Artistic & Magical Creations to engage your intellect, enrich your soul and enchant your heart

Magic

The Hole in the Glass of Wine

The Hole in the Wine Glass

A perfectly round hole appears in your glass of wine!

You are opening a bottle of wine.

You’re using a foil cutter to remove the top piece of foil. You remove the cork and pour a glass of wine.

As you are sitting relaxing drinking your wine when you look down at the glass and discover there is a perfectly cut hole in the wine glass!

What the heck!

For a quick moment you feel the hair raise on the back of your neck.

This has to be the most bizarre occurrence you have ever experienced!

In a performance of a magical illusion the magician would stop right here. The audience is totally baffled.

The strange thing about this story is that I am a magician, a professional for over 40 years, and this was actually happening to me, real time… no tricks no illusions. I personally opened the bottle of wine and poured the wine into my glass.

Good magicians never reveal their tricks. However this was no trick, at least not in the magic sense. This was in reality a strange and bizarre accident.

When I used my foil cutter to remove the foil top on the bottle one of the cutting wheels was loose and cut an extra piece of the foil. A perfect thin foil ring as thin as the glass its self.

I removed the cork and poured the wine. The thin foil ring fell from the neck of the bottle into my glass along with the wine unnoticed. While I was drinking my wine the foil ring, by chance, stuck to the inside of the wine glass, clinging to the glass with the help of the liquid. This really was a freak accident, because try as I might to recreate it I could not.

When I looked down at my glass and saw the “hole” I was confounded. It really was a perfect illusion. I can’t think of a strong enough word to describe my emotions at that moment. As a magician I deal in the impossible, I work creating the illusion of miracles, I believe in the impossible. For a brief few moments I seriously wondered if I was not witnessing real magic at work!

After a moment or two I mustered the courage to stick my finger into the hole. That is when the magic bubble burst. My finger did not go through a hole but hit glass, I instantly realized what I was actually seeing. It was a perfect illusion a stunning magic trick, a bizarre accident, presented just for me.

For a brief moment I, a professional magical performer for over 40 years, instantly became a baffled & bewildered spectator.

I loved every moment of it. Because I remembered, that this feeling of total amazement was why I got into magic in the first place. I wanted to enable my audience to experience that very same feeling of wonder and amazement all the time.


The three greatest tricks in magic.

Magic Time

THE THREE GREATEST TRICKS IN MAGIC
© Steven Paul Carlson 2019

What are the three greatest tricks in magic?

That was the question posted by a magic acquaintance of mine.

It’s an intriguing question and I will say a tricky one to answer as well 😦 sorry about the pun! After 50+ years of professional magic experience my hope here is to submit a response that is both informative and interesting to all readers not just magicians.

The question was: What are the three greatest tricks in magic? I will, at the same time, take into consideration the three greatest effects in magic.

What is the difference?

In magic the effect is what the trick is all about. For example, in a trick where a coin disappears from the magician’s hand the effect is a vanish. A single trick usually has many different methods that create that one effect.

Often times this magical effect appeals to a basic human desire or need. It is this affect on the emotions that creates the powerful impact of magical effect.
Counting down from # 3

3. Producing money from nowhere (The Misers Dream)

In the Miser’s Dream trick the magician shows his hands empty, his sleeves are rolled back. He then proceeds to pluck silver dollars out of thin air and drops them into a top hat or a wine bucket. This occurs as many times as the magician wishes. Often he will walk into the audience and pull coins off people’s clothing. The coins are seen and heard dropping into the hat or bucket. For a finale the magician may produce a shower of coins from both hands.

This was a very popular trick in the 19th and early 20th century. Today the value of a dollar coin has diminished greatly. However, in 1897 when T. Nelson Downs performed his Miser’s Dream on the Vaudeville stage the purchasing power of a silver dollar was approximately $30. The average workman made $5 to $15. a week. So when the magician plucked a silver dollar out of the air it was big money! That ability would truly be the dream of any member of the audience!

As a magician I am often asked, “Can you turn a $1 into a $100?” That is one of those common, silly questions spectators like to ask magicians. The question does, however, reveal something valuable about how the audience’s mind thinks; if you really could do magic wouldn’t you just magically make money appear?

The Miser’s Dream earns its place in the three greatest magic tricks because it appeals to this basic human dream, the ability to produce money out of nowhere!

3. The Floating Bill, is tied for third

In the floating bill trick, paper currency is borrowed from the audience. The magician lays the bill upon his empty hands and gently crumbles it into a ball. The paper ball, lying upon the magician’s open palm, begins to rise up out of his hand. The magician waves his other hand over and under the floating ball to show nothing is attached to it. The magician now gracefully waves both hands around the ball floating in mid air. The magician then secures the bill between his fingers, unfolds it and hands it back to the spectator.

