely waited, so that all parts with similar colors can be done at the same time. Colors are added in layers, masking as necessary to continue with the next color. You will have a lot of parts laying around separately.

42) Once all the color has been applied (trust me, this will be a few weeks later), clear coat everything to insure a high gloss surface for the decals.

43) By the time all the areas where decals will be applied have been framed in, you can start manipulating images in Photoshop to construct the various decals. It's a good time to let the clear coats sit for several days to cure hard.

44) Print decals and clear coat them.

45) Begin applying decals, and when finished, clear coat over them to seal.

46) Velvet line the inside of the cabinet, the turntable, inside the tube, and the tops of the three platforms.

47) Find the six checker rings that are to be glued together, and do so. These will become one big hollow tube. Paint the inside of this and the other loose rings, flat black. Also, paint the bottom of the glued stack flat black.

48) Glue the tube's pagoda top to the metal tube. I use a good grade epoxy paste like PC-7 to do this. The tube is generally going to be lifted by the top and with a stack of checkers inside (even though hollow), there is a lot of weight. You don't want the top to detach.

49) Place the tube over the fake checker stack, while it is sitting on the platform with the donut-ring. Add a small screw near the lower edge of the stack, so that it becomes the other part of the bayonet catch.

50) Add knobs to the front doors and attach them to the cabinet. Add magnet catches after the doors have been attached.

51) Dry fit the turntable so you can add the post that will be the handle by which you can rotate it. Make sure that it starts and stops in the exact position necessary. Bushings are used under the turntable to insure a smooth rotation.

52) Secure the turntable by adding the top.

53) Add a curved back to the cabinet. I use a heavy grade fiberboard and attach with small screws and finish washers.

54) Glue the crown piece (and dragon) to the top of the roof. Place the finished roof section atop the cabinet.

55) Stand back and blink your eyes in disbelief that you are finished.

56) Go buy an expensive bottle of "your only weakness"... you've earned it! :)
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 3, 2014 08:05PM)
Oh, so what I'm hearing is that it was "no biggie"
...yeah, riiiiiight.

I am glad that I asked the question that resulted in this already, classic post. I'm sure it took you longer to build the prop than it did to write the post, but not by much...;)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 4, 2014 12:44AM)
I've been told that if someone asks me the time, I will tell them how a clock works. It wasn't exactly a compliment. :(

Sorry for the long post. :)
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 4, 2014 09:32AM)
I'm truly glad I asked the original question. I read the whole post and was quite fascinated by the process. So, I'm actually grateful.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 4, 2014 09:40AM)
I'm glad. Even though it is quite an extensive process when seen in writing, it is still nothing compared to the real thing. Something as simple as, [i]"Layout the various plywood parts needed and cut according to a parts list."[/i], can actually take up much of the day.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 5, 2014 12:18AM)
Thanks you, Michael. As a long-time lurker, I have benefitted profusely from your very generous sharing of information. This goes 'way beyond a workshop project into the "art" category.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 5, 2014 12:24AM)
StevieDee, I see that you have an interest in woodworking. Have you made any magic props for yourself or others?
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 5, 2014 11:04PM)
Yes, mostly for myself and friends, not for sale. I turned a hank pedestal out of walnut, made several different kinds of tables, turned a couple of Ultissamo stands, and have built a number other of small-to-medium props. I owned a brick-and-mortar magic shop in Northern California from 1978 to 1998, so I've seen a lot of stuff go by, both good and bad. Still, I consider myself a rank amateur and often have to modify my designs to fit my limited tools and abilities! I live near Mark Evans, a semi-retired pro illusionist and a fine craftsman in his own right. He has taught me a great deal and encouraged me. That's why I find your posts, as well as others, so fascinating. I get a lot of cool ideas about sources and materials. I learned a long time ago that everyone starts out lousy and only gets better by doing, so I take each project as a step towards getting more proficient.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 5, 2014 11:55PM)
Excellent! Turning a hank pedestal is certainly not a task for a lightweight. It sounds like you have plenty of ability. If you ever have photos to share, we'll start a StevieDee project thread! Plenty of guys here have posted photos of their projects. The Workshop regulars are always appreciative and encouraging.

You are correct that you move forward with each new project. I think back on the early stuff I made for my own show and I just shake my head, but at the same time I remember how proud I was at the time. I was able to entertain a lot of people with junk that most magicians today would laugh at. In that way, I am much like the Tall Grass magicians, some of whom would fashion their props from salvaged junk.

I could never afford to perform with the stuff that I make now! Ha!
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 6, 2014 10:13PM)
I've never tried this before, but here goes nothing. Here's the hank pedestal. I turned to top and bottom; the center column is actually a piece of an old towel rack.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 6, 2014 10:19PM)
Here's an oak Moorehouse-style table I built a couple of years ago.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 6, 2014 10:27PM)
Here is a project I did with Mark Evans for a friend who is doing a farm-themed magic and music show. It's a m----r b-x disguised as a chicken coop. A bottomless basket goes on top. The performer reaches through the basket to produce a number of balloon flowers. The chickens, of course, are not real, but add a great reason for the coop.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 6, 2014 10:35PM)
And finally (for today at least) is a Genii Tube I made out of plywood and then veneered in cherry. It was a little trickier to make than it looked!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 6, 2014 10:50PM)
That's some nice work there, sir! All the pieces are really nice, but I am especially fascinated by the chicken coop.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 7, 2014 08:53PM)
Beautiful work StevieDee...stylish and elegant. I can't wait to see more.
Now, if your posting in Michael's arena, can you cook too?
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 7, 2014 10:07PM)
Actually, yes. I make a mean pork chops with mushroom gravy.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 7, 2014 10:11PM)
We need to get StevieDee his own thread, eh? His work is certainly good enough to enjoy its own spotlight.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 8, 2014 07:25PM)
I'll visit it for sure!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 8, 2014 08:45PM)
Yeah, me too!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 10, 2014 05:10AM)
I don't actively book shows any more, but will occasionally take those that I want to. Case in point... The Peoria Zoo has an annual Hall-Zoo-Ween event. The opportunity to work the event came available, and being a guy who is all about Magic AND Halloween, I couldn't resist. Being that it also happens early in the month, I knew that it left Halloween open for whatever else I might want to do.

The shows started last night. I also couldn't resist doing this set up for my stage. All the junk out front came from Walgreen, but I thought it looked cool.

I have shows there tonight and tomorrow, too.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/halloweenshowset.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 10, 2014 06:58PM)
Nice. I like the extras out front, probably helps to define your safe space from those curious young goblins. How did the show go?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 10, 2014 10:42PM)
Had my second night tonight, two shows. First one had the smaller crowd, a reverse from last night. Second show was SRO and a fun group. The fence and stuff kind of defines the space, but when folks are first coming in, I keep my eye on the front. The tiny tots have a way of wandering when mom and dad aren't on top of them. Not a real problem though, There are chairs, although some late arrivals camped out on the floor in the center aisle.

That front stuff is real "Plan 9 From Outer Space" kind of rickety, but it's all a piece of cake to carry in and out (doesn't weigh anything), and it was cheap.

We did a similar thing a few years ago in a restaurant/bar show for Halloween, but we used a heavier fence. We did use the same tombstones, which are Styrofoam. They have held up good, and if one does get trashed, they are super cheap to replace.

The backdrop is 1/3 width of what it can go, and I only set it to about 7' high so I could use one of my giant skeleton puppets from behind to open the show.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 10, 2014 11:37PM)
I think the "cast iron" fence is particularly cool, not to mention those skeleton tables.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 11, 2014 12:51AM)
[quote]On Oct 10, 2014, StevieDee wrote:
I think the "cast iron" fence is particularly cool, not to mention those skeleton tables. [/quote]

Funny how a few choice details can sell a point, huh? Like the moss green fabric thrown haphazardly over the top of the back drop curtain. It gives it a completely different feel.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 13, 2014 12:54PM)
I liked the set of bottles recently offered by Jim Kleefeld. They sold out quickly, too.
It dawned on me that I had the same labels, purchased several years ago from a Spirit Halloween store when I was still living in Birmingham. I figured they might come in handy one day.

I dug them out and went to work on a set of multiplying bottles that I bought from someone here on the Café. (My fuzzy mind won't let me remember who that was... sorry.)

Anyway, I was able to use these during some of my shows this last weekend. So, to go with my fuzzy mind, is a fuzzy photo of them. I lined the inside of the tubes to prevent scuffing up the paint, something that ALWAYS seems to happen with Multiplying Bottle sets.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/spookybottles.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: RoyHarper (Oct 13, 2014 01:28PM)
Love the look.

Roy
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 13, 2014 07:29PM)
I second that!
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Oct 14, 2014 11:13AM)
[quote]On Oct 13, 2014, RoyHarper wrote:
Love the look.

Roy [/quote]
That sounds like a hats off to you then Michael.
;)
I love quirkiness like that. Great thinking on the lining as well.
Ray.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 14, 2014 11:54AM)
Regarding the inner lining... These particular sets have a turned-out bead at the bottom end, like Cups & Balls. This does a lot toward preventing the scuffing that often occurs. But, I wanted a little extra measure there. I did have to hold my breath to see if there was enough clearance between the smallest tube and one of the largest bottles. Barely.... and I mean BARELY. I see no sense in why the tubes are made this way. In fact, the larger bottles have a slight flare at the bottom, and can be pulled up from the smaller tube (with a very slight tug at the end), but cannot be lowered into the same tube again. I just set the trick so that bottle is eliminated from play first.. not a big deal.

Having nesting tubes is a nice feature with Passe-Passe Bottle & Glass, but not with these, unless a full nest of bottles is stolen later in the routine. Because of the bead at the bottom, it is impossible to pass one tube completely through the other, so having them different sizes makes even less sense. It certainly doesn't make the set pack any smaller for travel. Maybe I'm missing something, but these are different than any set I've ever owned in that regard.

But, I got them cheap and unused except for having the labels already removed. Refinishing them was a simple two-day job. Paint them one day, label them the next.

They added a nice touch to a Halloween show.

BTW - for anyone looking, you can buy the labels here:

http://www.spirithalloween.com/product/spooky-bottle-stickers/
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 14, 2014 12:20PM)
I like the way the labels defuse the liquor reference usually associated with the bottles, which make them much more kid-friendly.
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Oct 14, 2014 04:59PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2014, Ray Tupper. wrote:
[quote]On Oct 13, 2014, RoyHarper wrote:
Love the look.

Roy [/quote]
That sounds like a hats off to you then Michael.
;)
I love quirkiness like that. Great thinking on the lining as well.
Ray. [/quote]
Looks like my Led Zeppelin pun was missed...."Hats off to Roy Harper", Led Zep III.
Ray.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 14, 2014 07:59PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2014, Ray Tupper. wrote:
[quote]On Oct 14, 2014, Ray Tupper. wrote:
[quote]On Oct 13, 2014, RoyHarper wrote:
Love the look.

Roy [/quote]
That sounds like a hats off to you then Michael.
;)
I love quirkiness like that. Great thinking on the lining as well.
Ray. [/quote]
Looks like my Led Zeppelin pun was missed...."Hats off to Roy Harper", Led Zep III.
Ray. [/quote]


I sure did miss that... and I am a die hard Zep fan, now and embarrassed one.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 14, 2014 09:06PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2014, StevieDee wrote:
I like the way the labels defuse the liquor reference usually associated with the bottles, which make them much more kid-friendly. [/quote]

You're so right...and the adults will enjoy it too since the fun product names can easily be alcohol brand names as well...everyone wins!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 14, 2014 10:47PM)
Agreed! Although there was one kid at one show that just hollered out, "IT'S ALCOHOL!!!!" Hahaha!!!

I begin with the Red Blood and a maniacal laugh (10% white blood count by volume!). I have it and the glass jump around a bit and then "expose" two bottles of Red Blood. <OOPS!!>

The next exposure is "ZOMBIE VIRUS" (2nd largest of a set). It is also the easiest to read from a distance. But, then it vanishes again and I start producing bottles from further inside the nests. Of course it gets laughs, but the kids start hollering, "Where's the Zombie Virus??" I wait until just at the end and produce it again to finish. End on a high note instead of just redundancy. :)

I need to find better glasses to use, though.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 22, 2014 02:41PM)
Newest item...

Oriental See-Through Block Box. This is the first of six that will be available through Stevens Magic Emporium.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/suckerblockbox01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/suckerblockbox02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Oct 22, 2014 04:47PM)
Very nice to see Michael...Very nice indeed!
Great to see you didn't just cut the lids square where they meet the centre cross member.
Those small details, which you obviously appreciate, make a massive aesthetic difference.
Ray.
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Oct 22, 2014 06:41PM)
Breathtaking! Beautiful as always Michael.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 22, 2014 07:00PM)
Hi Ray,
I noticed the lid detail you mentioned on a version made by Mel Babcock. That 45 degree cut allows the three lids to be opened in a single action. The cove-routed edge gives it a bit of personality.

What doesn't really get shown off in the photos is the redesigned base. It's something I spent a bit of time on and am rather proud of. The base was the one feature that I did not like on any of the other models I'd seen. They simply looked to big and boxy. Knowing the method, you'll understand how the base must hide a substantial amount of things, including the sliding weight. Over all, that depth is 1 5/8" (almost 42mm). That's a lot of real estate to disguise!

I used grand illusion theory and technique when designing these. Here is a shot that better exploits that feature.
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/suckerblockbox03.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 22, 2014 07:01PM)
Thanks Harry!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 22, 2014 07:26PM)
Michael, this piece is breathtaking...and you are a far better craftsman than you are a photographer ;), so I know that in person, this would be incredible.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Oct 22, 2014 10:49PM)
Extraordinary, and the kind of thing magicians dream about. The base design couldn't BE any more deceptive. Okito would be proud!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 23, 2014 12:02AM)
[quote]On Oct 22, 2014, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Michael, you are a far better craftsman than you are a photographer ;) [/quote]

I am a lousy photographer. Haha!!
Message: Posted by: george1953 (Oct 23, 2014 05:13AM)
Just screams quality, VERY nice.
Message: Posted by: Gerald (Oct 23, 2014 05:31AM)
WOW, Michael! What terrific work!
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 23, 2014 06:03AM)
Hey! Youse done good! That sure beats the cardboard (yes!) die box in "The Magic Show Book" by Alexander The Magician! (My first "magic" book! --circa 1941). I learned a few years later, that Alexander was severely criticized by some magicians for exposing. It was a library book (that I memorized!)
so, I never owned it.

MANY years later, over a cup of coffee in Jay's kitchen, I menioned Alexanders book, and "wished" that I could see it again. Jay put down his cup, and left the kitchen. He returned in a few minutes, and GAVE me a copy!

I've owned and read a plethora of magic books since 1941 (and known a "few" magicians!) but Alexander's book (with the cardboard "douse' box) was the genesis.

