To wand or not to wand?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Andrew Phillips » 01/02/10 04:11 PM

I have a question; do you use a wand?
if so why, if not why?
I am interested in your oppinion of why you feel you would or would not use a wand.
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Postby Seuss » 01/02/10 04:29 PM

Yes I do use a wand. Mainly for certain sleights where the wand acts as cover (vernon wand spin etc) and also as a way to remove my hands from suspicion (pushing a prediction toward a spectator for instance).
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/02/10 05:19 PM

It's a good question--a very good question.

On the one hand, could anything be more stupid than holding a stick and calling it a magic wand?

On the other hand, could anything be more helpful.

It's a tough question that many great magicians have struggled with and you'll find folks on both sides of the wand ... er, fence.
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Postby Andrew Phillips » 01/02/10 06:18 PM

Myself I like to use a wand, but obviously this "stick" can get in the way of most magic. I have found having a wand that breaks down is a real novelty in this situation. I have people often chuckle at the point when I break it down like a pool que. I also like the almost "tribute" type aspect of it. A large majority of laymen think we all use them, at least to a degree, but the two piece wand does take this ancient device and put a more modern spin on it.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/02/10 06:24 PM

Vernon used a wand.
Williamson uses a wand.
Bob Read used a wand.
David Roth does not use a wand.
Tommy Wonder did not use a wand.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 01/02/10 06:33 PM

It might be hard to do a trick like ring on the wand (stick). Or Jim Ryan's ring rope and wand without one. Magicians like Don Alan and Roy Benson used a wand or a stick in their bowl routine that use a sponge ball retention vanish.

Some like to use a wand in a cups and balls routine - I find for me it gets in the way. But others like to use it. It is hard to do a Vernon wand spin without a wand.

I use a doll rod from the hardware store for ring on a stick. Some people like to use a chop stick. Charlie Miller I understand used the cardboard tube that is part of a hanger that one would hang their pants or slacks on.

My opinion use a wand - if it works for you. If it doesn't fit find something that does - or just don't use one!

Just my opinion.
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Postby David Alexander » 01/02/10 06:39 PM

When I do the Cups and Balls (Vernon routine) I use a piece of Manzanita root that I found in the mountains years ago. I sanded it lightly and gave it a coat of varnish. It is unusual and looks sort of "magicky" and has added to my presentation.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 01/02/10 11:18 PM

When I do the cups and balls I do not use a wand. Who the hell wants to carry a wand about with them? And when I do ring on stick I use Harry Lorayne's excellent idea of using a lecturer's pointer. That way the trick becomes an impromptu one.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/03/10 01:49 AM

Here's a cool wand with real powers:
http://www.firebox.com/product/2481/The ... te-Control
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/03/10 01:59 AM

I've always wanted a wand that could shoot flames out of my derriere in case someone like Jeff Busby just happened to be walking behind me.
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Postby Nathan Muir » 01/03/10 02:38 AM

Mark.Lewis wrote:When I do the cups and balls I do not use a wand. Who the hell wants to carry a wand about with them? And when I do ring on stick I use Harry Lorayne's excellent idea of using a lecturer's pointer. That way the trick becomes an impromptu one.


But who the hell wants to carry a lecturer's pointer around with them?
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Postby Kent Gunn » 01/03/10 04:45 AM

I use a wand only when I do the cups and balls. It is absolutely essential for three sequences that I use it for. That's why I use it.

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Postby Mark.Lewis » 01/03/10 07:49 AM

Nathan, my boy. Methinks you do not know what a lecturer's pointer actually is. It is the size of a pen. And in fact the one I have IS a pen. However, it is telescopic and folds up so it can be carried in a pocket. It has a pocket clip just like a pen does.

The advantage of such is that you can carry it around with you and do ring on stick on a strictly impromptu basis. And if you do the Giovanni method you don't even have to carry a duplicate ring.

As for using some kind of magic wand with cups and balls I have no objection to it at all. It is traditional and has certain advantages. It is just that for me personally my own routine does not require it.

