Basic Magic School
Lesson #6 String-Rope & More
In this lesson you’ll learn to do magic with string, rope, and even a tape measure. There have been tricks and stunts done with string and rope throughout all of magic’s history, and most people know at least one puzzle or trick. The greatest of all rope tricks is the Hindu Rope Trick, but, unfortunately, that has been proven to be a myth and even the stage magicians who have performed their version of it didn’t quite do it justice.
But the following tricks can be done by you, and should give you many moments of pride as you show a group of people how you can defy the rules of physics with a length of cordage.
PICK UP A KNOT
This is an excellent trick to use to begin a series of magic tricks, even if they don’t all involve string or rope. It’s a challenge to your audience to not only do what you seem to be doing, but to catch you doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Plus, it’s so simple in concept: pick up the two ends of a rope and tie a knot!
Laying out a length of cord or light rope in a horseshoe shape, you pick up one end in each hand, pull on them, and create a knot in the center. When anyone else tries it, they fail, time after time.
A length of cord or light rope about 36″ long
The basis of this secret is psychological. Human beings tend to reach out, not toward themselves. The moves in this challenge cover the fact that you reach toward yourself in a very natural routine.
1. Lay the rope out in a horseshoe shape so the two ends are in front of you and the center curves away from you.
2. Pick up the right end in your right hand, and place your left hand, palm downwards, under the right end of the rope.
3. Pat the floor a couple of times to show that your left hand is really palm down.
4. At the same time that your right hand starts pulling that end of the rope toward you, your left hand turns so its fingers point toward you, and then continues downward and to the left so it can pick up the left end of the rope.
5. Keep pulling on the two ends and you will have an overhand knot in the center of the rope.
As you explain what you’re doing, stress two points: that your right hand picks up the right end of the rope, and that your left hand goes under the right end with its palm down. Don’t hurry the next move, just make sure that your right hand is pulling on the rope at the same time that your left hand forms the loop around its wrist.
You will be amazed at how everyone misses the fact that you’re reaching toward yourself.
You hold a length of cord between your two hands and tie a bowknot in the center. Pushing each end through a loop, you pull on the ends to create a knotty problem. Covering the knot with one hand, you pull on an end with the other hand and the knot dissolves.
A 36″ length of cord or light rope
1. Hold your hands about 8″ away from each other in the center of the cord. Your left hand is curled around the rope, but with its palm up, and the right hand is holding the rope with the back of the hand uppermost.
2. Turn your wrists so the backs of the fingers of both hands face each other in front of you and are nearly touching. The tips of your right first two fingers grip the rope that is hanging down the back of your left hand, and your left two fingers grip the rope hanging down over the palm of your right hand. Holding the rope firmly in both sets of fingers, pull your hand apart and you’ll create a bowknot in the center of the rope. Keep pulling until the knot is firm, but not tight.
Do not let go of the loops of the knot.
3. With your right fingers give the right loop a half-turn away from you, then reach through, grab the right side of the rope, and pull it up through that loop.
4. Your left fingers do NOT turn the left loop, but merely reach down through it to pull the left side of the cord up through that loop.
5. Pull on the rope with both hands until you form a very solid-looking knot in the center.
6. Remind your audience how difficult it is to untie your shoelaces when this happens after a long day. “But for a magician,” you tell them, “it’s an easy problem.”
Wrap your left fist loosely around the knot, and pull on the right end with your right hand. If you formed the knot correctly, it will dissolve inside your left hand.
ROPE THROUGH NECK
You drape a length of rope around your neck so the ends hang down on each side, and you then pass the rope around your neck a second time. Holding the rope with both hands, you pull the center of the rope right through your neck.
A length of light rope from 48″ to 60″ long
1. Put the rope around your neck so that the left end is about a foot longer than the right end. Your left hand goes in front of its side of the rope and grasps the right side about a foot above the end. Your right hand now comes over and grips the left side of the rope just above your left arm.
2. Your right hand brings its side of the rope around the right side of your neck to the back. As soon as your right hand has passed your left hand, your left hand starts bringing its side of the rope up over your shoulder and around the right side of your neck.
