Magic enthusiasts know that a well-executed trick can leave an audience scratching their heads, wondering, “how did he do that?” Paper magic tricks are often used to great effect to entertain through laughter, surprise, and amazement. With such a simple material as paper products including everyday types of paper such as ordinary white printer paper, tissue paper, dollar bills, and newspaper, you can create that same level of awe for friends, family, and audience.
Moreover, magic isn’t just for kids. Many magic sets are marketed to children who want to have some fun with the craft, but those sets aren’t intended for adults and are only cute when a child performs them. If you want to be able to entertain adults, you need magic sets that are intended for adult performers. In fact, paper magic tricks have a long line of use with adult audiences by adult performers and are a respected form among illusionists.
A Brief History of Paper Magic Tricks
Many crafts, such as magic, pull from other crafts to create a unique experience for the audience. One thing that many people don’t know is that magic tricks with paper originated in origami. In as early as 1676, Troublewit, a form of magic involving paper, was being used by illusionists. Moving forward in history, in the 1800s, Harry Houdini popularized it through his tricks. A common way to use Troublewit today is by incorporating it into stories. The origami techniques serve as props for the stories. The magician incorporates these props into the stories by folding them in such a way that the paper can quickly be turned into different shapes.
Here are five magic sets that are intended for adult performers that use origami to tell stories or create the illusion of mind reading.
Recommended Magic Tricks With Paper
Harry Houdini’s Paper Magic
Houdini popularized Troublewit, so it’s no wonder that he created a book full of how-to directions. A special treat lies in that you can still buy it today. From this book, you can learn the elements of paper tricks, paper folding, paper tearing, and paper puzzles. The book format has written directions along with many pictures, making it accessible to a wide range of skill levels.
It also reveals the nuances of tricks involving classic themes in magic such as spirit communication. Several classic animal folds are also shown such as a frog, bird, and hat. In the tearing section, you can learn to tear detailed designs such as skeletons, ladders, and stars. This book can teach you the basics of learning magic tricks with paper, and you can either perform them in the classic style of Harry Houdini, or you can put your own modern spin on them.
“Origami Effect” by Andrew Mayne
Illusionist Andrew Mayne shows the steps of creating magic tricks with paper in a 65-minute DVD. Several origami paper tricks are included such as tearing up a newspaper, then putting it back together to create a rabbit that won’t sit still. Some illusions combine mind-reading and paper tricks, including changing a dollar bill into the animal that an audience member is thinking of and using a Post-it note to make an animal that the spectator chose from 40 different animals. Andrew Mayne shows you the tricks of both folding the paper to make animals as well as how to push a suggestion for words and images onto a spectator.
“Paper to Hat Comic” by Uday
For a fun twist on magic with paper, try Uday’s “Paper to Hat Comic.” This book will show you how to tear two pieces of tissue and then restore them to make a hat with a clown face on it. Clowns and magic are often combined to make entertainment. Perfect for a children’s birthday party, this trick will make kids and kids at heart of all ages smile. You can also alter the paper and switch up your presentation to perform a trick that will be appreciated by an adult audience as well. Just switch out the tissue paper with the clown on it for two pieces of tissue paper that are either blank, or you can add your own image to the tissue paper.
“Comedy Paper Tear” by Uday
For a two-in-one deal, you can try the “Comedy Paper Tear” by Uday. This set includes directions for two of their magic tricks, combined into one package. The two magic tricks with paper that are included are the “Paper to Hat Comic” and the “Paper to Shorts Comic,” also sold separately. This one, as well, is great for birthday parties. The magician invites the birthday boy or girl to the stage and performs the paper to hat trick, then he decides it looks so nice on the child that he would like one, too. The magician then does the paper to shorts trick and pretends to be surprised when he opens the paper to find a pair of shorts instead of the hat. You could also stylize this trick in a way that would be more entertaining for an all-adult audience. There are endless ways in which this trick can be stylized to fit the audience to leave them entertained and laughing.
“Folding Money Fooling” by Robert E. Neale
This book gives directions for 20 magic tricks with paper involving dollar bills. Many of the origami pieces are animals such as a crane, frog, bunny, parrot, and butterfly. Others are tricks such as a snake basket, a braid, a pyramid, and finger puppets. Finger puppets are fun for the kids, but you never know what your creative energies could come up with. There are countless possibilities to inject your own storytelling and adjust the tricks to fit the audience.
All of the models come with both word and picture directions to make paper folding clear and easy. And, when the mechanics of a magic trick with paper are straightforward to learn, then you as the magician have more time to refine your presentation.