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M. Hartzs "Hydrostatic Glass" has become a standard of the craft since its invention in the 1800s. It has remained an intrinsically surprising and fascinating iji&M effect to audiences, and over the decades has found a solid place in the reper-toires of professionals and amateurs alike. It is a trick that has certainly been in mine. However, my experience with it, and I'm sure the experience of others too, has shown that the rigid plastic gimmick that makes possible the mysterious suspension of liquid in the inverted glass was never completely reliable. There were times when the vacuum seal vital to the success of the effect would let go, creating at best a very awkward moment, from which recovery meant starting over—and at worst outright failure.

The reason for such failures was obvious: The seal of the gimmick to the mouth of the glass was not always strong enough to be dependable. The challenge then was to improve the strength of the seal. With that in mind, I redesigned the gimmick.

Rather than a rigid disk of transparent plastic, I use two thinner disks of celluloid that provide the same strength but are flexible. One disk is the size of the mouth of the hydrostatic glass or a fraction of an inch larger. The second disk is small enough to fit closely but easily inside the mouth of the glass. These two thin disks of celluloid are glued together only at their centers, with a strong transparent cement (Figure 1).

The gimmick is used exacdy as the original one was: It is secretly fitted to the mouth of the filled glass under cover of a square of wet newspaper. Then the assembly is inverted. The audience believes the newspaper and the vacuum in the glass are responsible for keep-

the pressure on the gimmick.

Having pushed this extra bit of air from the glass, press your thumb over the hole, then relax the fingers' pressure on the gimmick. Through this simple act you have increased the strength of the vacuum many times inside the glass, assuring that the gimmick is reliably sealed to the mouth of the glass. All that remains is to peel away the square of newspaper slowly and exhibit a seeming impossibility of nature. Thanks to the flexibility of this modified gimmick, you should never again have to worry about the disk falling prematurely.

Should you not have a manufactured Hydrostatic Glass, or wish to use a particular glass for this effect, preparing a glass with the necessary hole in it is not terribly difficult. First, fashion a wooden rest to hold the glass steady on its side, so that it can't roll or wobble. With the glass held stationary in this stand, turn the spot where you wish to drill the hole upward and press a bit of window putty over the area. With this putty, form a small "crater", leaving no putty around the point where the hole will be drilled. Then fill the depression with turpentine.

Place the prepared glass in its holder onto a drill press and, using a drill bit made for drilling glass and ceramic tiles, drill the hole at slow speed. The drill bit operates in a litde bath of turpentine, which cools it and speeds the drilling enormously. It also allows you to drill a very clean hole.

The mouth of the glass must also be smooth and free of dimples. Since such imperfections are common in glasses, you must grind them off. Use a diamond-particle grinding plate for this task. Such plates are sold for sharpening the edges of chisels and other tools. These plates cut very fast and, because they are absolutely flat, the rim of the glass will be rendered perfectly flat as well—which is just what you need to make a sure seal.

ing the liquid suspended.

When you initially turn every- ?

thing upside-down you hold all in place by keeping one hand flat against the mouth of the glass. Once the glass is inverted, arch your hand, pushing the pads at the base of your fingers upward against the gimmick. This forces it to flex upward slighdy into the mouth of the glass (Figure 2). As you do this, keep the thumb of your opposite hand raised away from the hole near the base of the glass, so that the air can escape when forced out by

Having explained this improved gimmick, let me add a handling for the trick that I worked out for a television show. The scene was set in a pub, and I wished to have the Hydrostatic Glass sitting full of liquid on the bar. Several times during the scene I picked up the glass and drank a bit from it, setting it down again between sips, before I performed the effect. In this way, I firmly established, without saying anything, that the glass was ordinary.

Although I devised this handling specifically for television, it is perfectly suitable for live performances as well.

The gimmick is hidden under a paper napkin on the bar or a table, and the glass is resting on the napkin. You ve sealed the hole in the glass with a small ball of flesh-colored putty (picture-hanging putty, marketed under names like Blu-tac and Fun-tak, is good for this).The glass is then filled with cola or some other dark colored drink. (Note: When using carbonated beverages, let them go flat beforehand. Carbonation produces pressure that can break the vacuum seal!) The putty seals the hole sufficiendy to prevent the liquid from leaking.

