Deck o' Cards in Bottle

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Postby Dan » 12/31/01 11:08 AM

Have any of you astute magi completed this task as described in a recent issue of MUM? Well I 'tried' and found it quite a daunting task after the 17 or 18th card. I have used both the valley fold and the mountain fold for the box. I use a 'Z' fold for the cards.
I am to the point that the deck looks like it went through the wash machine and is now dry!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Postby Adam Brooks » 12/31/01 12:18 PM

Dan,

I've made a few impossible bottles in the past couple of years: deck of cards, scissors, ping pong balls and tennis balls are the easiest items to bottle stuff. Things get trickier from there. As for a deck of cards, it really depends on the "quality" of the case once it's inside the bottle. I modified the method in Paul Harris' Art of Astonishment book (Vol 2, pg 303) and I get good results. Not as good as Eng, but good enough that it can be incredibly puzzling to a viewer.

If you'd like some more help, you can E-mail me.

Hope this helps,

Adam
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 12/31/01 01:03 PM

I also learned from the Paul Harris Art of Astonishment book. He basically describes how Eng does it. I've had very good results. A deck in a pint-sized bourbon bottle is my best to date.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/31/01 09:48 PM

Harry Eng doesn't "do" it any more. He's deceased. Some of his methods for making such unique objects died with him.
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Postby Dan » 01/02/02 07:58 AM

Can someone please point me in the direction on Engs' publications? Or any other publications on bottling a deck in a 200ml bottle.

This is not a game anymore it is a quest! There is no way I will allow this deck beat me!
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Postby CHRIS » 01/02/02 08:32 AM

I will give you a technological solution. Laser welding. Take a bottle, cut away the bottom with a diamond saw. Insert a deck of cards (potentially wrapping it in some heat resistant cover which can later be easily removed)
Then use a high power CO2 laser to weld together the bottle bottom and the top. That migth even be a way to mass produce these miracles.

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Postby Adam Brooks » 01/02/02 09:08 AM

I will give you a technological solution. Laser welding. Take a bottle, cut away the bottom with a diamond saw. Insert a
deck of cards (potentially wrapping it in some heat resistant cover which can later be easily removed) Then use a high power CO2 laser to weld together the bottle bottom and the top.


Ugh.

The beauty of impossible bottles is that everything goes in through the neck. Whenever anyone sees an Eng bottle, that's always the first thing people think of: the bottle was cut and resealed somehow. According to Eng in an old Genii article, "that would be the hard way to do it" (not that some of his methods of bottle stuffing objects weren't incredibly time-consuming and precise). The prime objective for Eng when he created his bottles was to get people to think. In the end, 99% people realize that cutting the bottle would leave some sort of a visible scar, either on the bottle itself or on the objects inside. At that point, people are left to do some serious pondering.

Making one for yourself is very gratifying. There are a limited number of objects you can bottle stuff, the hard (and fun) part is figuring out how to do it. The process is exactly constructing a magical effect, and once it is complete, you have a "permanent piece of strange" to display, thank you Paul Harris.

If you want to see more of Eng's, and others' work, check this out:
http://www.johnrausch.com/PuzzleWorld/t ... /io000.htm

Here you'll find many of Eng's bottles, as well as other very cool impossible objects.

Adam
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/02/02 10:53 AM

Thanks Richard,
Actually, I was aware of that. Unfortunately, I been operating of late in a Zen state where time is one continuum. A friend of mine who visited Eng's workshop said he had all these crazy tools for the various bottles. A lot of the stuff you can figure out if you think spacially, so the "secret" isn't so much an issue as the thing itself. Said another way, I can tell you how DaVinci painted the Mona Lisa. Painting the lady is a whole other thing....
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Postby CHRIS » 01/02/02 12:37 PM

Adam,

lighten up. Nobody disputes the beauty of a hand crafted 'impossible' sculptur. I just wanted to point out that it is quite easy to achieve a similar or even more impossible endproduct easily with modern manufacturing methods.

