Capricious Cornucopia

"One picture is worth a thousand words". . ."Describe a spiral without using your hands". . . There is nothing like trying to put Slydini's magic into words for appreciating the truth of both those old phrases. However, using enough words it could be done if one really set one's mind on it—and had the time and the inclination. Whether even the most serious and dedicated student would wade through the directions is something else again. So, thank God for Monsieur Daguerre and his invention and for all the improvements which have followed since the Paris Opera's scenarist captured and fixed light and shadows on a silver plate. If it weren't for the pictures, the description of this effect would never even have been attempted.

Effect: Slydini shows a magazine cover front and back, makes a cone, shows the empty cone and produces a rubber ball from it.

Preparation: Buy a solid rubber ball to fit comfortably in your hand. Insert a needle threaded with nylon fish line, just below crest of ball, for about one inch. Pull line through and tie it securely to

form a loop just large enough so that ball reaches center of your palm when it hangs from your thumb (Foto 1). It is important that the line should have a least an inch of length through the ball. If this base of loop is smaller, the ball will twist and turn making manipulation difficult. After tying, pull the knot into the ball so loop is completely smooth.

Place the ball on your work table in such a way that nylon loop will stick up and be clear of other objects. Obtain a sheet of firm, opaque colored paper (such as that used by artists) or a magazine cover approximately 10 x 12 inches and put it on your table next to the ball. As you pick up the paper, contrive to insert your thumb in the loop of the ball in the same motion (or do it your way). The ball hangs from your thumb throughout the whole effect. You are now set for Performance: Face your audience and display the sheet of paper in the manner shown in foto 2. The ball hangs from your right thumb com-

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pletely covered by the paper. Note that both hands convey the assurance that they hold nothing but the paper.

As you patter, move forefingers so that both are behind the sheet clipping it with aid of middle fingers (Foto 3).

Start to turn slightly towards left. At the same time, raise lower edge of paper and drop top edge simultaneously opening your right hand (Foto 4; foto 4A is exposed view at this point). The open hand hides the ball completely but is very convincingly "empty."

Reverse the action just described for a repeat until you are again in position shown in foto 2. It is important that you keep your right thumb up in coming back up and your hand flatly open so that the ball will not flash nor be caught by edge of paper. As soon as you bring lower edge of paper back to top position, lower your thumb and clip the paper between thumb and forefinger.

Slip right forefinger behind top edge of sheet and bend sheet slightly

57 • capricious cornucopia away from you. Simultaneously, start to turn the bottom edge up and raise right thumb again (Foto 5).

Keeping right hand stationary and thumb up (so hand hides ball) turn bottom edge of paper up and pivot its top edge between opening of fore and middle right fingers (Foto 6). This pivoting should result in showing reverse side of paper.

Move right thumb back and clip top edge of sheet between its tip and that of forefinger (Foto 2). If you like, you can now repeat all the moves from the beginning.

Release bottom edge and grasp left edge of paper with left hand (Foto 7).

Raise your right thumb releasing top edge of sheet and pull sheet off towards left with left hand. At the same time, rest your right hand, thumb up, flat on your chest as you say: "Don't watch me . . .(Foto 8). . . watch the paper!" As you say the latter, curl your right fingers in the normal way to point at the paper with your forefinger and, moving hand and body slightly toward left, bend top edge of paper towards right hand bringing its capricious . cornucopia • 58

corner close to right fingers.

Clip corner of paper between thumb and side of forefinger (Foto 9). As soon as right fingers grasp the paper, move your left hand to grasp paper at diagonally opposite corner (Foto 10).

Bring lower corner up and around right hand (and ball). Meanwhile move right hand back in front of chest as your body also turns full front. These are not three separate motions but three parts of one continuous action. You should now be in position illustrated in foto 11. Your right hand should be holding ball and paper against your chest as your left hand continues to pull edge of paper up and around to form a cone (Foto 12).

Your left hand curls around bottom of cone and starts to turn and tighten it. Meantime, your right thumb and forefinger move to edge of cone to help in its formation. The ball hangs from thumb and is hidden by cone (Fotos 13 and 14). When peak of cone is at left, stop "adjusting" cone, bring right hand out as in foto 15.

Keeping your right hand stationary

59 * capricious cornucopia in that position, pull the cone down and out towards left with your left hand and your right hand points to empty cone (Foto 16).

Bring cone, mouth up, again and smooth its outside surface from the bottom up with your right hand so that as your hand starts downward once more the dangling ball will hang in the cone as in foto 15. You can now repeat the motions and moves described for fotos 14 through 16.

From pointing to empty cone, move right hand and rest its edge on top of left hand (Foto 17). Note that there is no opening between edge of right hand and back of left.

Lower your right thumb so that it rests for all its length on top of left hand and ball dangles behind your left wrist. As soon as ball is covered, turn your right hand so that all can see it is empty and make motions as if smoothing the side of the cone with your forefinger (Foto 18).

The moves described for fotos 16 through 18 should be one continuous motion.

Reverse the motions thus: Bring the edge of your right hand back against your left, lift the right thumb and —simultaneously—■ point with your right forefinger to empty cone which left hand lowers and points mouth towards audience (Foto 16).

Once again, bring right hand over to smooth cone (from the bottom up) as left lifts it mouth up (Foto 15).

This time release the ball so it falls into the cone, and make a couple of turns of the cone with both hands. Finally, tip cone mouth down and produce the hitherto non-existent ball (Foto 19).


Foot Note

Most performers, preoccupied with hand manipulations (and this is particularly true when they are doing effects with such items as cards, cigarettes and billiard balls), forget that their feet play an important role in their presentations. The tendency is to practically turn their backs on the audience until they are almost face to face with the back drop.