Thanks for awakening the memory!
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Oct 23, 2014 10:51AM)
Ha!..A thin base. Great thinking.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 23, 2014 11:49AM)
Well, not only am I a lousy photographer, but I can also manage to overlook typos (to, instead of too). I know the difference, so it would seem my finger was lying down on the job. I'll have to have a stern word with it.
Message: Posted by: poolside (Oct 27, 2014 06:00PM)
Wow! Beautiful craftsmanship, Mr. Baker! Don't worry about your photography - your focusing on the right stuff!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 31, 2014 10:12AM)
[b]HAPPY HALLOW E'EN!![/b]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/puppet01.jpg[/img]

One of the giant puppets that I use in my Spook Show. This one is about 10 years old. The over-sized skull came from Party City. I added the eyes (painted 2 1/4" wood balls). It is mounted on a length of PVC pipe with a simple half body attached (ribs and a shroud). Overall height is about 5 feet. The head can turn left or right and the articulated jaw is controlled by a string. I left the jaw bolt exposed because I thought it just added to the weirdness.

I also have a newer one, made from the same type skull, but given a different look.

I use them to lip-sync songs, usually to open the show. The backdrop curtain becomes a puppet theater, so the skeleton rises up high while I control from behind the curtain.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 31, 2014 07:38PM)
Back at ya Michael. May the spooks be with you. (The good ones)!
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Nov 1, 2014 01:06PM)
Quite cool! It kind of reminds me of the late Marty Feldman.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Nov 26, 2014 12:44PM)
Steven's newsletter apologetically (as in "we're sorry if you weren't able to buy one) announced that your run of Oriental See-Through Block Boxes is sold out. Clearly no surprise Michael. This may be one of your best pieces. Congratulations!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 26, 2014 12:53PM)
Thanks, Oz! I saw that yesterday. Mark and Shawn called me and I got the heads up.
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Nov 26, 2014 01:51PM)
I received that email too. That was probably the most beautiful piece of apparatus I've ever seen. If I had to pick my top ten favorite pieces of apparatus of all time, most of them would be Michael's.

Ron
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Nov 26, 2014 07:59PM)
So true Ron. But your work is right up there too.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 26, 2014 09:32PM)
You got that right. I have seen many of Ron's pieces first hand and they are wonderful!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Nov 27, 2014 06:16AM)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 27, 2014 07:23AM)
Happy Thanksgiving!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 28, 2014 10:35AM)
I'm going to hopefully side step the humble pie (I'm still full of pumpkin pie) and do a little bragging. This is the review of the See Through Block Box (scroll down to see it).

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=fef63686-d2e4-4bc4-bc40-7192bb551991&c=d99548a0-5f18-11e3-bcd9-d4ae528eaba9&ch=daa16170-5f18-11e3-bd04-d4ae528eaba9

Also, I want to do some bragging on Stevens Magic Emporium. They are the ONLY dealer that I work with for such products. They carry the highest quality products, they are extremely reputable, and they are all super great folks! Thank you, Stevens Magic Emporium!!!
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 28, 2014 11:18PM)
I ran across your latest piece in the email ads from Stevens this week, you latest project the See Through Block Box looks very beautiful and exquisite. Really like your color combinations on this one.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Nov 29, 2014 01:05PM)
Well done Michael. I've always gone to Stevens when I want quality props and effects. They have always been selective with what they carry, being careful to research and only stock what they could proudly put their name on. Very impressive to see such high praise from such a discerning dealer.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 23, 2014 01:58PM)
Latest item...

Astro Ball Cabinet, two styles...

Both are available on my website.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/abcbo.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/abcbi.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/abcro.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/abcri.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: barneyfife (Dec 23, 2014 07:45PM)
Awesome work Michael as always. And your close-up miracles and sleight of hand are remembered fondly in B'ham
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 23, 2014 07:57PM)
Well, thank you, sir! I hope things are well for you and the rest of Ring 35!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 23, 2014 09:35PM)
More lovely work Mr. Baker. I call you "Mr." with respect as it would pain me to even imagine building such fine props, let alone going beyond the imagination stage and actually creating them.

Your decal work (in research and application) is becoming more exquisite with every project, and the painting looks perfect as usual.

So, this Christmas, Santa... I wish that all of Michael's future projects are magically shipped to me. Thank you. Signed, WOZ.
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Dec 23, 2014 10:38PM)
You're making me cry, Michael! I love the graphic detail on the inside of the box. It lightens things up while helping to hide "that which must not be seen". Great idea.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 24, 2014 04:07PM)
[b]Merry Christmas to all![/b]

Here's a recipe you can try... maybe if you still need to have something decadent New Year's Eve.

[b]Chocolate Chip Bourbon Pecan Pie[/b]

1 9" unbaked pie shell (I used refrigerated pie crust to save time.)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3 large eggs
3 TBSP butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
3 TBSP good quality bourbon
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F

Cover bottom of pie crust with pecans. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, adding melted butter slowly. Add corn syrup, sugar, bourbon, and chocolate chips. Stir until combined. Pour mixture over pecans in pie shell and place on a heavy duty cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for another 35 minutes, or until filling is puffed and set in center.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ccbppie.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Dec 24, 2014 07:01PM)
I just put on three pounds reading that..That's something I can barely afford to do. ;)
Have a great Christmas Michael, and also, best wishes to the rest of the crowd here.
Cheers, Ray.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 24, 2014 09:20PM)
"...they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, and Michael's pie."

Sorry, I may be blaspheming, but your pie looks that good.

Happy Holidays everyone!
Message: Posted by: boxjumper (Dec 30, 2014 10:40AM)
Beautiful props and tasty pie. :coffee:
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 7, 2015 06:08PM)
Somewhat of a departure from my usual fare, this is a Dalmatian Drawer Box, as requested by a customer for his kid shows. The tail is a wooden gear ratchet noise maker.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/brillo01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/brillo02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jan 7, 2015 07:25PM)
That is AWESOME Michael. I don't care who came up with the concept, but it's perfect and the execution is spot on (pun intended). The tail turning is a wonderful reason for making the magic happen...what "naughty" kid hasn't teased a dog's tail? (Although, the magician may want to work in a disclaimer into her or his presentation that dissuades an audience member from potentially twisting her or his personal pet's tail, hoping for magic to happen).
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 7, 2015 08:44PM)
Yeah, it could make the dog cranky...
Message: Posted by: QuailCreek (Jan 7, 2015 09:40PM)
So do you call him square dog black spots? Ouch...
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 21, 2015 02:17PM)
This is my 10,00th post. I'm crossing over to the Valhalla of The Magic Café. Ha! I have not been posting for awhile (although I have shared PMs with several fine folks), wanting to post something significant for this milestone (sentimental fool that I am). It is also my Mom's 83rd birthday today! (Happy Birthday, Mom!)

One of our esteemed colleagues from right here in The Workshop suggested that I post another of the recipes that seem to enjoy a following here.

I had promised to eventually post what follows. The process and a couple photos were put together last year. I think now that the weather is beginning to turn for the better for many of us, it is time.

So, gather up your stuff and have a go at...

[b]BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork[/b]

[b]The Smoker[/b]

You will of course, require a suitable smoker. You must be able to smoke the meat in a covered environment, using indirect heat. I prefer a charcoal/hardwood smoker. I have about the cheapest one you can buy, a Brinkmann Smoke N Grill. I bought mine at Walmart for $47.00.

This has a charcoal pan in the bottom, a water pan above that, and two grill grates above that, about 10"-12" apart (an upper and a lower).

[b]The Fuel[/b]

You will also need good quality charcoal and Hickory chunks. I use the big chunks that are about tennis ball size. You can use the smaller chips, but they burn up really fast and you’ll be driving yourself crazy reloading the fire. (Those who swear by Mesquite should save it for beef. Use Hickory for pork.)

[b]The Meat[/b]

Begin with good quality Boston butts or shoulder roasts (picnics). Average 8-10 pounds each, bone-in. You can also buy boneless butts. They should have good marbling. Don't use boneless pork loins or tenderloins, as they don't have enough fat to produce a nice moist result. Save those fine cuts of meat for other uses.

Some people like to brine the meat, or inject it with marinade. I do not.

I also smoked a slab of Baby Back Ribs while I had the smoker going.

[b]Dry Rub[/b]

I do use my own dry rub mixture.

1/4 cup Coarse Sea Salt
1/4 cup Paprika
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 TBS Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (pepper flakes)
1/2 tsp Ground Red Pepper (Cayenne)
1 tsp Thyme

This recipe is enough for a couple of roasts as described above. It will also have multiple uses through this process. Reserve about 1/4 cup for use later.

For now, rub all sides of the roast(s) liberally with the rub mixture. Don't be afraid to lay it on thick. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

This photo shows the rub applied.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bbqpp01.jpg[/img]

[b]Smoking the Meat[/b]

Remove the meat from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature (covered) about an hour before you begin the smoking process.

About a half hour before you begin the smoking process, soak several large chunks of the Hickory in a bucket of water.

Time to fire up the smoker!

Follow the manufacturer recommendations for your particular smoker. I use a chimney to light the charcoal. If you elect to use charcoal lighter fuel, be sure to let it burn off good to avoid imparting the flavor of fuel in the meat.

After about 20 minutes, the coals should have a nice ash on them. Spread them evenly in your fire pan and add more charcoal on top to fill the pan. Place several of the soaked Hickory chunks on top and finish setting up the grill grates.

If your smoker has a water pan, be sure to fill it in accordance with the manufacturer's directions. Some people use marinades, etc. in the water pan. I prefer just plain water, as I feel the flavor will come from the rub, from smoking, and from the mop sauce and BBQ sauce later. The purpose of the water pan is to provide moist heat. Using plain water also make the clean up a bit easier.

Arrange the meat so that there are spaces between to insure good smoke circulation. Close or cover the smoker, and leave it alone for at least two hours.


[b]Mop Sauce[/b]

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 TBS of dry rub (see dry rub recipe above)
1 TBS Worcestershire
1 TBS Soy Sauce

You can buy a BBQ mop or as I do, take a length of cheese cloth, staple one end to a length of wood dowel, wrap the rest around that end, and tie securely with a piece of butcher twine or cotton string. It works great!

You will mop the meat after 2 hours of smoking, and every two hours after that.
Only check the meat at these intervals. You lose heat every time you open the cover.

This photo shows the meat after 2 hours of smoking.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bbqpp02.jpg[/img]

When you do check, be prepared to do these other tasks, too...

1) Mop and turn the meat
2) Add more charcoal and/or hardwood chunks
3) Fill the water pan

[b]Finish Rendering[/b]

According to the meat you are smoking and according to the time you should smoke it (this info will be available online), the last two hours will be your time to render the meat. This loosens the fibers and provides a tender product.

During the check of all things at that point, carefully remove the meat and wrap tightly in heavy aluminum foil before returning it to the smoker.

It is best to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer, but I often don't, knowing if I keep the temperature of the smoker at the optimal level and cook the meat at least for the suggested time, it will be fine. Experience teaches a lot.

[b]Once Done[/b]

Remove the meat and leave wrapped. Let it stand for about 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to flow back into the meat. If you try to cut it before then, the juices will run out and the meat will be drier.

For classic pulled pork, shred the meat with two forks. Throw away any bone or excessively large chunks of fat.

[b]BBQ Sauce[/b]

BBQ cooks will say that the secret is in the sauce! Everyone has a favorite. I prefer a sauce that is both sweet and tangy, made with vinegar, ketchup, and brown sugar as the main ingredients. There is no reason to list specific amounts, as you can play with this yourself to your own liking. Too sweet? Add more vinegar. Too tart? Add more sugar. Balance the sauce with the ketchup. Use a Tablespoon or two of the dry rub mix to give the sauce some heat and complexity.

Additionally, you may want to add some Soy Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, minced onion or garlic, hot sauce, or even a little strong coffee. I do not use smoke flavorings, as the meat has plenty and those bottled liquid smoke products taste terrible. Play until you like it and when you do, write down what you did!

Some of you might opt for store-bought, bottled sauce, but considering the work you've already done, why would you stoop to this?? I mean, really...


[b]Eating[/b]

This is what you've worked so hard for!

Some people like a pile of shredded meat topped with BBQ sauce. Add some good side dishes and you certainly have a rockin' feast! Me? I like pulled pork sandwiches. Use a good quality bun, pile on the pork, ladle on some sauce and top with a nice heap of Cole Slaw and a couple Dill Pickles or Sweet Hot Pickles!

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/bbqpp03.jpg[/img]

Of course, refrigerate any leftovers. When reheating, I prefer to heat in a small saucepan with some of the sauce.

[b]Enjoy, my friends![/b]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 21, 2015 02:21PM)
[b]ETERNAL ORDER![/b]
Message: Posted by: Magic_son (Mar 21, 2015 06:06PM)
Congrats. I was lucky to hit 50
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 21, 2015 06:20PM)
Thanks! I was so excited that I forgot one of the zeros in 10,000... duh.
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Mar 22, 2015 10:48AM)
That was well worth waiting for Michael!
Keep up the good work my friend.
Dale.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 22, 2015 12:28PM)
Thanks for the earlier conversation, Dale! I hope Gimpy sees the recipe. Last year, he wanted me to post it. By the time I was even close to having it all written down, the decent weather had passed. Now that it's beginning to show signs of Spring, this might encourage some folks to add it to their list of backyard grilling fun. It's kind of involved, but not the least bit difficult, and the final results are also worth the wait!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 22, 2015 09:01PM)
Latest magic item...

This is a mini version of the Okito Tea Canister Mystery. It doesn't have a mini goldfish bowl and pedestal, as do the larger versions I make, but I found the nifty cordial glass for the final production. I think it compliments the set nicely. This actually a refinish job because I was impressed with the quality of the metalwork.

Everything is fully lined with velvet, so the working is super silent.

I have one available on my website at this time.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/miniteacan.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Mar 22, 2015 09:05PM)
Magic in the workshop, magic in the grill. It's all good, and you do it all so well. I just finished eating, and you just made me hungry again.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 31, 2015 10:00AM)
Michael,

Thanks for posting the pulled pork details. I have been working on the perfect pulled pork for years so its always great to see how others are doing theirs. I will be trying your mop sauce next time, I have just been mopping with cranberry juice since my days on the BBQ circut.It gives it that deep red bark judges like but your mop sauce should add more flavor to the bark. I also totaly agree with the foil. I have heard the purest pit masters say foil is a sin. I say as far as competition bbq If they say there not using foil there either lying or loosing.

Gimpy
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 31, 2015 10:49AM)
Hey Gimpy,

Thanks for chiming in! I don't compete, and frankly you're the first person I've ever encountered that said they did. Good to hear the input! Interesting about the cranberry juice. Considering that it is just another acid, it could easily take the place of the vinegar in my mop sauce, although I might play with the other ingredients to account for the difference in taste.

