Once someone becomes highly capable of the individual techniques, they are able to stitch them together and perform a routine. These routines are like a story, divided into three parts, well summarized by Cutter in the film The Prestige.”Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.”
The magician commits many hours his time into developing and perfecting their skills and knowledge of sleight of hand.
The Sybil, the best example of a two handed multiple packet cut. It has provided the foundation for most two handed cuts that are being developed today. It is among the most well known and recognized flourishes ever created with many artists using it to develop their routines. Two handed cuts can be done both slow and fast, but they must flow smoothly to be successful. This is a clear extension of the basic card flourishes. Dexterity is built over time and creative magicians utilize this in new combinations.
Card springs are among the most flashy flourishes. It involves building a lot of pressure on the corners or edges of a deck, then releasing that pressure so there is a steady flow of cards going from one hand to another. Experienced artists can produce springs up to three to four feet long. Variations of this include the double spring, the upside-down spring, the one-hand spring, the overhead spring, and the cascade. These are a new development in the flourishes. There is little build up to learning these. The level of dexterity must reach a certain point then the magician will be able to perform it with enough practice.
First popularized by Jeff McBride, card twirls combine many small motions with a single card that, in unison, allow the card to appear as if it is rapidly twirling from finger to finger. These flourishes are generally accomplished by combining small movements of the fingers with a larger motion of the wrist moving to allow the card to “spin” faster than it normally would by simply twirling the card with a still wrist. Currently, the most prominent examples of card twirls are the Virt’s “Flicker” and Andrei Jikh’s “Bullet.” Such card twirls are famous for being simple to master, but just as easy to learn incorrectly which ruins the illusion of the fluidity that is accomplished within the twirl itself. A very flashy single card flourishe. This requires extreme accuracy and isolation of individual fingers.
The Charlier Cut (also known as the Charlier Pass) is a method of splitting a deck of cards into two parts using one hand. This is typically the first flourish learned by beginner card manipulators. This flourish shows off the individual skill of each individual hand.
Similar to the Charlier cut, the thumb cut also splits the deck into two parts. However, it is much more difficult to execute. The thumb cut requires the flourisher to reach across the deck and use their thumb to raise half the deck upwards. Then he must raise the bottom portion of the deck with his other fingers, completing the flourish. If a flourisher can successfully execute this cut with both hands, he can tackle more advanced cuts that require more dexterity.
These are essential to the development of the magician’s skills. Most tricks and performances will require these components.
Card flourishes for magicians can be divided into many genres: one-handed cuts, spreads, two-handed cuts, fanning, aerials, and springs. Card flourishes are performed both as part of magic performances and on their own. These flourishes are used in conjunction with the illusions to add a very powerful visual factor. These in particular have attracted my attention because they are so impressive.
These are arguably the most difficult to learn and perform. It is the pinnacle of someone’s hand dexterity. Next will be discussing some basic to intermediate techniques in flourishes that build on each new skill.
One of my favorite parts of any illusion is the change. Not only does it immediately make the audience doubt what they are seeing, but also it amplifies the performance value of any trick. Utilizing a change is a great tool in flourishes, tricks, and even as a distraction.
Although card magic is considered relatively new, there is a plethora of techniques that are incorporated into the illusions. The performer uses each sleight in a manner that is undetectable to the audience after careful practice and a thorough understanding of the method. Manipulation techniques include: lifts, false deals, side slips, passes, palming, false shuffles, false cuts, changes, crimps, jogs, and reverses. Some notable ones that are used in almost every trick are lifts, passes, and changes. Using just three of these concepts, a performer is able to first control a card and then present it in a way that is unexpected and attention grabbing.
Let’s take a brief break from watching videos of people who are decades ahead of where I currently am and discuss some history surrounding the use of cards in magic.
Playing cards only became popular with magicians as recently as the last century. Cards are cheap, versatile, and readily available. Card magic likely dates back to when playing cards became commonly known, around the 14th century; however, this time period is left largely undocumented. Compared to the very old “cups and balls” magic trick, it is a relatively young form of magic. But due to its adaptability as a prop, it has become very popular among modern magicians.