An essential reference for making spring flowers. This booklet covers Martineau's method of making a large bouquet (complete with long stems) of spring flowers, but this book would also be enormously useful to anyone wanting to make individual spring flowers for the traditional Flowers from Paper Cone production. Martineau gives you precise instructions, with very clear illustrations, on how to make the flowers. If you know Martineau's illustrations from the Rice Encyclopedia of Silk Magic then you will know how precise his drawings are.
Spring Flowers have really become a do-it-yourself project for anyone who wants decent-looking blooms that halfway resemble real flowers (from a distance). These are not difficult to make once you understand the proportions and the steps for constructing them, but they are very time consuming to produce (and to make a decent looking production you need at least 50) so the days of purchasing good looking pre-made spring flowers from a magic dealer have passed. You'll have to rely on your own craftiness and the investment of your own time. Almost all of the pre-made spring flowers you can obtain from a magic supplier these days are made cheaply in India and they don't look very good, most don't even attempt to look like real flowers (the worst offenders being the "flowers" that are made from metallic-looking mylar. What those are intended to resemble I have no idea, but they sure don't look like flowers.) By combining the construction techniques that Martineau covers (either for individual blooms or a whole bouquet with long stems) along with adding some tasteful stippling on the inner part of the flowers and stippling along the outer edges of the flowers using colored Sharpie markers, or PrismaColor or Copic Markers, you can increase the resemblance of the blooms to real flowers (you can also brush on colored dye with a slightly wet watercolor brush on the edges of the blooms which can yield some interesting color bleed gradients --- experiment!) Another good option is to obtain some of the artificial flowers made from thin fabric at a craft store and use those to construct your spring flowers, instead of using the traditional tissue paper. The fabric flowers will tend to be a bit thicker than the paper flowers so that's something to consider in terms of the size of the load, but the fabric flowers (and green leaves) look realistic from a very short distance.
One bit of advice that is often forgotten when using spring flowers is the ratio of green leaves to colored blooms: it should be a ratio of 50 - 50, or some say 60 - 40 (that is for every 4 colored blossoms you would include 6 all green, or at least for every 5 colored blooms include 5 all green). Also, it tends to look better to have each bouquet or batch of spring flowers produced to be all one color, for example, all-white blooms, or all pink, or all red, all yellow, instead of mixing in multiple colors like red, yellow, purple, orange, blue, white, green. Or vary it by having mostly white blooms, but a few pink dropped in the mix. (again, keeping the proportion of all green leaves higher than the number of colored blooms) If you want to see how good this can look search out a video of French magician Dani Lary performing his act "The Magical Gardener".
Something that would improve this e-book would be to update it with recommended sources to purchase a good well-made tumbler or goblet that has been gimmicked in this way. Sadly, there are many cheap, poorly made versions available, but not many good ones. Most of the models currently available are not very deceptive looking; these cheap versions use a plastic glass and a piece of polished metal (a highly polished piece of stainless steel can be very effective, but many of the cheaper glasses on the market don't use highly polished stainless steel.) One of the common mistakes made in these type of glasses (both older models and current models) is to have the edge of the gimmick extend to the very top edge of the tumbler. This makes it too likely that the edge will flash at some point without very careful handling. The best versions are made in such a way that the top edge of the gimmick is lower than the edge of the glass. Some types of acrylic or lucite tumblers or goblets are appropriate for making this prop, but it's hard to beat the use of a heavy, fluted real glass for disguising the presence of the gimmick. Even if some good versions of this prop could be recommended for purchase, magic props tend to come and go - example: a few years ago there was an excellent version made by Steve Dick called the "Diamond Cut M***** Goblet" , but this has been discontinued and is hard to find - so perhaps another valuable way to update this e-book would be to include instructions on how to make your own, with suggestions for appropriate types of heavy fluted glasses or glasses with a "diamond" or "waffle" cut pattern that could be used (antique markets or websites dealing in antique glassware are a good source), also the right kind of material that can be used to make the gimmick. Many of the effects with this kind of glass use a gimmick that is removable, but it would also be useful to provide instruction on how to permanently mount the gimmick with the right kind of clear-drying waterproof adhesive for effects that involve the use of liquid. Some of this may be covered (?) in the e-book Magician's DIY Tips and Tricks by Chris Wasshuber also available here on Lybrary.com, which I don't own (yet), but if not then a section on how to make this sort of prop might be a worth addition to 'Magician's DIY Tips and Tricks' as well.
I’m an admirer of the creative genius of U.F. Grant, so I was hoping to get more out of viewing the “Missing Files” of “U. F. Grant's Lost Illusion Secrets Revealed”, but I would have to say this PDF is way over-priced for what it is. $5.00 might be a fair price, but $35.00 is too much. The description of this PDF file says:
“Over the years, Grant sold many manuscripts that just contained one illusion along with building plans in most cases. (Some of these were released by Percy Abbott in his catalog without credit to U. F. Grant.) This compilation is a collection of those plans released by Grant and also in the early Abbott Magic catalogs.
Most of these plans are near impossible to find nowadays and most of the ideas and plans will be new to the majority of magicians. The manuscripts have new typeset, corrected errors and added photos.”
Several of the illusions described have no plans or illustrations at all, most have only a few crude sketches that get the basic idea across, but offer little practical guidance on how you would actually build or perform these illusions. Some do have plans with actual dimensions given, but overall the building directions are sparse.
The description -- “The manuscripts have new typeset, corrected errors and added photos” -- gave me the impression that these various old plans and ideas had been substantially edited and updated with the addition of photo illustrations of the illusions, but the “added photos” are simply a few generic stock photos found on the internet:
- On page 18 a stock photo (with the 123rf.com watermarks still visible ... you're supposed to pay the licensing fee if you use stock images) of a girl with a towel wrapped around her for “The Girl in the Shower” illusion, but this stock photo has nothing specifically to do with the Grant illusion, it’s just a cheesecake photo of a pretty girl with a towel around her.
- On page 112 a stock photo of Santa Claus accompanies the “Santa Claus Arrives” illusion, but again this stock photo has nothing to do with illustrating how the illusion would look or how to build it, it’s simply a stock photo of Santa Claus.
- On page 142 there is a photo of a child’s rubber boot, in connection with the “Farmer and the Witch” illusion where it says: “Some performers who are using this illusion have made cloth ‘boots’ to match the costumes, In the event that the audience should get a glimpse of the feet of the children, the shoes will not give the illusion away. Instead of the cloth boots, you could use the cheap plastic boots which are sold for children in the winter time.”
- On page 143 a stock photo of a surgeon and a nurse in surgical masks is printed at the start of the description for “The Doctor and the Nurse Illusion”.
- On page 165 for “The Bunny-Girl Illusion” a stock photo of a girl in a sort of "Playboy Bunny" type of costume grabbed from a Halloween store website. It has nothing to do with the illusion, except the suggestion that “The girl should, of course, be dressed in the popular bunny costume — bunny ears, white collar and cotton tail.”
- On page 167 a photo of the “Girl on Three Swords Illusion”, but it’s simply a photo of the prop as seen by the audience at the start of the illusion, three swords standing upright on a small platform. There is no description or photo of how to make the gimmick.
None of the 6 stock photos included are of any use in helping someone to build or perform the illusions described, so the mention in the description of “added photos” as a selling point is rather misleading.