3. Behind your neck, out of sight of your audience, you wrap the rope in your left hand once around the loop of rope in your right hand, and then bring that end down the left side of your neck. Your empty right hand slides around the right side of your neck to the front. The two loops are now locked together, the right one inside the left one, behind your neck.
4. Gather both lengths of the rope into your left fist in front of your neck, being careful not to pull so hard as to dislodge the loops behind you.
5. Your right hand takes a firm hold on both ropes below your left fist, and pulls on them. Apparently the rope slides right through your neck. Keep pulling so that both loops come through your left fist, and you will destroy the evidence of the two separate loops.
STRUNG STRAW VARIATION
You show a soda straw that has a length of string threaded through it and with the ends tied. Moving the string back and forth through the straw to show that it’s unprepared, you then double the straw in half. Giving scissors to someone, you have them cut off the center of the straw and string. Sliding the two pieces of straw together, you then pull on one of the pieces of string, and the entire restored string comes out of the straw.
A 30″ length of string
A soda straw
A pair of scissors
Cut off from 4″ to 6″ of one end of the string, and then thread the long piece through the soda straw. Tie the two ends together, and pull the knot until it’s as tight as possible, and trim off the ends next to the knot Pull on the string until the knot is in the center of the straw, and then double the straw in half. Take the small piece of string and tie it around the center of the long piece so it looks as though the two ends of the string are tied together outside of the straw.
1. Show the straw with the string threaded through it, and pull the string back and forth, but not enough to bring the real knot into view.
2. With the real knot in the center of the straw, double the straw in half, and have someone hold the straw. Untie the knot made by the small piece of string, and hold the center of the string and the small piece of string in your left hand. Now have the person holding the straw cut off the center of the straw.
3. Push on the string so the two cut ends of the string come out of the straw far enough for someone to hold one of them. Now move the two pieces of straw down to the center of the string and hold them in a straight line with your left hand.
4. Have your helper pull on the end of the string to pull the “restored” string out of the straw.
5. As your audience examines the string, pick up the cut center of the straw with your left hand, and drop it with the two pieces of straw and the short piece of string into a wastebasket.
(Charles W. Nyquist)
This is an impromptu version of a trick, “Sefalaljia”, that had been invented by Stewart James for a show done on a platform or on the stage, and is the third version of that trick. Actually, this version is even more of a fooler.
Laying out a length of string on the table, you borrow a finger ring and put it over the center of the string. You use the center of the string to tie a slipknot that fastens the ring to the string, and you give each end to someone to hold. When they pull on the ends the slipknot dissolves, but the string now runs through the ring.
A length of string about 30″ long
1. Lay the string out in a straight line in front of you. Borrow a ring, and place it over the center of the string.
2. Pull a loop of string up through the ring, and lay it on the table above the ring.
3. Make a small loop of string from the right side of the ring, and thread it down through the first loop, and then back between the ring and itself. Pull on this smaller loop to tighten the knot.
4. Your left hand is put on the table so the tip of left middle finger is in the center of the first loop and pushing against the table as you pick up the string to the right of the ring. Pull on the string, which pulls the string of the loop free of the ring but is concealed by your left hand. As soon as you know that all of the loop is free of the ring, you ask someone to hold the right end of the string.
5. Now give the left end of the string to someone on your left to hold.
6. At the count of three they pull on the string, and the ring becomes threaded on the string.
The placing of the tip of your finger in the loop on the table has to be nonchalant, and you’ll be able to tell when the loop is free by the feel of string under your hand. Also, make sure that your audience is aware all along that you’re tying a real slipknot around the ring. What they don’t get to see is when you let one end of the string get threaded through the ring under your hand.
PULL IT OUT
A length of string is held between your hands and the center is cut by someone. The two pieces are wrapped around your left fingers and one end given to your helper. When the two of you pull on the string, it comes unwrapped and is back in one piece.
A length of string 24″ long
A pair of scissors
Starting about six inches from one end of the string, wrap another six inches of the string around the tip of your left middle finger. Now when you hold the string near the other end with your right hand, it looks as though you have an foot-long piece of string between your two hands.
It’s best if you do the trick while sitting at a table, and have the string in your left pocket and a pair of scissors in your right pocket.
