November 2015

We began by formally voting on the new executive board for 2016: President David Story, Vice President Ed Winkens, Secretary Bill McElhenney, and Treasurer Sue McElvenney. Then the fun began: “Magic I made.”

Reba Strong did a clever variation using the “Grandmother’s Necklace” principal. She took out a small wooden box, and then strung a finger ring onto two shoelaces that she wrapped around the box. Reba really dressed up the effect, making it brand new. She used this effect when she was a bartender.

Sue McElvenney brought out a nice cloth bag, and wove a tale about a caterpillar that turned into a silk scarf. She made all of the props with items available at any craft shop, and the effect is part of her “Alice in Wonderland” themed show. She and husband, Bill, also created the music on a computer to fit each part of her routine.

Dave Kelly showed two homemade effects. He began with two slates that he showed on both sides and magic coloring chalk. The chalk was white, and then he showed how it could write in colors by writing “Red,” “Blue,” and “Green” on a side of each slate. Then he wrote the word “White.” After that, he showed that the chalk writing was now the actual colors written. Then Dave showed a Peter Pan coloring book, and crayons in a box vanished, but the coloring book was still uncolored. Of course, we had to say the magic word. Then the book was really colored in crayon. The book was a regular coloring book, and Dave tipped the method that required a lot of coloring before performance.

President David Story showed a beautiful Chinese box that he had made into a tip-over box. From an empty box, he produced several treasures including gold coins, a large jewel, and a Chinese puppet. The limp puppet stood straight up when Dave placed it onto the box.

Bill Bowersox showed several items that he built himself. He showed a customized suitcase and folding stand. He also built a pull-out drawer into the suitcase. Then he demonstrated several custom-made metal coin droppers. Also, a spooky skeleton hand came out of another briefcase. His finale was a remote-control coin dropper to make a long-distance “Miser’s Dream” possible.

Ed Schmitt had several customized items that he has made. His magic coloring book looks like the one commercially available, but he has customized it with his own caricature in the book. Ed then did his “Five Card Repeat.” On one version, he has a pack of cards with ghosts on the faces, and calls it “Go Away Ghost.” The other version, “Too Much Sugar,” has jumbo candy canes on them. His patter changes according to the season. Finally, Ed produced a series of sight gags from a plastic pumpkin and tube, a la “Square Circle.” First Ed showed the tube and pumpkin empty, and then the fun began. Ed spends a lot of effort to match any holiday theme and also creates a library show for summer events. Ed said it pays with many repeat shows.

Dick Gustafson made a great evening of magic into the best. This talented veteran shared a wealth of ideas and experience in creating illusions. For over sixty years he has built thirty-nine illusions, in addition to ten others that he has customized and performed. Dick built his first illusion in 1954, a “Dollhouse” illusion. He said that the most valuable piece of power equipment he purchased back then was a power saw. To build his illusions, Dick uses birch plywood, in ½” thick sheets. Some years back, Dick wrote a book on building illusions, still available from Abbott’s Magic. It’s not a book of illusion plans, but practical ideas on building and finishing the illusions. Dick explained how he cuts, finishes, and spray paints these magic boxes. Mirrors nowadays can be made from 1/8 inch Plexiglas mirrors, lightweight and mounted on plywood. Dick recommends Osborne Illusion Plans, but also said illusion builders should compare plans before building.

Among the gems that Dick showed were inexpensive buys from dollar stores and Chinese restaurant supply stores. He also uses modern quick-print shops to create large flexible plastic decorations to place onto illusions and props.

A great night that gave all of us many ideas on how to create our own magic props.

Dave Kelly