Incidentally I read something in a Genii Magazine about doing what Malini used to do with the balls. He appeared to eat them. I have used this ever since I read it. I have found this sequence remarkably effective and I have never seen anyone do it. Of course now that I have given this away everybody will be doing it.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 01/03/10 12:18 PM

This thread reminded me of a story back in the days of the old Bishop's magic shop (Riverside).

It was Christmas time a mom was going to buy a magic set for one of her kids. She asked my Dad to help her choose a set. My Dad took three sets off the shelf - told her what was in each set.

The third set being the largest had a magic wand included. My dad would say - "And this set has most of what was in both these other sets - he would pause - and this set also includes a magic wand.

That set always sold out first.

My dad used to say - from the mom's point of view the kid can't be a magician without a magic wand. And he often used that to sell the magic set.

I think that this is a funny story.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Jonathan Arturo » 01/03/10 02:30 PM

Being a fan of the use of the wand myself I found your story quite humerous myself. The magic wand is so imbedded in the image of what a "magician" is it almost seems as if its a badge not unlike a police officer would carry.
One good aspect about a wand is that if you really want to people to know your a magician pull out your wand. You will either be recognized as a magician...,or a fairy....,or both!
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Postby Nathan Muir » 01/03/10 05:32 PM

Mark.Lewis wrote:Nathan, my boy. Methinks you do not know what a lecturer's pointer actually is. It is the size of a pen. And in fact the one I have IS a pen. However, it is telescopic and folds up so it can be carried in a pocket. It has a pocket clip just like a pen does.

The advantage of such is that you can carry it around with you and do ring on stick on a strictly impromptu basis.


I know what it is and appreciate the advantage. But the disadvantage is that you identify yourself as the sort of person who would use a pocket protector, a Casio calculator watch and sport a comb-over.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 01/03/10 06:19 PM

Here is another magic wand magic shop story. One day a kid and a few of his friends came into the magic shop - it was after school time and the kid was on his way home and stopped in. I think as I remember it was the day after a magician did a magic special on TV.

And he stopped in to find out a little bit about magic.

He said to me - "Do you have one of those sticks?"

I asked - Sticks?

He said - "You know one of those magic sticks?"

I answered - "Oh a magic wand." And I walked over to get one to show him off the shelf.

The kid answered - "Don't you point that stick at me." As he backed away.

I could hear my dad in the back room almost on the floor laughing because he heard this from the back room. I think the kid thought that I was going to turn him into a rabbit.

Another interesting thing about the magic wand and magic and the magic shop. People often asked - to see a wand. After I would take one off the shelf and place it on the counter for them to look at - they would ask me - What does it do? Or Make it work?

Like the wand did a trick.

I remember one of the guys (other magicians that worked for the shop) used to say at that point. "It doesn't do a trick a wand is for psychological misdirection."

That often got a "Huh? Or a What? From the customer that thought the magic wand did something.

At this point I often took the wand and used the wand to vanish a ball or a coin (into a drop bag) and then I would put the wand back on the shelf and say it needs recharging.

This used to crack my Dad up.

As I remember those old magic shop days!
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 01/03/10 08:19 PM

Young Nathan is being rather silly again. I must say that it is very tiresome to be continually educating him. He is talking tosh again. I haven't the slightest idea what a pocket protector or a Casio calculator watch is and I have nothing to comb over in the first place. Neither do I think carrying a lecturer's pointer indicates any such thing and if it does who cares a stuff anyway?

I note in "Reputation Makers" Harry Lorayne says he carries one around in his work or at least he used to. Perhaps you should ask him if he wears a pocket protector or Casio calculator watch whatever the hell it is. And from what I have been able to observe he has a full head of hair and no need to comb over anything.

Furthermore there are other advantages to the pointer which are not magic related. Sometimes drop into inaccessible places and the pointer can be very useful in fishing them out.