1. Get the string out of your pocket, and, while holding it below the edge of the table, wrap the extra six inches around your left middle finger.
2. Bring your left hand up onto the table and announce that you have an interesting question for your audience. Bring out the scissors with your right hand and put them on the table.
3. Pick up the other end of the string with your right hand, stretch the string between your two hands and have someone cut the string. Try to have them cut it a little closer to your left hand than in the center.
4. Swing the two loose ends, one in each hand, to emphasize that you have two separate pieces, and then put the righthand piece into your left hand just to the left of its piece.
5. Pick up the two ends hanging down from the left hand and tuck them up into the left hand, at the same time slipping the extra string off the tip of your middle finger.
6. Pull out the upper end of the string of the coil and give it to someone to hold. “At the count of three, slowly pull your end toward you,” you tell your helper.
7. Count to three, and pull your left hand toward you. As the other end of the long string leaves your fingers, your hand should be close to the edge of the table. Reach over with your right hand to tug on the end of the “restored” string at the same time that you secretly drop the string out of your left hand into your lap.
8. “Do you think that it’s the pressure and heat of pulling on the string that does it?” you ask with a smile.
A sheet of heavy paper, or a magazine cover, is folded to make three panels. Laying a length of heavy string in the paper, you fold the panels over it, leaving an end sticking out each side of the paper. You then cut through the center of the folded paper, put the two halves together, and pull on one end of the string. It comes out of the paper as one long piece, completely restored.
An 8½” 11″ sheet of heavy paper
A length of cord or heavy string at least 20″ long
A pair of scissors
You can either fold the paper beforehand to save time, or you can fold it when you do the trick. In any case, fold the length of the paper into three panels, making sure that the center one is slightly wider than the other two.
1. Hold the paper in your left hand so the panels are at right angles to each other, and the paper runs from left to right.
2. Lay the string inside the paper, but so it lies in the fold closer to you, and with one end coming out each end of the paper.
3. Take the panel farthest from you and fold it down. Use your right hand to hold that fold closed by gripping the center of the fold.
4. As you start to fold down the panel closest to you, turn the paper so you’re holding it vertically in front of you. At the same time you’re folding the last panel, your right thumb reaches in and pulls the center of the string to the right. Once the fold is completed, your left thumb pulls that loop of string down and to the back of the folded paper. Hold everything in place so your right hand can pick up the scissors.
5. Turn the paper so it’s horizontal again, and hold it from above by your left hand. Slip the upper blade of the scissors under the loop at the back of the folded paper, and cut through the paper. Continue to hold the two pieces together with your left hand and let the loop slide back inside the fold of the paper.
6. You can now casually show both sides of the paper, and then hold it horizontally.
7. Pull on the right end of the string with your right hand, and pull out the one, long piece of string. Drop the two pieces of paper, and take your bow.
The two ends of a piece of light rope are tied back onto the rope to make a shape very much like a pretzel. Taking a pair of scissors or a knife, you then cut the rope to make three lengths of rope held together by two knots. You wrap the rope around your hand, say a magic word or two, and when you unwrap the rope it’s back in one piece.
A length of rope about five feet long
A pair of small scissors or a knife
The most important bit of preparation is to make sure you use the right rope. If you can find a magic shop nearby, then buy a hank of magician’s rope and you’re in good shape. If not, then go to a hardware store and buy a hank of soft clothesline cord.
Cut a piece about five feet long, and then put an ink dot about four inches from each end.
1. Uncoil the rope and tug on it a couple of times to show that it’s solid. Take either end and tie it around the rope about one-third of the way from the opposite end to make a large loop. Take the second end and tie it around the rope at about the center of the loop. Make sure that you tie the knots AROUND the rope, and don’t use the rope itself in making the knot, use just the one end.
2. Cut the rope twice, once at each ink dot.
3. Hold the rope between your two hands so everyone can see that you apparently have three lengths of rope tied together with two knots. Actually, you have one long length of rope with two very small pieces of rope tied around it.
4. Coil the rope around your left fingers and, as you come to each knot, slide it in your right hand along the rest of the rope and off the end. When all of the rope is wrapped around your left hand, your right hand will secretly hold the two knots.
