A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
|Houdini's Paper Magic|
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
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.
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.
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.
The Three Crosses - Latin, Greek and Maltese crosses which can all be produced with asingle cut from a folded sheet. Page 204.