The Elmsley Colorchanging Knife Routine

Effect: A red pocket knife is displayed and magically caused to turn blue. Just as mysteriously it changes back to red. The performer now admits that he uses a second knife to accomplish this change, and he brings a blue knife from his pocket.

The blue knife is put back in the pocket and the red knife is changed slowly and visibly to blue. The knife in the pocket is brought forth again, but it is now red.

The performer explains that he was only joking about using two knives, and that only one red knife is really employed. He puts the blue knife away in his pocket. The red knife is caused to turn blue, then red once more, and finally white. With that, the performer lays the knife on the table and goes on to something else. If there are any so inclined—and there usually are—the knife can be examined.

Method: For many years this has been one of Mr. Elmsley's favorite close-up effects. Spectator response is always strong. It is a beautifully structured routine, which offers a cunning bare-hand switch for the knives, and some extremely subtle touches.

The knives may be any colors you wish, but for this description we will continue in a patriotic vein. You will need one knife that shows red on one side and blue on the other, one matching knife that is white on both sides, and a visible color-changing knife that is blue on one side and half red, half blue on the reverse. The half at the

Color Changing Knives Magic

hinge-end is red and the opposite end is blue. The join between the two colors should be cut on a diagonal, as shown in Figure 168. (As an historical aside, Mr. Elmsley invented the visible color-changing knife when he was twenty, only to discover that this idea had already occurred to others before him. The originator of the color-changing knife and the split-color knife was Walter Jeans, a man best remembered for the creation of brilliant stage illusions, the most famous of which was 'The Silver Hat", commonly known today as 'The Million Dollar Mystery".)

It is assumed that any reader of this book will be acquainted with such a venerable standard as the color-changing knife, and with the methods of its manipulation. Since instructions for the paddle move and the use of the knives come with the knives themselves, any mysteries held by these topics can be quickly solved at a magicians' supply shop. For those who wish to school themselves further on the topic, the following texts are recommended: Merrill's Knife Book, Ascanio's World of Knives and Ganson's Routined Manipulation, Part II (pp. 12-20). Leaving the essentials of this trick to more basic texts, we will concern ourselves here only with Mr. Elmsley's routining.

When you begin, have the white knife in your left pocket (either trousers or jacket), the visible color-changing knife in your right pocket and the red-blue knife in your left hand.

Show the knife in your hand as red, using the paddle move or some variation of it. Then push it through the fist, causing it to change to blue. Display the blue knife and do another color change, turning it to red again.

Explain that the trick is easily done if you have two knives, a red and a blue. Reach into your right pocket and bring out the visible color-changing knife, solid blue side showing. (Knives have been known to turn perversely while in one's pocket. However, if you lay the knife at the bottom of the pocket, with the hinge end forward, you can always tell which side is turned out by the position of the blade, The visible color-changing knife supplies an added tactile clue, as the join on the split side can be felt.)

Lay the visible color-changing knife, blue-side up, across the open left fingers and to the right of the red knife. The knives should be positioned with their hinge ends outward, projecting almost an inch past the left forefinger (Figure 169).

Now close the left fingers into a fist, turning both knives over in the action (Figure 170). The outer ends of the knives remain visible, but now it is the red end of the split knife that is seen, and the blue side of the other knife. In turning the knives over, you have subtly switched them; yet, to the spectators, nothing seems to have changed.

With the right hand, draw the blue knife from the fist and pocket it. This leaves the visible color-changing knife in the left hand. Bring the right hand, open and palm-up, under the left fist, and clip the outer end of the knife between the right thumb and forefinger (Figure 171). At the same time, raise the hands a bit, concealing the knife momentarily from the spectators' view. Take advantage of this positioning to open the left fingers and relinquish the ltnife to the right hand. The metal end of the knife is allowed to project beyond the right forefinger; no more than that must be seen.

Cover the inner (blue) half of the knife with the right thumb and ask the spectators to name the color of the knife in your hand. When they do, lower the right hand, bringing the knife again into view. It appears to be red, as expected.

