The effect. A reel of cotton is shown, a length of say a yard being unrolled and broken off. This piece is now broken into lengths of approximately three inches. One length is held by the left hand with the tips of the thumb and first finger whilst the remaining pieces are rolled into a small ball with the fingers of the right hand.

The long piece is now added to the ball and the ends of this piece are gently pulled. The small ball which can be seen in the centre gradually unrolls and the magician is left as he started with one yard of unbroken cotton. The hands are conclusively shown to be empty.

VOLUME SEVEN, No. EIGHT - 1/6. (20 Cents) - MAY ¡953

Let it be first noted that in order to get the utmost out of this most deceptive close-up trick, everything must be done very slowly for every move is completely covered. The slightest suggestion of haste will ruin the ultimate effect.

Let me add something else. The trick is most effective for children, only in this version it is advisable to have an assistant and use a greater length, say about three yards.

The requirements, or rather requirement is a reel of tacking thread or cotton. Buy the cheapest you can find. It is the type of cotton used by dressmakers and tailors for tacking pieces of material together. The average cost in England is in the region of two shillings. As such a reel contains at least a thousand feet you are well set up for much practice and many performances. A very cheap trick indeed! Please don't try using any other type of cotton for experience has taught me that there is some kind of glue used in finished cotton that makes it springy and makes failure certain. The spool that you use is approximately two inches high and about one inch in diameter. It seems redundant to add that white cotton should be used for as Sach remarks in Sleight of Hand, " Black is not very useful."

The preparation is the most important phase of the trick for providing that such preparation


From tfii .f. !i. Findluj collection is well done, nothing can possibly go wrong during performance. If there is lack of care in the preparation, you may finish the trick with a tangled ball of cotton, thus spoiling the effect.

First take the spool in the right hand and bring it up in front of the face. Take the free end of the cotton with the left hand and extend it so that about one yard of cotton is unwound from the spool. Release this length and again bring the left hand up to the spool. Take that part of the cotton and once more bringing the spool in front

OM£—> Y/Utp of your face, extend the left arm so that in all you have measured off approximately two yards of cotton. (The actual length depends of course on the length of your arm, but this means of measurement means that you always measure off the same length every time). Don't release your hold upon the cotton with the left hand but wind it round the first and second fingers of the left hand in the form of a " figure eight." As soon as you reach the reel carefully remove the " figure eight" piece from the fingers, great care being taken that the loops are not mixed up. At point *' X " fold the two short loops together, pleat the bundle carefully and fold in half again. Repeat this and then wind the cotton coming from the reel three times around the bundle. The prepared bundle of cotton is now pushed (after unrolling a little more cotton from the spool) into the hollow

From tfii .f. !i. Findluj collection part of the spool. You will find that you are now left with a yard of cotton coming from the centre part of the spool; this length is lightly wound upon the spool. You are now all set to give a performance.

Presentation : Remove the reel from the table or pocket taking it with the thumb and second finger of the right hand (see Fig. 5). In this manner

the end of the spool containing the ball of cotton rests under the tip of the second finger. The reel should be held so that the audience can see that nothing is concealed in the palm or for that matter any other part of the hand. The left hand is also shown to be empty and the sleeves are pulled up slightly. This is all done without comment, but the idea you are aiming at is to make sure that the spectators realise that you have nothing concealed in the hands.

Take the free end of the cotton with the tips of the thumb and first finger of the left hand. Spread the other fingers and work only with these two digits. Similarly when the right hand is later brought into play use only the thumb and first finger for handling.

While the left hand moves to the left in the action of unwinding the cotton, the right hand brings the spool about five inches beneath the chin. This allows you to obtain the correct measurement of the length to be broken off. (Do not on any account bring the spool up to the mouth for though on occasions cotton is broken by biting, suspicion might be attached to such an action in this trick). As soon as vou have measured off the correct length of cotton you prepare for the most vital move in the trick. Perfect timing must ensure the handling is natural.

Up till now the unwinding of the cotton has been that the palm of the right hand has been facing the audience, but at this point it now turns. At the same time the right thumb is moved outwards and the reel is held between the tips of the first and third fingers. It is only held like this momentarily for the thumb and second finger take over and the spool is then held by these digits. At ths same time the free end of the cotton is dropped. (Fig. 6 gives an idea of this).

You are nowready for the vital move which is in fact, the only move in the effect. Thers is no technical difficulty, it is the timing that makes or breaks it. Take the spool with the thumb and first finger of the left hand- at the same time the right hand thumb relinquishes its hold. The right hand forefinger is bent inwards and that part of the cotton issuing from the centre of the spool is pinch-gripped in the fold of this finger. This grip must be quite tight for the left hand now moves away with the spool and the concealed ball

is withdrawn. If all these instructions have been understood the small ball of cotton should automatically take up its position at the tip of the right hand first finger. The thumb comes down at this point and the ball is held and at the same time secreted. To serve the purpose of misdirection your eyes must follow the movement of the spool, and therefore this part of the trick needs practice.