For Slydini's "Capricious Cornucopia" it is imperative that you coordinate the movements of your feet with the movements of your body.

Foto 1 shows normal stance for beginning: Your weight distributed evenly on both feet and facing your audience.

When you find it necessary to turn either to left or right, don't move your feet first! As your body turns in either direction, the corresponding foot will follow; then, and only then, move that foot out in the desired direction and at a slight angle (Foto 2).

To turn to the other side, turn your body in the new direction, bring the angled foot back to original position, continue the turn with

61 * capricious cornucopia your body, and then follow up with your other foot just as you did before.

If you are not to stand stiffly in one position, move around a little while performing thus: Step back or forward, to right or left, but always maintain the relative position of your feet; that is, center, left, center, right; center, forward, center, back; etc. You can practice in rhythm by counting 1, 2, 3, 4, as you lift and then put down first one foot, then the other. Don't drag or slide your feet. Make your steps short but natural and smooth.

All of the foregoing dissertation is to keep you from making the same faux pas of which too many performers stand accused: Because they feel "guilty," or are unsure of their angles, or are self-conscious, or for any other reason, their toes start to creep and their arms and body turn until they have almost entirely faced stage rear. So, make sure to maintain your poise by keeping your feet in the position of foto 2.

The foregoing directions apply to practically any stage or platform effect where it is important that you be careful of your angles. Remember that if you stand stiffly facing forward, your position will be ungraceful, you will lose your personality and it will cause your manipulations to look awkward.


Have a Ball!

Using the same principle —ball with loop— but a hollow ball, you can do a production of salt, sugar or liquid from the "empty" cone. How?

Preparation: Buy, borrow or steal a hollow rubber ball. Loop it in the same manner described above. At the end of ball opposite to loop, make an inch-long slit with a razor blade. (Foto shows slit forced open by squeezing sides of ball.) Fill the bail with salt, sugar or any liquid.

Proceed to make a paper cone as above described until you arrive at the point where ball is hanging inside cone (Foto 15). Release the ball and turn the cone a couple of times. Now —instead of producing the ball— squeeze it from outside the cone, releasing the contents and allowing them to flow through bottom of cone.

Note : I f when you first squeeze the ball, the contents are not released, give the cone a slight turn and squeeze again. The slit will not open up unless you squeeze it at the ends.

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Like Slydini's "Capricious Cornucopia" (page 55), his "Ball Vanish in the Hands" is also impossible to describe without pictures. Even so, only moving pictures can begin to do either effect justice. These are fluid effects. They require smooth motion to bring them to life. Read the effect through, study the photographs carefully and, then, read the effect through again before even attempting to begin practice.

The effect, like all of Syldini's, is deceptively simple in the telling: Slydini displays a rubber ball with one hand, puts it into his other hand . . . Poof! The ball vanishes! The ball appears, vanishes, and reappears in varied ways and, always, Slydini's hands are visible . . . magically empty after each vanish of the ball. Preparation: This is the same as for "Ball and Cone."

As you introduce this effect, pick up the ball contriving to slip your thumb inside loop without exposing it.

Method and Presentation: Display the ball at your finger tips. Turn towards left and show left hand empty back and front (Foto 1).

"Bang" the ball noisily into your left palm (Foto 2). As you do this, open right fingers and allow the ball to hang from thumb.

Be careful to keep your right thumb up throughout routine —not stiffly but naturally— to prevent ball from flashing under lower edge of palm.

As soon as you slap ball into left palm, turn left hand pretending bali. vanish in the hands * 68

it holds ball and bring right hand open to rest in front of your chest (Foto 3).

Wiggle left fingers as if kneading the ball, then turn it up to show ball has vanished (Foto 4).

Join your hands in a praying gesture (Foto 5) and, holding this position, swing your arms and body to your right (Foto 6).

69 ' ball vanish in the hands

Palming the ball in your left hand and aided by left thumb, lift the ball over base of right thumb (Foto 7) dropping it behind right hand and bringing hands back to position of foto 6.

Curl your left fingers as if they hold the ball (Foto 8); keeping right hand stationary, open palm towards audience, bring your ball vanish in the hands • 70

closed left hand towards left. Follow your left hand with your eyes as your body also turns full center.

In the meantime, your right hand moves away towards right, and your left makes kneading motions as if squeezing the ball with its fingers. Finally open your left hand to show that the ball has again vanished (Foto 9).

71 • ball vanish in the hands

From this position turn both hands over abruptly and in unison to arrive at position illustrated in foto 10.

(Inset in foto 9 is exposed view showing how ball travels over base of thumb from back of hand to palm. See Slydini "Touches" on page 76.) Now:

1. Bring right hand over left as in foto 11;

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2. Lower right thumb and turn right palm out (Foto 12);

3. Reverse this move by turning right hand back out and raising thumb so that your hands return to position in foto 11;

4. Turn left hand palm out (Foto 13) by revolving it outward;

73 • ball vanish in the hands

5. Drop right thumb (so ball hangs behind left hand) and turn right palm out (Foto 14);

6. Turn right hand back out, lift right thumb, and revolve left hand in until you return to position in foto 11.

You can repeat the moves described in paragraphs 1 through 6 as many times as you think your audience would enjoy it.

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Continuing from position in foto 11 and keeping right hand stationary, revolve open left hand around right (Fotos 15 and 16) thus: Bring left hand down, behind, and then over right hand. Start to make a second revolution but, instead of continuing, bring both hands together palm to palm and then cup them around ball (Foto 17). Blow into your cupped hands and, keeping your thumbs to-

75 ' ball vanish in the hands gether, part them at the outer edges to show ball materialized between them (Foto 18).

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