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Topic: New Builder, Where To Start?
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Sep 29, 2004 01:51PM)
I am wanting to build some larger illusions. I have almost every tool possible so that is not a problem. I build a large wooden cabinet to keep my magic in. I do stage/ parlour magic and don't know where to start. Should I start with books or single plans? What would you suggest starting off building?
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Sep 29, 2004 02:03PM)
Believe it or not, look in Mark Wilson's Complete Course.

I built my first LARGE illusion based off his plans.

Turned out GREAT!
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Sep 29, 2004 03:18PM)
What illusion was it?
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Sep 29, 2004 03:39PM)
It was a production Box. BIG...but worth the time and weight.
Message: Posted by: Cliffg37 (Sep 29, 2004 04:49PM)
If you have all the tools, and you know how to use them, I still like Paul Osbornes stuff. Just watch the weight, they do get heavy, and make sure you use casters that are big enough not to jam up from the weight of the box.

I have seen his illusion books at ebay and magicauction.com
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Sep 29, 2004 05:01PM)
Which book(s) would you recommend? And could you list some of the illusions in them?

Here is one book that I found. ILLUSION SYSTEMS VOLUME # 1 BY OSBORNE. Does anyone have it? I want to make sure it isn't too easy or too hard. There is two of us building together. Does this book just teach you how to build/paint and general stuff like that or is it only teaching illusions?
I have never build any illusions, but I have build other nonmagical things.
Message: Posted by: GuySavoie (Sep 29, 2004 08:51PM)

I have a few questions/thoughts for you. You don't need to answer me, but the answers you find for yourself will likely help you on your way.

First, are you just looking to "build stuff"? If so, most of the illusion books don't give enough detail; they aren't "blueprints" or "workshop plans" in most cases. You will need to create your own workshop plans from the ideas in the books.

Second, how much experience do you have in "finishing" projects? Do you have the techniques and practice to get nice paint jobs, or is most of your work "rough wood" when you're done. If you don't have more experience sanding than any other technique, you probably need to think through how you're going to make your props "purty" and not get slivers.

You mentioned "parlour" magic. These size projects can be built much faster than most stage sized illusions/props. The finish might be a tougher part, however.

Here is the history of my building through my first two years in magic. Feel free to contemplate my path as you seek your own:

1) I bought Victory Carton Illusions (a manuscript by UF Grant from the World War II era - it's still available for peanuts.) Buy it. It teaches you to build some EXCELLENT illusions with cardboard, tape. I built EVERY SINGLE ONE of the illusions in this book SEVERAL TIMES. You should too. I *still* use some of these effects in my stage show. Don't let the cardboard part turn you off. Audiences can be *more* mystified when they see the prop is simple cardboard instead of some shiny mystery box made of mysto-moon-board™. And, every single one of those props can be made from wood and finished to become a show highlight.

2) I bought Bodies in Orbit, Six Modern Levitations, and 33 Rope Ties and Chain Releases. Again, inexpensive booklets that should still be available. There are more great ideas in each of these. I built my own asrah, and practiced getting props ready from 33 Rope Ties.

3) I was dirt poor as a young teen. My older cousin, a magician, bought me a little wood, some wood screws, and said "let's see what you can come up with."

He gave me:
• a 6 foot length of 1x10
• two 8 foot 4x4s
• two 8 foot 2x4s
• one pound of 2 1/2" wood screws.

What did I build? I came up with a great pillory escape, built it, and finished it with some leftover black and red paint. I fooled the pants off my cousin. He bought it off me for $50 and put it right into his show.

4) I started buying the Tarbell books, and built every small prop I could find in it. I also drafted and built my own props from looking in Magic Shop catalogs. I built my own match pulls, lamp chimney pull, square circle, phantom tube, mirror box, Thurston Rising Card hookup, black art well tabletop, zombie, glorpy, the list goes on and on.

5) I shopped flea markets and tag sales for creative ideas under a buck. A remote control car with a missing wheel became the remote trigger for a balloon to pop. Clothes, which sell for silly pocket change, became cloths, foulards, and fabrics to line my props. I got a ton of black velvet for my square circle from a huge sized black velvet evening dress I bought for $3.00!