Gravity, without doubt is the first natural law or force of nature we become aware of… often with painful lessons. As a result witnessing something float, unaided in space, is truly an impossible phenomenon. Because gravity is one of life’s most powerful realities a levitation will always be disarming and stunning to behold.

In magic we of course refer to this effect as a levitation or anti gravity.

The Floating Bill earns its place in the top magical tricks of all time because it dramatically defies a fundamental force of nature. And it does so with a borrowed object, performed at a close up range, under any conditions. It is truly impossible.

Additional note: In a list of the three greatest stage magic tricks the levitation of a person would probably rank number 1 or 2.
2. The Cut & Restored Thread (Gypsy Thread)

In the Gypsy Thread trick, a 3’ length of common sewing thread is cut into 10 to 12 pieces. The pieces of thread, without ever leaving your sight, are instantly restored to their original undamaged condition. In magic the effect is referred to as a restoration.

In life we are constantly faced with disorder and destruction. Life itself is chaotic. And people, by nature, are compelled to find meaning and to bring order and restoration to this chaotic life.

Quite often the plot of a magic trick (especially card magic) is creating order and restoration out of chaos.

This is where the Gypsy Thread trick is so powerful. Life all around us is vulnerable and fragile. The Gypsy Thread trick earns its place in the top three magic greats because it visually addresses that deep human desire… the ability to restore something that has been damaged or destroyed; to bring restoration and healing to chaos and destruction.

1. The Cups & Balls

Standing at number one is the ancient classic… The Cups & Balls.

The unique quality to the Cups & Balls trick is that it covers many different magical effects; the balls appear, vanish, penetrate and move mysteriously from cup to cup or hand to cup. The Cups and Balls grande finale always produce astonishing final productions under the cups, like large balls or fruit and vegetables, objects that barely fit into the cups. I personally produce a cup filled with loose pennies.

One famous magician referred to the Cups and Balls as “the ground work of all legerdemain.”

Throughout ancient history many societies and cultures have created their own unique versions of the Cup or Bowl and Ball effect. India, China and Japan all independently created their own unique versions. First century Romans called the Cups and Balls, “Acetabula et Calculi”, the vinegar cups and the pebbles.

The first written explanation of the Cups and Balls trick appeared in 1584 in a book called, “The Discovery of Witchcraft.”

The Cups & Balls is certainly the oldest and most popular effect in the magician’s repertoire. At the same time it is also the most exposed magic trick. Every beginner magic set comes with the familiar plastic blue, yellow and red cups and the three little yellow pom pom balls.

There was even a humorous attempt to “expose” this great classic on national TV using clear plastic cups.

In spite of all this, or maybe because of all this, the Cups & Balls have stood up to the hard test of time and remains a true classic in magic. To this day the Cups & Balls continues to amaze and mystify audiences. And, like the Phoenix, it arises from its ancient ashes to recreate itself for new generations in a new world of advancing technology.

The Cups and Balls earns the top position in the greatest magic tricks of all time because this magic classic enables us to experience a true sense of wonder and mystery. A moment when nothing is impossible. We are reminded that we, as human beings, not only want magic in our lives we need it. Even if it is only an illusion.

© Steven Paul Carlson 2019

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Sleight of Hand Artist:

Sleight of Hand Artist, Steven Carlson

Sleight of Hand Artist Steven Carlson performing coin magic.

SLEIGHT OF HAND: The use of digital dexterity and cunning to deceive.

The sleight of hand artist relies upon digital skills to accomplish his illusions. These techniques are invisible to the audience. The juggler openly displays his hard earned skills. The sleight of hand artist hides them. They are concealed within natural movements and actions.

Beyond the finely acquired skills of his dexterous fingers the sleight of hand artist also relies upon other subtleties to accomplish his deceptions: Psychology and timing, language both verbal and physical, help him in deceiving all of the audience’s senses.

Sleight of hand is synonymous with the art of close up magic. It’s a form of magic performed within close proximity to the audience. The objects used are common everyday items, playing cards, coins, paper currency even cell phones. Though anything that fits into the artist’s hands becomes magical. This impromptu style of close range magic makes deception seem totally impossible, yet amazingly, the totally impossible still occurs.


Close up Magic, what is close up magic?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is close up magic?  What is a close up magician?