There are so many variables here, and it all boils down to personal taste. You'll note how I dealt with the sauce recipe. I danced all around that issue because everyone has a different opinion on what they like. That's why there are a bazillion choices in the stores.

My brother likes to *itch about tradition with lots of things, so reminds me of those non-sinning, anti-foilers. My philosophy is based on the priceless advice I was given by an old woman who I worked alongside in a hotel restaurant many, many moons ago... I had asked her about some recipe specifics, and she just looked at me and said, "If it tastes good to you, it will taste good to someone else."

The same is true with magic. :)
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 31, 2015 11:57AM)
True everybody has their own idea of sauce. In this part of the country folks like BBq sauce with a lot of molasses in it and put so much on all you can taste is sauce. I don't understand why anyone would go to the trouble of smoking some good meat and then cover up all that good flavor with the sauce. I like Gates brand sauce and serve it warm on the side but sometimes just skip it. I also noticed your southern roots showing with the slaw on top of the sandwich. Man that's good!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 31, 2015 12:49PM)
Well, I lived in the south for a long time, but I am originally from right here in Central Illinois. I can make the heck out of a Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, too!

Regarding sauce, most have the tomato base, but there are a few places down south that had a real runny, vinegar-based sauce. One such was Ollie's, a landmark during it's time. http://www.bhamwiki.com/w/Ollie%27s_Barbecue

Ollie's had some higher profile "issues" during the civil rights era, but in spite of losing their fight, their business did not suffer.

The sauce was considered legendary, so not surprisingly is still available. http://www.pilleteri.com/o_bbq.html

Regarding old south BBQ joints, one place that was operating in downtown Birmingham when I first moved there was "Old Plantation Barbeque". They had a sign on the roof that said, "Yas Suh, It's Cooked In Da Pit". It was a hole in the wall, but was always busy. I think they may still be in business.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/oldplant.jpg[/img]

I recall another place that was even scarier... it was literally a shack in a gravel parking lot downtown. You'd just walk up to a window and they'd hand you some BBQ. I wish I could remember the name of it.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Mar 31, 2015 01:43PM)
I used to drive 40 miles to a backwoods biker joint in a two car garage way out in the country. It was run by Rocky, an old Cherokee. The fire pit was a cyclone fence stretched across rocks.

He cooked three things. Chicken, Sausage and Ribs.

I always ate the chicken but one day I had the ribs. After eating them he said congratulations, you are now and indian.
- - - - - - - - - -

As a side story. I always noticed the sound of dogs that were kept just up and over the ridge. I never could tell how many there were but some weeks there were more, some weeks there were less and a few times there were none.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 31, 2015 04:15PM)
In Birmingham, there is Legion Field, also known as The Old Gray Lady. This is an old football stadium where Alabama used to play (Bear Bryant era) before they built their own stadium in Tuscaloosa. It is located in one of the worst parts of town. Parking is nil, so the locals capitalize on this on game days (and during other major events) by cramming as many cars into their yards as is humanly possible. The "fee" for this convenience is basically a paid-in-advance ransom, assuring that your vehicle would still be there and with no missing parts when you came back.

Some of them would also make some extra bucks by selling a few choice things, BBQ being one of these. They would usually have a makeshift smoker set up in the yard and for a few bucks would cut a chunk of meat off for whoever wanted some. The health department was not stupid enough to try and shut them down, and although I never had any myself, heard that it was some of the best around.

Greatest spooky BBQ story though has to be the one told in the movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes". Fannie Flagg, who wrote that story, is from there, and the Whistle Stop Café portrayed in the film is based on The Irondale Café, a place I've eaten at plenty. http://www.irondalecafe.com/
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 10, 2015 12:32PM)
Here's something I tried this morning. For lack of a better description, this is very much like a quiche with a crust made from hashbrowns, rather than pastry crust.

It's a fairly easy thing to make and open to interpretation regarding the filling. I went with the classic ham and cheese with some green onions added.

10 oz pkg refrigerated shredded potatoes
1/2 stick (4 TBSP) butter melted

Mix together well and press into a pie dish. bake in pre-heated 450F oven for 30 minutes, until potatoes are beginning to brown.

In the meantime, mix together 4 large eggs, 3/4 cup half & half, 1/2 cup diced ham, scant 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Cheddar), a couple chopped green onions, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. You can add salt if you wish. I did not, as there seems to be plenty in the ham and cheese.

When hashbrown crust comes out of the oven, pour this mixture evenly over it and return to oven. Lower heat to 350F and continue baking for another 30 minutes.

Let it cool a bit before cutting.

This makes 6 nice sized slices, and since I live alone, I'll have this for breakfast for at least the next few days. Your mileage may vary.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/hashbrownquiche.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (May 10, 2015 01:33PM)
That looks fantastic. I love to use the refrigerated hash browns but never thought to make a crust out of them.
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (May 11, 2015 12:44PM)
That looks great! I'll have to try it soon.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 19, 2015 06:41PM)
Another recipe... nothing too special but very easy. Tastes great, too!

[b]Pork Stew[/b]

Boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into small chunks (I used about 2 cups worth)
1/3 cup flour
1-2 tsp salt

Put the flour and salt in a Ziploc bag and add the cubed pork. Shake well to coat.

Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add pork and brown it somewhat.

Add:
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped (I prefer sweet onions, like Vidalia)
1 TBSP butter

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ps01.jpg[/img]

When celery and onion are beginning to soften and brown a bit, add:
1 sliced carrot
1 diced potato
1 can stewed tomatoes
a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1-1 1/2 cups of water

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ps02.jpg[/img]

Bring to a quick boil. Lower heat to simmer and cover. Continue cooking about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until potatoes are cooked and sauce is thickened.

Adjust seasoning if necessary to taste, and serve.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ps03.jpg[/img]

More magic projects later!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 19, 2015 06:55PM)
Handkerchief Box - single flap, non-locking. Two made, two sold, two more in the wings.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/jap2015.jpg[/img]

Jack Gwynne SpeeDee Rabbit Production - I eliminated the floor stand and opted for a table top stand. Stand folds flat, as does the box on the tray. This is a great production, which can be used with things other than livestock. Two made, two sold.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/speedee.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (May 19, 2015 08:20PM)
Absolutely beautiful, Michael!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (May 19, 2015 08:27PM)
Wonderful Michael. I've never seen you use metal trim before (I'm sure you have, I've just never seen it until now). If someone would describe the look of this prop to me (traditional Okito-esque graphics combined with a stand using modern metal detailing), I would think it a horrible combination, but you've found a way to make it work. Very, very nice.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 19, 2015 10:38PM)
The metal trim is an odd choice, to be sure. It has been quite awhile since I have used it, and I think this may be the first time in combination with the paint/decal stuff that I am known for.

It surrounds the tray, of which the folding box is a part. The load chamber is in two parts. From the inside of the box, you would see a pouch made of a sturdy fabric (to fend off the claws of even a feisty bunny). From the outside, and covering the entire bottom of the tray is a sheet of spandex. The metal trim serves to conceal those edges, but is also easily removed should the fabric ever need to be replaced (not likely, but better to think ahead).

The stand itself consists of front back and sides only. It is hinged where you see it, as well as at each corner.

You can see Jack Gwynne perform this in his Niteclub act. Search his name on You Tube. You can also see David Charvet perform the effect in his Gwynne tribute act (also on YT).

It's a nifty trick and it happens so fast that it seems impossible for the prop(s) to have contained anything. I'll probably make one of them for my own collection.
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (May 20, 2015 04:48PM)
Nice selection of colours as per norm Michael. Great to see!
Out of interest, what do the characters say on the rabbit production box?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 20, 2015 08:20PM)
[quote]On May 20, 2015, Ray Tupper. wrote:
Nice selection of colours as per norm Michael. Great to see!
Out of interest, what do the characters say on the rabbit production box? [/quote]

The one on the left says "Michael" the one on the right says "Magician".
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 29, 2015 02:22PM)
Jumping the gun a bit here, but I wanted to show these. I found a woman who hand paints these beauties, and the first thing I thought was, "SKELETON TABLES!!"

I LOVE the artwork!! Just menacing enough to be cool, but just cartoony enough to be kid-friendly. Great for Halloween shows!

I ordered 4 of them and just got them in today. This pair shows that I ordered them in mirrored-image pairs. Now that I have them in hand, I will set to work converting these into folding side tables. Each table will have one skeleton and be modeled after the Homer Hudson-style side tables (unlike the bi-fold Neff-style tables that I made for myself previously).

Once I master the work needed to bring these about, I will be getting more, and eventually be offering them for sale.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/twoguys.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 1, 2015 10:50AM)
Square Circle - latest project. I made 3, but am making more.

Made from Baltic Birch. Tube and chamber made from 26 gauge steel.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/mini_sc_01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/mini_sc_02.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/mini_sc_03.jpg[/img]

Forgot to mention... these are minis! :) Overall height approx. 5 1/2". Tube is approx 4" x 2 3/8".
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jun 3, 2015 10:01AM)
Great Idea to do them in a mini size. I have never put a square circle in my collection because I like to display smaller props. Will you be doing any with a haloween theme?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 3, 2015 11:21AM)
I really want to. I've actually toyed with an idea from Eric Lewis called "yellow art". Same concept as black art. I haven't actually tested it, but this might prompt me to continue that research. The idea would be to have a the outer box a black silhouette of a haunted house and the yellow interior be like lights inside, shining through the windows, etc.

I did make a Spider-theme SC for Bill Trotter many years ago. the front grill was a spider web.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jun 3, 2015 12:10PM)
Being small like that I can think of lots of ideas for production items with a halloween theme. Like one of those rubber skeletons or a big spider climbing up a string, bats flying out, ghosts or all the above. Never seen the yellow art in person but would like to hear more.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 3, 2015 08:16PM)
Michael, please PM me when you make more of the mini-Square Circle. I love big magic made small!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 3, 2015 09:36PM)
[quote]On Jun 3, 2015, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Michael, please PM me when you make more of the mini-Square Circle. I love big magic made small! [/quote]

Will do, my friend! Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jun 11, 2015 09:33PM)
Well, I must say, as it turns out Michael ended up having one unspoken for Mini-Square Circle and I happily claimed it. Having just received it, I can tell you it is now one of the prized possessions in my collection. I must have close to a dozen of Michael's pieces, and this is a jewel. Michael is only getting better and better with each project, and I think micro-magic is something he should explore more.

This prop is beauty defined on every level. Visually, the decal work is practically flawless. The cutting, fit, and finish are stunning. But what amazed me most was the thought that Michael put into engineering this piece. He weighted the inner tube perfectly so it sits flush and securely. And the gimmick has real heft and weight, assuring that it's not lifted by accident in performance. But my favorite feature is the one that matters most...the BA principle. It's perfect. Absolutely perfect. Even with my reading glasses on from as close as a couple of feet I can't detect a thing. It's really a thing of wonder.

If this is a preview of the journey Mr. Baker will be taking us on, I am in it for the ride.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 27, 2015 12:38PM)
Thank you for the kind words, Mr. Oz! :)

Here is my latest...

Years ago, I developed a presentation for the "Thieves & Sheep" effect. I called it, "Zen and Again...".

I decided to rekindle the idea and make a nice set for the trick. I like the look, which to me is reminiscent of older Okito, when he was making magic props for Victor Barbour.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/zen.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 4, 2015 02:03PM)
Custom ordered Silk Cabby with classic style dragon... somewhat different than my usual style. This features a pivoting chamber with small bushings. Super smooth, super quiet. I also made a second one and will offer it for sale.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/dragoncabby.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 16, 2015 06:26PM)
From the kitchen... veggie night!

On the plate: Tomato Pie on the left and sauteed veggies on the right.
In the bowl: Green beans and red potato.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/veggiedinner.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 16, 2015 06:31PM)
All the glory that is The Magic Company. Ha!

(Making some Square Circles)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/makingboxes.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jul 16, 2015 10:04PM)
Nice pics Michael!

Never heard of, or had Tomato Pie. But it sounds delicious. Can you go into more culinary detail?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 16, 2015 11:30PM)
Sure. I actually saw this on TV and it sounded good. The neat thing is this is made with canned tomatoes (although I added some fresh I had on hand), so it can be made any time of year. Canned tomatoes probably make for a better dish unless your tomatoes are in the peak season.

[b]Tomato Pie[/b]

For the filling:

2 - 14oz cans diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp dried basil (I used fresh, and was liberal with it)
2/3 box of cornbread stuffing mix (Stovetop, etc.)

Mix together and spread into a 9x9 casserole dish.

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of mayonnaise
1/3 box of cornbread stuffing mix
1/4 tsp dried basil (again, I used fresh)

Mix together and distribute somewhat evenly over the top of the filling.

Bake at 350F (pre-heated) for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Let cool a bit before serving.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jul 17, 2015 10:20AM)
Oh man that sounds simple and good...and my skill-level. Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 19, 2015 06:30PM)
By all means, give it a shot. That's the only way to know if you like it. (I do!)

Well, something new happened today... I was cutting Checker Cabinet checkers on my drill press and the dang chuck fell off! Not what I wanted to deal with, but I cleaned the parts with acetone and reseated it. I've cut several more checkers since doing that, so hopefully it will stay put. It's just a small 8" Craftsman, so I am also checking around for a possible new one.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jul 20, 2015 08:49AM)
Tool break down always seems to happen at the worst time. My old shop was only five min. from Grizzly and since most of my tools are green it made it quick to get new parts. I have even pulled around the back a couple of times and got help fixing stuff from one of their tool tecs. right on my tailgate. Grizzly has great tools and great service at good prices. Bought my drill press in the discount room in the back of the store. You can find great deals on scratch and dent stuff. Tools are marked down a third and they will even haggle a bit off that.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 20, 2015 08:52AM)
Thanks for the insight Gimpy!
Message: Posted by: radamwarner (Jul 28, 2015 06:23PM)
Dear Michael,
Your pieces are fantastic. Do you have a wood preference e.g. Birch Plywood?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 28, 2015 09:31PM)
I use Baltic Birch plywood for the painted pieces, unless I have reason to use something else.
Message: Posted by: TheRaven (Jul 29, 2015 06:44AM)
Drill press chucks are just interference fit, right? Is it possible cutting the checkers put an unusual amount of downward force on the chuck (normally receiving upward force to press it harder into place) each time you backed out the cut... eventually loosening it?

Good reference on seating a chuck.
http://www.machinistblog.com/installing-a-drill-press-chuck/
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 29, 2015 09:09AM)
Hello Raven,

As I mentioned, I did clean and re-seat the chuck (it's the same process as original assembly). But, this D.P. is a small Craftsman (8" 1/3hp), and it has a tendency to bog down when a load is put on it. These checkers are made of pine to cut down on weight (important for this prop). The D.P. was not being put under nearly the stress required for other jobs, so I decided to look around and see what options might be available.

