At the end of December, 1994, 1 made a new year's resolution that I would seriously attempt to develop some good magic tricks with the classic "color-changing plumes" effect. For several years, feather plume magic had intrigued me, because it seemed to have so much potential, yet so little was being done with it.
Back then, the only trick I knew about, that was normally done with feather plumes, was a sequence of color changes that involved obvious repetition. The standard presentation was something like this: A red feather would go into a tube and come out green. The green plume would be set aside. Then a yellow plume would go into the tube and it would come out red. This would be continued with each new plume changing to the color of one that had already been passed through the tube. I felt that most people, after watching the plumes change several times, would catch on to the method. It wasn't hard to figure out that one plume simply went inside of another one that had been previously shown. This was verified by non-magicians who saw others do the trick and then commented to me that it wasn't particularly "tricky".
Not everyone feels that the standard color-changing plumes effect is a weak trick, but I did and still do. Nevertheless I liked, and still like, the basic idea of feather plume magic. Frankly, I think a reason why many magicians use the standard plume effect, even though they themselves may suspect it is a weak trick, is because the plumes are fun to work with. The bright colors, the easy way they can be handled, and the fact that, even when the crowd is very close or surrounding the performer, the gimmick cannot be detected, makes them very appealing.
I determined to discover other and better uses for the plumes. I was convinced there had to be a way to use them that would be truly baffling. I also was sure that there were many routine possibilities beyond that basic color-changing sequence that everyone seemed to present.
Early in 1995 I came up with my first new feather plume effect. 1 called it "Feather Funny Business". It was nothing more than a variation of the old "confusing wands" trick, but the size and color of the plumes made it seem like
an entirely new idea. "Feather Funny Business" was an instant hit with lay audiences and magicians. The magical aspect of it was so strong it fooled many magicians. The entertainment aspect of it also was strong. The routine got big laughs as well as gasps of surprise. When I put the effect on the market, it was a sell-out every time I showed it. Although I have now been showing the effect for nearly two years, it continues to sell out at every convention of magicians that see in
After "Feather Funny Business", I began to work with using the plumes as visual aids for programs in schools and churches. This led to a variety of simple tricks that nevertheless amazed the audience. I learned that plumes can be used in a very basic manner with good results. The fundamental secret is a good one. Audiences do not suspect the method...unless it is repeated so often that they
have time to analyze the sequence. Actually, the old and standard color-changing plumes trick would have been a good one, if performers had simply stopped after the first two color changes rather than doing four or five more.
In March of 1995 1 met with David Boyd at the c/* CAn'yhcn Mcgidc/ty regional convention in Adrian, Michigan. After mentioning to him my interest in feather p!ume magic, he expressed a common interest and shared with me some of the ideas that he had been working on. A principle that he had discovered, that 1 found to be especially impressive, was that of using a long plume and shell of the same color. This allowed him to load a shell into a tube that had been shown empty, or to steal a shell away without the audience thinking anything had changed. As you read the rest of this book, you will see the many clever routines that this basic concept makes possible.
Since then 1 have built on the basic method of the original color-changing plumes trick, the principle of "Feather Funny Business", and the matching shell and plume idea of David Boyd, to create a variety of effects with feather plumes that seem to be very effective.
I trust that readers will enjoy the ideas they discover in this book, and be able to put them to good use in magic shows. 1 also expect many more ideas and routines to be developed as more people get involved with the wonderful possibilities that are offered by feather plume magic.
Have fun doing some funny, fancy, and fantastic tricks with feather plumes!
Originally Published 1996