How to Make Magic Gimmicks

Written by megan shoop
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How to Make Magic Gimmicks
Magic gimmicks help you perform magic tricks. (Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Magic, in the entertainment sense, is not magic at all, but illusion. A combination of clever hands and illusory gimmicks provide the tools any sleight-of-hand artist needs to pull off a trick. While performance and smooth finger-work are huge pieces of an illusionist's arsenal, gimmicks provide the necessary tools to perform most tricks. These seemingly ordinary objects often have invisible changes made to them to make the illusions work. You can certainly purchase gimmicks at a magic store, but homemade gimmicks are cheaper and allow you to tailor your illusions to your magical style.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Ballpoint pen
  • Pen knife
  • Acrylic nail glue
  • 4-by-10-mm cylindrical magnet
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Playing cards
  • Glue stick

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    Magnetic Pen Wand

  1. 1

    Unscrew the back end of the ballpoint pen. The pen should have a clear body, a pointed cap and a removable bottom end. You should be able to look down into the pen and see the hollow end of the pen ink reservoir.

  2. 2

    Hold the plastic pen end upright so you can see the hollow end. Slip the tip of a narrow pen knife into the pen end and twist it, hollowing out the piece. If the pen end is already hollow, skip this step.

  3. 3

    Drip a single drop of acrylic nail glue into the hollowed pen end. Slip a 4-by-10-mm cylindrical magnet into the pen end; it should sit flush with the top edge of the pen end. Allow the glue to dry for about 20 minutes.

  4. 4

    Paint the visible end of the magnet with glossy, black acrylic paint. This prevents audience members from seeing the magnet and outing you.

  5. 5

    Glue the pen end back into place and let the glue dry for about 20 minutes. Again, the glue prevents suspicious audience members from taking apart the pen and outing your secret.

  6. 6

    Use your new magnetic pen wand in any number of coin tricks to make coins look as if they're levitating.

    Reversible Playing Cards

  1. 1

    Choose any two cards from your deck; just remember which cards they are. Inspect the corners to see if any of them are frayed or starting to separate; these cards are ideal for a reversible card gimmick.

  2. 2

    Firmly tap the corner of a non-fraying card against a hard surface, like a counter or a table. This should split the corner, separating the back of the card from the front.

  3. 3

    Gently pull the two sides of each of the cards apart; both sides of each card should be intact when you're done. Work slowly and pull just a little at a time.

  4. 4

    Rub a glue stick over the plain side of each card surface. Glue the two faces of the cards back-to-back. Glue the two card backs together, as well. Allow the glue to dry overnight.

  5. 5

    Check the cards. You should now have one card with a card face on either side and one with two backs. With some clever finger work, you can use these cards in any number of card tricks.

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