Creative Ideas From Ian Adair

Ian Adair

Book Test

Obtaining the vital information, such as certain words appearing on the pages of a particular book, can be done in many ways. Special slates, code cards etc., have all been used in the past. Here’s an idea. Years ago I purchased a Jumbo sized card frame, then manufactured by The Supreme Magic Company of England. Other dealers have manufactured and sold such an item. I found that a code card, arranged in columns, in tens, marked 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 and the first and last words on the pages of a chosen book, could reach into the hundreds. This code card was inserted into the giant sized card frame. The frame was inverted and the sand covered the image. This meant that the code was hidden from view. I used this unit as a slate or display aid and used a china-graph type pencil (some marker pens also work) to write on the glass surface. In effect, a normal book was used. A spectator was asked to open it at any page and note the first or last word (or both) of that chosen page. The display unit was introduced and shown on both sides and the pencil was taken up for the performer to use. Meanwhile the card frame was casually inverted, the code now coming into the performer’s’ view.

After the spectator announces the chosen page number of the book, all the performer has to do is to glance at the code, spot the page number and then the words after this. These words are written across the surface of the glass whilst the frame is inverted again. The bold black writing against the sandpaper surface shows up well as your divination.

The pencil image can easily be erased ready for another performance and those who wish to use a different book in future shows could have other code cards for replacement. It might even be worth thinking of having several such giant sand frames with several code cards inserted inside, so that a number of books can be used in this book test.

21st Century Silks

We’ve got to keep up with the times.

It’s not really a new version of the classic 20th century silks, but rather a comedy routine using a prop which you can convert.

Two purple silks are shown and knotted together by their corners. These are gathered together and displayed inside a clear tumbler. The magician states that he is going to make a third silk, a red one, vanish and reappear tied and knotted between the two. He uses a gun. The red silk is placed into a prop and the gun is fired. The lid of the prop is removed showing the silk has gone, at the same time when the trigger is pulled, down rolls the red silk. It’s a sort of 20th Century silks in reverse.

Three 18″ silks, two purple and one red. A clear tumbler. Some prop (basically one which uses one hand to operate it) which will vanish the red silk. A BANG GUN. There are two sizes on the market and these are readily available. I have used the larger model. When you pull the trigger, the shaft opens wide and down rolls a banner in silk (or could it be in nylon?) showing the word B-A-N-G-!

Replace the Bang silk for a normal red silk, sewing the two metal rods into the bottom hems. This works exactly the same as the BANG silk, and when rolled up and concealed inside, when operated, rolls down for display.

The working is obvious.

Tie the two purple silks together and place them inside the clear tumbler. Show the red silk and pop it into your container (I personally use a Merry Switch Can, which is a great prop). Introduce the gun and fire it towards the can. Lift the top of the can and tilt the inner section showing the red silk has vanished, at the same time, pressing the trigger allowing the rolled-up silk to unroll and be displayed.

Fun with the Coin Wand

I have just purchased the coin wand. I had one years ago and so did many old, old magicians of bygone days. The current model by Colin Rose is a good one, very well made and effective in performance. A simple push-up on the sliding stud allows the folding coin to make its appearance on the end of the wand. Why not use the old ‘Purse gag’ item in conjunction with the coin wand. They work well together.

In performance, display the purse frame, opening it up and showing it inside and out. It’s got to be empty, since there is no cloth outer or inner sections. Keep the purse frame open as you poke the end of the wand inside and then bring out a COIN. This can be repeated several times, one coin after another making its appearance from inside the silly purse frame. The performer could state that this purse belonged to the invisible man and when he wanted to buy something he used a magic wand and the procedure to prove how clever he is.

The finish to the routine could be the production of a larger sized coin.

This may sound cold in print, but do try it. The purse frame notion could be part of your routine, coins also appearing here there and everywhere as in usual routines.

Knot Unusual

The old gag of catching something inside a paper bag has not only been tried and tested by countless magicians over the years, but by comedians too, British performers, Morcambe and Wise coming to mind immediately. Here’s the same gag but with and added magical effect.

A length of rope is displayed and lowered slowly into a tall paper bag (sack) so that it hangs over the top of the bag. The magician asks a spectator to reach into the air and catch a knot. The same spectator is asked to throw the invisible knot towards the bag. There’s a ‘snap’ and a sudden movement of the bag. When the rope is removed from the bag ( and remember – its end has been in full view all the time) there tied towards its opposite end, is a knot.


  • A paper bag of the type which is slightly stiffer than the average.
  • A special rope length. Inserted into one end, using glue, is a rope magnet.
  • A small portion of similar rope, tied into a knot. Into its end is secured another magnet so that when both ends meet, they are attracted to each other. The rope now appears to have a knot tied near its end.

Have the fake knot end already inside the bag at the commencement.

Display the length of rope showing both ends. Explain that you want someone to assist by catching an invisible knot. Drape the length of rope inside the paper bag leaving its top end protruding over the edge. As the rope is being placed inside, carefully engage it onto the magnetic knot fake section. Hold the paper bag at top position, fingers towards the back, thumb gripping. When the spectator throws the ‘invisible knot’ towards the bag, snap your finger against the back of this. The audience will hear a SNAP. The knot has arrived! Slowly remove the length of rope showing that the knot is now tied to its end.

Light Entertainment

When I was a boy magician so very many years ago, I used to perform the coin in the nest of boxes which had the little bag in the middle. This used a coin slide, mine was made of metal. The two outer boxes housed a small cloth bag which was slid over the slide and secured by an elastic band. This slide protruded from both closed boxes. When a coin was borrowed and marked, this could secretly be guided into the protruding slide so it would arrive inside the little cloth bag which was inside both boxes. The coin supposedly vanished elsewhere and when the spectator opened both boxes he or she found the bag (the slide having been secretly removed by now) and there inside, was the vanished marked coin. I have found that the firm Bryant and May manufacture matchboxes of different sizes, containing match sticks of varying sizes too. I used the large household container for the outer box. I used a regular for the second box which could easily nest inside. Instead of a little cloth bag I used a small cigarette lighter which happened to be inside a little sleeve-type bag. I used the same metal slide, which was pushed into the top of the lighter bag, with the lighter still inside. The unit was behind other props on the table.

A coin was borrowed from and marked by a spectator.

Taken by the performer, this is placed under the folds of a pocket handkerchief (in reality, palmed-a duplicate is already sewn into the hank). Going towards the nest of boxes, the palmed coin is secretly dropped into the slide, which in turn is removed and left behind. The boxes are closed. (Elastic bands round each will not only make the working better but will make the trick more effective.) “A matchbox . . .inside are things that light. . .or not so in this case. . .because there’s another matchbox. And inside this one is something which lights. . .it’s a cigarette lighter. Take it out sir, and see what’s inside it’s case. . .yes. . .the missing coin.”


Ian Adair