One of the biggest joys we get at Ellusionist.com is seeing how you use the products we make, from decks of custom playing cards to videos showing what you can do with those cards. Thanksgiving always gives us a chance to settle down and really feel all the feels brought by the gratitude we have for all the customers who have kept us working our tails off over the last 13 years.
We love seeing what you do with our products. So many great performances, so many beautiful videos, so many amazing reactions. But every once in a while, one of you comes up with something completely, astonishingly different.
The latest to bewilder us is Jeremy Griffith, who has his own idea of a stacked deck. An Instagram user, Jeremy has been posting incredible pictures of Republics, Artifice and Rounders defying gravity. At first, the cards and decks in his series appeared to be floating. And just when we thought we had it figured out, Jeremy moved the camera down and showed EXACTLY how he accomplished it.
And bewildered us all over again.
See for yourself: Deck boxes balance on top of coins, single cards, glasses, pens and more. Jeremy said there’s no glue, tape, invisible thread or seams. Everything is done using precision balance (as precise as hands can be, anyway), centers of gravity and plenty of patience for trial and error.
“The rules when this thing got started with me were simple,” he said. “Photoshop was out of the question and nothing could be bonding the cards. Also, I was only allowed to use what was in the picture, which is usually a deck and a flat surface.”
The Lake Forest, Calif., resident has studied magic for 23 of his 30 years. For all of those years, he’s had a small tremor in both hands. Nothing serious, medically — but annoying enough to where the tremors become a hassle. Taking up magic at 7, the tremors complicated things, he discovered. It was hard to get that soft touch with cards, so he stuck with coins for the longest time — the hard metal and constant motion was easier to manage.
But he eventually conquered cards. He learned a sort of dynamic tension similar to guitar players and used that to progress deep into card magic. Though he still has the tremors, it’s hard to spot them unless his hands are completely still, he said. Which makes us look at all those towers in a new light.
Talk about an impossible stack.
“Usually I’m just seeing how far I can go with the center of gravity before it becomes too unstable,” he said. Every level you go up gets harder to balance for obvious reasons, and as such, requires a lot more patience. But when you pull it off, it’s like shooting nothing but net from the half court line.”
The idea came to him when trying show a “static grace” that he couldn’t quite get in his live performances. The series also proves to himself — and many others — that physical limitations don’t always matter. He showed a few of his first pictures to a friend, Allec Blanco, who encouraged him to keep it up, and ramp up the difficulty. So he kept going. He added items and made each picture a little harder to pull off.
“A lot of those pictures required a patience that I normally don’t have. You have to move very carefully or everything topples. And doing it with playing cards, coins and the things I normally use in my performances seems to have a nice symmetry to it.”
After building each stack, Jeremy uses his iPhone 5 to capture it. He uses the phone’s camera, but then uses Instagram’s filter selection for coloring.
He doesn’t capture the failures, obviously. But rest assured, he said — he fails often.
“When the tower falls, I pout like a 4-year-old for half a second, and then I pick up the pieces and start again. Just like every other skill set worth having, this one takes time and a little more patience than I’m used to having.
“But the payoff is worth every minute for the impossible shot.”
Enjoy a few more of his impossible towers below. Then follow him on Instagram.
SUITABLE FOR FRAMING is a special feature on the Ellusionist blog that finds great images of playing cards, including our custom decks, and treats them like the works of art they are. Have you seen someone’s card work that we should feature? Email email@example.com with links to images, not actual images.