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 ghostwritten by Walter Gibson, another conjuror. (Source David Lister http://erikdemaine.org/foldcut/david_lister_houdini.html)

A full copy of this book can be accessed at https://archive.org/details/HoudinisPaperMagic

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: Several of the effects in this section which are not specifically mentioned here use pellets made by screwing up paper or paper as a wrapping etc.

The Spirit Communication (The Buddha Papers)

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An Effective Finish (The Newspaper Sword)

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Paper Folding:

The Japanese Bird (The Flapping Bird)

Houdini says he learned this design from an 'Americanised Japanese' who he goes on to call a 'clever Jap'

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The Bullfrog (The Blow-up Frog)

Houdini says he learned this design from the same Japanese friend.

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Puzzle Box for Sweets (The Catherine of Cleves box)

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Trouble Wit (Troublewit)

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The Chapeau (The Kabuto or Samurai Helmet)

The horns of the Kabuto, called 'cockades', are folded at a lower position than in the normal modern version of the design. Houdini states that this design is also of Japanese origin but does not attribute it to his 'Japanese friend'.

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The Japanese Purse (The Menko)

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Japanese Hexagon Puzzle Box (The Tematebako - made by gluing six Menko together)

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Paper Cutting:

Trewey's Paper Rings (The Afghan Bands)

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Jacob's Ladder (The Newspaper Ladder)

Houdini also includes a variant of the Newspaper Ladder which he calls the Trellis (pictured on the right)

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The Fir Tree (The Newspaper Tree)

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The Dancing Skeletons / Grandma's String of Dolls / The Dancing Girl's (all versions of the Chain of Dolls)

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Circular Designs (The Paper Doily)

Instructions for several complex designs are given. One of these is stated to be of Japanese origin.

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The Five Pointed Star (The Fold and One Cut Pentagram)

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To Pass Through A Card (How to Climb Through A Playing Card)

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The Liberty Bell (A reworked version of the Cherries Puzzle)

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Paper Puzzles: This section consist mostly of tangrams and dissections but also includes:

The Three Crosses

The first cross is the Fold and One Cut Latin Cross. The second is the same thing from a square to produce a Greek Cross. The third is a Maltese Cross.