Magical Engineering
June 16, 2010 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Resources for the magic trick inventor/builder?

Number Two Son is very interested in magic and also crafts/inventions. He often recreates or alters little magical devices he sees or buys at the store.

We also read a book recently that had a character whose profession was builder-of-magical-props.

Googling around for phrases like this finds a lot of spurious hits. Is there a professional term for it? And whether or not there is, what resources exist for learning more? (If these are hard to find on purpose, you can memail instead of posting it here.)
posted by DU to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Disclaimer: my brother built the database for this site, as I understand it. I've never used the site myself.
posted by dfriedman at 7:57 AM on June 16, 2010

My hubby magician posts at the Magic Cafe. You might want to try there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:08 AM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: Plans for building magic props & illusions can be found at magic stores. Let me amend that, I know Magic Inc. in Chicago sold them and I assume that they are not unique. The majority of them were stage illusion plans (substitution trunks and the like), but it still might be of great interest. (or by building scale models of them, I remember a story Ricky Jay told on the radio about a friend of his who passed his time in prison making scale models of stage illusions)

I'd call a shop and ask about illusion building plans and/or magic prop plans.

Here's a couple that I found quickly by googling Illusion building.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 8:37 AM on June 16, 2010

Get him a subsription to Genii magazine. It's a industry insider magazine that's been around since at least the thirties. There are lots of articles about technique and biz news. The classifieds section is full of ads for other books, magazines, pamphlets, and bespoke construction of magic related stuff.

When I was a magic obsessed kid it was always a banner day when the next issue arrived.
posted by Babblesort at 8:40 AM on June 16, 2010

Response by poster: Good answers and resources all and Professional Illusion Building for the Home Craftsman seems to be both great itself by consensus but also a good search string to find people talking about the topic.
posted by DU at 8:54 AM on June 16, 2010

Best answer: Get him a subsription to Genii magazine.

+1 to that. There is a monthly column about illusion building. The plans aren't blueprint-grade but they are detailed enough and explained, so building the illusions shouldn't be a huge challenge.

If you're looking for books, I believe the standards are Paul Osborne's Illusion Systems books (4 volumes, out of print). You can still find them here and there, try or amazon or ebay. They should be about $40 per.

There's also the IllusionWorks books by Rand Woodbury, I don't know much about those. Probably out of print as well, and available at about $40-$50 per as well.

Andrew Mayne put out some illusion books (Illusion Book, IllusionTech, The Secret Illusion Show, Voodoo Box), all of which should be good. That last one is just one illusion though. IllusionTech lays out principles of illusions (along with examples, I believe) which could help in designing your own.

Any or all of these should cover your needs quite well. You will also find a number of classics in there, if you have knowledge of common illusions from the past (sawing lady in half, zigzag box, etc.)
posted by splice at 11:53 AM on June 16, 2010

By the by, the link to the "Professional Illusion Building for the Home Craftsman" is for a store, and they seem to stock a good number of illusion books. Note that their "Begin to Build your Own Illusions" is actually "Illusion Systems" that I mentionned. They are on the site for $37.50, although it is possible that they're not actually in stock (being out of print). I wouldn't buy the ebay copy since it seems expensive.

"The Classic Illusions" from the same site (and from Paul Osborne as well, a good sign) seems like a great series.
posted by splice at 11:59 AM on June 16, 2010

!@#$$%!@#$%?. Fuck me gently.

That store? It's actually Paul Osborne's store. So yeah, that would be a good place to get his books and other good illusion books :). If he lists his books, then he should have them in stock.
posted by splice at 12:00 PM on June 16, 2010

I wonder if he might be into making puzzles that he could incorporate into magic tricks. Creative Puzzles of the World is terrific as is anything by Jerry Slocum.
posted by mearls at 6:46 PM on June 16, 2010

Response by poster: Oh yeah, I've read that Creative Puzzles book and it is *fantastic*. I should get that out of the library again but for him this time.
posted by DU at 8:17 AM on June 23, 2010

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