I am happy to report that after checking online retail, I decided to peek in at Craig's List. Lo and behold, I found a guy selling a 12" 2/3hp Craftsman (also benchtop) NEW IN THE BOX!! He said he'd gotten it as a gift and never got his workshop set up. It was an older model, maybe 10 years old, but still in a sealed box that had never been opened. He was asking $100., so I jumped on it!

I have it set up now (it's a heavy machine!). But, because of it's height, it's a bit too high for the workbench I have. So, yesterday I bought a universal tool stand, such as I have with some of my other machines, and will put that together soon. Because my workshop is so small, I had to think a bit about this, and decided to use the space where I now have a small metal brake. I rarely use that tool and can set it up on a temporary folding bench if I need to. This will also allow me to keep the smaller D.P. set up in the original spot, because sometimes it helps to not have to constantly change bits, especially if two sizes are being used through a project. Either that, or how can I say no to more tools! Ha!
Message: Posted by: TheRaven (Jul 29, 2015 11:48AM)
Sounds like a great find. The smallest drill presses show up used once in awhile, but 12 in and larger are more scarce. Congrats.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 23, 2015 01:38PM)
I did get the new DP mounted on the new stand and it's running like a champ. I have not hooked up the laser site and doubt I will. I went ahead and put the old DP back in its original spot and within a few minutes the stupid chuck fell off again! Ha! Anyone want to come pick up a free drill press? Maybe you'd have better luck than I have time to hope for.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 18, 2015 05:14PM)
Full-size Square Circle that matches the Minis I made earlier in the summer. One sold. 2nd one will be ready in a couple days. #3 about a week after that.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sc201501.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sc201502.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sc201503.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sc201504.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Sep 19, 2015 04:23PM)
So inspiring, Michael!
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Sep 20, 2015 08:06AM)
I'm so impressed with your manufacturing ability although what really makes the piece is the finish. Would you mind telling us how you go about doing your finish work?

Inquiring minds want to know.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 20, 2015 01:55PM)
Absolutely stunning work Michael!!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 20, 2015 02:00PM)
Hi Gary,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you like what you see.

The finishes are a combination of paint and decal work. I know that this topic (painting) has been discussed at length a few times here in the Workshop by me and other builders (very talented builders). I'm not sure if I could find those threads quickly myself, but someone willing to search may unearth them. Some of that was quite extensive information, especially regarding the painting techniques, product selection, etc.

The decal techniques are something that I keep somewhat close to my chest, as that is what separates me from the pack. But, I will say that I create my own decals by manipulating the images with Photoshop and printing on a higher end inkjet printer. The application of decals sometimes requires the skill of a surgeon as my trash can will attest! Ha!

Best tips regarding them... Only apply them to a very smooth, high gloss finish. If you want a matte finish, do that later. When applying decals, apply them to a wet surface so they can be moved around for best alignment. Use a brayer to adhere them to the surface and eliminate all water and air trapped underneath. Always be patient, but experience will tell you when to work quickly. (That's difficult to even describe.) Decal papers are available in both clear and white. Each has it's own applications, and neither is completely opaque. In other words, even if you apply a white paper decal with light ink colors over a dark surface, you will have bleed through. Mostly this is because inkjet does not print the color white. White is created by a complete lack of ink on a white surface, such as copy paper. Lighter colors, pastels and such, are rendered by less applied ink and very prone to bleed through.(ALPS printers are different, however.)

Beyond that, it is best to experiment and you'll discover a lot , as I have over many years of doing this. BTW, I am constantly adjusting (and hopefully improving) my decal techniques.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 20, 2015 02:02PM)
Thank you to you too, Ron and Oz! I need to shoot a photo of a Mini next to this to show the comparison.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 21, 2015 12:26AM)
I tricked out my hat for my Halloween Spookers this year.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/michael2x.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: john wills (Sep 21, 2015 01:51PM)
Seeing your creative results makes me happy!
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Sep 21, 2015 02:18PM)
Do you use a dye sublimation printer for your decals? What printer do you use? Would a color laser printer work?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 21, 2015 04:25PM)
I use an Epson Artisan 50 right now. It's just a standard inkjet printer, but a better one than say those HP junk piles. It is designed for photos, so imaging is much crisper. There are better printers out there, but you can get really good results with what I have.

You can use a laser printer, but you'd have to make sure you are buying laser decal paper. Not sure what a DS printer would require. I'm sure the info is easy enough to find.

Do you have projects in mind?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 21, 2015 05:57PM)
Okito Sleeve Production, custom made for a customer. It copies an older design I did many years ago.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sleeveproduction2015a.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Sep 21, 2015 06:35PM)
[quote]On Sep 21, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
I use an Epson Artisan 50 right now. It's just a standard inkjet printer, but a better one than say those HP junk piles. It is designed for photos, so imaging is much crisper. There are better printers out there, but you can get really good results with what I have.

You can use a laser printer, but you'd have to make sure you are buying laser decal paper. Not sure what a DS printer would require. I'm sure the info is easy enough to find.

Do you have projects in mind? [/quote]

What I am working on right now is a take-off on Pop Haydn's Teleportation device and was wondering if some of the artwork and labeling could be done with your technique. Here is a drawing of what I have developed so far.

[img]http://s6.postimg.cc/rvfwgi475/Teleportation_Transmitter_1_9_11_4x8_3.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Sep 21, 2015 07:05PM)
[quote]On Sep 21, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
I tricked out my hat for my Halloween Spookers this year.
[/quote]

I like the longer facial hair Michael. Very devilish.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 21, 2015 10:24PM)
[quote]On Sep 21, 2015, Wizard of Oz wrote:
[quote]On Sep 21, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
I tricked out my hat for my Halloween Spookers this year.
[/quote]

I like the longer facial hair Michael. Very devilish. [/quote]

That other photo was from a loooong time ago. My beard was still red! Ha!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 21, 2015 10:26PM)
Gary, I'd imagine you can use decals for your project. It shouldn't be any different than any other model decals.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Sep 21, 2015 10:56PM)
[quote]On Sep 21, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
Gary, I'd imagine you can use decals for your project. It shouldn't be any different than any other model decals. [/quote]

The box is black so......... can I make white decals? Or would the decal cover the entire box face and the body be colored black and the white areas contain no ink?

Sorry to sound so stupid here but I have never printed decals before.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 22, 2015 03:32AM)
Even with white decal paper, the white areas on your image might appear gray(ish), as some black from the box is likely to show through from underneath. If you can paint that surface of the box white first, it will help. I would print the image as a single large decal and apply to the entire face. It's a less intimidating procedure. Mask the edges of the surface when you paint, leaving maybe 1/8"-3/16" border black. That way your decal does not have to go right up to the edge to completely cover the white paint.

Beyond that, you'll just have to experiment to get a feel for doing this.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Sep 22, 2015 06:36PM)
I'm wondering if silk screening would work?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 22, 2015 08:48PM)
I've never tried.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Sep 23, 2015 11:11AM)
If you're looking to put the control panel itself on the box (not the ancillary notes and callouts), you may want to try making a very good JPG or PNG image of it (which it looks like you already have) and take it to a place that does vinyl graphics, i.e., a sign shop. They can print it on adhesive-backed flat, semi-gloss, or gloss material and then you just apply it to the box. It's simple and looks really good.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Sep 23, 2015 11:34AM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2015, George Ledo wrote:
If you're looking to put the control panel itself on the box (not the ancillary notes and callouts), you may want to try making a very good JPG or PNG image of it (which it looks like you already have) and take it to a place that does vinyl graphics, i.e., a sign shop. They can print it on adhesive-backed flat, semi-gloss, or gloss material and then you just apply it to the box. It's simple and looks really good. [/quote]

George, what a great idea! That solves the problem. I was wondering how I could do something similar but a sign shop....? That's the solution!

Isn't the Magic Café a wonderful place for Magicians to help Magicians?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 23, 2015 12:47PM)
Great idea George! Thanks for solving the problem.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Sep 25, 2015 01:29PM)
Glad to help. :)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 25, 2015 08:41PM)
Gary, when you finish your project, start a new thread where you can show off your work.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Sep 26, 2015 10:29AM)
[quote]On Sep 25, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
Gary, when you finish your project, start a new thread where you can show off your work. [/quote]

Yes, I was considering doing that already.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 26, 2015 02:17PM)
It's a nice way to separate your work from the pack, and easier for people to find it when searching. Illusionman2 has a great thread going on his Satan's Seat illusion(s), and has done similar threads with his other builds, all showing step-by-step work. My projects are much smaller, so I usually just show the finished pieces, and occasionally throw in a bit of fun stuff like recipes (I used to be a chef). :)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 26, 2015 03:48PM)
Recently finished pieces that are part of an order for a customer in Italy. The Sleeve Production (as also seen above), and two Silk Cabbies.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/racolot.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 27, 2015 08:53PM)
Something that I cobbled together for my family Halloween shows this year. I modified a sand frame to go along with a story about a witch. It's more than just an appearance of the photo. It's not a spectacular job, but it will be more than sufficient for these shows. I also posted this on a Halloween prop thread.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/witchframe.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 5, 2015 05:32PM)
This box will be used in the witch routine. The box came from Hobby Lobby. I cut panels from very thin plywood and covered with the vintage-look paisley fabric. You can see the front and back of a couple finished panels. They are being glued into the box. It's a nice way to get a neat, finished look. This will be a changing box (flap style).

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/witchbox1.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/witchbox2.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 5, 2015 08:26PM)
The finished box. A cheap way to make a period-looking gaffed box. I've had the box for awhile, and probably bought it when they were on sale. The thin plywood likely cost me more than the box did.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/witchbox3.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Oct 7, 2015 10:24AM)
Not only nice but very nice!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 7, 2015 08:03PM)
Sweet make-over Michael. Is the gimmick locking or standard?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 7, 2015 10:27PM)
It's just standard. This is for use in a stand up show. Nothing to prove really. I thought about making it locking but figure it would serve no real purpose.

Remove the photo from the frame. Tear it up and toss the pieces into the box. The torn pieces of the photo reappear in the frame, minus the one piece that fits. Nifty use of a sand frame I thought of. It can be seen empty (clear glass) and empty via the sand.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Oct 8, 2015 04:44PM)
I would love to try and make one of these too, Michael. Where are plans available? Is this device like the [b]Viking-Haenchen Card Box[/b] with the metal insert and magnets within?

[url]http://www.vikingmagic.com/Euro%20Card%20Box-magnetic?filter_name=box[/url]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 8, 2015 08:36PM)
It's actually more like this:
http://www.vikingmagic.com/Medieval-Card-Box?filter_name=card%20box

Viking made theirs into locking flap boxes with natural wood interiors. Really nice job refinishing a commodity box. Michael's version looks like a similar commodity box, but his has a loose flap and I like his interior better. Seems to go with the exterior design better than just plain wood.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 8, 2015 09:16PM)
Yeah, I had the fabric around for years. I used it to make a cover cloth for some card frames I did many years ago. It has a nice vintage look. I really like the colors. You can see the same stuff here...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/card_frame_walnut.jpg[/img]

No plans are needed for this. Just find a box that would work. FYI - My box had a couple little flaps on either side to apparently align the top when it closes. They were unnecessary and more decorative than anything. I didn't need anything inside for the flap to trip over or get hung on, so I tore them out before those areas were covered with the lining fabric.

Oz is correct on the style of box. I just cut a piece of sheet steel a bit smaller than the inside bottom (or top) of the box, and covered it with the same fabric used to line the box. The paisley design is very deceptive and a bit of slop on the flap never shows. In fact, I used it in my show tonight and had someone retrieve the switched piece of photo right off the top of the flap and it was impossible to tell that anything inside the box was different. This is actually more deceptive than the numerous flap boxes that I've made with black interiors.

It would be very easy to embed a magnet in the bottom to cause the flap to lock, but I saw no need for that with the routine I planned to use it for. I would also make reset a tad more tedious. You could also put a magnet in the top that can be moved via some ornamentation to release the flap. But again... that's the kind of stuff that only magicians appreciate.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Oct 8, 2015 11:32PM)
My Viking-Haenchen Card Box is locking so you can turn the box upside down and the metal insert won't fall out. I really like that element but didn't know until now that it was referred to as a locking box.

I also like the idea of the torn photo with a missing piece. Very nice!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 9, 2015 04:37AM)
There are (or were) card boxes on the market that would appear the same regardless which side was up. This would be one example of why a non-locking flap would be best. The switch could be made more than once, assuming there was reason to do that.

A locking flap box can be safely put into a spectator's hands, as there is a possibility that he might turn it upside down, especially, if something is inside to be removed. One card changing to another is such a case. Most card boxes are made to just fit the size of a playing card, so dumping a card out is easier than trying to pick it up.

Another use might be if a double face card (ex: 6H/JS) was put into such a box that appears the same regardless of which side were up. That card placed with one face showing (6H) could be changed once via the flap to another card (4C), and then the box reversed, so the original card shows again, but with the opposite face of that card now visible (JS). A triple change! Come to think of it, using another double face card could result in the card appearing to change to four different cards. All it would take is removing the card after the first change and replacing it in the opposite side of the box before closing and reversing it. Then, reversing the box one more time would make the 4th side appear. (I think I just came up with a new routine possibility! Ha!)

Back on track... With my box though, the bottom is deeper than the lid, and the routine is such that only a single piece of the photo remains. That piece is considerably smaller than the area of the bottom of the box, so it is actually more logical to reach into the box and pick it up than it would be to turn the box over, which would be somewhat awkward to do anyway, considering the size of the box.

Like I mentioned, this box was made for a particular routine and purpose in mind. I'm OK that it is a one trick pony, so to speak.

The torn corner idea can be used in a number of routines, from cards, to photos, to bills, etc. Most such routines require simple sleight of hand to switch in the special corner that will match the rest of the main item later. It only need be assumed to belong to the original. Although still possible with sleight of hand, the size of the piece from the photo makes it more practical to not do it that way. Besides, the torn corner ruse is most often used as a contrived bit of "proof", clearly defined in terms before it is needed. Usually the restoration is what the magician openly takes credit for, so the contrived "evidence" is used to set up that premise.

"The card is torn, but here is one piece for you to hold. We will get back to that later."

Such a ruse made no sense in my routine. The photo is already known to haunt me (through the story told), in spite of my attempts to rid myself of it. So, it is openly destroyed and locked away in a box, so as to keep it away from the frame (apparently where the witch resides in order to do her evil doings).

Not only does she escape the box to return to the frame, she leaves behind evidence to remind me that she will always return! :)

I could of course, "accidentally" drop one piece that never makes it to the box, but the routine is such that I don't need kids hollering at that moment.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 13, 2015 09:34PM)
A couple items just finished...