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Postby Adam Brooks » 01/02/02 02:40 PM

I just wanted to point out that it is quite easy to achieve an...even more impossible endproduct easily with modern manufacturing methods.


I respectfully disagree. It's a perfect example of the Too Perfect Theory in action. If someone sees, say, a brick inside a bottle, they will immediately be saying "Wow, they hid the cut in the bottle really well." All the wonder is gone.

On the other hand, which would a craftsman rather do: put a deck in a bottle the "old-fashioned way" which takes nothing but a few tools and some good dexterity, or use some elaborate technology? All I'm saying is that, using laser cutting as a method for producing an impossible bottle is akin to Marlo's method #4,673 for cutting the aces: It is a solution that works, though it is very unlikely anyone will ever actually use it.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/02/02 04:24 PM

A brick in a bottle. Hmmmmm. I think I have the solution, my friend. With no cuts in the bottle, of course....
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Postby CHRIS » 01/02/02 09:02 PM

Adam,

you seem to want to disagree. I said 'more impossible' I didn't say 'totally impossible'. I am absolutely in agreement with your 'Too Perfect' theory.

But if I show a viewer an Eng card-packet in bottle and a laser manufactured card-packet in bottle, they wouldn't see any difference. So their experience is the same, regardless if they believe it was achieved by craftsmanship through the narrow neck of the bottle or by some high tech solution of cutting and welding the bottle.

BTW, I looked at the website you earlier pointed us to. Great collection of 'impossible' objects!

And despite my interest for high tech manufacturing methods, I will try to put a packet of cards into a bottle the hard way! I am sure it will make me appreciate your kind of work even more.

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Postby Jim Morton » 01/03/02 12:48 PM

On the subject of inserting a deck of cards in a bottle via laser welding, the question remains: Have you ever actually done this, or is this a purely hypothetical postulation? I suspect that it's not as easy as you make it sound.

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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/03/02 02:12 PM

Originally posted by Jim Morton:
On the subject of inserting a deck of cards in a bottle via laser welding, the question remains: Have you ever actually done this, or is this a purely hypothetical postulation? I suspect that it's not as easy as you make it sound.
Jim


It would be very difficult. Carbon dioxide lasers come in two kinds -- CW (Continuous Wave) and Pulsed. The first time comes on for as long as you turn it on, the second dumps it's energy out in a few microseconds.

If you tried a CW laser, you would have to use it as you would a torch; heat up the glass until it fuses together. Glass expands under heat, and does not conduct heat well, so you would have to do it very slowly to prevent cracking/shattering, in which case the deck of cards would most likely catch afire.

If you used a pulsed laser, the surface of the glass would craze (ablate and crack for the depth of penetration, forming a thin surface layer which looks like frosted glass). It wouldn't melt/fuse the separate pieces together, unfortunately.

Also, Carbon Dioxide laser light is mostly at a wavelength of 10.6 microns, which bottle glass doesn't transmit -- it is all absorbed into the front few microns of glass (which is why it crazes).

I used to be an engineer in the Army's high power laser program (back when it had one . . . ), and have done work on the subject of laser/optics interactions. Not as much fun as sleight of hand, but steadier work.

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Postby CHRIS » 01/03/02 09:56 PM

I have done laser welding of glass in the past. I have never done a bottle with a deck in it. You have to be very careful with power settings and focusation or better said defocusation of the laser. But the results were astonishingly good. It works best with a very thin glass.

I don't think a deck would catch fire as long as it is not in the direct path of the laser.

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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/04/02 07:45 AM

Maybe some of you guys should switch over to the laser welding forum....
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Postby Guest » 01/04/02 10:54 AM

I would love to try the lazer welder techniques described above but one of my kids got a hold of the family lazer and welded all of my car's doors shut, which, needless to say, burnt out the lazer's argon flux capaciter. I guess I'll have to try putting decks in a bottle the old fashion way.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/04/02 12:47 PM

That's why I love the Genii Forum. Solid information...and a damn good laugh every now and then....
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/05/02 06:31 PM

A gentleman, Lindsay Hopkins, sadly deceased, was a MAJOR stockholder (I mean huge) in Coca Cola. He dabbled in magic.

