Excerpted from The Book of Wizard Magic: In Which the Apprentice Finds Marvelous Magic Tricks, Mystifying Illusions and Astonishing Tales by Janice Eaton Kilby and Terry Taylor (Lark Books, 2003). Illustrated by Lindy Burnett.
The American magician Howard Thurston was famed for making playing cards float above a deck on command. I also remember him fondly for his kindness to young people who wanted to become magicians. So in Howard's honour, here's how to confound your audience with your magical powers of persuasion by making a playing card rise.
WHAT YOU NEED
• tall drinking glass with tapered sides*
• acrylic paints in four different colors
• small brush
• playing cards
• Click here to see all figures
*Only a drinking glass with tapered sides will do. Accept no substitutes! If you don't have one handy in your cupboard, then go to a second-hand store and buy one that has the correct shape.
1. Wash and dry the glass. Paint 1/2-inch-wide (1.3 cm) stripes of the same color on the outside of the glass, on opposite sides (Click here to see figure 1). Paint two stripes of each coloor and let dry. You'll have eight stripes in all. Don't use the painted glass to drink from; reserve it just for this trick.
2. Before your performance, rub the bar of soap on the inside of the glass along two opposing stripes of the same colour. Make the soap stripes as wide as the painted stripes (Click here to see figure 2). Remember which stripes you've marked with the soap, or your powers of persuasion won't work!
The Illusion: Making the cards rise
1. Show the empty glass to the audience and select someone to inspect the deck of cards. When she's satisfied that the deck isn't rigged, you can proceed. Ask someone else to shuffle the cards several times. Then ask a third person to select any card from the deck and to hand the card to you (Click here to see figure 3).
2. This is where you need to remember which stripes you marked with soap! Push the card down into the glass, aligning it with any unsoaped pair of stripes. Ask someone to command the card to rise. lt won't budge, of course. Remove the card from the glass and insert it into the deck.
3. Ask someone else to pick a card, and repeat step 2.
4. Ask one last person to select a card from the deck, but this time have them hand it to you. Slip the card into the glass along the soaped stripes. Utter a magical command, "Sapindas floten!" [suh-PIN-duss FLOW-tun], and wave your free hand over the glass. The card will slowly rise (Click here to see figure 4).
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