6) On *every* project, my goal was to make it *better* than my last. At times, that meant a better sanding job, a cleaner paint job, better construction, or any other improvement I could imagine. That's how I got better. I set goals to improve technique.

I hope my rambling walk through my history is useful. It surely brought back some great memories for me...

--- Guy
Message: Posted by: magicmanrob (Sep 29, 2004 09:53PM)
I agree with Guy, Yuo sound as though you have great ideas about wanting to buiild but do the homework first. I would reccommend all of the Osborne books as well as Rand Woodbury, and Jim Steinmeyer's works as well. Read all of them as a prebuild and it may save you time and a lot of headaches from starting a progect that you think you know how to build only to find yourselves puzzeled and stalled. I also reccommend when you do start to buikld buy all the best materials you can posssiblly afford. Better quality materials may cost more but they will help you build a better longer lasting prop. I also agree with spending extra time in the finishing steps of your props this means using wood putty on all the imperfections and then each and every step in sanding up in grits. As far as painting a word of advice I was given from an auto body worker, he reccomended me to use Red Devil paints in my sprayer as they are high in luster at an affordable price and to mix in a little hardner wich gives an extremely durable finish. Don't take short cuts in your building is what I would empahsize the most. Quality takes time
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Sep 30, 2004 02:21PM)
It took my about a week to make the cabinet. I will take as long as I need to to work on the project. whenever I build something, the part I take the most time on is the finishing. I want my stuff to look professional and it does.
In the Osborne books, is there any illusions in there that use a backdrop or a stage gimmick(ex. trap door)or anything like that.
Thanks for the info guys. It has all helped me.
Message: Posted by: GuySavoie (Sep 30, 2004 03:22PM)
Ermm, yes? If you explain if you do or do not wish to use those trappings, that would help people to provide faster answers for you.

If I answered, "Yes! If you're looking for effects that use a stage backdrop, and traps, turn to pages..." and you answered "Oh, I asked because I [i]don't[/i] want to use those," well, I dug the book out of my library, did some research for you, and voila!, a waste of my time and effort. I'm feeling less inclined to help next time, and you never got the answer for which you are looking.

So which is it? ;)

Tyler, can you give us a ballpark on your age/skillset? You say you've made a cabinet and it took about a week. That's great! Still, it's not an indicator by which experienced builders can give you realistic advice for your "next steps."

I'd hazard a guess that you are in the 13-15 age range. If I'm way off in either direction, I apologize. The reason I mention it: It would be inappropriate for us to advise you to build props using tools and/or techniques that are either risky or downright dangerous. Although you represent yourself online as a responsible and eager person,in today's legally charged world, it's dangerous to give raw advice out into the void of the Internet.

My hearty recommendation to any beginning prop builder, regardless of age, or past experience with tools: Get the UF Grant Victory Carton Illusions manuscript. Build and perform those effects over and over again. There are important lessons to be learned about prop building, repair, portability, storage, and presentation built into this one manuscript. Just get it. And build every prop. Really. I saw it online for $8.00. How can you [i]not[/i] buy it?

Also buy the Mark Wilson Complete Course in Magic (the full sized book, or heck, even the inexpensive hobbit-sized version.) Find "parlor" props from that book to build. And perform those effects over and over again. I think Hank Lee's has the hardbound edition for $19.95, Amazon has the paperback edition for $13.97, and the smaller "Cyclopedia" for $9.95.

That's an entire lifetime worth of props. If you're looking to start to build a bigger show, start with these.

--- Guy
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Sep 30, 2004 06:13PM)
Sorry I wasn't too specific with what I said. I don't want any illusions that need a special backdrop or any stage riggings. Also about the week to build the cabinet, I meant that it took me that long because of all of the finishing on it to really make it look good and smooth.
You right, I'm almost 15. Unlike most teen in magic, I am serious about performing. I have a lot of help from my dad with all of the tools and stuff like that. Therefore, the skill level is very good.
After I'm done on the Café for tonight, I will look for the couple things that you listed. I am especially interested in the UF Grant Victory Carton Illusions manuscript because of the price. I think I saw that Mark Wilsons 'big' book in the library. I'll will go look for it tomorrow.
Thanks for the advice on the books.
Message: Posted by: GuySavoie (Sep 30, 2004 07:56PM)
Tyler -

Between those two, there's a great wealth of material. When you get them, feel free to ask any questions (by PM or here.) If I can't help, there are countless other helpful souls who have been right where you are right now: setting foot into exciting magic territory!

