When I first
started to get really serious about magic, I started spending a lot
of money. Like most new magicians, I bought every trick that sounded
Some of these I still use, but most have either been sold on EBay or
are in one
of several boxes waiting to be listed on EBay. Over time, I have learned
that having the newest tricks is not the secret to becoming a good magician.
Some of the best tricks are in the local library. Checkout the magic
books in both the adult and youth sections of the library. You will
learn many tricks that can be done with things around the house.
Once folks learn you are a magician, you will be asked in many an impromptu
situation to perform a trick or two. Tricks with paperclips, rubberbands,
dollar bills and coins, pencils are all available for free at your library.
Some of these may look simple, but with a little practice, they can
be performance masterpieces.
You may also want to carry something in your pocket for the times you
are asked to do something. The best thing to have in your pocket - a
soft plastic thumbtip. Keep a small silk square or a thumbtip streamer
in it and you will always have something amazing. There must be 100's
of tricks you can do with a thumbtip. Doug Henning used one in his stage
If you are not familiar with the thumbtip or if you only know one or
two tricks with it, get a book on the subject. I saw a restaurant magician
recently, and two of the five tricks he did at my table used a thumbtip.
Same prop, but two tricks that looked very different. You can use a
thumbtip to pull a streamer out of a dollar bill, to vanish a scarf,
to change a one dollar into a five dollar bill, to produce or vanish
salt, to tear and restore a packet of Sweet&Low and the list goes
You notice, the thumbtip is not a trick - it is a prop that can be used
in many tricks. As I've matured in my magic, I've stopped buying tricks
and focus on getting good props and learning new techniques to use them.
What I want to do with this article is share some of the props I feel
you should add to your collection instead of just buying the newest
If I could have only one prop, it would be the thumbtip. Give me a thumbtip,
a pair of scissors and a hank of rope and I could do a show. A pad of
paper and a pencil for some mental tricks would add a few more tricks
for this impromptu show.
Another prop you should consider is the "change-bag." You
don't think these will
fool people? Guess again. Change bags come in many forms. The fancy
bags on handles, switch wallets, and even simple mailing envelopes can
adapted to switch items.
You can use change bags to switch cards, to change several scarves into
one, for color changes, productions, vanishes, and to force selection
chips, coins, billets or other items on a volunteer. Like a thumbtip,
the changebag and similar props can be used in a multitude of tricks.
One of my favorite props is the silk cylinder. It is a clear tube and
a cover used to transform silk scarves into oranges, sodapop cans, or
even livestock. It is a fooler. Although it basically only does one
thing, you can adapt it to many themes.
A silk dye tube is another useful prop. There are a few different effects
you can do with one.
Along with the basic props, I would also recommend doing the classics
of magic. I have two routines I do using the Chinese linking rings,
plus linking rings with ropes. I do the cups and balls, the chop cup
and I am now learning billiard ball manipulation and thimbles manipulation.
The interesting thing with all of these "classics," and the
reason I believe they have endured all these years, is that there is
a multitude of stories and patterlines you can use with them. They can
be adapted to any audience.
I know a lot of rope tricks. I do rope magic in almost every show I
do. Everyone knows what rope is, it doesn't look magical, yet it becomes
magical in the magician's hands and it is a real crowd pleaser. The
first trick I learned with rope was the "Professor's Nightmare."
Three ropes of different lengths all become the same size. It is probably
one of the first tricks most magicians learn and is really pretty simple
to learn. I saw 3 magic shows in Florida last
winter, two out three shows had the professor's nightmare performed.
The restaurant magician I mentioned above also did it at my table. Audiences
love it. As well known as it is among magicians, it is still a fooler.
A good magician is not a guy or gal that can demonstrate the newest
tricks. It is a person who can entertain under any circumstance with
little warning. Have a bag with the basics and master them and you will
always be ready to perform.
That is when you can truly call yourself a magician. A real magician
"I'm not ready to perform."
I was asked last summer at a camp to do an extra show. I did not have
props or tricks with me. I needed twenty minutes worth, so I went on
hunt. I got some drywall tape from the camp maintenance man and made
I put together
5 minutes of rope magic, and also borrowed a newspaper for a tear and
restore paper trick. The old thumbtip and boom, I had a show.
I hope this article has given you some new ideas and motivation. Feel
write me with questions and comments.
Regling is a professional magician, author and lecturer. He performs
educational programs at over 250 elementary and junior high schools
every year. Additionally, he performs gospel magic programs at church
camps, Vacation Bible Schools and other church events. Dennis has authored
over 12 books for magicians. Dennis currently resides in Freeport, Ohio
and performs throughout the east and midwest.