5. Give the outer end of the rope to someone, and have them pull the rope off your left hand.
6. Pick up the scissors and put them in your pocket along with the two knots.
THE TAPE CUT
Showing a measuring tape, you fold it in half, cut away the center three or four inches, and then fold it back up again. When unfolded the tape is back together again.
Two matching cloth or paper measuring tapes
A pair of scissors
Fold one of the tapes in half, crease the fold, and then turn the tape over so the inside of the fold is uppermost. Take the other tape, fold in half in exactly the same place, and cut it two inches on each side of the fold. With the rubber cement, cement ½” of each end of the small piece (the gimmick) to the inside of the folded whole tape so the two sides match and so the folds open opposite each other.
Fold up the whole tape, reversing the fold of the small piece so the two lie parallel to each other. Put the cut tape in a safe place so you can cut it again later to make other gimmicks in order to repeat the trick.
1. Unfold the tape, keeping the two pieces together. Now fold the center of the tape in half, but so the gimmick is uppermost and the real tape is folded down into itself. Hold the folded tape in your left hand so your fingers hide the doubled tape.
2. Take a pair of scissors and cut the gimmick in half. Then trim off almost all the rest of the gimmick, right up to the cemented part.
3. Put the scissors aside, and rub the “ends” of the “cut” tape so you can rub the small remaining pieces of the gimmick away from the tape.
4. Move your hands about a foot away from the center of the tape and pop it between your two hands. Hand the tape to someone to examine and you can put the remainder of the gimmick away with the scissors.
After showing a four-foot length of rope, you tie a knot in the center of it. You then hold the rope and have someone cut out the section of rope that has the knot. Taking back the center piece of the rope, you wind all of it around your left hand. When unwound, the rope is restored complete with the knot in the center.
A four-foot length of soft rope
A pair of scissors
Tie a simple overhand knot about six inches from one end
1. Hold the rope in front of you with the knot hidden in your left hand. Openly tie an overhand knot in the center of the rope.
2. Holding an end of the rope in each hand, again show the rope, now with a knot in the center.
3. As you move both hands to reach for the scissors, your left ring and little fingers take the knot in the center of the rope and pull it into your left fingers, and your right fingers grab the rope just below the knot hidden in your left hand. Stretch your hands apart and adjust the rope until it looks like the illustration.
4. Give the scissors to someone and ask them to cut the rope, about two inches on each side of the knot.
5. Take the piece with the knot inside your right hand, drop the ends in your right hand, and then start wrapping the rope around your left hand using either of the lengths hanging from your left hand. As your right hand finishes wrapping the end of the rope, it steals the small piece sticking up out of your left fist.
6. Have someone take the end of the piece still hanging down from your left hand, and when they pull on it let the entire rope unwind from your hand.
7. Put the scissors and extra pieces away in your pocket.
THE TARTAR ESCAPE
You have someone tie a man’s handkerchief around your two wrists, and then a rope is looped between your arms and around the handkerchief. In spite of someone holding the two ends of the rope, you manage to escape from the rope in a split second.
A large pocket handkerchief or bandana
A four-feet length of rope
1. Put your two wrists together and have someone tie a handkerchief around them. Then one end of the rope is dropped between your arms, and someone holds the two ends of the rope together.
2. To escape, bend your right fingers so the tips can reach between your wrists and pull out a loop of the center of the rope.
3. Pull the loop through the handkerchief, over the fingers of one hand, and then let it slip back through the handkerchief on the back of your wrist.
4. Pull away from the rope and your hands will come free.
After practicing a few times, you will soon be able to make the escape while moving your arms up and down so no one can see what your hands are doing. It will look as though you merely waved your arms and escaped.
(Eric D. Widger)
You tie a handkerchief around a length of rope, and then stretch the rope between your foot on the floor and one hand at chest level. Grasping the handkerchief, you pull it right through the center of the rope.
A five-foot length of soft rope
An 18″ handkerchief, preferably silk, silk crepe, or rayon
1. Holding the rope near its center, double the center over itself to make two smaller loops. Push one corner of the hank through the two loops, and then tie the ends of the hank into a circle. Show that the handkerchief is securely tied onto the rope.
