This experiment is a favorite with Chinese magicians. EFFECT:
Performer shows a large cloth on both sides and runs it through his hands to show that it contains nothing. He throws it on the floor, as though expecting something to happen. Again he raises the cloth and shows it freely. Once more he spreads it on the floor and a large object is seen to have appeared under it. When cloth is removed, this object is found to be a large bowl of water. Magician pours the water out from the bowl into two other vessels.
1 -- Large bowl, about 15 inches in diameter.
2 -- Special cover for the bowl.
3 -- Special harness to wear on body to support bowl of water.
5 -- Large decorated cloth -- heavy and opaque. SECRET:
To Prepare: The Bowl -
This bowl may be of metal, glass, or china. The glass bowl is usually preferred because goldfish may be placed in the water and seen through the glass by audience. However, because of the care necessary in carrying a glass bowl, a good substitute is the ordinary enameled dishpan which may be brightly lacquered and decorated with Chinese figures.
Glass and china bowls come in various shapes, the most common being those shown in Figures 2 and 3. Ching Ling Foo used the glass bowls and also the large decorated China bowls similar in shape to that in Figure 3.
From an economic standpoint, the prepared dishpan is the least expensive and the best to practice with and use until you have mastered the effect.
Essential in this experiment is to have the bowl of water so covered that the water will not leak out no matter in what position the bowl is placed. There have been many theories and suggestions for properly covering a large bowl. A special rubber cover will serve the purpose for a comparatively small bowl, but for a large one something more substantial is needed.
Foo guarded his covers very carefully. It has been said that he used a special animal skin, perhaps sheepskin drawn tight like a drum. But regardless of this, the Chinese magician finds a cover combining a piece of canvas with rubber sheeting satisfactory.
To make cover, get a square piece of canvas somewhat larger than the bowl. Figure 4 shows relative proportion between cloth and bowl.
Place the canvas over the bowl and tie a piece of half-inch rope around upper edge of bowl. Stretch the canvas fairly tight and draw the rope as tight around the bowl as possible. The rope must be very tight to prevent leakage when water is in the bowl. Tie the rope, allowing about five inches of ends below the knot. Knot may then be sewed with strong linen thread and rope drawn even tighter by means of thread on each side of knot.
Bring up lower edge of canvas over the rope. Cover rope and sew canvas tight over it, trimming off excess cloth. This sewing holds rope in place.
Secure a piece of rubber sheeting from a drug store or hospital supply firm and cut out a piece a little larger than the canvas cover. Sew the rubber sheet securely to the ends of the rope at the place where they meet. This keeps the canvas and rubber fastened together and prevents accidental dropping of one or the other.
Fill bowl or pan with water to within about an inch of the top. You may cut out pieces of carrot shaped like goldfish and drop them into the water. At a distance, these actually look like goldfish.
Place cover on bowl, rubber side down. Push the rope down carefully around top of bowl, thus holding the canvas and rubber sheet in place.
Another cover which Percy Abbott uses is similar to this one described above but he does not sew the rope into the canvas cover. He merely attaches the canvas to the ends of the rope, in the same way that the rubber sheet is attached. Thus in covering his bowl, he places the rubber sheet down first, then the canvas, and brings the rope down over both about an inch or two below top of bowl.
The Harness -
Figure 10 shows general construction of harness. A belt is used to fit around performer's waist. A good harness has four metal rings fastened to the belt. Attached to these rings is a long piece of clothesline with two shorter pieces to reinforce it as shown in diagram.
A bag of black cloth is sewed to the rope, the two inner rings, and the belt. The bag has an elongated opening in it around which the rope acts as stiffening. The darkened part of diagram shows opening of bag which is sewed to rope.
The bowl is placed in bag with bottom of it toward opening of bag. Bowl is thus standing up on one side.
Belt is then fastened around performer's waist with the bag and bowl of water hanging down behind. When harness is adjusted, opening of bag faces front.
This requires a shirt, a pair of trousers, and a long coat. The coat must be full enough to conceal the bowl of water hanging under it without bulging. Bottom of coat should be weighted by sewing a metal chain or a small cloth tube filled with large shot into bottom hem.
Figure 14 shows diagram of arrangement of harness, bag, and bowl under performer's coat.
Figure 15 shows performer in Chinese costume as audience sees him.
This cloth should be about five or six feet square, made of heavy, opaque, decorated material. The material should be such that it can stand wetting without spoiling. It is well to have a colored border around it. The back of cloth may be lined with plain-colored material, which helps to give it weight.
Come forward with all preparations made under your Chinese costume, and production cloth over left arm, as in figure 15. If bag is properly adjusted, you can walk freely. Chinese magicians even sit down on the floor and get up again while carrying bowl without exposing it.
Facing audience, take production cloth between both hands and spread it out. Show both sides.
Fold up cloth, hit it with hands to show that it contains nothing. Replace cloth over left arm and make a complete turn around, ending by facing audience again. Take short, jumpy Chinese steps in making turn.
Now strike costume between your knees, pushing it in and say, "No". Then strike chest with both hands and say, "No". These two gestures show audience that you have nothing concealed in these places.
Open up cloth again as in Figure 16. Spread it out in front of you with the lower edge on the floor.
Then drop cloth to floor. Pick it up and show both sides again. With cloth in front of you, squat down just far enough to touch concealed bowl to floor.
Figure 18 is a side view diagram of the movement.
When bowl touches floor, it is pivoted forward so that it is thrown to floor with top up.
By a slight backward movement, release the bowl from the bag.
Continue to move backward and cover bowl with cloth. Make some expressions which sound Chinese at this point.
This series of movements is done quickly and to audience it appears that you merely squatted down a little and covered a large object which had suddenly appeared on the floor.
Reach down and grasp dangling ends of rope on bowl cover. Free cover from bowl quickly under the production cloth.
With a flourish, raise up cloth with cover under it and expose the large bowl of water.
Pour water from bowl into two buckets or glass dishes to show that bowl really contained water.
Some performers release cover from bowl in act of covering bowl with cloth and immediately raise cloth and cover without completely dropping cloth on floor.
Practice this effect carefully so that you overcome all clumsiness in your movements and can perform it gracefully and quickly. To the audience, who does not know of your movements, the production comes suddenly, in a flash.
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