Flash of Imagination The mind makes it real

Effect: The mage places a small, somewhat crumpled, piece of paper on the table indicating that it is a forecast of an event that has not yet occurred. He then gives the participant a deck of cards and asks her to carefully consider the card's faces, select one and place it face down on the table next to the forecast. The mage then explains that the crumpled forecast he referred to was an attempt to predict the identity of the card she would select. The participant is now directed to leave the card where it is and to open and read the initials on the small piece of paper to confirm the accuracy of his forecast. The participant appears puzzled and announces that the paper appears to be blank. Surprised, but unfazed, the mage holds the blank paper in front of the participant and asks her to visualize the initials of the card she is thinking of on the paper as distinctly as she can. The paper is then crumpled again and placed in an ash tray. A match is touched to the paper which results in a brief, bright flash of fire. Strangely the paper is still intact. The participant is now asked to turn over the tabled card and to reopen the paper. This time the paper contains, written in streaked charcoal, the initials of the tabled card.

Method: This is one of my all time favorite effects for walk around, table hopping or any other close up situation. It is strong stuff! You must have guessed that the deck is marked. The crumpled prediction placed on the table is simply a blank piece of flash paper. Once you obtain the value of the tabled card by reading its back, the initials must be put onto a piece of onion skin or tissue paper using a pocket writing technique (more on this point later). The onion skin paper is then crumpled into a tight pellet. This is done while the participant is opening the prediction and responding to the fact that it is blank. Casually remove your hand from your pocket with the finger palmed pellet as you pass the lighter/matches to your participant with the other hand. The pellet is wrapped unseen in the flash paper and placed in an ash tray. For walk around, I carry a small curved brass plate for this which sits on a spectator's hand. A touch of flame and a very astonishing revelation is produced.

More on pocket writing: Annemann briefly discusses pocket writing in Practical Mental Magic. Mark Strivings and Bob Cassidy have written more extensively on the subject. Here are the details of my own set up.

A Pocket Writing Device

The base of the pocket writer is made from a 3.5 inch by 2.5 inch piece of stiff cardboard. This supports the paper for writing on in your pocket. The finger guides are made of one quarter inch strips of the same material glued in place. These serve to direct your writing into the centre of the onion skin paper. The paper is held in place for writing by a nickel-sized application of Scotch Restickable Adhesive. This comes in a stick form and is similar to the adhesive on Post-It notes. The adhesive is applied to the cardboard base, not the paper.

The onion skin paper should be prepared for performance by crumpling it up tight and then smoothing it back open prior to sticking it in place on the restickable glue spot between the finger guides. This pre-crumpling serves to reduce the noise created by making it into a pellet in your pocket.

To make a pocket writing implement for this effect, obtain a box of soft charcoal pencils from an art supply outlet. These are sticks of art-quality charcoal wrapped in paper which you unwrap like a china marker. Cut a stub of about one and one quarter of an inch long. A pencil will not do as it will be unreadable on the crumpled paper. When writing with the charcoal stub, a light touch is all you need. Do not press hard or the paper will bunch up and the initials will be unreadable.

You will have to practice writing card initials on your pocket writer in order to pull this off. It requires a significant amount of practice but it is well worth it!

Continue reading here: Number in a Flash

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