Silken Smoke

A familiar effect treated from an audacious viewpoint may attract more attention than one that is new. By this it is implied that by culminating a fresh approach to an old theme we make the onlooker believe that he is witnessing a brand new trick.

There is for instance nothing new about magic with silks and cigarettes except in the handling of the things themselves. Produce a silk or cigarette in a manner somewhat different from that to which the audience is accustomed and you will encourage a totally foreign picture to appear before the onlooker's eyes. The basic technique may be identical in all cases but the visual effect can be made to vary by only a slight deviation from the accepted rules.

It is my intention now to present to the readers some of my personal techniques which I have developed over many years. I have not the slightest doubt that those interested will benefit in more ways than one by a study of them.

Our present offerings will deal with silks and cigarettes. For now I shall describe two effects in detail and will continue further in the next issue.

To begin with, I would like to explain my method of folding a silk square preparatory to its magical production. Many methods have already been suggested before but I have learnt by experience that what I am about to disclose has proved the most suitable for my personal needs. The reader is asked to give it a trial when he will soon appreciate its effectiveness.

As I am now dealing with a silk of 18" square I would suggest you follow my instructions with one of this size. You proceed as follows.

Spread the silk on a flat surface so that one corner points directly at you. The corner to your left we shall designate 'A' and the one to your right 'B'. The one pointing at you we shall call 'D' and the point diagonal to this 'C'

Turn over points 'A' and 'B' to the centre. Next fold corner 'D' to meet 'A' and 'B'. Our first illustration Fig. 1 explains this initial step. The silk should now look rather like a square envelope with the flap open.

Now start to roll the silk from the two sides inward. Work with both hands together. Fig 2 shows this step in the process. However, the rolling is continued until both sides meet in the centre.

The final stage is completed by rolling the silk forward towards corner 'C' as seen in Fig. 3.

To keep the silk in its rolled state I use a thin black pin. The pin is pushed into the silk ball near the open corner and what is important the sharp end of the pin must point in the same direction as the silk corner itself. Fig. 4 will make this clear.

The rolled silk is placed in the right trouser pocket along with a lighter or box of matches. A

first and second finger in the smoker's position as you blow out smoke. Fig. 5 depicts this stage of the presentation. The left hand now takes the cigarette and holds it up vertically. The right thumb and first finger now begin to stroke the upright cigarette a couple of times. However, as the right comes down for the last time to begin another stroke, the left thumb presses the pin head against the cigarette and the mere action of the right moving up rapidly will free the silk. No attempt must be made to pull the pin out of the silk ball. While the pin is trapped by the left fingers the

cigarette is first produced either magically or from a cigarette case. It is placed between the lips and then you reach into your pocket for a light. Having brought out the lighter, or match box as the case may be, a cigarette is lighted and the implement of ignition returned to the pocket. Once the hand is out of sight, the rolled silk is brought out secretly. There is a particular manner of taking possession of the silk which is absolutely necessary for what is to follow. The corner of the silk ball is clipped in what is known as the thumb palm position. The cigarette which is lit by now is taken between the upward movement of the right with the silk ball will do the rest. Fig. 6 illustrates this point.

The sudden appearance of the silk is not only surprising but adds real flash to mystery as well.

The effect you contrived to create so far was to produce a large silk from the smouldering end of the cigarette. From here we go on to the next effect which is equally startling to the onlookers.

While the cigarette is still retained in its upright position in the left hand, the silk is stretched out in front and exhibited as in Fig. 7. The hands are then crossed to bring the rear side to view and then back again to its original position. The right now holds the silk by one corner and moves towards the cigarette as though to cover the latter. See Fig. 8. Just as the silk is being pulled back over the lit end of the cigarette, the tips of the right 3rd and 4th fingers clip the cigarette and without any hesitation the silk is continued to be drawn over what the spectators believe to be the cigarette. As a matter of fact the moment the cigarette is taken away in the right, the left first finger is extended under the silk and the form is accepted as the cigarette. Fig. 9 shows how the cigarette is stolen in the right hand under pretence of covering it with the silk.

After the silk is drawn sufficiently over the extended left finger, you point to the centre with the right forefinger as though calling attention to the form under it. This gesture is planned for a definite purpose. As the right finger points from above, the left thumb and second finger grip the cigarette through the silk. This is clearly shown in Fig. 10.

The right now proceeds to stroke the centre of the silk during which action, the thumb of the same hand draws in the cigarette to an upright position. From the front the action of the thumb will never be noticed. Once the cigarette is brought to the upright position, the right hand moves out of the way and the cigarette is allowed to remain hidden behind the sink momentarily. Fig. 11 depicts how the cigarette is brought to the upright position under the misdirected gesture of stroking the centre of the silk.

To prevent the smoke giving the game away prematurely the moment the cigarette is brought to the upright you start to blow gently against the silk. As you continue to blow, the left thumb begins to push up the cigarette slowly, through the silk. This creates the illusionary effect of the cigarette burning its way out and rising through the texture of the silk. This is the pretty effect with which you conclude your presentation. You have succeeded in breaking a double climax . . .

that of PENETRATION and ASCENSION. Fig. 12 illustrates the point of the trick when the cigarette had risen three-quarters of the way.

Finally, when the smoking cigarette reaches up fully, it is taken between the right first two fing ers and placed between the lips. As the performer continues to puff on it, the silk is again stretched in front of him and displayed on both sides before being tucked away in the pocket.

(Continued Next Month).

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