Production Of Stack Of Four Bowls Of Water

This is very effective and puzzling. The bowls of water are produced in a stack and it seems hardly possible to handle them without spilling the contents.


Performer's assistant stands holding a cloth. Performer takes it from him, and after showing it freely, places it on the floor. Suddenly cloth is raised and a stack of four glass bowls filled with water and containing goldfish appears in view.


1 -- Four glass goldfish bowls as shown in Figure 24. The bowls vary in size so that they can be stacked with the largest one on the bottom and the smallest on top. The diameters of the bowls are given on the bowls and the heights are given beside the bowls in the diagram.

2 -- A metal base on which lowest bowl of stack rests. This can be made by cutting off the top of a metal cuspidor. Base should be shaped as shown in Figure 25.

3 -- A special cloth case to hold stack of bowls and enable performer to carry them in position and handle them easily.

4 -- A large opaque cloth, five or six feet square.

To Prepare:

The Bowls -

Fill the bowls about three-fourths full of water and place real or imitation goldfish into each one. Stack these bowls on the metal base.

Figure 26.

Prepare any other type of bowl which you may use the same way. Figure 27 shows bowls of a different shape and height, requiring only three for the stack. Use whatever type of bowl you can secure.

Sometimes to keep the bowls from slipping, I glue four small squares of heavy cardboard to the bottom of all except the lowest one. This helps to fit each bowl snugly into the mouth of the bowl under it.

Figure 28 shows a diagram of the pieces of cardboard on bottom of bowl.

The Special Holder or Case -

Cut out a piece of heavy cardboard or bookbinder's board, about four inches square. Cut away the corners and cover it with black cloth. To the center of this, sew a small metal ring, A, about an inch in diameter. Ring A must be sewed securely all the way through the cardboard so that it will not pull out in lifting a rather heavy load. If necessary, use several thicknesses of cardboard glued together.

Figure 29.

Take a two-inch metal ring, B, and sew to it four folded strips of black cloth. Strips should be about two inches wide and folded in half. They should be long enough so that when they are attached to each corner of cardboard base, ring B can be raised two or three inches above base. Sew strips to each corner of cardboard base.

Figure 30.

You next require two pieces of black cloth, each a little longer than the height of the stack of bowls and a little wider than half of the circumference of the bottom bowl.

Secure some brass eyelets from a hardware store. These should be large enough to allow a fair-sized nail or piece of wire to go through. Sew four eyelets, two on each side of the bottom of one piece of cloth. Sew two eyelets, one on each side of the bottom of the other piece of cloth. When the two pieces of cloth are placed together, these single eyelets should be in such position as to come between the two eyelets. Take a few tucks in each piece of cloth to cup the bottom a little.

Figures 31 and 32.

Prepare another four-inch piece of heavy cardboard covered with black cloth as in Figure 29. Sew the tops of the two pieces of black cloth around this so that open edges overlap a little. Gather or fold cloth in to make it fit around covered cardboard. You now have a bag slit down at opposite sides.

Now sew cardboard top of this bag to cardboard base you have already prepared. See Figure 30. To opposite sides of ring B in line with the openings in bag, tie two pieces of fish cord about the length from cardboard base to eyelets at bottom of bag. Take two pieces of heavy wire long enough to go through the three eyelets and bend one end of each to form an eyelet through which fish cord can be tied. Nails may be used instead of wire in emergency. Figure 33 is a diagram of the holder as you now have it prepared.

Figure 34

Place the case over the stack of bowls on metal base so that bottom of case comes to narrow part of base. Allow ring B to drop down so that you can insert wire through the three eyelets at each side of case. Bottom of case should fit snugly around narrow part of metal base.

Figure 34

Now if holder is lifted by ring A, the whole stack of bowls can be easily handled and carried about. Then if ring B is lifted, it pulls the cords up bringing the wires out of the eyelets and releases the stack of bowls from the case.

I cannot give you exact dimensions on the holder for you must fit it to the size of bowls you use. Experimenting will teach you the size to make the holder and the length of cords to use for proper carrying and proper release. There are various holders which you might use, but this one is the simplest and best I know of.

To Perform:

This is a fine opening number. When it is used as such, stack of bowls in case are placed on the seat of a chair near center of stage. Girl assistant stands directly in front of stack of bowls. She holds production cloth over her left arm to help screen object behind her.

Figure 35 is a side view of position of girl in relation to object on chair.

Step up to left side of assistant and take one corner of cloth from her arm. Have her hold other upper corner.

Spread cloth out between you to show one side of it.

Figures 36 and 37.

Push your right hand into center of cloth from behind and grasp cloth at that point from the front with left hand.

Allow cloth to hang down from center with edges touching floor.

Figure 38.

Lift cloth up from floor as though expecting something there. Seeing nothing, throw cloth into air a little way and as it comes down bunch it together suddenly with both hands. In this way, you indicate to audience that there is nothing concealed in cloth.

Spread cloth out again, showing both sides to audience. Then hold it between yourself and assistant as in Figure 36. Hold your corner of cloth with left hand so that right hand is free behind cloth. The moment girl takes opposite corner of cloth reach over to stack of bowls with right hand, lift them in case by ring A, and bring them behind cloth.

Come to position shown in Figure 37. To audience your movements with cloth are the same as before.

Now bring right hand with bowls behind center of cloth and take hold of center of cloth from the front with left

hand as you did before--but this time grasping ring A of holder through the cloth in left hand. Allow cloth to hang from left hand as before but this time the stack of bowls is concealed under it.

Figure 39.

Let edges of cloth come down on floor until bottom of stack of bowls is firmly on floor. Then release hold on ring A and pick up ring B through cloth.

The lifting of ring B releases the wires from the eyelets and cloth case is freed from metal base of stack of bowls. Suddenly pull up cloth with the case concealed in it and reveal the stack of bowls on the floor.

Figure 40.

Assistant brings a decorated pail and you pour the water from each bowl into the pail to show that the bowls are separate and that they each contain water.

Figure 41.

To Produce Stack of Bowls During Performance -

It may be at some time that you will want to produce the stack of bowls as the climax to some effect during your performance. It makes a good climax, for instance, to a silk production.

After you have produced a bunch of silks from a hat, a Chinese lantern, or something else, you can pick up the silks and place them on a bare table. Then suddenly lift the silks and produce the stack of bowls. The effect is very startling.

To perform this, build a small two-sided screen a few inches higher than the stack of bowls.

Figure 44.

Place this screen somewhere on stage and place stack of bowls in case behind it.

Figure 43.

As you produce silks, place them one at a time over the screen letting one edge fall over top of bowls.

Figure 44.

After production is finished, quickly pick up the silks, at the same time grasping ring A of case over bowls. This brings stack of bowls up behind silks. Do this in a natural manner as if you were merely lifting up the silks.

Figure 45.

Bring silks over to table and set stack of bowls down on table without revealing it to audience. Through the silks, grasp ring B and raise it to release holder. Then suddenly lift up silks with holder concealed behind them and expose stack of bowls on table.


When this production is performed from a bunch of silks, it is well to make the case for the bowls bright red in color to match some of the red silks. Thus even if case is accidentally exposed, it would not be noticed by audience because it is the same color as the red silks.

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