Also have an empty bowl nearby, like those used to hold peanuts.

To begin the trick, take your glass in one hand and, with the other, lift the napkin with the disc hidden behind it. Moisten the napkin by pouring a little of your drink onto it while holding everything over the empty bowl to catch any spills. Then cover the mouth of the glass with the dampened napkin (and gimmick).

Next invert the glass and press in the gimmick, forming a firm seal. As you do this, you will find that the inner pressure you've created forces the putty from the hole. You can aid this by using the tip of your thumb to roll the putty away from the hole a bit. Then cover the hole with your thumb. In doing this, you will find you also can use the thumb to hold the putty against the glass. From here on, the effect continues along its normal course.

«^ Notm to performance magic is a form of theater. This is true whether it takes place \9jBU on stage or close up, whether one welcomes the fact or not, whether one gives ZIm^hI lt attent*on lt deserves or not—magic nevertheless is always governed by the principles of theater. The way plot is constructed and the lines of tension are fitted into it, definition of character, emotions and conflict; all those elements or the lack of them influence the work. To bring them out, acting is a necessity. It cannot be ignored if one wishes to achieve consistent results.

All aspects of magic require acting, but this is particularly true of that area of magic concerned with the trickery, the secret method. Magic is a highly refined form of lying, both in words and actions, and such lying requires an exacting and refined level of acting.

As I have discussed elsewhere, one important aspect of acting for a magician is belief in your own magic. There is more to it, though. Not only must you believe, but you must work through the feelings you wish to portray—not by simply pretending that you feel the emotions, but by actually feeling them. And you must feel the things that trigger these emotions in you and move you from one to the other. This emotional activity inside you makes what you do believable for your audiences.

Such believability cannot be achieved by a careful analysis of the expressions conveyed by face and body, no matter how well you learn them and "act" them out. That wont do. Every time you perform, your mind must travel through the appropriate thoughts and emotions. This is essential, not so much because anybody will care what is really going on inside your head, but because when you go through these thoughts and feelings, the emotions they arouse will automatically control what your face and body do; and they will do so in a perfectly appropriate way. Acting is not making faces; it is thinking, and feeling what you think. This practice controls the body's expression of emotion far better than can ever be achieved by conscious control.

Thinking is necessary—thinking plus belief. Without these things there can be no acting. And if thinking is so important to acting, to assure that the acting is true to the emotions you wish to portray, the thinking behind the acting must be correct. You must think about some appropriate set of circumstances. You mustn't concentrate on how your acting should look, but rather on what thoughts and emotions should be felt at any given moment—

and then you must feel them. So, instead of contriving a script for body and facial expressions, construct a script for your thoughts. Henning Nelms in his excellent book Magic and Showmanship talked about this silent script. It has been accepted and adopted by many, and that is fortunate, because it is an essential tool to proper acting.

Although you could attempt to write out this silent script, it is improbable that you could succeed. I find that my silent script looks like nothing on earth. When I try to put it on paper it ends up looking something like this: "Aaah... hey, that's nice... buteeh... hee, wait this. ..oh no... but. Oh, grrrr. ..or if... haaaah, goodV

It turns out to be a collection of groans, sighs, exclamations and half phrases; but it is a script nonetheless: a script of feelings, thoughts and pictures. And I always follow the same script. I don't think about how my face and body look; I don't care. I think those groans and sighs—and I think of pictures. A silent script is just as much visual as it is conceptual. We do, after all, usually think in pictures as well as words.

Let me illustrate the process with an actual performance application. If I pretend to place a ball into my left hand, but really palm it in my right, I would hold the left fingers slightly cupped, just as I would if they genuinely held the ball. If the ball were in my left hand, I would be able to see it. But since it isn't there, I can't really see the ball. However, I can force my imagination to see that ball. It is part of my silent script. I see the image of the ball being held in my hand. Then I think in words, "Now vanish, my boy," addressing the ball in my left hand. As the ball obeys, I might see it first lose its color, becoming transparent until it eventually disappears. But whatever the imaginary mode of vanish I have fixed on, I actually see it go in just that way. When it's gone, I might think something like "Good!" while I open the hand. I can open the hand now because the ball is no longer there and the hand needn't hold it. Of course the moves have been practiced so that in opening the hand the audience has a chance to see that it is empty. Then, as I brush my palms together I could think, "Got rid of that one nicely."