Now do stop talking nonsense, there's a good chap.
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Postby Jonathan Arturo » 01/03/10 08:31 PM

So has this topic switched to using a pointer as a magic wand? I guess I can see that I am sure many of have used a Sharpie or a pen.
So that is one vote for the wand based on the fact that it is a pointer and not the typical magic wand...,right?

I hope my joking sarcasm did translate through this post.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 01/03/10 08:59 PM

Mark, I am so conditioned by the Vernon and Horowitz 3-cup routines which use a wand that I am curious: what do you do, if anything, such as a mystic pass or gesture, to "cause" the magic to happen? It isn't necessary to do anything, of course; in the 1-cup "guessing game" versions of the Chop Cup the magician lifts the cup and is surprised at the various outcomes.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 01/03/10 09:19 PM

I think the wand is useful for sleight of hand purposes. For example you may wish to conceal balls in your hand and the wand is a useful cover for it. Or you may wish to use wand spin and other vanishes that use a wand. It may also be useful for showmanship purposes as you have just implied.

My own routine doesn't need the wand for sleight of hand purposes and I am danged if I am going to carry a wand around for showmanship purposes when I am a good enough showman to manage without it.

I do use various finger gestures and suchlike to cause the magic to happen along with amusing patter to justify it. For example I will say "I shall make the mystic sign." (then I make the sign but form a mouth noise which I cannot describe in written form) Then I continue, "or in French (I then make another more Gallic sounding noise)" This gets a big laugh especially in Canada where Englis and French are both national languages but it works anywhere. It will not sound funny in print since you can't hear the mouth noises.

My routine si the standard pitchman's routine that u see with the small plastic cups and for my money it is far better than all the fancy difficult sleight of hand versions you see out there. It is virtually self working. I then go into basic sleight of hand, including eating the balls a la Malini and finishing up with a standard large load under three of the balls.

I really don't need a magic wand for any of it so I don't bother.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/03/10 09:28 PM

Still seems more about the character and consistency than method here.
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Postby Kent Gunn » 01/03/10 11:35 PM

Jon,

If I don't need a wand to do the trick I don't use it. Most here, seem far more pragmatic about all this.

I can't separate myself from whoever does all those tricks with my voice and fat body. I know nothing of character. I do know I'm pretty consistently pragmatic though.

I think it's all about method.

KG
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Postby Nathan Muir » 01/04/10 03:35 AM

Mark.Lewis wrote:Young Nathan is being rather silly again. I must say that it is very tiresome to be continually educating him. He is talking tosh again. I haven't the slightest idea what a pocket protector or a Casio calculator watch is and I have nothing to comb over in the first place. Neither do I think carrying a lecturer's pointer indicates any such thing and if it does who cares a stuff anyway?

I note in "Reputation Makers" Harry Lorayne says he carries one around in his work or at least he used to. Perhaps you should ask him if he wears a pocket protector or Casio calculator watch whatever the [color:#CC0000]hell[/color] it is. And from what I have been able to observe he has a full head of hair and no need to comb over anything.

Furthermore there are other advantages to the pointer which are not magic related. Sometimes drop into inaccessible places and the pointer can be very useful in fishing them out.

Now do stop talking nonsense, there's a good chap.


Hell yeah! Go get 'em, champ.
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Postby Necromancer » 01/04/10 06:30 PM

Hi Kent,

If I might jump in: the question to use a wand comes down to more than method, in my opinion. It answers a dramatic question within the magical playlet of which you are the star: the question of where your magic power comes from.

If your power comes from a wand, then you'd use it not only for the cups, but for everything magical that you do. Conversely, if it isn't your source of power, then you wouldn't bother with it for anything.

Practical sidenote: using a wand for the cups and nothing else raises questions of method that I wouldn't want my audience to ask.

Best,
Neil
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Postby Kent Gunn » 01/04/10 09:57 PM

Neil,

If I had your presence and ability to scare the living crap out of people I might worry about how a wand might affect my dramatic persona.

