Archive for August, 2012

Suitable for Framing: Fonts take spotlight in artistic playing cards

Friday, August 31st, 2012

It’s no secret we love cards. We put a lot of work into each one of our custom decks, making sure each detail is perfect (even on spot cards — you won’t believe the sleepless nights Mike Clarke has spent working on the pips for the Sultan Republic deck).

Magicians have a special place in their hearts for playing cards. But we aren’t the only ones. Many other artists use cards to feature their own designs, loves, tributes and purposes. We’re always finding unique, creative decks that turn traditional pips and suits on their toes, and wouldn’t look out of place on the wall of a gallery.

With that in mind, we’re starting a new feature on the Ellusionist blog: Suitable for Framing. While we can’t vouch for the functionality or affordability of these decks, we love the design and creativity behind them and think you’ll appreciate them. They might even inspire your magic.

And what better way to start this feature with one of the most compelling yet underrated forms of art today? These three decks feature typefaces as part of their artistic themes.


You said it: Despite Coby’s crushing, magicians value criticism from laymen

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Usually, close-up magic is our thing. We have a lot of respect for stage performers, but we’d rather spend a day in the close-up room at the Magic Castle. And because NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” has a terrible reputation for respecting the art we love, we don’t watch it. Sure, we thrill when magicians do great, but the show inevitably sets them up for failure.

But when we caught word of what the show’s judges did to Rudy Coby, we were kind of shocked. We weren’t alone.

You probably heard about how Sharon Osbourne said Coby looked like a Nazi. But what got our attention was how Osbourne and Howard Stern dogged Coby’s timing. Specifically, they said he had none. They were also bummed that there weren’t other tricks going on while Puppet Boy was coming to life.

Timing? Coby doesn’t know TIMING? We call shenanigans. Especially since the show forces magicians to adjust their acts to a 90-second limit.

Anyone who has seen Rudy Coby perform knows that his show is an incredibly engaging act built around the character he has created. The Puppet Boy bit that he did is the very definition of something we are always encouraging our members to do: He put the work into character and made the effect mean something. Coby’s take on that plot is fresh, engaging and awesome to watch, because he puts the work into character. Oh, and he has one of the best senses of timing in magic.

We originally thought Osbourne and Stern were full of… well, they didn’t have a lot of constructive criticism.

But that got us thinking about the value of criticism from people who know nothing about magic. So we asked you on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

You thought that feedback from laypeople was invaluable.

We agree. We got some incredible answers from you on Facebook and Twitter. Here’s some of the responses we got:

FIGHT NIGHT: Fight card filled with limited releases, variety of options

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

One of the things we heard during our recent Black Friday promotion, where buying a certain amount of things snagged you two of our rare, collectible decks, was that you wished we had more available to choose from. We listened, and we answered back with FIGHT NIGHT.

FIGHT NIGHT is filled with limited releases.

We still have solid, well-reviewed workers such as Pure Smoke and the Shift Self Bending Key that help you claim your Gold Arcane and Red Artifice decks. But this is no average promotion. We know that in working up to the price levels to earn decks, we wanted to give you some fresh choices; some bold, hard-to-get products that will enhance your working set.

The numbers of these products are extremely limited, with no guarantee of re-release. Some of these might be back in the future, others might get changed with new editions. The time to jump in the ring is NOW, because chances are you won’t see these specific items ever again.

Check out the fight card:

Molten by Morgan Strebler. What, you thought Strebler bent just forks? Molten lets PK artists take their game to the next level by melting a glass bottle in their own hands. Previously available for $60, we’ve knocked the price in half and, in addition to a beer bottle, added a root beer bottle option, perfect for family friendly situations such as schools and churches. The order includes just the bottle and a link to an instructional video online. Shot from the set of Liquid Metal 2, Strebler teaches a new subtlety developed by Brad Christian that gives performers another option.

One by Matthew Underhill. The Anniversary Waltz plot is classic, but Underhill improved it with an effect that lets the performer move an actual printed heart on a card. All the magic happens on the face of the card. Underhill’s handling has earned some rave reviews and is a regular worker in the sets of a bunch of Ellusionist performers, including forum director Adam Wilber.

Colossal Close-up Mat. These rubber-backed, handmade close-up mats are about twice the size of larger close-up mats on the market. Featuring a flocked-grey surface, the mat is emblazoned with the new logo of the Ellusionist Playing Card Company. This mat is seriously oversized: It offers enough space for beautiful spreads and displays. It’s perfect for your practice space and will give you plenty of work and inspiration.

These three things are in addition to our warehouse full of magic. This is a great time to stock up on decks for future gigs, or take a chance on something you’ve always wanted to try.

All the details of the promotion can be found here. The fight is over at midnight Saturday.

Artist Interviews: Shawn Farquhar talks about creativity, ‘Fool Us’ appearance

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Shawn Farquhar almost didn’t go on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.” He wasn’t into the idea of fooling people with magic. Not his thing, he said.

Obviously, something changed his mind.

Farquhar appeared on that show and performed a trick that earned him one of the show’s greatest foolings — despite the fact that P&T caught one of his moves. He’s also a winner of numerous magic competitions, including Stage Magician and Sleight of Hand Magician of the Year from the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Olympics of Magic in Beijing and many more.

Last week, Shawn was on a boat. A big boat. With mouse ears. He was a featured performer aboard a Disney cruise. But between his shows, he took the time to record some answers to questions asked by forum director Adam Wilber. Enjoy the scenery as he answers questions about creativity, how he keeps his chops fresh and exactly what made him decide to go on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.”

Sleight of hand as superpower: Magician’s comic recasts magic

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

A few days ago on our Facebook and Twitter pages, we introduced you to Jon Armstrong and his incredible tiny plunger. Some of you might have noticed that the performance was given at the most recent San Diego Comic Con.

Armstrong wasn’t there as hired entertainment. He was there promoting a comic book he helped create. Armstrong and co-creator Mike Costa are the writers behind “Smoke and Mirrors,” a five-issue series that tells the story of Terry Ward, a stage magician who is transported to a world where magic is real.

Here’s the twist: Sleight of hand is his ‘superpower.’