Archive for February, 2013

FOUR POINTS: Ways to sharpen your magic skills without a single prop

Monday, February 25th, 2013

It happens to the best of us. We’re supposed to be prepared, to have our four necessary props and anything else we make part of our daily pack. But sometimes we find ourselves without any of those things, meaning we have no way to perform, practice or otherwise make magic.

Forget performing, we just want to practice.

Maybe you’re stuck in a long line for a movie or a nightclub. Maybe you’re out with your special someone, who is trying on outfit after outfit with no sign of making a decision any time soon. Maybe you’re waiting for an appointment, or just at a boring break in your day between classes.

It could be anything. Whatever it is, it’s made worse by how you have no cards and you feel each second wasting away like sand through your fingers.

Waste no more time. Here’s four things you can do without a single card, coin, rubber band, pen, thumb tip or other prop. In fact, each of these four things are so important that we’d recommend finding time to do them anyway — even when you have all your stuff handy.

EXERCISE YOUR HANDS: Truth be told, it’s easy to design routines, sets and careers using nothing but self-working tricks that don’t require a smidge of sleight of hand. If that’s you, then we salute you. But most of our customers have a basic working command of sleight of hand, and a good majority of them have the dexterity to pull off some of the art’s more difficult moves.

That means it helps to keep fingers strong. High-priced, fancy finger strengtheners aren’t necessary for you to increase finger strength, however. There are plenty of finger exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere. Daniel Madison covered several of them in Revelations No. 6. Briefly: Spread your fingers out as far as you can, until you feel a burn in the webbing between them. Then clench your hands into tight fists. Daniel explains in much more depth here.


SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Our cards look good in your pics

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

We are proud of the gear we make, mainly because our customers are so proud of it. Our playing cards, coins and other gear become objects of pride, inspirational items. And they respond by showing us some phenomenal pictures — so many that we wanted to share them with you.

With that in mind, we’re changing the focus of SUITABLE FOR FRAMING. Instead of featuring unique decks of cards, we’d rather feature your work. It’s only natural that we treat your art like a work of art.

1. Derek Hutchens via Facebook


FOUR POINTS: Essential magic gear as important as wallet, keys, watch

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

You’re a magician now, and magicians never stop being magicians. You may call yourself an illusionist, prestidigitator, close-up artist or urban shaman, but none of those titles matter. The bottom line is that you bend reality at your will, and you have a reputation for that. So be ready. Be prepared.

Granted, carrying your props around during dates, nights out or other social events may be difficult. It’s tough to manage a Howard Wolowitz-sized collection of sponge balls and magic bouquets in a pair of cargo pants. But there are four things you can have on you at all times in a variety of situations — school, church, work, whatever — and you’ll be ready to blow a few minds whenever you want.


PLAYING CARDS: Let’s be honest: You’re probably packing playing cards wherever you go anyway. Magicians have a special relationship with playing cards for good reason: There’s so much spur-of-the-moment magic that can be done with them. Think of all the impromptu tricks out there — even a simple ambitious card routine packs a powerful punch. There are many others that can be done with just a simple setup. Or, instead of making miracles, you can keep their eyes occupied with some flourishes.

CASH: There are many non-magical reasons to have money on us. But money can also be kept in checkbooks or on a credit card — we’re talking about cold, hard cash. Bills and coins can be used for a variety of effects. A coins across routine doesn’t need to be done with a Walking Liberty — regular quarters work just as magically, and even more so if they are borrowed. Get used to keeping some change on you: four quarters or half dollars is plenty. And Artifact coins always snare attention.

RUBBER BANDS: While some magicians go through the trouble of wearing a few Loops around their wrist, regular rubber bands can be almost as functional. There are a myriad of good linking and unlinking routines, such as Michael Ammar’s Crazy Man’s Handcuffs, that can be done at the drop of a dime. Other effects, such as U-Turn by Marcus Eddie, can use a borrowed ring. Or combine those with cards or cash for extra impact: Wrap a band around your deck for a phase in your ambitious card routine after you’ve done your work, for instance.

SHARPIE: This may not seem intuitive, at first. But having a writing implement with permanent ink is pretty handy to have. Pens can’t write on coins, and might not work on cards. Pencils are a no-go, no how. And other types of markers might have ink that beads and collects on the writing surface, instead of seeping in. Sharpies are different: They write on almost anything, and a signature adds a powerful punch to performances. And this particular Sharpie will set you up for even more badness.

If you’re not already packing all four of these things, consider adding at least one. It will encourage you get out of your comfort zone and learn a variety of magic, which will make you a more well-rounded performer.

YOUR TURN: Think that we nailed this list? Is there something that should bump one of these other items? Let us know in the comments.

FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to

Taking nothing for granted: Adam Wilber never misses a magic moment

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Everyone on staff at Ellusionist loves performing for people.