Close up magic is the intimate art of producing astounding illusions by sleight of hand performed within close proximity to the audience.
The magical objects or props need to fit in the close up magician’s hands. The traditional props are playing cards, coins, cups & balls and even dice. However, anything that fits into the magician’s hands is fair game for his miracles; a cell phone, a pen, paper napkins, a saltshaker, a coffee cup or a dollar bill.

Unlike the stage performer the close up artist brings his magic right into the audience space. There’s no stage or curtains, no boxes or mirrors, simply an object in the magician’s hands held inches away from the spectator’s eyes. The magic often happens right in the spectator’s hand!

Under these strict, close up and challenging conditions, deception seems utterly impossible. Yet, miraculously, the totally impossible still occurs! Close up magic is by far the most demanding form of the magical arts and when done perfectly it is the most astounding!

Close-up magic is best performed for an audience of 30 or less and can be performed sitting at a table or standing. With the arrival of LSV (large screen video) technology larger groups can be accommodated.

Another form of close-up magic is strolling magic. This style has become popular for social and cocktail hours where guests are standing and mingling in small groups. The close-up magician moves around the room entertaining these smaller groups of guests. Street magic is also a form of close-up magic.

Photo & art credits:
Photo art manipulation by Steven Paul Carlson, portrait photo by Nick Olson


Coin Magic: The Coin Magician’s Dream

Steven Carlson, The Coin Man's Dream I

The Coin Magician’s Dream, photo art by Steven Carlson

In the art of close-up-magic, coin magic easily finds its place toward the top of the most challenging skills.

Coins, along with playing cards, are the primary objects in the close-up magician’s repertoire.

Historically coins predate playing cards by a good three to four thousand years.

Coins were first introduced as a method of payment around the 6th or 5th century BC and have been in the magician’s bag of tricks ever since.

In the magician’s hands coins appear, vanish and multiply. They magically move from place to place or from hand to hand, visibly and invisibly. Coins change from sliver to copper and even grow in size. The possibilities of magic with coins is limitless.

Coin magic relies upon the intricate dexterity of the artist. Dexterous skills acquired through years of practice, training and performance.

A master sleight of hand artist’s technique is never seen. To the audience it is invisible. These graceful methodologies lie gently hidden beneath the surface of natural movements and gestures. Only then does the coin magic appear effortless and impossible.

My name is Steven Paul Carlson, I have been practicing magic since I was 6 years old and I have been performing magic professionally for over 40 years.

So sit back and relax and enjoy the magical ride.

Oh, and please, fasten your seat belts. 😉

Photo & art credits:
Coin and photo art by Steven Paul Carlson, portrait photo by Nick Olson


Close up Magic, Steven Carlson

Close-up Magic, Steven CarlsonAs a sleight of hand artist, or close-up magician, I occasionally get to perform at really fun venues. Such was the case last month in Minneapolis, MN at The Theater in the Round.

It was an evening of magic, manipulation and illusion.  In the photo, shown here, I am finishing my close-up magic performance with a classic magical effect called, The Cups & Balls.  Here, in a finale I created back in 1975, one of the cups magically fills with pennies and pours out on to the table.  Who says, magic doesn’t make any sense… (cents )

The priceless expression on the face of my audience helper, makes this one of my all time favorite magic photos.  I hope you enjoy it.    🙂

Thanks,
Steven


Sleight of Hand Artist, Steven Carlson

steven-carlson-close-up-magic

Sleight of Hand Artist, Steven Carlson, performing his elegant style of close-up magic for guests at the beautiful Forepaugh’s Restaurant in St. Paul, MN.  The magic event was on Halloween night, a tribute the great escape artist, Harry Houdini.

in 1899 Houdini’s career was going nowhere and he was seriously contemplating retirement from entertainment.  But his big break came in St. Paul, MN at the Palm Garden beer hall, (less than a half mile away from the Forepaugh’s mansion) when he met manager Martin Beck.  Beck, impressed with Houdini’s handcuff act, advised Houdini to concentrate on the escapes and booked him on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit.  The rest is history.

Houdini died on Halloween in 1926 he was 52.


Video

One Coin Magic

Magic with coins is my favorite expression within the performance art of Close-Up Magic.  I have worked with this particular “One Coin” routine for approximately 35 years.  A magical effect is never finished it just keeps evolving and growing.  I sincerely hope you enjoy it!

My thanks to the very talented Kevin MacLeod, for creating the beautiful music and allowing me to use it here.

Music:
“Sardana” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b…

© 2015 Steven Paul Carlson.
This video is copyrighted and may not be used without the written permission of Steven Paul Carlson


Master Magician, Steven Paul Carlson

Master Magician, Steven Paul CarlsonYou are entering a world of magic and illusion where anything is possible… pick a card… any card.  😉

This is my new magic promo poster, I had lots of fun creating it, I hope you enjoy it.


