Creative Ideas From Ian Adair (part 2)

Ian Adair

New Colors Run

Way back in the sixties, when working at Supreme, I marketed an effect called ‘Colors Run’. This consisted of a colored painting book, which, when formed into a tube and then having clear liquid poured through it, became void of its colors. The colors appeared in glasses as liquid. I was surprised to see this effect published under another magician’s name in a recent new publication. However, whilst the theme remains the same, here’s another version of this effect which I hope you will find of interest.

A painting book is displayed, and the pages of it are flicked through. The audience clearly sees that all the pages are colored. They also see that punched through, towards the four corners of the entire book , are four large holes. Four small glass tumbler are placed, on under each hole, the book resting on top. From a jug of clear water, the liquid is poured through the holes into the glasses. The liquid appears to change colors, red, yellow, green and blue, now appear inside the glasses. When the paint book is again flicked through, it is seen that all the colors have apparently faded away from the pages.


  • A special paint book. This is really a flick book or magic Painting Book as it was so called in the fifties. Flick it one way and the pages appear black and white – flick it the other way and they are colored.
  • Although I have several hammer punches in my tool box, the magician wishing to make up this item, who doesn’t have such, can cut by hand the four holes. These should be positioned towards the four corners of the paint book. Each hole should be slightly smaller than the mouth of each glass, In other words – when the book is rested on top of the glasses, when positioned, the mouths will not protrude through.
  • You require four small shot glasses.
  • A jug containing water.
  • Dyes. I use normal ones made for fabric dyeing, red, yellow, green and blue. A few grains of dye in each glass will never be seen.

Display the paint book by flicking thought the pages showing the colored pictures. Point to the holes punched in the book. Display the four glasses and place them directly under each hole. Pick up the jug and pour the water through each hole. The audience will clearly see the water changing into colors. Lift off the paint book and finally flick through the pages to show that all the drawings are now black and white, the colors having been extracted. A nice effect.

NOTE: I personally covered my paint book with a clear contact material, so the front is still visible yet it saves it from becoming soiled with liquids coming in contact with it.

Newspaper Flash

Visual gags are always welcomed so these can be slotted into various routines during a show. Although the ‘News Flash’ gag has been used before, here’s another way of introducing it. In effect, whilst the performer intends using a newspaper for a particular effect, this is rolled into a tube. Suddenly a flash appears from inside the rolled -up newspaper. The performer then announces: “Ladies and gentlemen. . .that was a news flash.”

To obtain this, you will require a tabloid newspaper and a piece of flash paper. The flash paper is neatly rolled into a crumpled ball. This crumpled ball is attached to the back top corner of the newspaper with a small blob of blu-tak material.

Display the newspaper, your hands always seen to be empty throughout. Flick through the pages, then start tolling the paper up, allowing the back section to go inside. In turn, this allows the crumpled flash paper ball to be located towards the end of the tube.

It is best of the magician is smoking, has a lighted cigarette nearby, or a lighted candle, so that when the flame approaches this the flash paper ignites. This will produce a flash which will shoot out of the rolled-up newspaper. Now deliver your gag line.

Alternately, use any gadget which can be concealed and which can ignite a flame.


Some years ago an effect of mine was marketed using four items of different shapes and sizes. These were inside a paper bag. The magician had placed just one duplicate of only one of the four items inside as well. It always worked out that the duplicate was the one which a spectator had freely chosen. This effect is the same but is made for stage, cabaret or television. It also uses different items and is much more visual.

As above but now in detail. On a tray rests four different items: a bottle, a large die, a candle and a pack of cards. The mentalist places a folding cardboard cover around them. He also states that he has four duplicates of these items behind his table and will mentally select one of them. Furthermore, he will place this chosen duplicate inside the encased tray unit with the others. This he does by standing, back to audience, covering his actions so no one can see which of the duplicates is being placed inside. A spectator is asked to merely think of one of the four objects. This named, when the cover is removed, there on the tray are the original four objects but with only one duplicate – this being the duplicate of the spectator’s choice.

All the objects have shells. The bottle has a shell over it. The large die has a shell over it. A shell slides over the upright candle and a shell fits over the pack of cards. These are all easily obtainable items. From Multiplying Bottles, from some candle effects, from a die box and one can purchase a shell pack these days, although I must admit I made mine up from scratch. At the commencement have all shells over the solids and display them on the wooden tray which should have a wooden beading around its edges. A folding four panel container, made in cardboard and which is hinged together with the aid of linen of plastic tape. It has no actual base. This cover should be hiding all objects from view.

Display all four items on the tray naming them singly. Show the folding cover, fold it flat and reopen it, placing it over the objects. State that you will make a prediction by placing a duplicate of just one of the objects inside the covered tray and stand with your back facing the audience, in front of this unit. Reach behind your suitcase table and pretend to bring out an object but actually bring out nothing at all. Shield this process from the audience using your back. Pretend to place it inside the folding cover. Now ask a spectator to think of one of the four objects and ask he or she to name it loudly so all can hear. Once known, act accordingly. Recap on what has been done, bringing out one or two of the objects for display purposes, replacing them. When you come to the item which was freely selected, remove the shell, but replace it somewhere else on the tray. This means that you will have TWO of the same object. No matter which object is freely selected, the shell is always removed and replaced elsewhere. That’s the secret of the experiment. It works every time.

Vanishing Rabbit

Please don’t be put off should you think this effect uses real livestock – nothing of the kind! It’s a cute origami stunt which will become a talking point amongst your friends. From a square of paper a model origami-type rabbit is formed. It looks cute and instructions can be found in many of the origami teach-in books available from the shops. Tell your audience that it’s a magic rabbit. “Watch it vanish into thin air,” says the performer. Suddenly the rabbit disappears in a flash!

A piece of flash paper. The origami model of the rabbit commences with a square of paper so it is important to note the shape. With a few folds detailed in origami books, the rabbit is formed. When you wish it to vanish, touch the edge of the model against a lighted cigarette or flick on a lighter so it goes off in a flash!

“Now you see it, now you don’t.”

Yes or No?

Designed as a comedy gag item, this item is ideal for the stand-up performer or compere. The performer can pretend to be a mentalist if wished.

Inside a large envelope is a prediction. A spectator is asked to think of an object. The performer asks the spectator to name it aloud.

“Do I have the same name, the name of your chosen object on my prediction card. . .let’s see if my prediction is right” quips the performer. In removing the giant card the word NO is seen. “NO I don’t so I am right. . .” Then quip “One day I will be correct and will proudly bring the prediction card out showing the other side” (reverse the card to show the word YES).

The timing is very important here as well as the wording.