Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell


Houdini's Paper Magic
Houdini's Paper Magic was published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922. According to a note in Gershon Legman's "Bibliography of Paperfolding", Houdini's "Paper Magic" is said to have been ghosted by Walter Gibson, another conjuror. (Source David Lister http://erikdemaine.org/foldcut/david_lister_houdini.html)

The book is divided into four sections - Paper Tricks, Paper Folding, Paper Tearing and Paper Puzzles. Many, but by no means all, the effects involve folding paper. The highlights from a paperfolding perspective are:

Paper Tricks - many of these use confetti or paper as a wrapping etc.

The Travelling Paper Balls - using paper screwed up into pellets - page 3

The Spirit Communication - a treatment of the Buddha Papers - page 37

The Ballot or Pellet Test - involves writing questions on paper and folding them into pellets to conceal the question from view. Page 83.

Paper Folding

The Japanese Bird - ie the Flapping Bird - made using the crease and collapse method. Houdini says he learned it from an 'Americanised Japanese' who he goes on to call a 'clever Jap'. Page 117.

The Bullfrog - ie the Blow-up Frog - learned from the same Japanese friend. Page 122.

Puzzle Box for Sweets - ie the Catherine of Cleves box. Page 127.

Trouble Wit - ie Troublewit - 24 different motifs are pictured. Page 130.

The Chapeau - ie the Kabuto or Samurai Helmet. The horns are called 'cockades' and are folded at a lower position than in the normal modern design. This fold is also said to be of Japanese origin. Page 133.

The Japanese Purse - ie the Menko - page 136.

Japanese Hexagon Puzzle Box - ie the Tematebako - page 139.

Paper Cutting

Trewey's Paper Rings - ie cutting in half untwisted, half twisted (moebius band) and fully twisted paper rings. Page 143.

Jacob's Ladder - ie the Newspaper Ladder. Page 147.

The Trellis - ie the Newspaper Trellis. Page 150.

The Fir Tree - ie the Newspaper Tree. Page 152.

The Dancing Skeletons / Grandma's String of Dolls / The Dancing Girl's - all versions of the String of Dolls - wherre paper is folded into a concertina then cut / torn and opened out to show the effect. Page 154.

Circular Designs - ie Doilies - where a circle of paper is folded into a then wedge then cut / torn and oipened out to show the pattern. Page 167.

The Five Pointed Star - star made with a single cut from a folded square. Page 176.

Paper Puzzles

The Three Crosses - Latin, Greek and Maltese crosses which can all be produced with asingle cut from a folded sheet. Page 204.