From this little example you can see that the silent script is both visual and conceptual. And it must be faithfully followed. It might change, of course, in certain details, depending on contingent variables that arise in every performance; nevertheless my mind must follow the essence of the script.

The advantages of using a silent script are obvious. The acting, even if it isn't great, will at least be correct. Little uncontrollable details will enter your performance; so many that you could never portray them by a conscious effort. Only a properly executed silent script can do that for you.

Another great advantage is the timing that results from using a silent script. Litde pauses that create suspense will occur at just the right moments, because at certain moments you will feel a slight sense of suspense yourself. Will the ball vanish at your command? Will it defy you, or linger truculently before going? The resultant suspense will have just the right duration and occur at just the right moment because it conforms exacdy to what you are feeling at the time. Such perfect timing can't be consistently created by such contrivances as "I'll wait a half second here to make it suspenseful." No, it comes into existence as a result of what you feel and think, and therefore it conforms to the whole picture. It is correct, harmonious, believable, in balance—because it is, in a sense, real.

This means that at one show the timing might be slighdy different from that of another. This is normal, since your thinking at one show might be slighdy faster or slower or different. Mind you, the emotional structure of your silent script remains unchanged, but from show to show you might find yourself expressing the emotions differendy. The process is something like that used when telling a joke to friends: The words aren't precisely scripted and rehearsed, but you know the path the narrative must take to get successfully to the punch line. In other words, you allow yourself some freedom in the way you express the emotions of the silent script. In one show, when vanishing the ball you might think to yourself, "Got rid of that one nicely," while in another show the thought might be "Ough, what a nasty one that was! I hope I never see that ball again." There is room for spontaneous play within the script so long as you arrive at the key points.

Your thinking is also affected to a small extent by previous actions. If, for instance, during one show you place the ball into your hand rather slowly, it might feel better to quicken your pace a bit more than usual at the time of the vanish. However, you needn't be concerned about such things. You will feel them and act on them automatically, without conscious thought. That is, you will if you are completely adsorbed in your silent script. Thus, the vanish is handled perfecdy in combination with the actions preceding it. You will feel the excitement of the vanish within yourself, and to experience such excitement the vanish must sometimes be done slightly slower or faster. This is another thing you could never control correctly from outside a silent script.

When making a silent script, don't make it dull and drab; it should be exciting for you. Be interested in your work, inject it with energy, think about what goes on as something important, worthy of attention. This will automatically make your work much more interesting and exciting to others as well. A silent script allows you to inject virtually anything you wish into your work, without consciously adding details.

A silent script helps you to believe in your magic and to instill it with perfect timing. It makes your acting credible and infuses the magic with excitement and importance. It is a great and absolutely necessary tool. Of course, to use a silent script effectively in performance, it must also be used when you rehearse.

I will go as far as to say that when you don't use a silent script, you can't perform really fine magic. Magic is impossible without acting, and acting for a large part is thinking. A silent script will make your work infinitely better. It will add countless details to your work, impossible to add by conscious effort. These details, each of them so small as to be virtually unnoticeable by itself, cannot be pinpointed; but their contribution to your magic does accumulate, and they are sensed and felt by your audiences.

A silent script succeeds at a level where cold analysis falls into stunned silence. If you have been doing magic without one, it can't be the best you are capable of, and you have yet to discover the enormous potential still hiding inside your work!

j^BHR/ HE Linking Finger Rings trick, employing the Himber-style gimmicked ring, rn^^A unquestionably strong, and has been used to fine effect by many top ■ fo\|v professionals. However, in virtually every performance I've seen of this trick, P^^^^o when the borrowed rings are initially linked onto the gimmicked ring, the handling suffers from a greater or lesser amount of awkward fiddling that looks anything but magical. It is a flaw that I did not wish to adopt in my performances of the trick. After much thought and experimentation I developed an unobtrusive tool that eliminates any fiddling or fumbling with the rings as you link them together. In fact, the linking is almost instantaneous and very nearly automatic. An additional benefit of this tool is that it secretly delivers the open Himber ring to your hand with no possibility of the ring accidentally closing and locking.