Art & Magic studio

This is my dream studio.  Someday, with a little luck and fortune, that will be where I hang my hat and create 😉

Dream Art & Magic studio


Video

Dancing with the Queen of Hearts – Steven Carlson

The Queen of Hearts, with her charismatic charm, completely enthralls her eight suitors.

Originally I wrote a little story, about a princess, to fit the magical effect of this card trick.

Personally, I loved the story, but after years of performing and testing I found music to be the best accompaniment. I truly hope you enjoy!

 

Kevin MacLeod created the wonderful music!  Let me tell you, Kevin’s one talented guy!  Here’s his link.
“Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

© 2015 Steven Paul Carlson.
This video is copyrighted and may not be used without the written permission of Steven Paul Carlson


Video

Close-up Coin Magic – Steven Paul Carlson

In magic we call this effect, a coin assembly. Coins magically move from one place to another as if attracted and then, in some cases, instantly return to their original locations. This version, of this classic, is particularly intriguing because this happens numerous times in different ways.  My first post of this video did not have music so that is the reason for the new posting.

I hope you enjoy!
Steven

Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Not As It Seems” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 

 


Twig – The Faerie’s Secret

Twig
The Faerie’s Secret
16”X20” Mixed medium
Steven Carlson Twig
Twig Oaklyn Flewinia Thistlebottom…
Whew! That’s quite a name.  Fortunately her friends know her simply as Twig, the fun, whimsical, magical faerie that graces the renaissance festivals.  The young at heart, who are fortunate enough to meet her, often find themselves sprinkled with faerie dust and presented with a magical gem!   But be aware, if you ask what the secret is in her hands, she will only answer with her flute.  I hope you are fluent in double piped aulos.


Image

The Peace Wizard

The Peace Wizard

Wizard IV
Wandering Wiseman, Pax Consensio
Graphite on board 16”X 20”

Ancient lore tells of an old man, a wanderer who travels with his faithful gazehound (greyhound). His peregrinations take him far and wide, over mountains, through valleys and deep into the forests. He speaks the language of the rocks and the trees and the birds of the sky. Everything about this unique wizard exudes peace and harmony; look close and you can see his robe is embroidered with spells and enchantments of peace and harmony–pax consensio.

Look attentively for him when you are feeling the most troubled, but keep in mind he may choose to appear as a friendly bird or affectionate four-footed critter.

Wandering still, searching for the pure of heart and those in need, he gives his peaceful invocation to all who will receive it.


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Sleight-of-Hand

Sleight-of-Hand

Sleight-of-Hand
Graphite 16” X 20”

This pencil drawing is still in progress. I sketched the original back in 1972, I was still in high school. My intention was to paint it however I never finished it and it has since been lost. I decided to start it up again and see where it would take me.

In high school I was very interested in this fascinating art movement called Surrealism. It greatly influenced my art at that stage of my young life.

Surrealism began around 1920 its objective was to combine incongruous images blending dream state with reality. Probably the most famous surrealists are Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Max Ernst. The word “surrealist” was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire.


Wizard III – The Family Portrait

Wizard III – The Family Portrait
Graphite on board 16” X 20” – printed on parchment

A rare moment of relaxation for a Wizard; pictured here in repose with his extended family, this Wizard, though very old, is an imposing figure. Even seated he exudes the unmistakable power and wisdom of a Wizard of the highest order. Standing to his full height he would reach seven feet. His magical wolf and owl companions are also considerably larger than their kin. Only his feline companion, T. Thomas Tiger, Esq., is natural in size. The hidden images of faeries, raptors, dragon and wizard faces enhance the magic and mystique of this limited edition creation.Steven Carlson wizard


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Gandalf the Grey

Gandalf the Grey

“Do not take me for some conjuror of cheap tricks!”

Not Gandalf the Grey! He’s the real deal, only real magic here. And Sir Ian McKellen is certainly the real deal when it comes to portraying the perfect Gandalf.

This is a graphite portrait I’ve been working on for some time; it’s not quite done yet. It’s one of those pieces I’m just doing for my own enjoyment but I did want to share it. It’s 16” X 20” the medium is graphite on board.


The four card – 3 Card Monte

This is a magic performance of the classic con game Three Card Monte.  But this one is done with four cards!  The setting is an old-fashioned Carnival and Fair in a small Midwestern town.  I was 16 1/2 when I first saw a working conman perform the Monte.