I don't have one though. I'm an old fat guy who does a few tricks. If people think I use the wand only during the cups and balls because I need it for that trick, more power to 'em. I work hard enough at my version of it that most, including magicians, seem adequately bemused. The wand works for me doing the trick just like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t__UnSXmjvc

KG
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/04/10 10:01 PM

IMHO The basic questions remain:
1) how does your character signal magic happening to the audience?
2) how does your character direct audience attention?
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Postby J-Mac » 01/06/10 01:43 AM

In his "Expert Coin Magic... Made Easy" DVD set David Roth has a section (that he includes on two of the three discs) on the wand's importance in close-up magic - particularly coin magic of course - in which he describes it a purely a prop to show that a dirty hand is otherwise apparently empty. He also shows that a "wand" can be any of several different objects. Of course to the very skilled practitioner - Roth included - such props aren't necessary to show a hand as apparently empty; their skill allows them to show the hand empty all by itself! Of course there are many magicians who are considerably less-talented (umm, that would include me!) who benefit from using a wand - or lighter, or cell phone, or another coin - to convince spectators that our hand is "empty". Also, wands are great for shows for children - they love 'em!.

Plus, a really good wand spin or two can certainly add some flourish to a routine!

Thanks!

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/06/10 08:41 AM

And you see Roth using a wand where? (and if anywhere, what distinguishes when/where he uses a wand from not?)
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/06/10 09:17 AM

Kent Gunn wrote:Neil,

If I had your presence and ability to scare the living crap out of people I might worry about how a wand might affect my dramatic persona.

I don't have one though. I'm an old fat guy who does a few tricks. If people think I use the wand only during the cups and balls because I need it for that trick, more power to 'em. I work hard enough at my version of it that most, including magicians, seem adequately bemused. The wand works for me doing the trick just like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t__UnSXmjvc

KG



I concur (well, not about the "old fat" part :) ).

While I appreciate the desire to be consistent, and the committment to character, even if one is trying to portray a character where "I have real magic powers" the wand still does not necessarily have to be cast as the source of such powers in every trick. It could still be played as just a tool to focus one's powers for a particular effect--the true magic is within you.

I prefer to take the "ordinary guy that knows a few cool tricks" approach, so although I try not to underestimate the audiences' intelligence, I doubt they sit around wondering if the wand is being used to make a hand concealing an object more natural appearing. I think that laypersons are already socialized that a magic wand is associated with magic, so it's presence isn't questioned. (For example, show a child a drawing of a typical magic wand, and I suspect they'll recognize it instantly).

It's like trying to explain to your audience exactly what an Okito Box is. Roth just calls it a "magic box" and goes--IMHO, sometimes we seek to supply answers for questions the majority of the audience is not asking.
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Postby Necromancer » 01/06/10 12:06 PM

Hi Erdnasephile,

I absolutely agree: the wand can be handled as a tool that focuses your powers for specific situations. That's a dramatic choice.

What isn't a dramatic choice is using a wand simply to cover your tracks during a particular trick.

The choreography may be the same in both instances. But I would suggest that your attitude as a performer will be different, and that your audience will notice.

Best,
Neil
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Postby magicam » 01/06/10 05:01 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:I've always wanted a wand that could shoot flames out of my derriere in case someone like Jeff Busby just happened to be walking behind me.

Ah, I see a new product now, called "Le Petowand."

For those who enjoy wand esoterica, try reading Antony Real's book, The Story of the Stick in All Ages and Lands.
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Postby Andrew Phillips » 01/08/10 07:11 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:And you see Roth using a wand where? (and if anywhere, what distinguishes when/where he uses a wand from not?)