--- Guy
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Sep 30, 2004 08:10PM)
I have looked but cannot find UF Grant Victory Carton Illusions. I really want it, too. Do you know where I can get this?
Message: Posted by: GuySavoie (Sep 30, 2004 08:37PM)
A quick Google search brought up:


--- Guy
Message: Posted by: ventman (Sep 30, 2004 10:06PM)
Rand Woodbury's Illusionworks videos are excellent for learning to make bases, stairs, metal polishing - I recommend them highly.
Message: Posted by: magicmanrob (Sep 30, 2004 11:12PM)
Tyler pm me and I can provide a couple of photo's to you of some of the possibilities both the Osborne plans and the Rand Woodbury books offer. As for the Grant victory carton don't as mentioned by others underrate its value we opened a major production last year using a couple of techniques mentioned in that publication
Message: Posted by: GuySavoie (Oct 1, 2004 08:33PM)
Does anyone know the original publish date of the Victory Carton Illusions manuscript?

It's becoming increasingly difficult to find, and it might be public domain at this point. If it was published before 1964, and a formal renewal was not submitted to the copyright office during the 28th year, it would be public domain right now, and it would be legally reasonable to copy.

--- Guy
Message: Posted by: Mac_Stone (Dec 12, 2004 03:04PM)
I am having difficulty find Bodies in Orbit and Six Modern Levitations, can anybody help me find them?
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Dec 12, 2004 09:48PM)
Victory Carton and Six Modern Levitations are Grant products. Last I knew, Mak-Magic still sold these books. Most magic dealers can get them for you. They are not top quality publications.

If they did let the copyright expire. Being in public domain only means that another publisher is free to publish them. Not that they would be available free somewhere.
Message: Posted by: rospahr (Dec 12, 2004 10:26PM)
I am not a lawyer. But once a work _is_ in the public domain, anyone can make that work freely available if they so desire.


Public domain
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. (Proprietary interest is typically represented by a copyright or patent.) Such works and inventions are considered part of the public's cultural heritage, and anyone can use and build upon them without restriction (not taking into account laws concerning safety, export, etc.).
Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Dec 15, 2004 11:32AM)
Hiya, Guy:

That was an enjoyable read about your introduction to the joy of building illusions!

Message: Posted by: magictricks1020 (Dec 15, 2004 03:56PM)
Hi guys. I have been searching for about a month now for a good stage trick that I would be able to build for the variety(talent) show at school. I am 14, and this would be my first time performing in front of 200-250 people. I am very excited. And I am looking for a cheap but good trick that would be affordable for me to make. Please help me out. I have only been doing close up magic since I was 5, and now I want to try to move up to the next level.
Thanks a lot,
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Dec 15, 2004 04:28PM)
I found a VHS- Darwin's Inexpensive Illusions. I talked to a magician and he can get it for $10. I saw him perform one of the illusions that is taught in the tape and it is awesome.
Message: Posted by: magictricks1020 (Dec 15, 2004 06:33PM)
What is the cost to make most of the illusions on it? And if you please could, what website would I be able to purchase this VHS for $10! Thanks a lot! If you have any more suggestions that would be great!
Message: Posted by: benscholz99 (Dec 16, 2004 08:50AM)
I have the Osborne #1 Book and it does tell you how to paint, finish, etc.

Message: Posted by: GuySavoie (Dec 16, 2004 09:42PM)
Hi Leland -

It was fun reminiscing.

--- Guy
Message: Posted by: Tyler_Magician (Dec 17, 2004 11:57AM)
On 2004-12-15 19:33, magictricks1020 wrote:
What is the cost to make most of the illusions on it? And if you please could...what website would I be able to purchase this VHS for $10! Thanks a lot! If you have any more suggestions that would be great!
They ran out of the tapes so they have to special order it. It is going to be $19.95. Still a great price. I'll tell you how it is when I get through it.