Adam Wilber is on a higher level.

During our recent summit meeting, Adam didn’t hesitate to perform for anyone we encountered. A hotel clerk. Two package store employees. Diners at a trendy San Francisco restaurant. And he left them all speechless and applauding. He cemented his reputation of being a bold, fearless performer ready to deal with unknown people and turn them into fans.

But Adam doesn’t think of himself as a guy with something to prove, or somebody with more of a burn to perform than anybody else. He just loves performing magic, and it’s part of who he is.

“I don’t see myself at a ‘higher level’ by any means. I have always had an outgoing attitude and was never a shy person. I love people and I love social interactions. I don’t think people should force themselves to perform as much as I do unless that’s the goal they set for themselves. It goes without saying the more you perform for strangers, the more comfortable you become at it and in turn the better performer you become.”

One night, the crew dined at The Slanted Door, an upscale Vietnamese restaurant that serves family-style entrees. The restaurant was filled with San Fran’s finest, from tourists to regulars, and the meal included incredible rib-eye steak, lamb and fish entrees.

The restaurant was packed. Every table was filled, including the one seating Brad Christian, Daniel Madison, Peter McKinnon and other staff members. As magicians usually do, we all had cards out. We showed each other routines, sleights and other secrets. At one point, Adam did an outstanding linking card routine for a guest of Brad’s at the table.

After that performance, he heard something a few tables over: He caught an “all-around good vibe” from a table with about 15 people, mostly women and a few men at the end.

Of course he performed for them.

“I look for any and every opportunity I can to share my magic with people. It still amazes me the feeling you get when you give a complete stranger a memory they will keep for a lifetime. Not many people or artists can say they have that ability, but as magicians it’s something I think a lot of us take for granted.”

Approaching the men first, he did a short set and left them applauding. He came back to another round of applause from all of us. Then someone from the table came over and offered to buy him a drink. Apparently, Adam had refused a tip from them, but they insisted on rewarding him for his work.

Adam is a worker, in addition to his role as Ellusionist’s project manager. With more than 24 years of experience, he has performed for clients in New Orleans, Vermont and around the country. The creator of Earbuds works children’s shows, private parties and corporate engagements, and has built an impressive resume of testimonials. All that experience has honed his senses and gut instinct of who is ready to be blown away. But he doesn’t go looking for suckers, for people to fool.

“I believe the most important thing to remember is you shouldn’t be walking up to a group with the sole intention of fooling them, impressing them or getting something from them. That is more of your ego performing, instead of your personality. When performing magic for a stranger you have to keep in mind you are giving this person a very special gift, a genuine piece of yourself. If you approach people with the mindset of being casual and having fun, it makes it very hard for them to not be receptive to your magic.”

The way he was in San Francisco is the way he always is. He has no problem taking time out of his day to perform and share his art. The secret, he said, is to remember that it’s not about him. It’s about how he affects his spectators.

“The magic MUST be all about my audience and providing them with a entertaining interaction that allows them to think like a child again and forget about the worries of world around them, even if only for a moment. It sounds corny, I know. But once you learn to approach people with this mindset your performances will go from mediocre to inspiring and meaningful. You will also see the reaction of your audience change and become more sincere.”

Brad Christian: Damien Savina drew cheers from diners with Invisible

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Brad Christian, founder and president of Ellusionist, was dining with Damien Savina a few months ago in Paris; in a classic restaurant known for rich, gourmet entrees, excellent staff members and discerning customers. As they talked, Savina performed Invisible right at the table.

“As I watched, captivated, I noticed that something in the room was changing,” Brad said. “I slowly became aware that a lot of the buzz and chatter that had filled the room was gone. Dead silence was beginning to settle in.”

Brad looked at some of the people seated at tables nearby. All of them were watching. Rapt. Brad spotted another table across the restaurant — eight of the upper-crust in a room filled with well-to-do clientele. After Brad pointed them out, Damien walked over to them and performed Invisible, just inches away from them. After he was done… silence.

Then applause. From the entire room.

“Time and again I’ve watched Damien perform this effect and stop people IN THEIR TRACKS without saying a word,” Brad said. “You could stand there and bang on a big drum and not get half the attention you would by floating a little ring in the palm of your own hand. When you push the ring a few inches across a horizontal plane, there are audible gasps, point blank.”

Invisible is revolutionary. Invisible is trail-blazing. Invisible is IMPOSSIBLE… until your spectators see it done. Damien Savina has come up with a groundbreaking, easy to manage system that will change the way you look at PK effects.

“The specator can grasp the ring in MID AIR and take it to look at it,” Brad said. “I can’t recommend Invisible enough.”

Invisible is available for pre-order from Ellusionist. More information, and a trailer that shows every unbelieveable second, is right here.