Tricks with Handkerchiefs

Written by jessica reed
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Tricks with Handkerchiefs
Entertain your audience with simple handkerchief magic tricks. (white batist handkerchief image by Maria Brzostowska from

Handkerchiefs have long been a popular tool for magicians. Sometimes they assist in tricks by hiding a slight of hand and other times the handkerchief serves as the trick itself. From making a handkerchief appear out of thin air to tying two together only to have the knot mysteriously vanish, several simple tricks are available for the beginning magician to learn. Practice your tricks in front of a mirror so you can get the timing down before performing in front of an audience.

Handkerchief from Thin Air

Start your magic show by making a handkerchief appear out of thin air. The Little Giant Encyclopedia’s “Card and Magic Tricks” book tells how to make this work. Before you go in front of the audience, lay out a handkerchief and fold each corner in to the centre to form a small square. Repeat this again with the new corners formed from folding the cloth. Repeat one to two times more, if necessary, so the square fits inside your shirt sleeve. Tuck the square into the crook of your elbow and pull your sleeves down.

When you go on stage, tell the audience you have nothing in your hands while showing your empty palms and proceed to say you have nothing up your sleeves while pulling them up. Pull the left sleeve up with the right hand and the right sleeve up with the left. When you pull up the left sleeve, slip the square handkerchief into your concealed right palm. Unfold the handkerchief with your thumb to make it appear magically from behind your hands.

Escaping Handkerchief

Activity shows how to perform a trick which will make a handkerchief appear to escape from inside a sealed cup. To start, place a handkerchief into a clear glass cup. When you do this, leave one corner of the handkerchief near the top of the glass. Drape a different coloured handkerchief over the cup to hide it and, as you do so, pull the corner of the handkerchief inside the cup up over the top so it sticks out. Do not let the audience see you pull the corner out. Place a rubber band over the top of the cup and around it to hold the second handkerchief in place. Lift up the front of the handkerchief to show the first one is still inside. Make sure not to show the corner you've secretly pulled out of the glass. Reach under the cup and handkerchief and tap the bottom of the glass, telling your audience it is secure. As you do this, pull downward on the corner of the handkerchief inside the glass and it will appear as though you are pulling it out through the bottom of the glass. Flip the cup upside down to show the rubber band is still holding the second handkerchief firmly in place.

Untying Knot

Create the illusion of a vanishing knot tied from two handkerchiefs following this trick found at Take one handkerchief and pretend to quickly tie a knot in it when, in reality, you only twist a portion of the end around to form a loop. Hold it in your left hand so your hand hides the bottom and the audience thinks you've tied a knot instead of simply twisted the handkerchief.

Take the second handkerchief and tie it through the loop into a normal knot. Ask a volunteer to pull on the second handkerchief. As long as you hold firmly onto the twist you made in the first handkerchief, the second will pull into a tight knot and no matter how much the volunteer tugs, it won't come loose. Toss the handkerchiefs into the air with a quick flourish. Since the first handkerchief is simply twisted and not tied, it will untwist and the two will slip apart. This makes it seem as though the first handkerchief untied itself.

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