DIY Magic Show Stage Props

Updated July 20, 2017

Stage magic refers to the repertoire of tricks and effects that magicians perform in large venues. Magicians such as David Copperfield, Lance Burton and Penn and Teller can spend thousands of dollars building the elaborate sets and illusions you see on television. However, you do not need a lot of money or technical knowledge to create your own props and impress an auditorium full of people. If you do not have the items at home, you can buy everything you need at your local office supply store for less than £32.

Cover your work surface with newspaper to protect it.

Place the wooden dowel on top of the newspaper-covered surface. Using your ruler, measure 1 inch from each end of the dowel. Mark the points with a pencil.

Paint the middle 10 inches of the dowel black, and let the wand dry.

Paint the tips of the wand white and let dry.

Point and wave the wand to misdirect your audience from secret moves and add a professional look to your show.

Trace the mouth of a paper cup onto a piece of white poster board.

Cut out the circle with a pair of scissors. Then, tape the cardboard circle to the centre of a white paper napkin.

Glue the bottom of the paper cup to a plastic plate. When the glue dries, you will have constructed all of the props needed to perform the Vanishing Cup Illusion.

Walk onstage with the gimmicked plate/cup. To the audience, it will look like you are simply balancing the cup on the plate.

Cover the cup with your gimmicked napkin. When you place the napkin over the cup, make sure that the cardboard circle overlaps with the mouth of the cup.

Simultaneously lift the napkin by the cardboard circle and turn the paper plate toward you. From the audience’s perspective, you covered the cup with a napkin and then lifted the cup off the plate. In reality, there is nothing under the napkin except the cardboard circle. The cup is glued to the plate and is facing your body.

Order an assistant to bring you your magic wand and take the plate offstage. Be aware of your angles: Do not expose the cup sticking to the plate.

Wave the magic wand toward the napkin and say, “Abracadabra!” Then, crumple the napkin in your hand. The cup has vanished.


Practice with your assistant until every move appears natural. Ask yourself, "What would we do if we really had magical abilities?" To get an idea of what your performance looks like to an audience, film your rehearsals, practice in front of a mirror, and ask your friends for their honest feedback.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • 12-inch wooden dowel
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Black paint
  • White paint
  • Paper cup
  • White poster board
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • White paper napkin
  • Glue
  • Plastic plate
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About the Author

Based in New York, Evan Paquette has been writing about the arts and education since 2007. His paper on the relationship between creative drama techniques and flow was featured in Kean University's "Educating the Creative Mind Conference Proceedings." Paquette earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and theater from Rutgers University and a Master of Arts in educational theater from New York University.