The inspiration and influences in this four card Three Card Monte include magic greats such as Joe Riding, Fred Kaps, and Harry Anderson. The story is my own with inspiration from Harry Anderson.


Image

100 year-old wooden crate

100 year-old wooden crate

Actually it’s a brand new wooden crate it’s a prop I made for my magic performances. It’s made from brand new wooden crates, the kind you find at craft stores. I took them apart and reconstructed them so there were no spaces between the slats.

The logo was created in Photoshop. I wanted it to have a turn of the century, carnival genre look to it. I hand painted it on the crate.

The aging process of the wood was done in two stages, distressing the surface to make it look worn and scarred through years of use and then further enhancing the illusion of age through discoloring and staining. The natural aging process has a definite quality that’s subtle but distinct, surfaces that are handled more wear and color differently it was a fascinating study. I visited antique and junk stores observing the distinct qualities of the aging process.

The metal trim is actually aluminum angle stock (aluminum for lighter weight) this was aged to look like weathered copper or rusted steel. Two products were used, one that coated the aluminum with super fine steel particles and then another product that caused rapid oxidation of the surface creating rust. I gave this a light brushing of steel wool and then some subtle hints of patina.

I’m more conditioned to take something very old and make it look brand new again. This was an interesting challenge because here the goal was to take something brand new and make it look very, very old.


Video

The young lad and the mysterious stranger

The poem is my own creation. I have always been intrigued with the story line of someone making a deal with the devil. Then of course when it comes time to pay the bill (their soul) they try to wiggle out of the deal with one last game or challenge. I wrote the part of devil as one similar to a con artist playing the three-card Monte or the shell game.

The idea of telling a story or a poem as a background to a magical effect has also been of great interest to me. Storytelling and magic are two very powerful mediums and together they can pack quite a one-two punch.

The card effect is called Beat the Devil from Darwin Ortiz, Scams and Fantasies with Cards. I took the presentation idea of the magician vs. the Devil and created the poem.

I truly hope you enjoy it.


The Great Houdini

The Great Houdini w

The Great Houdini
(March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)

Graphite on board 16” X 20” – Steven Paul Carlson – Gicleé prints available

The center portrait was created from Houdini’s favorite publicity photo.

On the left Houdini is performing his “challenge handcuff” act; it was in escapes, not magic, that Houdini would find his great success.

On the right is Houdini’s most famous escape, the Chinese Water Torture Cell.  Houdini affectionately referred to it as The Up Side Down.  Contrary to common belief Houdini did not die performing this act.

In the center are the Famous Mirror handcuffs, a custom set of cuffs made as a special challenge for Houdini by the London Daily Mirror in 1904. It was reported that 4000 people and more than 100 journalists turned out for the much-hyped event at London’s Hippodrome theater. The escape attempt dragged on for over three hours.  When Houdini finally emerged free he broke down and wept when he was paraded on the shoulders of the cheering crowd. Houdini later said it was the most difficult escape of his career.


Harry Houdini

Houdini w

Harry Houdini
(March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)

Graphite on board 16” X 20” – Steven Paul Carlson – Gicleé prints available

Caught here in a rare moment of repose Houdini was a Hungarian-American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer. He was also a skeptic who set out to expose frauds purporting to be supernatural phenomena. For the majority of his career, Houdini performed his act as a headliner in vaudeville. For many years, he was the highest-paid performer in American vaudeville.

Born Erik Ivan Weisz (he would later spell his birth name as Ehrich Weiss) in Budapest, Hungary, on March 24, 1874, Houdini later claimed in interviews to have been born in Appleton, Wisconsin, on April 6, 1874.
His parents were Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weisz (1829 – 1892)
and his wife Cecilia Steiner (1841 – 1913).   Houdini was one of seven children.


Close-up Magic

Steven Carlson magic

The style of magic that I perform is called Close-up Magic.  This style of sleight of hand magic has been described as the ultimate experience in magical entertainment.  It’s magic that is performed within inches of the audience and usually witnessed from all angles.  This artistic form of close-up sleight of hand magic is by far the most challenging to perform.  The up-close, intimate nature of this form of magic makes it the strongest form of magical entertainment.

The close-up magician’s props range from the common to the classic, from napkins, saltshakers and coffee cups to playing cards, coins and cups and balls.

Many of the magical items are elegantly hand crafted and are works of art in themselves!

More information on Close-up Magic can be found here.


Professor Steven Paul Carlson’s Traveling Magic & Mystery Show

Steven Carlson

Professor Steven Paul Carlson’s traveling magic and mystery show.  Magic that mystifies the mind, enriches the soul, and delights the heart!  Acclaimed by the Crowned Heads of Europe!

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