2. Step on one end of the rope with one foot, grab the rope just above the handkerchief with your left hand, and, as your right hand takes the free end of the rope, your left hand pulls up on the rope. This will straighten out the rope and create a double-loop knot in the handkerchief.
3. At the appropriate moment, grab the handkerchief, not by the knot that ties the two ends together, but by the loop of the knot that holds the hank to the rope. Pull it quickly and the handkerchief will pop away from the rope─apparently right through the center of the rope.
If, when you pull the rope to upset the knot in the rope, you do the moves casually and together, no one will see the knot change its shape. You might, at the same moment, ask someone if they want to hold the top end of the rope, to create additional misdirection.
Houdini’s Magic School
No one has taught more people magic than Houdini’s Magic Shop. We have taught the young, the old and from all walks of life. Our retail-entertainment business of magic realized very early on that we had to be able to teach out customers the magic we sell or they would not walk out of our stores happy customers. We have literally taught over ONE MILLION people how to perform and execute magic tricks. We think we got it down. So let us teach you all that we know so you can go out in the works and perform a few magic tricks for your friends, family or business associates.
“All tricks should be presented in as direct and simple a manner as possible. The average person desires and enjoys being entertained by magic. Complicate the process and your tricks become problems. . .the entertainment gets lost.”
To get the most out of a trick, simplify the method as well as the effect; it should be as easy as possible for you to perform it, and it has to be easy for your audience to follow. The rule of thumb is that if you’ve come up with three methods for making a trick work (an electric motor, a clockwork mechanism, or a thread), you use the simplest, a thread. There won’t be any batteries to replace or go dead when you least expect them to, you don’t have to wind anything or take a chance on someone hearing the mechanics, and you can control both the speed and tension.
It doesn’t apply just to the mechanics of magic, either, as the principle is just as easily applied to manipulations. If you do a card trick that has three sleights or secret moves in it, try to figure out how to eliminate one of the moves. Then, if you still like the trick, see if you can eliminate one more move to make it even more perfect. Remember, the more sleights you have in a trick, the more times there are for someone in your audience to catch you. They may only catch you in one of the three sleights that you have to do, but they only need one in order to destroy the mystery of the effect. Keep your movements as natural as possible and your sleights to a minimum.
Now many beginners interpret this to mean that all of their magic should be done with mechanical means. Not at all, it’s almost just the opposite. Your two hands, when properly trained and in perfect synchronization with your mind, can duplicate any mechanical means of doing a magic trick. Señor Mardo said, repeatedly, that his hands could duplicate any trick deck on the market, and he was right. What you have to do is strive to reach that same level of skill and knowledge.
- Many lectures and hours of content!
- Testing Training Included.
- Learn magic tricks, presentation and performance basics from a professional trainer from your own desk.
- Information packed practical training starting from basics to advanced testing techniques.
- Best suitable for beginners to advanced level users and who learn faster when demonstrated.
- Course content designed by professionals who teach thousands each year.
- Practical assignments.
- Practical learning experience with live project work and examples are available.
- Lectures 8
- Quizzes 0
- Duration 1 hour
- Skill level All level
- Language English
- Students 274
- Assessments Yes
Basic Magic Class Cirriculum
Houdini’s School of Magic Vol. 1 teaches the reader the basic secrets of performing magic tricks. Houdini’s School of Magic is designed to assist both the layperson and the novice magician to delight and amaze an audience. After reading this book, the beginner will be able to instantly perform card tricks, ESPMental magic effects, coin tricks, paper money tricks, math tricks and many more effects with ordinary household items. The effects taught in this textbook have been specially chosen based on quality and cleverness. The student will also learn how to prepare, present and practice, the basic rules of magic, timing and how to develop a personality. This first of a two volume set is an anthology of magic tricks from the oldest tricks through history to the illusions shown on television today. Read about magic during the Renaissance, the Golden Age of Magic and magic as presented to the American public via the Vaudeville Circuits. Learn about Harry Houdini’s life and his career; his achievements, his adventures, his sorrows, and his many challenges. Both volumes were edited by noted magician and author, Leo Behnke. with additional material provided by Geno Munari, professional magician and proprietor of the Houdini’s Magic Shops.
test lesson to see if it will work