He tried to have a batch of Kennedy Halves put into Coke Bottles at the bottle making factory, but they just couldn't do it without either the coin sticking in molten glass, or a telltale goofy shape to the glass.

Oh well... :p
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/07/02 01:26 AM

Well, I wrote the article in MUM, so I'm not sure if I can help Dan beyond what I wrote in the article. It takes time and the first one or two bottles won't look that good!

On the laser welding issue, I had at one point thought that you could do a deck by gluing an entire deck into a single block, then cut it into five equal pieces lengthwise. These could be fit through the neck one at a time. Since the box has only a small cut in one corner (to reveal that the cards are inside), this method would be indetectable and the deck would look perfect (as opposed to my best efforts where the corners of the cards are not so pristine).

But it seems like cheating to me. So I don't do it.

But it would be a hell of a lot easier than laser welding.
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Postby Dan » 01/07/02 12:22 PM

Thank you for writting the article, obviously I enjoyed reading it. After about 20 cards I find it VERY difficult to unfold the newly inserted cards. How important is it to make all the card folds the same? Is this a common occurance or am I doing something wrong.

I noticed in your article you mentioned they could be purchased; What is the going price? Not that I would ever buy one.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/07/02 12:29 PM

Dan,
Did you try rolling the cards? That works best for me. Insert rolled card into bottle and then use chopsticks to unroll and insert into the card case. Put a rubber band around the end of one of the sticks for extra grip. I got a full deck in a 100ml bourbon bottle this way. You could break the bottle, take the cards out and still use them.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/08/02 11:47 AM

Carl Mercurio:

I'm obviously fascinated by this process and if you don't mind I have a couple of questions about your technique.

First I assume there was a typo and that you don't put a deck into a 100 ml bottle. A deck fits pretty snugly into a 200 ml bottle -- I can't imagine it would fit at all into a 100 ml one.

Second, are you unrolling the card and then inserting it into the card box? If you are unrolling the card in the box, how do you cram a rubber-banded chopstick into a full card box to unroll the last card?

TIA,

Pete
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/08/02 12:43 PM

Carl Mercurio:

I'm obviously fascinated by this process and if you don't mind I have a couple of questions about your technique.

First I assume there was a typo and that you don't put a deck into a 100 ml bottle. A deck fits pretty snugly into a 200 ml bottle -- I can't imagine it would fit at all into a 100 ml one.

Second, are you unrolling the card and then inserting it into the card box? If you are unrolling the card in the box, how do you cram a rubber-banded chopstick into a full card box to unroll the last card?

TIA,

Pete
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/08/02 02:07 PM

Hey Pete,
Of course, you're right, it's a 200 ml bottle. Sorry about that.

You have to simultaneously unroll the card as it's going into the box. First get a pair of those wooden Japanese cooking chopsticks that end in a point, not the blunt ended Chinese chopstick. Roll a rubber band around the pointed end of one of the chopsticks.

Now the fun part. Roll one end of the card like a funnel and stick it into the top of the bottle. Push it down until it abuts the opening of the box. Use the chop stick with the rubber band to flair the ends of the card backwards so they enter the box unrolled and held in place by the lip of box. Use the chop stick with the rubber band again to push the card down. The card will open like a flower petal as it enters the box. When the card is all the way in, take the pointed end of the chopstick without the rubber band and shove it down into the lower corners of the box to make sure the card opened true and the ends didn't bend or roll. Any bends will screw us subsequent cards.

Hope this helps. Carl
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/09/02 12:01 AM

Carl,

Thanks for the info. I'll give that a try.

Actually, my problem isn't getting the cards into the deck. Using the z-fold method I wrote up in MUM I can easily get 52 cards into a deck. (Well, it's not easy, but I can do it.)

My big challenge is getting the flap all the way in and looking like an unopened box. Any suggestions for this step would be welcome.

