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EsnRedshirt
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That's why my wife and I keep one joint account for ourselves/the family, and two separate individual accounts for our "toys".
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* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
Leland Stone
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I don't know what the economy is like in other parts of the country, but here in my little corner of Southern California, this "proper mechanic" wouldn't turn down $15 an hour.
Ekuth
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Ditto, Leland.

Also, my 2c on the "Home Depot" look- short and sweet:

Who are you building the prop for? The audience is NOT going to care if that drawer pull came from HD for $2.99 or if you spent 6 hours cold forging a wrought iron celtic knot. IT'S A KNOB to them, nothing more.

While yes, the quality of materials directly relates to the look of the finished project; I find that the quality of workmanship is FAR more important than throwing money away on fancy-schmancy knobs, doo-dads and other eye candy that really YOU are the only one who is going to notice and enjoy.

I've seen my grandfather take scrap lumber and turn it into something right out of Better Homes and Gardens... lasted longer, too.

But to directly answer the question of the OP:

Illusions are so expensive because you're paying for the SECRET, not the PROP.

I love magic. The only manufacturing business where you're expected to buy the product BEFORE you know how it works and once you do, you can't return it.

Seriously... how much crap do you have in your magic junk drawer that you bought on looks or hyperbole alone and haven't performed ONCE? Knowing how it works now, would you have bought it in the first place?

My 2c, YMMV.
"All you need is in Fitzkee."
makeupguy
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Ekuth:

I never said expensive when I was referring to knobs. However.. Props are special. Unless you're building a box that's supposed to LOOK like it comes from home depot, I think it's important for the audience to see that your hinges and knobs and trim are not "stock." Magic props are special.. and often take hardware that isn't available at a home store.. and sometimes takes hardware that needs to be custom machined.

More importantly, is the quality of the product in both workmanship and the look. For example, polished trim is not available, and the aluminum trim there just looks cheap.
Wizard of Oz
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All I know is that the 2 props I have from makeupguy (Herb Chest and Necromancer's Grymoire) and his company wack-o magic, are two of the best props I own in both quality of construction, design, and effect.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
thegreatnippulini
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How was the price points?
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gimpy2
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Most carpenters don't make very good magic builders. In this area good finish carpenters don't work by the hour but by the job. This tends to make them think of everything in terms of speed of production. You just cant get them to think of magic props as anything but a toy. I think if I wanted help I would train someone from scratch. Its pretty hard to teach an old dog new tricks but even harder to teach a carpenter to build them.
magicbymccauley
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I have two builders I work with now, one carpenter, and one welder, and they both enjoy working on magic projects because it's different and fun to them. They are both willing to work for $15/hour which is great. To them it's sort of a hobby thing too. They can tell their clients "I do everything, hey, I just built an illusion". And the problem solving angle is fun to them.

However, I am getting up in price simply because I'm new at it and things take reworking. My stocks escape has an original method, but it's not practical enough. So I'm changing the method to something different that I found in another book. My sword box escape had to be built custom to my measurements, and we left some excess length on the box which wasn't necessary. It took two solid 10 hour days to build. That's a lot of work for anyone. Even at $15/hour, that's $150 for my carpenter, plus me working two solid days on it (didn't have any gigs, so whatever, but still). The materials cost $250. I had the swords and spikes laying around, but if I had to pay for those, it'd be more like $450.

After I built it, I realized that many parts I need to wood glue together for a better bond. I also am taking out all the nails and putting in screws (they just hold so much better). Some parts fell off en route to the photo shoot, and it really needs to be durable in order to work well. So that's another day of work, just fixing all the stuff I didn't do so well.

To be honest, if anyone wanted one, I'd charge them $2000 to make it. It costs a heck of a lot to make and to do the work for.

However, I would still contend that there are other illusions that I would be willing to make for a much lower price point. This isn't one of them, but things like the stock escape and andrew maynes razorwire come to mind.
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magicbymccauley
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>But to directly answer the question of the OP:
>Illusions are so expensive because you're paying for the SECRET, not the PROP.
>I love magic. The only manufacturing business where you're expected to buy the product BEFORE you know how it works and once you do, you can't return >it.

Isn't it interesting that even though we are magicians, we are so easily conned? I've been pretty good about this. I don't buy things which I don't know the method to. Maybe a few packet tricks but that's it.

If you buy a $2000 illusion and you don't know how it works, that's just professionally and financially irresponsible. The more you invest, the more you need to know how it works before you buy it. You need to know MORE than that. You need to know how it breaks down, how much space it takes, if it needs an assistant, certain lighting and so forth and so on.
"Tricks are about objects, Magic is about life."
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EsnRedshirt
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Quote:
On 2012-10-26 09:16, magicbymccauley wrote:
I have two builders I work with now, one carpenter, and one welder, and they both enjoy working on magic projects because it's different and fun to them. They are both willing to work for $15/hour which is great. To them it's sort of a hobby thing too. They can tell their clients "I do everything, hey, I just built an illusion". And the problem solving angle is fun to them.

However, I am getting up in price simply because I'm new at it and things take reworking. My stocks escape has an original method, but it's not practical enough. So I'm changing the method to something different that I found in another book. My sword box escape had to be built custom to my measurements, and we left some excess length on the box which wasn't necessary. It took two solid 10 hour days to build. That's a lot of work for anyone. Even at $15/hour, that's $150 for my carpenter, plus me working two solid days on it (didn't have any gigs, so whatever, but still). The materials cost $250. I had the swords and spikes laying around, but if I had to pay for those, it'd be more like $450.

After I built it, I realized that many parts I need to wood glue together for a better bond. I also am taking out all the nails and putting in screws (they just hold so much better). Some parts fell off en route to the photo shoot, and it really needs to be durable in order to work well. So that's another day of work, just fixing all the stuff I didn't do so well.

To be honest, if anyone wanted one, I'd charge them $2000 to make it. It costs a heck of a lot to make and to do the work for.

However, I would still contend that there are other illusions that I would be willing to make for a much lower price point. This isn't one of them, but things like the stock escape and andrew maynes razorwire come to mind.

Well, you just realized another reason why illusions are expensive- you're paying for the experience/expertise of the builder.

On a side note, I'd be horrified at the thought of using a prop that had parts fall off. Especially a sword escape.
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
Mike Maturen
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It's all about supply and demand. There are only so many working professional magicians in the world, and even fewer illusionists. As someone already mentioned, selling a fairly small number of any given illusion is considered successful in this business...therefore, you gotta make your money on the ones you sell.

If you've ever seen a cheap crappy chinese knock-off next to a quality prop...you'll know why you want to pay the extra bucks.
Mike Maturen
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kellaroneil
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It's all about quality, quality, quality. If you have your house built properly you work with a contractor that has an excellent reputation...buy illusions, work with an illusion fabricator. Support those who are truly craftsmen in our field, you will not lose that way.
Thatoldblackmagic
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Another thing (being an illusion builder) Some illusions ,well most illusions are large , A buzz saw for instance takes up a lot of room in the work shop , when I could really store half a dozen crated sub trunks which would be more sellable. This again is in the price ,I have to drive to get all my materials , then cut and assemble them in my shop and house it until it is picked up. Everything is included in the price from fees of the workshop too the gas for the car.
Scotland's first winner of the Edinburgh International Magic Festival's first place award. ~ Allen Tipton's magic Student. ~ Magic Historian and Collector ~ Built magic for Scotland's top Pantomimes ,Cats ,The Wizard of Oz and a few other shows. ~ As seen on TV theatre and film Smile Aged 17
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