Fred Becker – Neil Foster's Egg On Fan

Columnist:
Fred Becker

If you do a stage act or a parlor type performance I encourage you to look at the Egg on Fan. It is a very artistic effect and can fit in well with a manipulation performance or as and interlude in a less formal presentation.

Effect
You tear the corner out of a folded piece of paper. The paper is opened to show an oblong shape torn out.

The piece that is torn is bounced on an open fan. Slowly the piece grows and expands to the shape of a three dimensional egg. The egg is cracked open against the side of a glass to show that it is indeed a real egg.

Background
While I was taking the Chavez Course from Neil Foster, we worked on many routines that were not apart of the actual Chavez course. Much of the value of attending the school was the direction you would receive from a seasoned and consummate professional as Neil.

I have a love for subtle magic. I like things that happen slowly and visibly. Something that makes people pause and think, “am I really seeing what I think I see?” Egg on Fan is one such piece of magic. The egg seems to slowly “bloom” in front of their eyes. They have to think, “Come on! It can’t be a real egg!” Then, crack! You break it open proving its transformation.

So there I was, at the Chavez school, telling Neil how much I admired the concept. Neil said, “Then Frederick (he always used my full name), you must put it in your act!”

I don’t know if Neil ever published his handling of Egg on Fan. If he did, it most likely would have been when he was editor of the New Tops Magazine. Certainly he didn’t give me a written copy. Nevertheless, he did share with me his thoughts on it. In the years that have past, I don’t know how much I’ve strayed from his handling, but I doubt very much. If you ever saw Neil work, you know that he thought of every detail and worked every angle.

One advantage of this routine is that it can happen at anytime during your act. There are no body loads, which is a big plus to me. Carrying an egg in a ball dropper makes me nervous! Imagine laying an egg on stage Literally!

First
Neil was a big advocate of “box tables.” This literally means a box that sits on a table that you work out of. The box typically is wide but shallow and doesn’t have a top. The interior is diabolical. Inside are shelves and holders and partitions of all sorts, to hold all your necessary props and gimmicks. You can make steals, and ditches out of the box and just keep your performance more organized. It makes reset easier as you can check your compartments and if they’re set, you’re ready to go.

After I started utilizing an assistant in my show, I cut back on my dependence of the box table. However, I still use the technique for certain routines. Which brings me to the Egg on Fan.

This egg on fan routine requires a number of items explained below.

¸ A real egg
¸ The fake egg
¸ A paper fan
¸ A glass to in which to break the egg
¸ A piece of paper

The Box
To organize all the properties and expedite the routine a box table really helps. In later years I built a box, just for this routine. Should you wish to, you may do the same. I constructed mine all from sturdy cardboard. Then covered it with material, and padded the interior floor with felt. This is all lightweight for carrying but holds up to travel.

The box must be long enough to hold your fan, and deep enough to conceal the glass (and therefore the egg). The partitions in mine are as shown. But remember, you may wish to expand this design to hold other objects that routine in and around this trick in your act.

The Egg
Next you need the fake egg. The fake is a hollow egg made of latex. It has a sort of valve cut into on end that allows you to squeeze it flat. Once released it will slowly reinflate.

I use the Weller egg, but I understand Joe has a very nice new product. It is modestly priced compared to the impact you’ll receive from the effect. Visit his website at StevensMagic.com

The Fan
Obviously, you need a fan. In some of the older magic texts, they suggest you find a lace fan. The reason for lace was to due to the old method of making the egg gimmick. The technique was to first blow the contents out of the center of the egg, then dissolve the shell, leaving the membrane. The membrane had to be kept wet to avoid it sticking together like a wad of chewing gum. It was important to use a lace fan to allow the air to get under the wet membrane and allow it to expand.

The new latex eggs don’t work the same way, so the lace is not critical. However choosing a fan is still important and not easy. They come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some personal taste and discretion is up to you. However, keep in mind that a dark background will contrast the egg better and therefore help show the trick farther. Also, fans have a kind of feminine connotation to them, so find one that suits your personality on stage.

Handling a fan is not as easy as it appears and Neil Foster spent a good amount of time teaching me to flick the fan open with clean snap. This does two things; it really looks good and it really wears out the fan. So when you find a fan you like, stock up!

To open the fan properly, use your first finger to spread the first blade upwards. Now pinch that blade close to bottom with your curled index finger and thumb. Swing your hand up about shoulder height and perpendicular to audience (so that they will see the full fan when it opens). Next flick your wrist deftly and hold only with your thumb and index finger. The blades should rotate out into a big and full display.