Or would maybe using the rolled card method produce smoother cards in the box, which would in turn make inserting the flap easier?
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Postby Dan » 01/09/02 07:56 AM

Pete & Carl
I figured eventually we could start a pertinent discussion on this topic.
Lasers always take the 'fun' out of it!
Thank you both for your advise I'll try it!
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Postby Guest » 01/09/02 11:01 AM

On the subject of a full deck in a bottle:
I am a founding member of the Penn State Magicians and we have been putting Penn State decks in bottles for about 5 years. We've given them to people like Penn and Teller, D.C., and James Randi.
As for a method; going in through the neck is the ONLY option. Use any other mehtod and you lose the whole point of the work.
Good luck,
Ben S. ;)
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/09/02 06:34 PM

Pete,
The flap is always problematic. I don't know how the Z fold affects it, because I've never seen that technique. In a 200 ml bottle I've had good and bad closings, more related to how good a job I've done inserting the box rather than the cards in the bottle. In a larger bottle, says a liter-size scotch bottle, I have no problems with the flap.

As for you Ben, after five years at Penn State, you might consider forgetting about cards in a bottle and try getting those last few courses under your belt!!! :)
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Postby steve » 01/09/02 06:50 PM

You guys have ENTIRELY too much free time
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/09/02 10:05 PM

Funny thing is, I have absolutely no free time. I own a publishing company, have a one-year-old daughter, perform magic as a semi-pro including regular appearances at Monday Night Magic and make Julienne French Fries in 10 different ways. But you know the old saying, "If you want something done, ask somebody with no free time and they'll get it done for you."
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Postby Sean Piper » 01/09/02 10:11 PM

After reading all of these posts, as well as checking out pictures of some very cool looking bottles, I'm keen to give this a go myself.

I'm just after one piece of advice...

How do I get the damn card box inside?!?!?!

I imagine I'll have to unstick the bottom flap to allow me to fold it?

Yes...No....Maybe...?!?!?! :confused:
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Postby Arthur Martello » 01/10/02 05:33 AM

After reading the article, I was fascinated by the concept. I folded a box of cards the way the MUM article instructed, unfolded it, took a look at the bent up mess and said "why would anyone want to go through this torture". If the good Lord wanted cards to be in bottles, he would have grown them that way.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/10/02 07:48 AM

Sean,
Flatten the box such that the ends and bottom fold outward, then roll it into a cigar shape and put it in the bottle. Use a chopstick to open up. Again, this is the technique written up in Art of Astonishment.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/10/02 07:55 AM

Arthur,
Interestinly, there is a pear liquor called Williams that has a full-grown pear inside the bottle. The bottles are tied onto the branches of pear trees with the pear buds inside. The pear literally grows inside the bottle. P.S., a few glasses of Williams and you couldn't put your legs into your pants, never mind cards in a bottle.
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Postby CHRIS » 01/10/02 08:34 AM

Look, it is very easy. You get one of these little printing presses, disassemble it put it into the bottle, assemble it and then print a deck of cards right in the bottle.

Once you have printed the 52 cards it is just a matter of disassembling the printing press and extracting it out of the bottle.

It is not that hard - is it? All that rolling up of cards is a big hoax by the people who have one of these little printing presses. They want to make you believe they spend hours inserting a deck of cards into a bottle.

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Postby CHRIS » 01/10/02 08:39 AM

...or the magicians way is to get a shrinking deck gimmick, shrink a deck of cards to a tiny size, insert it through the neck of the bottle, which is now trivial since the deck is tiny. Once the deck is in the bottle you magically grow it back to normal size.

For what are we magicians after all?

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Postby Adam Brooks » 01/10/02 11:07 AM

Or we could use the technique that Eng himself used to say he used...

Trained cockroaches :D

:confused:

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Postby Carl Mercurio » 01/10/02 11:47 AM

Damn you, Adam. Now you've given it away...
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/11/02 12:32 AM

Sean Piper:

As I mentioned in the MUM article, in my own experience I get better looking boxes when I fold the sides in rather than out. You might want to try both.


Carl Mercurio:

Glad to hear it's not just me who is at the mercy of a seemingly-random variation in the flap.
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