Now, without relinquishing the knife from the right hand, grasp it by its ends between the left second finger and thumb. Then perform a visible color-change in this manner: Slide the right thumb slowly forward, toward the outer end of the knife. As you do this, the blue end is gradually revealed, giving the illusion that the knife is changing color right before the spectators' eyes. If you like, when you reach approximately the middle of the knife, you can momentarily reverse the thumb's acdon, moving it back again, as if you had changed your mind. The knife consequently appears to turn back to red. Then move the thumb once more toward the outer end, continuing the change to blue.

When the thumb has slid as far forward on the knife as it can without exposing the color join, lower and spread the right third and fourth fingers as you simultaneously turn the right hand palm-down. This displays the solid-blue underside of the knife. The left hand releases the knife during the right hand's turn, then retakes it by the ends once the blue side is in sight (Figure 172).

Slowly slide the right first and second fingers inward along the knife, in a continuation of the thumb's steady action, thus completing the color change. With the left hand, grip the knife by its inner end and do the paddle move, casually displaying both sides. This is a pretty change, and looks truly magical.

Reach into your right pocket and bring out the knife there, red side showing, as you explain, "I was just kidding you about using two knives. I really only use the one red knife." As you say this, casually put the visible color-changing knife into your left pocket and, at the same time, palm the white knife there. Ifyou find you cannot do this smoothly and without hesitation, misdirect the spectators' attention from the left hand as you rub the red knife behind the right knee, turning it over and changing it to blue. This should provide more than adequate time to palm the white knife and extract the left hand from the pocket. Rub the blue knife on the left elbow and change it back to red.

Now do any effective false transfer, pretending to pass the red knife from the right hand to the left. Please choose one that appears natural, and not one suggesting sleight-of-hand. There are a number of cigarette vanishes that can serve the purpose admirably, Mr, Elmsley finds that the closed-fist vanish from Edward Victor's The Magic of the Hands (pp. 74-75) is perfectly suited to the present needs. The actions are these:

Hold the left hand at about waist height and close the fingers into a loose fist around the palmed white knife. Grip the red knife by its extreme end, between the right thumb and second fingertip, while pointing the free end toward the left. Apparently insert the knife into the opening of the left fist, but actually slip it under the bent left thumb and just outside the fingers. Figure 173 shows the spectators' view of this, while Figure 174 is an exposed undeiview.

When all but half an inch of the knife has been pushed under the left hand, press firmly with the right thumb against the end of the knife, while relaxing the second finger. This causes the knife to pivot

the knife, just above the right thumbtip (Figure 176), and push this fingertip into the left fist. This forces the knife to snap around the

left thumb and into the right hand, aligned with the second finger (Figure 177). In the same thrusting action of the finger, contact the right end of the white knife and push it a short distance to the left; just enough to bring the metal tip into view in the curl of the left fourth finger. Withdraw the right second finger from the fist, while bending it slightly, catching the gimmicked knife in cigarette palm; i.e., gripped endwise between the second fingertip and the palm (Figure 178).

When these actions are performed slowly, the illusion of the knife entering the left fist is completely convincing.

Raise the left fist to your lips and simultaneously drop the right hand to your side. Blow gently on the fist several times. Then raise the right hand to meet the left, while sleeving the knife. The sleeving technique used by Mr. Elmsley is a standard one for sleeving long slender objects:

While the right hand hangs at your side, grip the lower end of the knife between the thumb and third fingertip. Straighten these digits slightly, pivoting the opposite end of the knife away from the palm (Figure 179). The second fingertip, which has remained on the end of the knife, now snaps vigorously upward, shooting the knife into the sleeve (Figure 180), Begin to raise the right forearm just at the instant you sleeve the knife. Do not make this a rushed ascent. By the time the knife has reached the end of its flight within the sleeve, the arm should be approaching the horizontal. Continue to raise it, until the right hand is immediately below the left fist. Practice to make the raising of the arm a smooth unhurried action.

Grip the protruding metal tip of the white knife, taking it between the right thumb and second finger. Slowly pull it from the left fist and open the fingers, letting the hand be seen empty. This is not done as an overt display; it is a nonchalant action.

Casually show the white knife on both sides, performing the paddle move to keep your actions consistent with past ones. Then toss the knife to the table, should anyone wish to examine it. The sleeved knife can be retrieved at any time by lowering the right hand to your side. It is then disposed of as the hand goes to the pocket for something.

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