Would you count the use of a tuning fork as a magic wand?
If so then David Roth uses/used a wand.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/08/10 07:19 PM

As best I recall his act and that routine in particular: He picks up the tuning fork and pretty much repeats the gesture he uses in the tricks before (portable hole) and after (coin box routine) while that prop is inhand. Similarly not sure if he uses the sharpie as a wand in the planet trick. I don't recall any wand type use in the Sleeve even to set up the 'big finish'

I don't recall him using a wand in his treatment of the Cylinder and Coins routine - which is where you're imagine such a thing would come in real handy since you have to hide four coins at one point in the routine.
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Reason: Seems more useful to give the facts than try to be "right".
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Postby Brandon Hall » 01/12/10 11:53 AM

I personally feel that a wand should be used for all of your effects or none of them. I have no problem with either of these approaches. Even with the cups and balls, if a tap of the wand causes magic to happen, why set it down?
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 01/19/10 09:32 PM

Brandon--if you were to perform a card effect like 3 card monte or wild card, and follow it with the cups and balls, would you also use the wand for those card effects?

For the close-up magician, I believe the power of the wand is to make small objects vanish, appear, or change in your hands. I've seen coin magicians like Curtis Kam use a wand and a number of other magicians utilize it in a cups and balls routine. Within that context, where small objects like coins and balls vanish, change, or appear, it makes perfect sense to wield a wand.

In his text Charles Bertram the Court Conjurer, Edwin Dawes devotes a chapter on the wand titled "Bertram On The Use Of The Wand." Dawes writes:

Bertram also expressed views on the type of wand to use, favoring a plain, polished ebony style, a little more than half-an-inch in diameter, and about sixteen inches in length, without any ornamentation. Indeed, he was dismissive of the more ornate type of wand, commenting, "I have seen performers using a wand made with two silver serpents coiled around a tortoise shell stick, and surmounted by a large ivory death's head--a very massive and elaborate arrangement indeed, and others using a massive silver-plated baton, something like a Lord Mayor's mace in miniature; these massive wands seem to me to be out of place in the hands of a conjurer, the mystic touch of a necromancer could hardly be imagined to be given to a delicate article with an unwieldy instrument, heavy enough to break open an ordinary packing case. No! I think the less pretentious the wand, the more the idea of mystery is conveyed."
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/19/10 09:59 PM

Per Leonard's post - how about the use of a nice pen in place of a wand for when the audience is very close or the objects small?
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Postby Kent Gunn » 01/20/10 12:55 AM

Brandon Hall wrote:I personally feel that a wand should be used for all of your effects or none of them. I have no problem with either of these approaches. Even with the cups and balls, if a tap of the wand causes magic to happen, why set it down?


Leonard raised a good point about the card tricks. It's tough to do a turnover pass with a wand stuck in your hands.

You set it down because you use the silly thing to hide other things in your hand. Sometimes you need to set the thing down to move other props. Sometimes you need both hands to:

Faro the deck. (Real men do that one-handed, but I digress)
Load a cup.
Do split fans.

You get my drift. Some magicians use the wand to motivate other actions. Watch this Brandon.

http://www.youtube.com/kentfgunn#p/u/9/t__UnSXmjvc

I needed the wand to do many things. I didn't need it at other times. I tried to use it, in some instances where the mechanics of the trick don't require it.

It would look really stupid to use it in a card set.

KG
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/20/10 12:02 PM

Kent Gunn wrote:... It's tough to do a turnover pass with a wand stuck in your hands.

You set it down because you use the silly thing to hide other things in your hand....It would look really stupid to use it in a card set.

KG


This discussion about stuff hidden in the hands has no bearing upon the character presented by performer nor the magic from audience perspective. Ones character uses the wand to point to things, push them, tap them and ... to make the magic happen.

An actor playing the part of a wizard.
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Postby Brandon Hall » 01/20/10 06:03 PM

Leonard Hevia wrote:Brandon--if you were to perform a card effect like 3 card monte or wild card, and follow it with the cups and balls, would you also use the wand for those card effects?


No. I believe the magic comes from me and not the wand. Therefore, I do not to use one. If I decided to imbue the wand with the "magic power", then, I guess I would HAVE to use it.
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