Time & Again Watch Cabinet - Large pocket watch removed from cabinet vanishes and reappears back inside.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/watchcab2015.jpg[/img]

Japanese Handkerchief Box

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/japbox2015black01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/japbox2015black03.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/japbox2015black02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: john wills (Oct 14, 2015 04:21AM)
Soooo beautiful!
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Oct 14, 2015 05:24PM)
WOW!! Where did you get the graphics?

If you could cook, I'd ask to to marry me! 8^)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 14, 2015 06:42PM)
I don't tip sources on the art. That's kind of what keeps me unique.

Not that I'm interested in getting married again, but I'm a hell of a cook. I was a chef with my own restaurant before deciding that magic as a career was more what I wanted to do. :)
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 15, 2015 09:36PM)
Great insights on the card box Michael. Thank you.

I forgot how beautiful your card frame is. Do you still offer that? If so, please PM me the details.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 16, 2015 12:40AM)
Oz, I haven't made any frames for several years. I may consider it down the road, though.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Oct 16, 2015 12:51PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
Not that I'm interested in getting married again, but I'm a hell of a cook. I was a chef with my own restaurant before deciding that magic as a career was more what I wanted to do. :) [/quote]

I know as I have made some of your recipes. I was trying to be funny and complimentary at the same time.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 16, 2015 09:00PM)
Sometimes with lack of sleep my brain is not tuned into much of anything. Hope the food was to your liking. :)
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Oct 17, 2015 03:12PM)
Beautiful work! (As usual!)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 18, 2015 04:42PM)
Spider Box Card Rise! I just finished a couple of these. A highly dangerous and moderately trained spider is able to find selected cards and push them up from inside the box where he lives!

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/spiderbox2012a.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/spiderbox2012b.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: pkessler (Oct 18, 2015 07:48PM)
Michael,

I bought one of these two years ago, and it may still be, hands down, the magic item my boys love most of all.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 18, 2015 07:57PM)
[quote]On Oct 18, 2015, pkessler wrote:
Michael,

I bought one of these two years ago, and it may still be, hands down, the magic item my boys love most of all. [/quote]

I am very glad to hear that! I hope you are enjoying all the magic items!
Message: Posted by: imgic (Oct 21, 2015 10:03AM)
Such great work Michael!
Message: Posted by: Scotte (Oct 21, 2015 04:39PM)
Those are both very nice sir! You have great design sense, I really like that paisley choice particularly!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 21, 2015 04:56PM)
Thanks, guys!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 22, 2015 11:38PM)
Okito-style Card Rise Box.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cardrise2015a.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cardrise2015b.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 23, 2015 12:13AM)
So fine!

Michael...keep this in mind as I ask this question: I know absolutely NOTHING about decal work or how you obtain these stunning pieces of artwork; yet, I ask you this question...this particular piece shines for me because the decal work is more detailed and illustrative. So, at what point is that detail fighting with the historical accuracy of a piece...or shouldn't I worry?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 23, 2015 01:19AM)
Let's take this to PM until I better understand your question.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Oct 23, 2015 02:09PM)
Michael's creations are nothing less than magnificent! He truly has a magical gift but my concern is that when his time comes, that his secrets will go with him - never to be created again and that would truly be a loss for the magic community. His gift begs to be shared with others but that is Michael's decision.

Just my opinion as a humble craftsman and admirer of his fine art.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 23, 2015 06:16PM)
LOL! I'll write all down and leave it with all this other crap. Someone will find it.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/victorbook.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Oct 24, 2015 07:19PM)
You should write a book.

Two, actually. One can be a cookbook.

:readingbook:
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Oct 24, 2015 08:10PM)
[quote]On Oct 24, 2015, Theodore Lawton wrote:
You should write a book.

Two, actually. One can be a cookbook.

:readingbook: [/quote]

I'll buy the 1st copy!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 24, 2015 08:31PM)
I was once prodded into writing a book of all my original magic effects. Once I had everything down, I realized I had no idea how to go about getting it published. This was back around 2000, or so. I had been a performer for about 30 years, but I was that cliche big fish in a small pond. Very few people in the magic world knew who I was outside my small circle (that is still the case, really).

So, I sent all that material to Racherbaumer, thinking he might want some of it for a Linking Ring Parade. He took most of it and used it for two Parades, and one of them was awarded best of year or some such thing. So, I have a nice trophy and a dusty feather in my tattered cap. I'm grateful that they liked it, but nothing like that is a train you can ride long at all.

George Ledo and I have kicked around the idea of producing a book that details several small prop projects. I think at this point, the ball is in my court to get some things on paper so George can work his magic and make it look like something. It might find a few readers, but would still just be a DIY kind of guide.

Maybe one day, I'll find the motivation to gather material for a book like the one on Babcock's work, one on Paul Lembo's work and the soon to be released book on Clarence Miller's magic. I have a long way to go to achieve their level of recognition, though. In the meantime, my time is best spent making props to sell. It's how I pay my bills. :)
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Oct 24, 2015 09:03PM)
If that book is published count this guy in. And, I hope there are plenty of full-color photos...your work deserves as much.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Oct 26, 2015 09:49AM)
[quote]On Oct 5, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
The finished box. A cheap way to make a period-looking gaffed box. I've had the box for awhile, and probably bought it when they were on sale. The thin plywood likely cost me more than the box did.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/witchbox3.jpg[/img] [/quote]

For those interested, here is a link to those boxes:
[url]http://www.hobbylobby.com/Home-Decor-%26-Frames/Decorative-Storage/Boxes/Dark-Brown-Wood-Box-Set-with-Brass-Accents/p/40032[/url]
You will find them priced individually at the store.

Now not as fancy but better dimensions for a change box is this:
[url]http://www.hobbylobby.com/Home-Decor-%26-Frames/Decorative-Storage/Boxes/Small-Brown-Box-with-Lining%2C-Corners-%26-Medallion/p/119438-KU0462[/url]

Thank you Michael for the tip on inexpensive finished boxes at Hobby Lobby.

"The Magic Café - Magicians helping magicians."
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 26, 2015 02:41PM)
You're welcome, Gary... and thank you for the link to the other box. I bought my box, as well as a couple others, for the purpose of scavenging the hardware. The decision to make the one into a card box came about only because it filled a quick need and I already had the stuff sitting here.

FYI - Marc Charisse has been making some awesome change boxes from what I am guessing are found (unfinished) boxes, tricking them out, and adding very cool image transfers, both inside and out. He has shown a few here in the Workshop, and also in the Spooky forum. Check them out!

Halloween always brings out the best in magicians! :)
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Oct 27, 2015 08:21AM)
Hey Michael,

I know you love Halloween and collect vintage decorations. Just guessing you have some cool decorations at your house,love to see what you do. First time in 23 years for us to have trick or treaters and a reason to fix the yard up.

Gimpy
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 27, 2015 10:10AM)
Hi Gimpy,

This is the first year in quite awhile that I have not had time to do much. I don't often decorate the yard because my collection is mainly indoor stuff (diecuts, noisemakers, and other small things). I've just been caught up with so many other things that I just have not had time. I guess it depends on your point of view, though. My living room has become a staging area for my Halloween shows this year, so there are plenty of spooky props sitting around at the moment! Ha!

No sense putting them away until all that is done. There are giant skeleton puppets, some set decorations, spooky tricks and illusions, etc. Our magic club is producing a Halloween Magic show in the afternoon of the 31st, so I'm not even sure if I'll be back home in time for trick or treaters (I don't get many here anyway).
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 27, 2015 07:07PM)
These guys were made a few years ago, but I still use them, and hey... 'tis the season, eh?

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/skeletonpuppets01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/skeletonpuppets02.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/skeletonpuppets03.jpg[/img]

They are rod puppets, each about 5 feet tall. The heads turn side to side and the mouths open/close. Made from hard foam skulls from Party City, wood balls painted for eyes, and lots of junk fastened together.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Oct 28, 2015 10:24AM)
LOVE IT! The one on the right reminds me of Achmed the terrorist. My all time favorite puppet. "I kill U" just kills me.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 15, 2015 06:55PM)
Latest item... actually an item that I've done before, but with a different design.

Okito-style Sleeve Production.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sleeve_chinoiserie01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sleeve_chinoiserie02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Julie (Nov 15, 2015 08:02PM)
This looks like one of those goodies that is too pretty to actually use.
Excellent, Michael!

Julie
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Nov 16, 2015 07:49PM)
Michael, your detailing is becoming so well-refined. Nicely done yet again.
Message: Posted by: john wills (Nov 17, 2015 02:28PM)
So great to see.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 17, 2015 02:48PM)
Thanks everyone! Julie, I'd hope people would actually use these! Thoroughbred horses are beautiful to look at, but they love to run!

Here is a Cabby I just finished...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cabbyblackbirds01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cabbyblackbirds02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Julie (Nov 17, 2015 04:39PM)
Collectors are a unique lot, Michael. The good news for you is that one of these kooky kinds of people might buy TWO: one to display and one to actually use.

I remember back when Mel Babcock's beautifully crafted Die Boxes first hit the magic market. Many a performer would order one through the magic shop (he wholesaled in the beginning) and when it was delivered he would immediately order another because he didn't want to take a chance on marring his original.

Such is life in the world of Magic. :)

Julie
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 17, 2015 08:05PM)
Julie, I don't recall experiencing that, but a couple of times I've had customers order two of a particular item, but wanted each to have a different design and color. That happened recently with a couple of Silk Cabbies sent to Italy.

Collectors seem to be particular in their own way. Some will want a variety of items, and like that they have similar colors and decal images, as if they are all part of a set, while others want each piece to look radically different from the next, even completely unrelated props.

Mel Babcock still wholesales a couple of items I think, because Stevens Magic occasionally has some of his pieces in stock, most recently a beautiful Die Box. (That was redundant, because ALL of Mr. Babcock's Die Boxes are GORGEOUS!)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 17, 2015 08:18PM)
Just finished this. It is a Slow-Rising Die to Hat, based on a Thayer item from many years ago. The die is placed into the cabinet and the front opened so it may be seen throughout. A hat is set atop the cabinet and the die slowly rises, apparently penetrating both the cabinet and the hat to end up inside the hat.

This differs from the Phantom Die (Thayer and Owen), or Loyd's Jewel Chest of Ching See. Those others supposedly cause the die to instantly vanish from the cabinet (when in fact you actually see it rise, just really fast). I prefer this version for it's visual nature, which is kind of creepy to witness!

I will be making 5 total on this run.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/die2hat01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/die2hat02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Nov 17, 2015 09:46PM)
You are on a roll Michael.

Is the Cabby gimmick on a hinge?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 17, 2015 11:51PM)
[quote]On Nov 17, 2015, Wizard of Oz wrote:


Is the Cabby gimmick on a hinge? [/quote]

Pivot pins through the ends. These also have tiny bushings that make the action super smooth and very quiet.
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Nov 18, 2015 06:02PM)
Looking good Michael!
Have you ever considered mounting dummy panels on the side walls to replicate the flap?
It might be a bit more symmetrical and aesthetically (sorry for being a nob) pleasing.
Ray.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Nov 18, 2015 07:51PM)
[quote]On Nov 18, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
[quote]On Nov 17, 2015, Wizard of Oz wrote:


Is the Cabby gimmick on a hinge? [/quote]

Pivot pins through the ends. These also have tiny bushings that make the action super smooth and very quiet. [/quote]

Thank God. I hope I never see another "push up" Cabby again. Always jamming with the slightest change of humidity. I think I first saw a hinged (and I'm using that term loosely...not actual hinges but you know what I mean), version with a Milson Worth model, and it was one of those a-ha "Thank you Lord" moments.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 18, 2015 08:26PM)
Ray, The thought had crossed my mind but it was voted down by my own sense of aesthetics. ;) LOL!

Oz, The first pivoting version that I saw was when I bought an old early Okito-Nielsen version I bought on Ebay for (cough, cough) $7.00. I have since repaired a couple of Milson-Worth cabbies, and I must say that his method for constructing and assembling the gimmick was pure genius... unlike anything I've ever seen. I had to rebuild a few of the parts due to it being grossly mishandled somewhere in the past. The ONLY way I was able to take it apart for repair was by virtue of the fact that those old glues had become brittle and I was able to crack the seal. The rebuilds were successful, but I can assure you if it ever has to be done again in the future, the next guy won't be as lucky.

Regarding the "elevator-style" chamber, they do have their place. While there are some sloppy builds that don't account for humidity changes, but MOST of the time, fails are due to pilot error. They get pushed too hard from an odd angle and the thing jams like The Grinch going down the chimney.

[img]https://media.giphy.com/media/gK2cLZY990Z4A/giphy.gif[/img]

I have made a few quite large cabbies that had to account for the necessary action to accomplish the "move". Pushing with a finger was impractical because of the size of the box. Your entire hand would practically disappear. So, I devised a lever system to do the job. Your finger would push on one end of the lever (small action) and it would translate to a larger action at the opposite end, and raise the chamber, elevator-style. In doing so, the action and pressure on the chamber was always exactly where it needed to be to insure a smooth rise.
Message: Posted by: BCS (Nov 19, 2015 09:40AM)
Michael,

I just wanted to say thank you for posting all your photos... You do beautiful work. I am sure one day collectors will be seeking out your items as treasures to own much like us that collect Cups. You are a true artist.

Take care,
Bruce
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 19, 2015 10:19AM)
Thanks for the kind words, Bruce.
Message: Posted by: bobmag56 (Nov 19, 2015 02:05PM)
Hi, yes, the Okito/Nielsen Cabby used a hinged load chamber instead of a sliding up load chamber. Okito/Nielsen also made a Canary Cabby which also used a hinged load chamber, but it was hinged at one side and raised on an angle. I have many Cabbys' made by well-know builders and even the ones with sliding up chamber worked fine. I think one needs to use the effect more frequently to eliminate potential sticking. Bob
Message: Posted by: Julie (Nov 19, 2015 06:54PM)
The Olde Timers used to tell us to rub soap or wax on the sliding parts. In reality all was needed was to work with the prop and become accustomed to the proper technique required.

My experience is limited to Homer Hudson and the early Worth Silk Cabbies.

Julie
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 19, 2015 09:48PM)
Something from the kitchen...

[b]Chicken Marsala w/ Mushrooms[/b]

I made this using sliced pork roast a couple weeks ago for a family dinner, but wanted to try it with chicken this time.

The basic ingredients:

Some chicken parts... I had one very large breast that I cut in half and 2 thighs. Mine were all bone-in, but boneless would be just fine. Rinse and pat dry, then season well with salt and pepper.

Shown in the photo:

Mushrooms, sliced or chunked, your preference.
Chopped shallots, chopped sage, rosemary and parsley (regarding the herbs, I use fresh. You don't need a lot. You really just want to sense an aromatic hint of these in the finished dish.)
Dry Marsala (you could also use Madeira or dry Sherry)
Olive oil (I used extra light for this, for it's neutral flavor.)