Actually only about four to six inches of cotton are unwound as the left hand moves away, and at this point the cotton is broken and the spool placed on the table. The position is now that your left hand is empty whilst from the right hand thumb and forefinger hangs a yard of cotton. The palm of the right hand is now turned towards the audience who can see that it is empty. It is then returned to its original position.

The left hand now comes under the right hand and at a point approximately one inch from the fourth finger the cotton is gripped and broken. Bring the left hand away showing the long piece then bring the left hand back to the right and place this long piece beside the short piece. As the left hand comes up to the right, and the right hand thumb and first finger open out a little to receive the long piece, the left hand thumb and finger give complete cover to the small ball which momentarily might be visible. The left hand now goes underneath again and breaks the cotton. These actions are repeated until the original length of cot'.on is broken into pieces measuring between three and four inches in length. They are held as in illustration 7. Remember at this point that one of the pieces has at its centre a small ball of cotton.

Move the hands together remarking that you will take one piece away. Bring the tips of the left hand thumb and first finger against the tips of the right hand thumb and first finger, not tip to tip but crosswise as in illustration 8, where for the sake of clarity the pieces of cotton have been omitted. Open the tips of all four digits slightly and pinch the ball of cotton between the thumb and first finger of the left hand which is now moved away, the right hand remaining stationary. Correctly performed the audience see you take one short length of cotton from the right hand.

The position now is that in your left hand you have a length of cotton the centre of which has been rolled into a ball and in the right a number of short pieces. The left hand is now held up palm outwards to the audience whilst the finger and thumb of the right hand commence to roll the short pieces into a ball. Remember please to use only the thumb and forefinger for the rolling. When the process is complete you should have a small ball of cotton similar in size to that concealed in the left hand. Throw the little ball of cotton held by the right hand into the air a matter of a few inches catching on the outstretched palm. Move it again into position between the thumb and first finger showing it very deliberately.

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You now state that you will add the small pieces to the pieces you have left To do this both hands move towards one another so that once again they take up the position shown in Fig. 8. As the right hand thumb and finger take the piece with the rolled up ball in the centre from the left hand, the ball of pieces is pulled backwards very slightly. The left hand is shown empty and the right hand turned so that the single piece and what appears to be the ball that was just added can be seen.

The left hand thumb and forefinger now take the lower end of the long piece and at the same time the right hand thumb and forefinger release their grip of the ball in the centre without letting go of the bundle of rolled pieces. The result is that the left long piece with the ball in the centre is now held by one end by the left hand. The right hand thumb and finger now take hold of the free end. Don't pull the long piece taut but bring the hands into a horizontal plane so that an arc of cotton is formed with the small ball in the centre.

Blow on the little ball in the centre of the cotton and move the hands apart very slowly. Haste at this part of the trick is unnecessary both from a point of view of effect and also that too sudden a pull on the cotton may prevent perfect unrolling of the ball. As you pull away slowly the little ball in the centre unravels and you are left with a yard of cotton stretched between the hands, the latter being held palms towards the audience, the little ball of loose pieces perfectly concealed between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand.

This is, in effect the end of the effect, though Kaplan gave a means for disposing of the tiny ball of broken pieces. My ending, however, is different. It goes like this :—

The right hand relinquishes its grip on the end of the cotton that it holds and the whole length is allowed to hang from the left hand. Now with the right hand take hold of the short length of cotton above the left hand thumb and finger and pull it downwards and over the left hand so that this end meets the lower end. The right hand now moves towards the spool of cotton and in so doing the ball of pieces is rolled so that it is held by the tips of the first and second fingers. The spool is then taken as in Fig. 5, and in taking it the small ball of pieces is pushed home into the centre of the spool. The conjurer takes his bow with the spool held at the finger tips of the right hand and the restored length of cotton in the left. I always like to hand the restored cotton to a lady as a lucky souvenir.

I have taken a great deal of space to describe a version cjf an effect which together with the three shell game and the Ellis ring has one of the finest plots for close-up magic.

f?i6irr isT FihGZf?

"... that the very best audience a skilled magician can have is one composed entirely of magicians. The reason for this should be self evident. An audience of magical experts is bound to see the performer's feats in a proper light. Such an audience will very seldom be perplexed by what is exhibited, and will never attach great importance to ' how it is done.' Every member of such an audience will have his mind engrossed, almost exclusively, in noting the art with which the performer vises devices known or unknown, io produce an intended effect. If his performance be meritorious, the expert spectators will appreciate the performance highly, no matter how old, how new, how ingenious or how simple may be the technical devices employed."

Nevil Maskelyne " Our Magic," page VI.

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