Props Tips

Read these 11 Props Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Magic tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Bicycle or Bee - What's the Difference?

The two major brand of playing cards, in the US at least, is Bicycle and Bee. Many cardsharps have argued the virtues of the two for decades. Each is distinct, and each has a purpose that is better suited than the other brand.

Bicycle brand playing cards have a white border on the back. This is of particular importance if you are performing an effect where cards are being carefully manipulated during the deal, such as an elmsley count or a double deal. The white border offers a neutral view where the edges of the cards can be slightly off-set and no one is apt to notice.

Bee brand playing cards have a back design, usually lines running at 45 degree angles, that form a diamond appearance. The lines run to the extreme edge of the cards and do not create a border. It's slightly more difficult to perform manipulations that require careful handling.

Despite this difference, I personally use Bee brand playing cards because they are considerably easier for me to shuffle. I frequently perform a faro shuffle, and Bee brands are much smoother on the outer edges and fall in sequence better than Bicycle brand. That said... Bicycle remains the cards of choice of most magicians.

Buy a pack of each and see which you prefer.


How to Buy Magic Online

Supporting your local magic shop, assuming you have one, is a wonderful idea. But, some magicians do not have a local magic shop, and others have small shops that do not provide all the effects a magician may need. Sooner or later, you're going to go online to shop for magic.

Props and magic effects will vary greatly in cost. Shop around before making your final selections. Don't be totally influenced by the price of items as shipping and handling can add substantially to your total. Two of my favorite shops don't charge for shipping if I order a minimum of fifty dollars. Generally, I wait until I'm prepared to order more than the minimum so I can save ten dollars or more. Of course, if you order more than fifty dollars simply to save on shipping then you may not have actually saved, but fell for a marketing technique that encourages spending more than you anticipated.

Be sure to get on your favorite shops mailing list, as you will most likely receive advanced notice of the arrival of hot items and special offers for subscribers only... frequently including free shipping on smaller amounts like twenty dollars or less.

If you are outside of both the United States and Great Britain pay particular attention to shipping charges, as they may double your total cost. Thrifty and intelligent shopping is a 'must'.

Delivery times are another important factor. A few smaller shops may run a special that features items less than the mainstram stores, but delivery times may be two weeks or longer. Personally, I would rather pay a couple of dollars more and receive my items in three days or so.

Websites with good graphics, many pages of products, helpful searching, easy to use shopping carts, and a generally professional appearance, are probably your best bet. They can't maintain an impressive website if they aren't making customers happy. Good luck.


Create a Disappearing Device

Devices designed to disappear an item up your sleeve can be expensive. With less than ten cents worth of material you can build your own.

All you need is a rubber band of the proper length and two safety pins. Open the pens and loop the rubber band through both. You now have a rubber band with two safety pins attached.

Attach the rubber band inside a shirt or jacket sleeve, about elbow height, with one of the pens. Once the rubber band is in place you can reach up the sleeve and grasp the second pin, pulling it down to be held in the palm of the hand.

Pick up a pin with your empty hand, falsely transfer it to the other hand with the pin on the rubber band, show it at your fingertips while keeping the rubber band concealed in your palm. You can now make the pin vanish from your fingertips simply by releasing it and allowing it to 'shoot' up your sleeve.

You can also attach other small objects to the pin, such as a coin with a small hole drilled in it, and vanish them as well.

Don't think lightly of this simple device. It has fooled many people for many years.

What kind of rabbit is best for magic?

Netherland Dwarfs

If you want to include a rabbit in your act, remember you will have to care for it as a household pet. Refer to a veterinarian or a good pet care book as to how to care for your bunny. The top choice of bunnies for magicians is the Netherland Dwarf, because of its small size and pleasant disposition.


Drinking Straw Magic

Here is a simple prop you can create with a common drinking straw. Take a straw and a knife or razor blade and -carefully- cut a straw in a straight line along it's entire length. (If you are a minor, always get an adult to supervise or perform this task for you.)

Once done, open one end of the straw and carefully 'roll' the straw up into a small bundle that can easily be concealed between your thumb and forefinger. As long as you pinch the straw, it will remain closed. But once you let go of the straw it immediately pops back into it's long shape.