Other ingredients: 1.5 TBSP or so of flour, 3-4 TBSP of butter, 1 cup chicken stock, 1/4 cup heavy cream

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/chickmarsala.jpg[/img]

You'll need a large skillet with a lid.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Heat a couple TBSP olive oil in the skillet on stove (Medium-med high heat) and brown the chicken good on both sides (it will only be partially cooked). Remove to a plate for now. Pour off and discard most excess oil, but try to retain any browned bits in the pan.

Add the butter to the skillet and saute the shallots until soft. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until they and the shallots caramelize nicely. Add the flour and continue to cook until the flour is incorporated. Add at least 1/2 cup of the dry Marsala... more if you like. :)

Reduce until beginning to thicken. Add the chicken stock, the Sage and Rosemary, and continue cooking for a minute or so. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream. Add the chicken back into the sauce, and cover.

Put in the oven and cook until the chicken is done (maybe 15-20 minutes or so).

Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with some side veggies.

(Note: You could do without the cream, but it really adds a lot to the finished sauce. Your choice. Just don't try to substitute milk or half & half. It won't work.)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/chickmarsala2.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 19, 2015 09:48PM)
Yes, I have leftovers for tomorrow!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Nov 19, 2015 10:08PM)
OMG, I just ate dinner and I'm hungry again. In the workshop or in the kitchen, you've got chops Michael.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 19, 2015 10:39PM)
This is good stuff, OZ. And it's not at all hard to make.
Message: Posted by: DaleTrueman (Nov 20, 2015 12:01AM)
[quote]On Nov 17, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
Just finished this. It is a Slow-Rising Die to Hat, based on a Thayer item from many years ago. The die is placed into the cabinet and the front opened so it may be seen throughout. A hat is set atop the cabinet and the die slowly rises, apparently penetrating both the cabinet and the hat to end up inside the hat.

This differs from the Phantom Die (Thayer and Owen), or Loyd's Jewel Chest of Ching See. Those others supposedly cause the die to instantly vanish from the cabinet (when in fact you actually see it rise, just really fast). I prefer this version for it's visual nature, which is kind of creepy to witness!

I will be making 5 total on this run.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/die2hat01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/die2hat02.jpg[/img] [/quote]


I just spent a bit of time gazing through these pages. Lovely lovely stuff. Thanks for showing them. :)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 20, 2015 05:45AM)
Hi Dale,

Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you like what you saw.

~michael
Message: Posted by: DaleTrueman (Nov 22, 2015 02:57AM)
I'm going to have to try decals now.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 1, 2015 09:01PM)
Silk Cabby, two views...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/chincabby01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/chincabby02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: john wills (Dec 2, 2015 01:40PM)
Beautiful.
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Dec 2, 2015 04:35PM)
Very classy Michael. Beautiful lines.... A pleasure to see!
keep on keeping on my friend.
Ray.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 2, 2015 07:58PM)
...

(speechless)
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Dec 3, 2015 06:58AM)
Michael,

Looks great, always wondered if the art you choose has any special meaning tied to the piece.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 3, 2015 12:36PM)
Gimpy,

Great question! Sometimes yes, sometimes no. No concrete examples to offer at the moment, but I have definitely done this at times.
Message: Posted by: wunceaponatime (Dec 4, 2015 01:17PM)
Gorgeous work!!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 4, 2015 02:45PM)
Thank you!
Message: Posted by: Peckham (Dec 6, 2015 12:38PM)
Hi Michael, when will you return to crafting wands?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 6, 2015 03:26PM)
[quote]On Dec 6, 2015, Peckham wrote:
Hi Michael, when will you return to crafting wands? [/quote]

Unlikely that I will. Several years ago I developed a severe allergy to certain exotic woods like Cocobolo. Not worth the pain.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Dec 11, 2015 09:07AM)
Breathing the dust or phisically coming in contact with it?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 11, 2015 09:47AM)
Skin rash that was as bad as swimming in poison ivy. Oily exotics are the culprits. Not all are bad, but Cocobolo was a nightmare. I still have a big chunk of it sitting in the shop. Some days we just stand there and glare at each other.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Dec 11, 2015 10:58AM)
I really like the black and gold color scheme. It looks very rich.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Dec 12, 2015 12:26AM)
Horses are especially susceptible to allergic reactions from exotic wood sawdust but not jack%^&es. (So you're not a jack%^& :) )

So far, knock on wood (intentional) I don't have a problem.
On the other hand, when I'm adomizing acrylic either with a table saw or the CNC I need to wear a filtered mask. Nothing else bothers me. I can finish the day with my nostrils clogged by wood, paint, solvent.......... But cutting acrylic without a charcoal filter mask, eeeek :(

OK then, what other goodies do you have to show? You must have a few you've been holding back.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 12, 2015 06:55AM)
I did a lot of work with exotics, but then one day... BAM!! At first the doctor misdiagnosed it as something else. I continued doing my work and it got much worse. I started doing some symptom checking online (I know, not always the best option), but I found the info about wood dust allergies and the horrible skin rashes. I stopped working with the wood and it cleared right up. Problem solved.

Catching up now on some projects that are basically repeats of things I've already shown here. I'll post more when I have something new, or if I conjure up something tasty in the kitchen.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 17, 2015 10:17PM)
How about something to eat?

This is an Oyster Po-boy with lettuce, tomato, horseradish remoulade on a butter toasted French roll. Yes, it was good!

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/oysterpoboy.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 28, 2015 10:14PM)
Ice storm, schedule out of whack and water in my basement... where ALL my magic collection is... ugh.

On the upside...
What to do for dinner on such a crappy day? Check the freezer... Ah, ha! A Ribeye steak! OK, what else is here in the house?

Onions, mushrooms, noodles, wine, and sour cream... sounds like Beef Stroganoff to me! But... maybe a bit different, eh? Maybe Steak Stroganoff? Yeah! Who wants to chop up a perfectly lovely Ribeye, right? :)

Cook the noodles and set aside. Pan fry the steak to about medium-rare. Cover and set it aside. Saute the mushrooms and onions....

Add some wine... How about a nice Medoc? Yum! Add some beef stock and thicken it a bit. Toss in the noodles to get them hot again. Turn off the heat and stir in a bit of sour cream.

Oh, my...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/strog01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/strog02.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/strog03.jpg[/img]

More magic coming soon! :)
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Dec 29, 2015 07:54AM)
Michael,

That looks fantastic and what a great feeling to be able to whip up something great with what you have on hand. The weather has been tough here too and have had a hard time getting to the store due to flooding. Hope you had everything up off the floor in the basement. Any idea what caused the leak?

Gimpy
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 29, 2015 11:58AM)
All I can figure is the vast amount of rain somehow found its way in. I did not catch it when it was actually running, but it appears to have come in from two opposite corners. The river has really risen in the last week. This basement has never flooded, but now that it has, there will be no practical way to stop it from happening again. That is the voice of experience from dealing with flooded homes in other places. I may have to consider a sump pump or two, but I can't afford to have that kind of work done right now.

I have a lot of the magic displayed on a bunch of PVC shelving units, so not in direct contact with the water. There were several corrugated boxes that got wet, but I rescued the contents before any damage, and everything else touching the floor now is plastic, like storage tubs. Regarding the shelves, the lower shelves sit directly on the floor, so the items on those shelves are only about 1 1/2" off the floor. When I installed them, I started with taller units and converted them to more shorter units. This left me with several upright post sections left over and fortunately I saved them. I plan to cut them into 4" lengths and add them to the bottom of all the shelves to raise everything a bit higher just to be safe.
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Dec 29, 2015 12:31PM)
[quote]On Dec 29, 2015, Michael Baker wrote:
I may have to consider a sump pump or two, but I can't afford to have that kind of work done right now.[/quote]

Sorry to hear the bad news but I have to ask, "How can you NOT afford to install sump pumps?" It seems the damage would be eliminated if you had them. If you go to Home Depot and have them use one of their contractors for the job, they are offering a [i]"One Year at No Interest'[/i] deal. Then pay it off over the coming year each month. I think Lowes may be offering a similar program. Good luck Michael and I hope you at least have a Happy New Year.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 29, 2015 12:33PM)
Thanks Gary. I'll check into that.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 29, 2015 12:38PM)
Latest project. This actually a variation of something I've done before, modified by customer request.

This is the full size Okito Tea Canister Mystery with an Alice in Wonderland theme. The final production is a stack of porcelain tea cups, instead of a fishbowl, etc.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/alice01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/alice02.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/alice03.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: BCS (Dec 29, 2015 12:48PM)
Michael... Sorry to read about your water problems, I wish you luck with that.

The Alice in Wonderland props look fantastic... I thought the stack of tea cups to be pretty creative.

Take care,
Bruce
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Dec 29, 2015 03:15PM)
I LOVE the Okito Tea Canister Mystery set with the Alice in Wonderland theme. Very, very nice and the cups are a stunning addition.

The flooding sucks. Our basement hasn't been dry for decades, but, it's from 1920 and now needs the foundation to be waterproofed from the outside. And that ain't a pretty proposition.
I feel your pain brother.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 29, 2015 03:33PM)
Thanks, Oz! My house in Birmingham flooded several times. I lived on a hill and it was simply flash flood from excessive rainfall. The first time was during Hurricane Opal. I was out of town and my wife called me and said there was a foot and a half of water in the basement. This was a fully finished basement, too. After getting some relief from FEMA, I gutted the basement and drylocked everything before rebuilding the walls and everything else. I even tore the back deck off the house, dug down the foundation from the outside, waterproofed from that side and then re-contoured the yard to direct water away from the house, before rebuilding a new deck.

A year later, another huge rain and the !@#$%^& basement was full of water again. I lost a lot of magic and books, not to mention furniture, bookshelves, and ruined paneled walls, etc. At that point, I gave up on having a nice magic room there and just packed everything in plastic storage tubs and jacked it all up on pallets. There was a lot of mold and mildew to contend with too. That's really the worst of it. It was not until I moved here five years ago, that I considered laying out the collection again. In all that time, not one drop of water in the basement, even when the river crested at record levels a couple years ago. I figured I was safe, so I went ahead and figured it OK to start laying out the collection.

I checked it a few minutes ago and it was mostly dry. I did a quick survey around the house but could not notice any obvious places where it came from. Without actually seeing it run, it's hard to pinpoint. Hopefully, I won't have that pleasure. Maybe this won't happen often enough to become a threat to all this magic stuff. I already have a workshop roof that leaks like a sieve, and can't yet afford to get that fixed. It's a pain, but one can only do what they can, eh?
Message: Posted by: TheRaven (Dec 29, 2015 07:18PM)
Looks good.
Maybe Steak-Strog-a-Buorguignon ala' Baker?
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Dec 30, 2015 09:01AM)
Worked on a lot of wet basements over the years and never found one that couldn't be fixed. Sometimes its just as simple as getting the water to drain away from the house better. Lots of cheap ways to do that. Of course it can also be more complex and expensive. But if its been dry for years something has changed so if you can figure out what it is you can fix it. Be glad to help you trouble shoot just let me know.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 30, 2015 01:17PM)
Maybe find a way to fix El Nino. I think it was more that we have had a LOT of rain in a short amount of time. I've seen this river flood before, but it typically happens over a drawn out period. I don't recall ever seeing it rise this quickly. The river is a mile wide where I am. That's is a LOT of water coming down all at one time.

But, I would challenge you to battle a hurricane at that house I had in Birmingham! Ha!

Here, the floor drain has basically been unused for so long, it may be worth checking it to make sure it isn't clogged. At least any water would stand a chance of draining out if it did get in. When we had record floods a couple years ago, that drain was my concern. I was keeping a close eye on the river levels, comparing the water mark on the fence across the street with the depth of the basement floor. At a certain point, if ground water takes over, there isn't really much that can be done.

That happened to me when I lived in another house down the street back in the early 1980s. It was closer to the river, and once the ground water started to come in it was spewing through the block walls like little water fountains. I'm actually surprised the walls didn't buckle and collapse. That's when we shut the power off and moved out for the duration. Within a day or so, the river had surrounded the foundation, so the water in the basement naturally rose to that same level. (Lota basement. Ha!) Top step going to the basement was under water. Now THAT was a mess.

I was using a row boat as a taxi to periodically check my stuff upstairs. When the water finally subsided, I was finding lots of strange things. Mushrooms started growing in the basement and I was finding wolf spiders the size of a hockey puck. But that summer, my garden was AMAZING! All that added fertilizer from the river water did something. My tomato vines grew to the top of a six foot trellis and back down to the ground again! Bumper crop!
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Dec 30, 2015 04:46PM)
Well of course nothing will stop a flood. How ever if you have a floor drain then that means the sewer is lower than the basement floor. I would guess the drain tile that is around the footing is hooked up to the sewer line. Not allowed by code these days but many old homes are plumbed this way. Might run a snake and see if you can get it running again. This wont help if the drain tiles have silted in somwhere else but its a cheap thing to try.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 30, 2015 06:16PM)
Thanks! You know a lot more about this stuff than I do.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 18, 2016 10:34AM)
My workshop this morning. A little chilly, but still 20 degrees warmer than it is outside. I just fired up the kerosene heater, so it'll warm up nicely in about 15 minutes.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/01-18-16tempinshop.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jan 18, 2016 07:29PM)
But the cold will help you make some more cool props.

Sorry.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jan 19, 2016 07:18AM)
So nice to have a heated shop for the first winter ever.The old place had no heat in the main shop and the inside was colder than it was outside most of the winter. I feel for you Michael.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 19, 2016 09:08PM)
Fortunately, the new kerosene heater works great, even if it is a scary thing... like a fire breathing dragon. Ha! It's nice not having to wait a couple hours for the shop to warm up.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jan 20, 2016 06:47AM)
Those kerosene heaters can be great. Had one that we used in the kitchen for years with no problem. when the wick had to be replaced it never burned as clean and started giving dizzy spells. Not sure what the reason was.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 20, 2016 10:27AM)
I used one of the convention (wick) types up until this year. It did a good job, but when temps got down to single digits or below, it would take hours to heat that small room up enough to even feel your fingers. That was too much wasted time. Like you, wick replacement was my problem. I also never got the full hang of how to properly burn off the carbon. Over time, it would be hard to light, and would burn inefficiently, which does emit a lot more smoke and fumes.

Considering that most of those are about a hundred bucks, every couple years I'd just go buy a new one and save the aggravation. This year I opted for a forced air type. I would not bring this inside the living quarters if you paid me the replacement cost of everything in it.

[img]http://www.remingtonheaters.net/images/heaters/hh-70t-kfa-400.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jan 20, 2016 12:33PM)
Oh heck those things put out the heat, watch the legs.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 20, 2016 01:12PM)
Yeah, the business end is pretty close to where I stand at my belt sander, so I have to turn the dragon off when I use it. Ha!
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jan 21, 2016 07:05AM)
Have you thought of doing a rotisserie chicken while you work?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 21, 2016 10:48AM)
Hahaha!!!

