Ashes on Arm - Two questions

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 09/22/03 07:37 AM

Hi Folks

This two-part question concerns the effect where you wipe ashes on your arm and the 'secret message' appears.

1. I assume that since this effect is in kiddie magic books, it's okay to mention the normal method - soap. However, I wondered if there were any other materials people would recommend that are more portable for the effect, (I've just had a thought that chap-stick might do the job), and may even be more sure-fire?

In my limited experience, if the soap dries out slightly before you start writing, the end result can be a bit ropey.

2. Is there an acknowledged originator of this effect - or is it *sooooo* old that no-one knows?

Many thanks in advance to anyone who can advise


Postby Rob Signs » 09/22/03 07:17 PM

I've always used chap stick. It's quick and easy to use and carries around better than a bar of soap and a sink, which won't quite fit into my close up case.

It is, however, harder to clean off, being waxy and all. But works great.

I simply write on the "palm side" of my forearm.

Good luck.
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Postby Steve V » 09/22/03 07:50 PM

Wax pens work okay, I like the chapstick idea.

My goal as a punky, and still is, is to find out if what Gibson said Houdini did was true. In the book he said that Houdini took the ashes and rubbed 'em in and the letters came out red. I would love to know what would bring that about, if anything.
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Postby Reinhard Mueller » 10/25/03 01:50 PM

Dear DKJones,

2. Is there an acknowledged originator of this effect - or is it *sooooo* old that no-one knows?

I found that effect in the first magic book, in:
J.Prevost: "La premiere partie des subtiles et plaisantes inventions" (1584); in the translation in English by Sharon King: "Clever and pleasant Inventions - Part One", Hermetic Press, Inc, Seattle 1998, p.78: "To Discover in a Pleasant Manner Who is the Greatest Man of all the Company", a really wonderful plot with spectators involvement. The word is written with a bit of urine on the back of your hand, and it appears by rubbing ashes on the back of the hand.

By the way, Christoph Borer just published (Oct. 2003) his booklet (48 pages) Die Geisterschrift (The Ghosts Writing)

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Postby Guest » 10/25/03 04:44 PM

I think the chap stick is a great idea and one that would not have been possible in my younger days nor in the days of J.Prevost: "La premiere partie des subtiles et plaisantes
inventions" (1584). However, I am curious as to the mindset of the man who first came up with the method cited by said J. Prevost. No wonder magicians were frequently burned at the stake.

Postby Guest » 10/27/03 07:29 AM

Re: the reference to Houdini coming up with red letters. I believe he may have used the pressure method. Instead of wax, you "write" the word on your forearm using a bluntish instrument (ike a non-working end of a penor pencil). You use reasonable pressure so it hurts just a little.

When you rub your skin briskly the letters will show up red like a weal since you've irritated the skin/broken some blood vessels or whatever.

You can use just a bit of ash to make the link between the writing and your arm but it's not active in producing the writing.

Postby Brian Morton » 10/27/03 09:41 AM

Steve V writes:
Wax pens work okay, I like the chapstick idea.
Chapstick seems kind of soft and malleable (not to mention thick) for this usage. Where would one find a wax pen, anyway (or a clear crayon)?

brian :cool:
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Postby Guest » 10/27/03 09:45 AM

Well - I found that the chap-stick works out just fine. However, if you want to spend more money on the effect, I believe that you can get a much finer point using a marketed 'Ash Pen':

at $17.99

I think I'll stick with my $1.50 chap-stick though - since it also keeps my lips moist!

Postby Adrian Kuiper » 10/27/03 10:07 AM

Although I don't perform the trick, I've seen it done many times and it has always generated a good reaction. As a "bar trick" it ranks way up high on the list.

BUT....a specially marketed "Ash Pen"?? Isn't that kinda like an electronic "Red Snapper"???

Just my opinion....
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Postby Bob L » 10/27/03 10:28 AM

No wonder magicians were frequently burned at the stake.
So you're saying that if David Blaine had performed Ashes on Arm in an earlier age in history, he might have been .....?

Gee, maybe the old ways ARE the best ways.

:D :D

(Sorry, my tongue is in my cheek and my taste is in my mouth.)
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