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Rubber Pencil Trick

By: Chris Welsh - Updated: 1 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Rubber Pencil Trick Magic Trick Pencil

A very classic gag, this trick is actually an optical illusion that is easy to learn.

The Effect
The magician produces a pencil from a shirt pocket, or perhaps plucks it from the desk of a co-worker. Claiming he has the powers to alter things at an elemental level, the magician begins to rub the pencil in his fingers, staring at the ends and generally making magical motions over it. When he is fully satisfied, he says he will be able to exert his will power on the forces of wood to change it to rubber - but only for a moment. He then holds the pencil loosely in one hand and bounces it up and down - and indeed, the pencil seems to flop and bend as if made of rubber.

The Secret
The optical illusion formed by the bouncing of the pencil is the only real magic here.

Materials
A pencil, pen, knife or similar object may be used for this illusion.

Preparation
No advance preparation is needed.

Performing the Trick

The Rubber Pencil Trick is often found performed by a favourite uncle or a classmate, who usually says something like “watch this” and then bounces the pencil in loosely held fingers. The reaction of most people when seeing this is usually along the lines of, “Oh…neat!” In other words, not satisfying enough for a magician. In order to make this worthy of performance the magician needs to weave a tale around the illusion.
  1. The magician explains that he has powers over the forces of nature itself, but only in a limited fashion. To illustrate, he asks for a pencil or produces one from a pocket and passes it out to be examined.

  2. Once the audience is satisfied it is indeed a normal pencil, the magician then begins to work his craft, inspecting the pencil and making mystic passes over it and then announces he is ready to begin.

  3. magician holds pencil between thumb and forefingerThe magician holds the pencil loosely in between the thumb and forefinger, with the other fingers up and out of the way. The pencil should be gripped roughly in the middle. 20px break
  4. Holding up the pencil to eye height for the spectators, the magician announces he is going to change the consistency of the wood in the pencil to rubber, but it will only last a moment.

  5. magician wobbles the pencilThe magician then begins to wave his hand up and down in sharp, short motions, loosening his grip on the pencil. The pencil will waggle back and forth, creating an optical illusion that it is bending in the middle. To the spectator it will appear as if the pencil has become limp rubber. 20px break
The magician’s up front explanation that the transformation only lasts a short time allows him to hand the pencil out immediately after stopping, pointing out that it has reverted to wood.

Magical Tip

Once again, this is a simple optical illusion that is worth little without the story beyond a weak appreciation of the audience. Practice the story as much as the motion to make the pencil appear rubber and practice the motion at the right speed - too fast or too slow and it won’t work.

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