[b]OH, east is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.[/b]

[i]~Rudyard Kipling[/i]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 9, 2016 11:32AM)
Here are a few things that have come about recently...

Coin in wool...

[img]http://www.themagiccompany.com/2016-ciw01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://www.themagiccompany.com/2016-ciw02.jpg[/img]

Jumbo Hot Rod

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016-jumbohotrod01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016-jumbohotrod02.jpg[/img]

Coin Box Deluxe (Lippincott)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016-lipp01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016-lipp02.jpg[/img]

The Mystic Tube (2 different sizes)

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/mystictube2016.jpg[/img]

Raisin Box Die Box

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016raisinbox.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016raisinbox2.jpg[/img]

Mandarin Block Escape

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016mandarinblock01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016mandarinblock02.jpg[/img]

Lots more in the works, too!
Message: Posted by: ThunderSqueak (Mar 13, 2016 03:35AM)
Wow, I really like your work :)

One of the things I miss from growing up is a wood working shop. Seeing some of your projects makes me want to get back into it. Sadly I don't own the tools nor have the space anymore :(

I look forward to seeing some more of your stuff in the future :D
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Mar 13, 2016 12:40PM)
Beautiful work as usual, Michael.

If you don't mind my asking, when you do a lidded box, like your coin in wool box, do you use the build-it-in-one-piece-and-cut-it-on-the-saw method? I've been doing this for years, but I still sweat a brick every time. I've put them on my cross-cut sled, I've used jigs, and I've just used the fence, and the only real difference seems to be the saw blade.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 13, 2016 12:56PM)
Im curious about that too. I do this all the time with big boxes but something that little and dainty would scare me.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 13, 2016 03:51PM)
Thanks, Jessie and George for your kind words!

Jessie, although my arsenal of tools has grown over the years, I still work with inexpensive ones. Most of the larger ones, except maybe the thickness planer, I've never paid more than a hundred bucks for. It's amazing how much can be done with so little. There are projects I'd love to tackle, but if they require a tool I either don't have, don't have room for, or can't afford, I just work on stuff that can be done with the stuff I have.

Regarding space, I do the majority of my work in my garage, which isn't big enough to park a single compact car... seriously. With my tools in there, there is barely enough room for me to walk around. Gimpy has seen my shop and can attest to what I am saying.


George and Gimpy,

The boxes that have a lid with depth are indeed made as one piece and then cut. I use a sled to insure a zero clearance for the blade, and I do my best to make sure the blade is set 90 degrees to the sled. Then, I do a shallow cut around the entire perimeter. This lets me check the alignment. Even with the blade/sled at 90 degrees, there is always a possibility that one side of the box is not. This can sometimes happen during sanding.

Such misalignment shows up at the corners when cutting. Small "steps" at the corners can be leveled later at the belt sander. If I see a problem early, I'll complete the cut by hand to minimize it, or recheck the blade alignment. If I spot a bad problem, that piece would end up in the trash. It has happened, but it's rare. Sometimes it's easier to start over than spend the time repairing mistakes.

Paying attention to which side gets the first cut can minimize tear-out at the corners, as can tape, or even a slave board at the back edge where the blade exits.

I have made a larger version of a Lippincott with a lid similar to the Coin in Wool box. Making such a box had it's own issues, the main one being that part of one side had to be glued during the assembly, but another part of the same panel had to remain sans glue, although pivot pins were installed. The box seemed totally solid when it was still in one piece, but once the lid was cut off, the necessary gimmick was perfectly aligned and ready to go. ;)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 13, 2016 03:58PM)
A couple other items completed this weekend.

[b]Vampire Block Escape[/b]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016vampireblock02.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016vampireblock01.jpg[/img]

[b]Dice Trio[/b]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/dice_trio_oriental.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Mar 13, 2016 04:16PM)
Thanks, Michael. I've read about doing a shallow cut first, but have never tried it. I'll keep that in mind for the next box.

Something that came through loud and clear is that taking the time to set it up correctly is totally worth it. There's no UNDO button on a table saw. :)
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 14, 2016 09:20AM)
I have been to Michaels shop. I would have never have thought you could turn out such fine work out of such a small place. This was the inspiration for my new shop. My Old place had two shops one 30 by 40 for woodworking and one 20 by 20 for finish work. I had worked in the home building business and had about every tool you could think of. When the place we are at now came up for sale I refused it as a possible option because it only had a one car garage. My wife convinced me to take a look at it after all. The house was perfect for us and my wife told me if Michael Baker can work in his small shop you can too. I started looking closer at it and sat down in the shop and made a list of all the big tools that had not been used in a year or more. By the time I got to the end of the list I figured out that about 75% of my shops square footage was just waste. Some tools like a raidial arm saw, shaper, ect. just are not needed for small stuff. Then I set my sights on some other tools like a stationary belt sander that could be down sized to bench top models. Next I put everything on wheels so it could be rolled out of the way. By doing this my shops now only take up 400 square feet instead of 1600. I don't miss my old shop a bit.

As far as cutting the lid off that little box. I had not thought of doing a very shallow first cut. Even less invasive would be to use a very thin kerf blade like is used in a battery powered saw. I think they are only 6 and 1/4" but the arbor is the same size as on a table saw. I did this once to make small stuff. Seem like the cut was only about a 1/16th wide.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 14, 2016 09:27AM)
Michael,

Also curious if you buy your thin hardwood stock or re saw thicker material.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 14, 2016 09:50AM)
I wish I had a decent band saw for doing that. Fortunately, my lumber supplier has a huge stock of lumber and they very often have S2S Walnut in thicknesses about 1/2" with random lengths and widths. I bought several boards and planed some of it down to 3/8" for the Coin in Wool boxes. I also occasionally pick up end cuts and turning blanks that are at least 2" thick and at least long enough to feed through the planer. I can rip pieces from these at the table saw that are a bit over 1/4" thick and bring them down on the planer for things like the Lippincott boxes. Those end cuts will often be a good source for nice burl, which has certain uses, too.

Very rarely and only for very special projects will I buy dimensional hardwood. I bought some 1/4" and 1/8" Mahogany from Rockler for those Albenice Card Rise Houlettes that I made for Joe Stevens. It is cheaper than turning nice thick boards into useless sawdust, but you still pay a king's ransom for it. When I had a Woodcraft near me, I regularly gave them good money for all kinds of decent exotics and domestics in dimensional sizes. It's better when you can see the stuff before buying it.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 14, 2016 10:32AM)
I always feel bad taking a 4 1/4 board and planing half of it away. I don't build anything out of hardwood. I build everything out of plywood then put thin strips of hardwood on the edges then veneer on top of that. Got used to doing this because the old shop had no heat and it made it hard to build things and keep things from warping and shrinking or expanding. Now that I have a heated shop I will be doing some stuff out of hardwood. I think my bandsaw will handle the re saw jobs, just need to make a better fence for it.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Mar 14, 2016 11:59AM)
Every time I see an article on re sawing in a woodworking mag, I want to go out and buy a suitable band saw. Mine right now is a benchtop one, and not powerful enough to re saw anything correctly. The problem, like with many of us, is space.
Message: Posted by: ThunderSqueak (Mar 14, 2016 07:12PM)
[quote]On Mar 13, 2016, Michael Baker wrote:
Thanks, Jessie and George for your kind words!

Jessie, although my arsenal of tools has grown over the years, I still work with inexpensive ones. Most of the larger ones, except maybe the thickness planer, I've never paid more than a hundred bucks for. It's amazing how much can be done with so little. There are projects I'd love to tackle, but if they require a tool I either don't have, don't have room for, or can't afford, I just work on stuff that can be done with the stuff I have.

Regarding space, I do the majority of my work in my garage, which isn't big enough to park a single compact car... seriously. With my tools in there, there is barely enough room for me to walk around. Gimpy has seen my shop and can attest to what I am saying.


[/quote]

Oh, trust me, I know tools are something you collect over the years. I have about 20 years of electronics gear and can pretty much do everything but fabricate my own silicon wafers at home. That being said, it might change soon ;) I have a rather small office that I work in. I try to keep the electronics bench just for electronics. On my desk there is a small 3D printer. I tend to try to buy quality when it comes to purchasing tools, instead of "cheap". My father owned a construction company so it is a habit I picked up from him. Still, I do miss having access to my mother's woodworking shop. If you have ever seen an old episode of "the new yankee workshop" on pbs then you have seen pretty much the type of shop I grew up with.

example episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c2gF7zbRIE

Your work is top knotch :) Sadly I will most likely keep working in plastics as that is the equipment I have ^^
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 14, 2016 10:39PM)
[quote]On Mar 14, 2016, ThunderSqueak wrote:
[quote]On Mar 13, 2016, Michael Baker wrote:
Thanks, Jessie and George for your kind words!

Jessie, although my arsenal of tools has grown over the years, I still work with inexpensive ones. Most of the larger ones, except maybe the thickness planer, I've never paid more than a hundred bucks for. It's amazing how much can be done with so little. There are projects I'd love to tackle, but if they require a tool I either don't have, don't have room for, or can't afford, I just work on stuff that can be done with the stuff I have.

Regarding space, I do the majority of my work in my garage, which isn't big enough to park a single compact car... seriously. With my tools in there, there is barely enough room for me to walk around. Gimpy has seen my shop and can attest to what I am saying.


[/quote]

Oh, trust me, I know tools are something you collect over the years. I have about 20 years of electronics gear and can pretty much do everything but fabricate my own silicon wafers at home. That being said, it might change soon ;) I have a rather small office that I work in. I try to keep the electronics bench just for electronics. On my desk there is a small 3D printer. I tend to try to buy quality when it comes to purchasing tools, instead of "cheap". My father owned a construction company so it is a habit I picked up from him. Still, I do miss having access to my mother's woodworking shop. If you have ever seen an old episode of "the new yankee workshop" on pbs then you have seen pretty much the type of shop I grew up with.

example episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c2gF7zbRIE

Your work is top knotch :) Sadly I will most likely keep working in plastics as that is the equipment I have ^^ [/quote]

Yes, I watch "New Yankee Workshop" and most other woodworking shows on PBS and Create TV. Always something fun to learn, even if I never use it. Your work in plastic is something I have zero skills in, so it seems the grass is always greener, eh?

There is a retired magician in England, named Granville Taylor. He used to perform professionally as Faust... toured internationally with a big illusion show. Anyway, he is also quite the builder, and has a small workshop in his attic. I am amazed at what he is able to produce in such a tiny space.

Here is one of a few websites he has...

http://www.freewebs.com/taylormademagic/theatticworkshop.htm
Message: Posted by: ThunderSqueak (Mar 15, 2016 02:51AM)
Grandville's workshop is awesome :)

In platic and aluminum I just made a wand stand to display my new wand :P Silly, I know. It reminds me of my little sword stand. I used to love woodworking, I also had access to a stick welder, a wirefeed and a plasma cutter growing up. Those were amazing tools and I sometimes consider flying the 2500 miles just to use them again XD

So, where do you get your inspiration from?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 15, 2016 03:28AM)
[quote]On Mar 15, 2016, ThunderSqueak wrote:
Grandville's workshop is awesome :)

In platic and aluminum I just made a wand stand to display my new wand :P Silly, I know. It reminds me of my little sword stand. I used to love woodworking, I also had access to a stick welder, a wirefeed and a plasma cutter growing up. Those were amazing tools and I sometimes consider flying the 2500 miles just to use them again XD

So, where do you get your inspiration from? [/quote]


My inspiration?? That depends on what aspect of my work we are talking about. My love for art came from my mom, who passed away on Valentine's Day last month.

Building magic? I was making and crafting things from a very early age, not just magic, although that was certainly part of it. My magic mentor taught me a few building tips and tricks along the way. He died a year ago.

The oriental influence?... most definitely from the work of Okito (Theodore Bamberg). I try to channel his thinking and how he used color and form in his design, and then apply that to my own work. Okito died about the same time I first became interested in magic. It was decades before I even knew who he was. If you do a Google image search for Okito magic, you'll see many examples from him and a couple other makers, including some of my work that fits the genre.

Quid pro quo, Jessie. How does a kid grow up to speak in front of NASA and SpaceX, yet still want to make magic tricks? :)
Message: Posted by: ThunderSqueak (Mar 15, 2016 01:47PM)
[quote]On Mar 15, 2016, Michael Baker wrote:
yet still want to make magic tricks? :) [/quote]


I grew up on a farm 60 miles from the nearest city, one day after an hour and a half long bus ride home from school I felt an ache in my abdomen. I was 12 at the time. My mom kept me home the following day, and it didn't go away... a week went by and finally the old family doctor who back in those days did make housecalls, showed up. He touched my abdomen and instructed my family to drive me to a hospital, the nearest being 200 miles away. When I arrived there, it was found my appendix had ruptured and for the last few days had been infecting every organ in my abdomen. I nearly died back then... though I don't remember being near death, I was too stubborn.

I spent the next year in the hospital, vacuum pumps were hooked up getting rid of the icky stuff, I had 6 surgeries that year to remove dead tissue and repair what they could. Since I had tubes hooked up, this limited my mobility. My aunt brought me an electronics set, as this is what she did in the USAF. My family brought me a magic set, as I always loved watching magicians like David Copperfield.

Those two things had a profound effect on the direction I would take in life. Being a bored kid consigned to a hospital bed for a year I made a lot of stuff out of what was around me. I built many circuits and went through every trick in both of those kits. I devoured books and got quite good at chess and checkers.

Fast forward 25 years... I am an Electrical Engineer who likes to practice magic and am not happy unless I create something new every single day. You never know when stuff will happen, so its best to do it when you can and to share everything so that in some small way the world might be better for it.

The end.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 15, 2016 03:22PM)
[quote]On Mar 15, 2016, ThunderSqueak wrote:


The end. [/quote]

Hardly. :)
Message: Posted by: ThunderSqueak (Mar 15, 2016 04:53PM)
True, the thing about the end of something is that it usually isn't.

But then, if you told everything at once, you might not have a story next time to tell :)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 15, 2016 05:48PM)
I meant that in the same vein as when someone asks me if I've been doing magic my whole life. I say, "Not yet."
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 15, 2016 05:54PM)
The latest...

Nest of Boxes utilizing a method that I devised several years ago. I have finished 2 sets and plan to do at least one or two more. There will also be a version with vintage Halloween decor.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016mininest02.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016mininest01.jpg[/img]

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016mininest03.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Mar 15, 2016 10:11PM)
Some very inspirational posts here of late.

Michael, your work is stellar as per usual. I LOVE my new Coin Box Deluxe. I had no idea it had an added certain something on the bottom. Very cool. The quality is impeccable.