Following the example of Richard Himbers original Staggering method (conceived by Perci Diaconis), the borrowed rings are collected on a pencil or pen, keeping them initially out of the performers hands and in full view. I have built my secret aid into the pencil.

The pencil is of the mechanical sort, the type that feeds replaceable leads through a spring mechanism to the point. You must make a relatively uncomplicated modification to the mechanism inside the pencil. First, disassemble the pencil, removing the inner mechanism. This consists of a thin piston with a spring on it and a metal claw at the end, which grips the lead. (Note: There may be other constructions for mechanical pencils, but the spring-and-claw design is still, I believe, the most widely used.) Clip or saw off the claw and attach in its place a one inch length of brass rod with a diameter of approximately an eighth of an inch. A small hole should be drilled in the end of the rod, into which the piston from the pencil fits and is securely soldered. Into the outer end of this rod, file a notch roughly a quarter of an inch long. This notch serves as a hook to hold the Himber ring (Figure 1).

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When you replace the modified piston inside the pencil, the end of the rod should lie fairly even with the tip of the pencil. If you depress the button on the end of the pencil, the rod should project from the pencil for about five sixteenths of an inch (Figure 2). You may need to alter the dimensions I've given for the rod, depending on the pencil you choose to use.

When the rod is extended from the pencil, you can attach the opened Himber ring to it, hooking the hollow back of the signet over the notch in the rod (Figure 3). When you release pressure on the button of the pencil, the inner spring creates a tension that keeps the ring securely fixed, wedged in the notch of the rod and against the tip of the pencil. Additional security is provided by the small bump at the side of the signet, which normally engages and locks the band of the ring closed. This bump will fit inside the hole in the tip of the pencil, assuring that the ring doesn't slip off.

When I mention a signet, readers familiar with these gimmicked rings will know that I use the signet-ring variety that Richard Himber marketed under the name Staggering. However, once you understand the nature of the pencil gimmick, you can easily adapt it for use with the wedding-band style, called Towering. The gimmicked wedding band has no bump to engage tip of the pencil, but a trustworthy pressure-grip can be had from the tension of the spring alone.

I would recommend one further modification to the pencil, though it requires some extra machining: Make the entire pencil an inch longer than normal. Since, in performance, the pencil is constandy held at one end, the extra length cant be noticed, but it allows you to keep your fingers distanced farther from the rings as they are collected. Adding this extra inch takes more work, but it is worth the effort.

With the ring caught in the notch of the pencil, it cannot close and lock accidentally; and when you obtain the pencil, the ring is automatically delivered into your hand. To prepare for performance, attach the ring to the pencil and place them into your right breast pocket.

As you ask for the loan of three finger-rings, bring out the pencil in your left hand, grasping it by the rod end and concealing the open Himber ring behind your fingers. Hold the pencil horizontally and ask that each lender slip his or her ring onto it, so that everyone can see them clearly. Once you have all three rings on the pencil, use the extreme tip of your right forefinger to separate them along its length. This division of the rings creates a strong visual contrast between their presently unlinked state and the linked condition that will occur in three or four seconds. You are now ready to link the first two rings instandy onto your Himber ring while you steal away the third borrowed ring.

With your right hand, grasp the free end of the pencil, secretly gripping the ring nearest this end between your thumb and first two fingers, thus concealing it (Figure 4). Immediately tip the left end of the pencil down into your left: palm, letting the two free rings slide down and onto the waiting Himber ring. The left fingers continue to hide the Himber ring as the link occurs (Figure 5). Notice that the shank of the Himber ring is turned downward as you begin to spill the rings into your hand. This position assures that the gimmicked ring remains hidden. However, in the act of letting the rings slide down the pencil, it is rotated until the shank of the Himber ring is upward to hold the rings securely. This small turn occurs almost automatically as the rings are spilled into the hand.

Curl your right fingers around the pencil and with your right thumb press the button, releasing the Himber ring onto your left palm. You can now close and lock the gimmicked ring as you curl your left fingers shut over the three linked rings.

