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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Review: The Feather Deck Goldfinch Edition (Vanishing Inc Magic) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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Reviewer EndersGame
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If there was a scientific name for a deck of playing cards, then Carduelis carduelis would have to make a good candidate. After all, it's got the word "card" in it quite prominently. And the concept of "duel" could certainly fit what you do with playing cards in a card game.

As it turns out, Carduelis carduelis is the actual scientific name for the European goldfinch.

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Did this play a role in the choosing of the name for The Feather Deck: Goldfinch Edition, a relatively new release from Joshua Jay and Vanishing Inc Magic? I don't know, but seeing the name Carduelis carduelis in luxurious gold metallic ink on the tuck box does make for a unique conversation point, and seems most fitting.

This unique and beautiful deck immediately makes a striking impression with its elegant tuck box, with the outstretched wingspan of a goldfinch in flight on one side, and a single feather on the other.

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Two versions of the deck were created. The Gold Edition comes in a purple tuck box that employs gold ink for a truly royal look, while the card backs feature orange.

A unique seal finishes a thoroughly custom look.

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The Teal Edition switches this up for a dark navy tuck box which employs a vibrant teal ink. In both cases the metallic and reflective shine of the ink looks amazing when held up to the light.

So what is the story behind this lovely deck? Design credits for this deck go to illustrator Travis DeMello and magician Joshua Jay. Together with magician Andi Gladwin, Josh runs the successful online retail site Vanishing Inc Magic. In an article about the development of the deck, he explains the vision and concept behind the Feather Deck. He's been somewhat disillusioned with the commercialism of the custom playing card industry, and wanted to produce a deck that didn't merely showcase aesthetic beauty, but combined this with a deeper subtext.

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In the case of The Feather Deck, that subtext relates to a celebration of the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world, by reminding us of the inner-beauty found in the simplest of objects: a bird's feather.

Here's how Joshua Jay puts it: "Feathers are beautiful but they are also tools. Moved in just the right way, at just the right angle, feathers fly. And this is the thrust of the Feather Deck: cards can be beautiful and aesthetically attractive, but at their core they are our tools, to elevate our work to new heights. With the Feather Deck, we have sought a delicate balance between an embrace of the natural world's perfection, but expressed in a way that is undeniably artistic and man-made. We hope that when used in your own work, you'll find this same balance with your magic."

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This deck is intended to function as a celebration of "the splendors of the natural world through the lens of human artistry", while evoking a sense of wonder just like the art of magic itself. Josh's goal was to seek out "a delicate balance between an embrace of the natural world's perfection, but expressed in a way that is undeniably artistic and man-made".

So how did Joshua Jay make this vision of a feather being symbolic of sleight-of-hand a reality? For the visual artistry required to accomplish this, he sought out artist Travis DaMello from Brooklyn Fire Proof Creative. Travis' signature style involves intimate painting work, typically with gouache on cut paper. The Feather Deck presented a new challenge, and while Travis had produced a lot of precise anatomical drawings, this was a somewhat different project, and it was important to keep Josh's vision in mind.

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Travis selected the goldfinch feather to function as the sleight-of-hand emblem that underlies this deck, in light of its ergonomic and symmetrical shape. Perhaps the scientific name Carduelis carduelis was just a coincidence, but if so, then it is a happy one. The back design features two feathers pointing in opposite directions, and despite the photo realistic look, it was actually drawn entirely by hand, right down to each and every bristle.

But the stunning beauty of the feather design on the card backs really comes to life when the cards are held up to the light. Not only has the rectangular border of the cards been touched with gold foil, but the yellow bristles of the feather have also received the luxury of gold foil embossing. The net result produces a visual effect that is just stunning, and has to be seen first-hand to be appreciated. If you think it looks good on pictures, just wait till you see the backs of these cards in your hands!

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As for the card faces, these are mostly quite standard, although there's plenty of customization here too. This deck is intended first of all to function as a classy set of playing cards for magicians or card gamers, so we don't want something too out of the ordinary. As a result all the court cards and number cards have an instantly familiar look. But when we take the time to examine them more closely, we notice some striking differences.

First of all, the court cards employ a more muted colour scheme, with dark navy, maroon, and gold replacing the usual garish blue, red, and yellow. The artwork for the court characters had also been tweaked slightly, and instead of wielding axes and swords, or holding flowers, our regal folk are now holding feathers. It's a small detail that almost goes unnoticed at first, so it creates a welcome sense of customization without drawing attention to itself.

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The number cards also benefit from some customization, and while some are completely standard, about half of the cards have a single pip that has been recoloured to match the card back, i.e. orange or teal. In some cases it's the index pip that has been recoloured, which I personally found a little confusing when holding a hand of cards, because it injects something unexpected which can detract from instantly identifying the suit. But it's only ever a single pip, so this can easily be solved by rotating the card in question 180 degrees. And when using the deck for some card games, my fellow gamer actually enjoyed this aspect of the design, and didn't find it an issue at all.

Customization of the Ace of Spades is more extensive, with the giant pip consisting of a flock of goldfinches taking wing. Matching Jokers feature a mono-coloured silhouette of our goldfinch friends in flight, set against a larger backdrop of crossed feathers. The deck is rounded out by two bonus cards, which are blank-faced.

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Everything about The Feather Deck is exquisite, and that includes the card stock. Previous decks produced by Vanishing Inc Magic have been printed with EPCC (Dapper Deck V1, Dead Man's Deck, World Tour Decks), and the United States Playing Card Company (Dapper Deck V2). While very durable, EPCC's stock feels thicker and snappier, and tends not to spread smoothly for a consistent length of time. USPCC's stock is softer and handles more reliably, but their printing isn't always spot on.

For this project, the team at Vanishing Inc Magic has opted to print The Feather Deck with Cartamundi's Slimline card-stock. This is a perfect choice, first of all because Cartamundi is known for precise registration during their printing process, which is essential for the aesthetic vision to be transferred accurately onto the cards. What's more, their Slimline stock is very thin and super soft. You could describe it as the most "feather-light" of modern card-stocks, making it perfect for this deck given the artistic concept behind it. Whether you're using this for card magic or for playing card games, it feels terrific.

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I now have several of the decks that Vanishing Inc Magic has produced. Along with their Dapper Deck, The Feather Deck: Goldfinch Edition is arguably their best yet. It makes a striking impression from the moment you first set your eyes on the tuck box, and exudes elegance and sophistication. The gold foil accents on the back of the cards adds a real sense of luxury and style, and the lightweight feel and smooth handling of the thin card-stock ensures performance to match the visual beauty.

In short, The Feather Deck achieves exactly what Joshua Jay set out to produce. As he puts it: "What I'm most proud about with the Feather Deck is that we've managed to straddle two concepts at the same time: a gorgeous-looking deck of cards that also has some meaningful heft behind it." Anyone who gets the chance to own one of these beautiful decks will have to agree.

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Where to get it: The Feather Deck: Goldfinch Edition can be obtained directly from Vanishing Inc Magic for $11.95. It comes in gold or teal, and is also available from your favourite Murphy's Magic retailer.

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socalguy
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Wow! The Feather decks look absolutely stunning! I will be heading over to Vanishing Inc and ordering both gold and teal. Thanks for the heads up!
EndersGame
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Reviewer EndersGame
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I agree; I've really been enjoying using these over the last month or so.

I've used them for card games as well as magic. Not everyone is a fan of the unique pips, but personally I find they really help make it feel like an original deck, while still retaining a strong sense of what is traditional.

The gold foil on the card backs helps them look particularly classy, and I really enjoy using and shuffling them.
AnthonyCC
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These look fantastic. Thanks for the review!
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