Gimpy and George, I love hearing other quality builders besides Michael discuss the trade. I built props as a teen in my father's basement workshop using magic books from the library as my blueprints, but haven't since. Unfortunately, due to time constraints. But I love reading about the craft, and hoping that retirement...when and if it comes...will offer me the opportunity to build again. I just remember getting totally lost in the sawdust and smells of hot wood, and completely forgetting that something like time existed.

ThunderSqueak, again, so glad you have found your way to the Café. We love smart, creative, and nice people. And smart, creative, nice people from Alaska are even more interesting. Sorry to hear about the issues you suffered through as a youth, but it sounds like you are proof of Friedrich Nietzsche's quote, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

Thank you all for the great reads.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 16, 2016 07:30AM)
Wizard of Oz,

My first shop was in the basement furnace room. Got a table saw for my 12th birthday and it took up most of the shop. Heck these days the government would probably take your kid away for that. I built everything in my show in that shop. Sadly I only have 2 pieces left from that time. Still have my club style folding table but the lid on its case has swollen shut from years in storage and cant bring myself to cut it open. Still have a small production box I made, aqua blue with gold glitter sprinkles. That was how I finished everything back then. Have thought about starting a thread where builders could show their early creations. Might be of some inspiration to new builders.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 16, 2016 10:07AM)
It would be fun to see, but that would assume much of that stuff would still exist.

Although I have been making some magic stuff since I was a kid (my first DIY prop was a production box of sorts, made from one of my dad's cigar boxes), the majority of my builds started in the late 1970s, after I was out of high school. For the longest time, the only hand-held power tool I owned was a drill. I think about all else I had was a cross-cut saw, a hammer, and a screwdriver. Ha!

My first illusion build was a flash appearance that I made in my bedroom in an apartment I shared with my brother and another guy. My bed and a chair served as sawhorses.

When I was doing the TV show every week, I would take my old builds and salvage parts to make other stuff so I had new magic to show. Eventually, that stuff used up any usefulness, and would end up in the trash. But, I was so broke back then that I'd even remove and save screws before throwing anything away. I have no doubt that some of that is still with me, but it would take a forensics team to find it. Ha!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 16, 2016 10:28AM)
OK, I did find this. It's an old Polaroid of a card castle that I made when I was 15. When I first moved to Birmingham, the first time I went to the magic shop there, I saw a card castle in the case. It was way more than I could afford (maybe $10. Ha!). I made an offhand comment that I thought I could make one. The magician there looked at me like I was a smart-ass kid. I wasn't trying to be, I just thought I could do it.

So, I studied it and memorized the number of cards in each layer, like memorizing a phone number. Then I went home and made one... the one you see in the photo. It is made to collapse and when pulled open, remains upright on it's own. It was also strong enough to hold the weight of my birds, as you can see. :)

The next Saturday, I took it to the magic shop and showed the guy and he and I became fast friends from that day on. He became my mentor and our friendship lasted for the next 45 years. His name was Robert Chadwick. He died a year ago. Gimpy, you met him at Bob Sander's ranch.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/cardcastle.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Mar 16, 2016 12:23PM)
Michael,

Thanks for posting that pic and the story. Tried to find a pic of Mr Chadwick to see if that jogged my memory but had no luck. You have Mentioned your Mentor several times but never heard who it was and have been curious. Mine was Ben Stone of Delben magic, I think we have talked about that before. I had doves way back then till a cat got to them. :(
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Mar 16, 2016 01:19PM)
I wouldn't [i]want[/i] to show my early creations :) but here's a recent photo of my third Square Circle anyway, from when I was sixteen or seventeen. It was for the act I had at the time, named "Magic From the Land of Fantasy." The second photo shows the carrying case, with Rocky QC'ing the corners.

[img]http://i1316.photobucket.com/albums/t606/georgefledo/Img_0445_zpsx6rha8ru.jpg[/img]
[img]http://i1316.photobucket.com/albums/t606/georgefledo/Img_1296_zpsajknpfjy.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 29, 2016 12:25AM)
Halloween Nest of Boxes. This uses the same unique method as the oriental version pictured above. I made two sets.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016halloweennest.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 3, 2016 12:31AM)
A little progress this week... Oriental Die Box (1 of 4).

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016twindie.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Apr 3, 2016 07:56AM)
Interesting way to do the front doors, don't think I have seen that before. Very nice!
Message: Posted by: Julie (Apr 3, 2016 06:09PM)
Beautiful. Michael! The front doors look similar in operation to ARTURO's Twin-Di Box.

Julie
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 4, 2016 02:04PM)
Julie, There are similarities, but differences, too.
Message: Posted by: mcharisse (Apr 8, 2016 05:12PM)
Love the Halloween art!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 8, 2016 05:15PM)
[quote]On Apr 8, 2016, mcharisse wrote:
Love the Halloween art! [/quote]

Me too! I collect vintage Halloween. The artwork is so much cooler than the stuff you see these days.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 19, 2016 01:47PM)
Welcome to the Haunted Dungeon!! A brief tour, but far from all of it, and still very much in progress. This is mostly parlor size props. I have not started on close-up props and Illusions yet...

The vestibule entrance...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/d1.jpg[/img]

The welcoming committee...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/d2.jpg[/img]

Eye candy...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/d3.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/d4.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/d5.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/d6.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/d7.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Apr 19, 2016 09:09PM)
That's the best looking dungeon I've ever seen Michael. So much sweet magic. I love your standing card star. Wanted it so bad but just out of my range. Are the billiard ball and ping pong ball stands in photo 4 yours or Owen's. I can't tell anymore.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 19, 2016 09:24PM)
The 4-inline is an Owen Perfecto. The round one, I made.
Message: Posted by: john wills (Apr 20, 2016 01:51PM)
What about dungeon.......this is heaven on earth.
Beautiful crafted classic magic.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 20, 2016 03:47PM)
[quote]On Apr 20, 2016, john wills wrote:
What about dungeon.......this is heaven on earth.
Beautiful crafted classic magic. [/quote]

Well, I live in a small, older home that has a basement which would be nearly impossible to convert to a finished basement. So I decided to just embrace it for it's own character. The fact that I also have some Halloween/Spook Show stuff makes the combination a natural.
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Apr 20, 2016 05:23PM)
:applause:
As much as I loath those things, it seemed the only way to pass on my admiration.
Outstanding stuff Michael!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 20, 2016 07:28PM)
[quote]On Apr 20, 2016, Ray Tupper. wrote:
:applause:
As much as I loath those things, it seemed the only way to pass on my admiration.
Outstanding stuff Michael! [/quote]

Glad you like it!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 20, 2016 07:30PM)
A couple of new boxes...

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016mirrorboxgreen.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016mirrorboxred.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/2016mirrorboxinterior.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Apr 20, 2016 08:44PM)
Stunning Michael. I particularly like the front decal. Any way to get a closeup of it?
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Apr 20, 2016 09:44PM)
Well, as you know, Michael, I'm a "generic props" (silks, rope, balls, etc.) guy. (Here comes that "but" again!) But, that doesn't mean that I don't admire and appreciate a guy who, in a former life, must have been Michaelangelo! Youse sure done good on that ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!, and, that, David!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 20, 2016 09:54PM)
[quote]On Apr 20, 2016, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Stunning Michael. I particularly like the front decal. Any way to get a closeup of it? [/quote]

I just emailed you a JPEG of that decal file.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 20, 2016 09:56PM)
[quote]On Apr 20, 2016, Dick Oslund wrote:
Well, as you know, Michael, I'm a "generic props" (silks, rope, balls, etc.) guy. (Here comes that "but" again!) But, that doesn't mean that I don't admire and appreciate a guy who, in a former life, must have been Michaelangelo! Youse sure done good on that ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!, and, that, David! [/quote]

Well, not a drop of Italian blood in me, but coincidentally the green box is headed to Italy!
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Apr 20, 2016 10:53PM)
For all you dungeon guys.
http://makezine.com/2015/06/17/20-secret-doors-clever-hiding-places/
Google "hidden door bookcase" for more stuff.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Apr 22, 2016 03:47PM)
Michael, that dungeon is stunning. What a fun place!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Apr 22, 2016 07:05PM)
Another view in the dungeon. The iron gate separates two sides of the main room.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/d9.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 2, 2016 06:19PM)
A couple of new items...

Oriental Block to Silks... or flowers, balls, fruit, etc.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/rubikoriental01.jpg[/img]

Rubik's Cube to Silks

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/rubikstray01.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: A. Evans (Jul 2, 2016 07:40PM)
I love all the great post hear thanks for posting all of this. :-)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 3, 2016 09:16PM)
[quote]On Jul 2, 2016, aevans-1500 wrote:
I love all the great post hear thanks for posting all of this. :-) [/quote]

Thanks! Glad you like it.
Message: Posted by: ThunderSqueak (Aug 3, 2016 04:01PM)
[quote]On Jul 2, 2016, Michael Baker wrote:
A couple of new items...

Oriental Block to Silks... or flowers, balls, fruit, etc.


Rubik's Cube to Silks
[/quote]

I Love the Rubik's cube one! Just thought I would let ya know :)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 3, 2016 07:09PM)
Good to see you back, Jessie!
Message: Posted by: ThunderSqueak (Aug 4, 2016 02:14AM)
[quote]On Aug 3, 2016, Michael Baker wrote:
Good to see you back, Jessie! [/quote]

Never really left, I still check in regularly and look at what is new or exciting ^^

This is my latest project https://hackaday.io/project/12383-pal-self-programming-ai-robot
Along with my day job, it has been keeping me busy. I know it isn't magic, but I find it interesting :)

cheers!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 4, 2016 03:36AM)
Nice to hear! I was afraid we'd lost another good one. Thanks for sharing your latest project!
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Aug 4, 2016 09:24PM)
I concur with Mr. Baker. I've always enjoyed your contributions here ThunderSqueak!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 4, 2016 11:50PM)
Here's a couple things I've done in the last couple months...

Checker Cabinet - This is based on Nixon's New Improved version, as described in The Sphinx, August 1929. I decided to give it a Russian theme. I made three, all were sold.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/russian01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/russian02.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/russian03.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/russian04.jpg[/img]

The Crystal Prison of Serica - My version of the classic effect, Silkola. I have made and sold some and am continuing to make more.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/silkola01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/silkola02.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 5, 2016 12:07AM)
Skeleton Table - I have made and sold a few sets, and am working on more. They come as a single or as a pair with one head on left, one head on right. Fold flat for travel.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/skeletontablenew.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Aug 5, 2016 06:27AM)
Wow Michael they are all just stunning. I remember seeing some of your checker cabinets before but don't think they had that much detail. Just fantastic, thanks for showing them.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Aug 7, 2016 11:56AM)
Those are stunning, Michael. Ever since I saw the checker cabinet in an old Thayer catalog when I was a kid, I've wanted to build one, just never got around to it. I love the Russian theme.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 4, 2016 11:33PM)
This is a custom project. Same trick as I've made previously, but this is a very large version with a 5" block instead of the usual 3". Several additional features, cosmetically and functionally. There is a top lid that allows a view through the empty cabinet from a different angle. The four-point pagoda roof on the tall cabinet is also different than I typically do on the smaller versions.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/btsbig01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/btsbig02.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/btsbig03.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/btsbig04.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/btsbig05.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: blackstone99 (Sep 5, 2016 08:37AM)
Gorgeous props.

Paul
Message: Posted by: boxjumper (Sep 7, 2016 08:08AM)
Wow. Are those transfers on the wood or decals?

BJ
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 7, 2016 12:19PM)
[quote]On Sep 7, 2016, boxjumper wrote:
Wow. Are those transfers on the wood or decals?

BJ [/quote]

I make my own waterslide decals, but they are high quality. I've seen some people use decals that look like stickers. These are not that. I have not yet played with dry rub transfer images, but my decal paper source is now expanding their line of transfer papers. It's pretty expensive, and might work best if I had an ALPS printer (opaque inks). I'm always experimenting with new ideas, so who knows?? :)
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (Nov 1, 2016 12:01AM)
[quote]On Feb 17, 2012, Michael Baker wrote:
This is my spin on the Okito Zombie Cabinet, I am calling "The Temple of the Golden Dragon". The ball visibly appears inside the box, floats out and upon returning the door is closed and reopened to reveal the dragon's face. I changed several features, including the general appearance, and how some of the mechanics operate.

For those familiar with the original Okito version, it had a skull instead of the dragon face, and although I'd like to eventually use the skull idea, I'd rather use that for a gothic/graveyard-themed cabinet. For an oriental theme such as this, I thought the dragon made more sense.

This is the first of 3 units. I'll have one or two of these available.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/zombie_cab_01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/zombie_cab_02.jpg[/img] [/quote]

Michael,
I use several floating balls (spheres) Would you be able to custom make one for me? Sincerely, Jake Sr.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 1, 2016 08:27PM)
Hi Jake,

I can, but it won't be anytime soon. I am buried under projects right now. Are you a patient man? :)

~michael
Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Mar 18, 2020 05:40PM)
[quote]On Mar 23, 2014, Michael Baker wrote:
One of my latest releases, this is Card Dice.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/carddice01.jpg[/img]
[img]http://themagiccompany.com/carddice02.jpg[/img] [/quote]

I ordered 'Card Dice' from Michael this morning. Very much looking forward to receiving this fun effect! It will be my first Michael Baker prop.

Mark
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Mar 18, 2020 07:44PM)
Ha! It may be your first, but I'm betting that once you see and feel the quality, it won't be your last!
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Mar 18, 2020 08:27PM)
Mark, Michael make the absolute best stuff! I hope you get it soon. I want to see it.
Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Mar 18, 2020 10:25PM)
Michael already sent the tracking number. It should be here on Saturday.

Mark
Message: Posted by: GS121002 (Mar 19, 2020 10:06AM)
What is the routine for this? I have never seen it performed before.
Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Mar 19, 2020 10:56AM)
Gary, Routine as posted by Michael on page 11 of this thread:

[quote]Six cube dice are shown. They each have potions of playing cards on their faces. The dice are stacked so that they show a random display of those card parts. The stack can be shown on all sides. The faces are indeed scrambled with a variety of playing card parts depicted. The stack is then covered with a handkerchief.

Two playing cards are then selected from a deck and their faces kept unknown for the moment. Upon disclosing the stacked dice again, one side has transformed to match the first selected card. The stack is then covered again to accommodate the other selected card, and when revealed a second later, it shows a scrambled display of random card parts. This is an apparent failure on the part of the magician, but when the second selection is show, it matches the scrambled card display perfectly! Magic with a comedy kicker! [/quote]

BTW, Bob (Ring 76) had a Card Dice on display at his home during one of the board meetings a few months ago. I believe the one he displayed is Michael Baker's.

Mark
Message: Posted by: bobmag56 (Apr 5, 2020 12:20PM)
I think a number of builders made this effect. Maybe, the 1st was a European builder? Michael Baker's is especially nice looking with the oriental decor. Bob