It is a simple procedure to slip the third borrowed ring off the pencil. Just let the pencil slide forward, out of your fist, until you can grip its end between the right thumb and fingertips. The ring remains behind, caught in finger palm as you wave the pencil magically over the rings in your left hand. Then open your left fingers and insert the free end of the pencil through either of the borrowed rings. Then use the pencil to lift the rings from your hand and display their linked condition.

This is the end of my contribution to the trick. For the balance of the presentation, I follow Richard Osterlind's excellent handling, which appears in his booklet Two Perfected Professional Routines. However, the use of the gimmicked pencil is applicable to the initial link in virtually any handling that employs a Himber ring, making that link extremely impressive. The borrowed rings are clearly seen to be separate right up to the moment you pour them into your hand—and a second later, without the slightest fumbling, they are linked! I should add that all actions can be executed without your looking at your hands.


N a way one could say that this discussion doesn't really belong in a magic book. It would better fit a book on how to achieve success. Unfortunately, in the pursuit of success in magic, so many adopt an approach that I feel is wrongheaded, I think it wise to address the subject, if only briefly; not just to indicate what might be a better way of achieving success, but more important, how to avoid the negative influence a wrong approach can have on magic itself.

Whenever you want to reach a goal, its essential first to have one. Otherwise, there is no chance of achieving it. This is only logical, and probably sounds too sophomoric to warrant discussion. However, bear with me a moment.

Many people attempt to achieve public recognition or wealth, or both. In themselves such aims seem legitimate, desirable, even reasonable. The difficulty, though, lies in the question of whether fame or money are goals that can be pursued. Are they indeed possible goals one can set for oneself?

I think not. You see, neither money nor success can be set up as goals, because they are not goals in themselves! Instead, they are the rewards for achieving a goal. This is an important idea. A reward obviously can't be pursued alone and for its own sake. Rewards like wealth and honor are derived from achieving something, not from themselves. To win money and success, you need a goal; for, as just pointed out, one must have a goal to attain it, and only by attaining it can one expect the subsequent rewards.

While all this is simple and obvious when laid out, it is often overlooked or ignored in many of our pursuits, and the perception of wealth and success as goals in themselves is the root of much that is evil in our lives. The practice of magic does not escape this pitfall.

But let's make this point plain with an example: Suppose a man wants to open a restaurant. He makes this decision because he has a fondness for good food and fine cooking. The goal he sets himself is to provide his guests with a good meal for a reasonable price. The owner does everything he can to get the finest ingredients and prepare his dishes in the best way possible. As a result, the food is extraordinary and his guests leave his restaurant happy and well satisfied. After a time, as one would expect, his restaurant grows increas-ingly popular; it is a success. If the owner can keep his prices affordable, yet high enough to yield him a fair profit, wealth will come with success. The goal was to provide good food for a reasonable price; the reward is money and success.

However, suppose that the goal, instead, was simply to make money. Then the owner, loving money more than fine food, might be inclined to use cruder ingredients or charge a higher price to pad his profit. Then, obviously, fewer and fewer people would come to dine at his restaurant, resulting in a smaller degree of success and financial gain. The goal was to make money but the reward is less money.

Whatever you do, the moment money or success becomes the primary goal, that very goal will evade you. Of even greater concern, the product will gradually degenerate, because money and success have become more important that the quality of the product or service.

This rule is just as valid for the magician as for our restaurateur. The moment the quality of your magic is no longer the primary goal, your magic will suffer; and if success or money become your driving force, its highly likely that those very things will evade your grasp.

Strangely enough, the trick to making money is to forget about it for the time being, and try instead to achieve a real goal. If you succeed in achieving your goal, the money will come as a reward almost automatically

This is not to say that once you have a fine product you shouldn't attempt to market it successfully. Indeed you should! One can't and shouldn't be blind to the business side of things. It doesn't make sense, for example, to sell your services too cheaply. Don't be afraid to charge what your product is worth. And when you have a good product, it's important to let people know about it. However, these things do not mean that you should place less importance on your product than on its sale. Business matters should be a secondary consideration. First, concern yourself with the quality of your magic. Then, when money and success come as a natural result of that quality, there is time enough to concern yourself with business matters.

If money and success are more important to you than good magic, you're in the wrong business. Your magic will definitely suffer, and your measure of money and success will be smaller than it could have been.

And even should money and success elude you in any great amount, you will at least know that you have done your best for magic as an art!

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