You can take the straw, rolled up, between these two fingers and hold it up to your nose. Use your other hand to assist. Let the free hand hold the end of the straw near the nostril as the other hand unfurls the length of the straw, making it appear as if it's coming from your nose!

Rolling the straw up will not be totally easy the first few times, but once it's been rolled and unrolled a few times it will become progressively easier to handle. Also, the movement necessary to make it appear to be coming from the nose will become more convincing with a little practice.

You can also use this same technique to make it appear to come out of any small object, like a change purse or a match box. Of course, the straw is not examinable... but it gets a good laugh regardless.

What´s a great place to buy magic items?

Stevens' Magic Emporium

Stevens' Magic Emporium is world-renowned for its vast array of all things magic. Whether you're looking for a shaved deck or a major stage illusion, you'll find it at Stevens'. If you live anywhere within driving distance of Wichita, Kansas, it's well worth the time it takes to get there! It's located at 2520 East Douglas; the phone number is (316) 683-9582.

If you don't happen to live in the midwest, you can shop their online store at Stevens' Magic ... they have a great catalog online, or you can order their regular catalogs for hours of delightful pick-and-choose at your leisure. Tricks, effects, books, CD's, video ... you name it, Joe Stevens probably has it.

Where can I buy used props and illusions?

Magic Items Being Auctioned

Check out Best bidding for some very good items being auctioned including memorabilia, posers, effects and stage illusions.

Is there a website where I can buy books, props and so on?

Magic Books & Stuff WEBSITE
StopPress News Updates


all pertaining to the Magic Biz!

Where can I buy used props, or sell my old stuff?

Free ad for magic dealers

Free ad for magic dealers, etc.
URL: Http://

Mention my name and get a FREE advert on a new web site.

There is a new web site called Jumbo Magic that advertises second-hand (used) props, tricks, books & videos. It's an on-line exchange & mart. If you are looking for magic, this is the place too!

However, dealers can place display ads at low rates. But, as an intro (on the back of my name) you can request a FREE one-off ad. Visit NOW & register - for FREE!

Don't forget to mention my name: Paul Gordon


Cola Can Effects

Effects with cola cans are popular. Sometimes the cans appear to crush by themselves, and in other effects the cans either refill themselves or re-seal themselves. I'm not going to reveal an effect with this tip, but instead will reveal a 'method' to empty a cola can in preperation for the effect of your choice, and I'll make a suggestion as to how you can use these cans to produce a stunning effect.

Take a cola can and very gently pull back the tab until you hear the typical de-pressurizing noise. Once you hear the sound alerting you that the inner pressure has been released, stop and look at the tab to make sure you have not opened the tab too far. The hole should be barely noticeable. The trick is to now get the cola out of the can. Push the tab back into it's original position; make sure the top of the can is clean; and then begin to suck the cola out of the can through the small opening. There may be other ways to get it out, but this is the simplest.

Once done, you'll have an empty can that for all practical purposes appears to be sealed.

If you want to refill the can, you can submerge the can in a larger container of liquid, weight it down, and allow the can to refill itself over a period of time. You can remove the cola from a cola can and refill it with a clear carbonated drink, and empty a clear liquid drink can and refill it with cola. This will provide you with a good basis for a custom effect.


Double Stick Tape - A Wonderful Secret Weapon

Double stick tape is also known as double sided tape. A little piece can achieve big miracles. If you do not use double stick tape in your repertoire then you're missing a powerful weapon.

Take a small piece, about half the size of a postage stamp, and stick it to the back of the top card on the deck. Press your finger on it several times to remove a little of the 'sticky'. Have a spectator select a card from the deck and drop it back on top of the deck in your hand. Say something like "We will put your card back on top of the deck", as you tap the top card with your forefinger at about the point where the tape should be on the card beneath. Do this to thoroughly stick the two cards together. Make sure they're square.

You can now go in a hundred different directions. For all practical purposes, when you turn the top card over, the spectators card will appear to have vanished from the top of the deck. If you drop the top card face up on the table, quickly drop several other cards face up on top of it. Then, ribbon spread the remainder of the deck to show that the card has completely vanished from the deck. If you forced a card to begin the effect, you can have a duplicate in the card case, and show that the card has vanished from the deck and reappeared in the case.

There are a gazillion different moments you can accomplish with a small piece of double stick tape. Try it out.

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Guru Spotlight
William Pirraglia