The Paper
Get a piece of white paper approximately 5 inches square. Fold in half and half again. Tear the inner folded corner off. Tear a pie slice shape out. Discard the torn off piece. This should make a circle in the center of the unfolded sheet. With a little finesse, you can elongate the tear on one side making the hole look egg shaped.

Fold the paper back into quarters. Fold the rubber egg into a flat packet and insert it into the paper, to fill in the missing corner. Squeeze this into the slit made in partition of your box to hold the folded paper and rubber egg. Look at the above illustration; the folded paper is in the center of the box.

Get Ready
With the rubber egg tucked in the paper and held in the slit, you only have to lay the fan in its place, then put the real egg under the inverted glass (as you saw in the above illustration) and you are good to go anytime during your act.

Performance
Stand next to the table with the box. Being right-handed, I stand with my right side to the audience to face the table. I’ll describe the actions from this perspective.

Reach into the box with your right hand. Remove the folded paper concealing the rubber egg. Face the audience. Neil Foster advised brushing the folded paper across your left hand twice to indicate the flimsy nature of paper.

The left hand reaches into the right palm and grasps the rubber egg. Mime tearing the corner from the paper and hold the “corner” (rubber egg folded) up in the tips of the left finger. With your right fingers flip open the folded paper, showing an egg shaped hole.

Quickly refold the paper and place in back in the box. While your right hand is in the box, grab the fan. Make sure that the “corner” in your left hand is always visible to the audience.

Lift the fan into view. Turn face on to the audience. On your right side snap the fan open. Holding the fan at waist level, bring the “paper corner” to the fan. Your wrists need to break at an unnatural angle to unsure that the audience never loses sight of the “corner.” That is essential to the preceding. You must never cover the flattened rubber egg from their gaze.

Next is the wonderfully slow transformation of the apparent paper corner to a three dimensional and then solid egg.

Place the “corner” into the center of the fan. I often keep my left index finger on it as I make sure the audience sees the flat object on the fan. Now remove your left hand and bounce the egg on the fan. There is a technique to it. Make a tossing motion with your right wrist and at the same time swing the fan toward the right while breaking your wrist and back again. (My illustration may help explain.) You don’t just bounce straight up and down, you actually are putting a spin on it. This rotation helps the rubber egg inflate and the motion helps hide the rubber look of the partial egg shape.

This technique takes a certain amount of practice. You don’t want the egg to be flung out to where you can’t catch it or have to chase it. With practice the egg stays in one plane and merely spins in the air.

Eventually the egg will fully take shape. You can stop bouncing. The egg can be rolled slightly on the blades of the fan, if you are careful. But freeze for a moment and let the beauty of the effect sink in for the audience. We will soon prove to them what they think they see, but let them think of it first No need to rush.

Once again, keep the fan waist level. With your left hand reach into the box and bring out the glass/cup. Beware: As you reach in with your left hand, your right may dip and that rubber egg will roll right off onto the floor. It will bounce and clearly NOT be a real egg! This is overcome with practice and confidence.

Bring the glass up, swinging your body a little to the right. You want to roll the egg off the fan and into the glass. Make sure the audience can see the egg at all times. (See illustration.)

Once the egg is in the glass, snap the fan shut with one hand. This also takes practice. The technique is to flip your hand palm up with enough momentum to carry the blades back to a closed position.

With the closed fan held in the crotch of your thumb, replace the fan in its resting place. Notice the elegance of Foster’s routine. It is logical that the right hand must let go of the fan to break the egg. Plus, it is in the economy of this necessity, that the real egg is stolen. In my illustration you can see how the fingers of the right hand are free to grip the real egg. Indeed, it is almost hard not to grasp it!

Leave the fan behind in the box, and bring the real egg out concealed in your right hand. Reach into the glass with your right fingers. Again this very natural action does the work. Simply add the real egg onto the rubber one. The rubber egg will quickly deflate. As you scoop the two eggs out, the rubber is pinched off into a kind of finger palm. You may now display the real egg between your forefinger and thumb.

The audience generally doesn’t expect what comes next. Turn your hand palm down and crack the shell on the edge of the glass. Lift as high as you can (without splashing) to show the contents of the egg drip into the glass. Drop the shell on top and transfer the glass to your right hand. Press the rubber egg against the outside of the glass and your palm. This will camouflage the rubber egg perfectly. You can now show both hands apparently otherwise empty and in a natural applause cue.

After the applause, use both hands to lower the glass into the box (this time face up). Having a hand towel in the box is a wise idea as you may have egg guts on your hands! Talk about wanting to end clean!