Click the red play button above, then read along below.
In this episode, I am going to share with you my methods for transforming ANY classic trick into a signature magic performance. And I’m going to do this while answering all of the most frequently asked Sands of the Desert questions. If you love the classics, have ever considered performing Sands of the Desert specifically—or you just want to know how it works to see if it will fit your show—then this is the episode for you.
Before we get started . . . this episode is brought to you by CreativeAllMedia.com. If you are a performer or an inventor, then you have wondered if there isn’t some clever way for new customers to find your products or services. Well, you’re right, and you can find out what it is at CreativeAllMedia.com. Use your free online consultation to discover new areas of market entry. Sometimes, all it takes is the right words. CreativeAllMedia.com
Browse Sands of the Desert on The Magic Depot (this link opens in a new window).
Okay, on with the show.
You see a magic trick that you really, really want to perform in your show. You’ve seen it for sale in a magic shop before, it looks incredible, the moves are within your skill level, it’s in your price range, etcetera . . . there’s just one problem. Everyone does this trick. Think standard sponge ball routine, sawing in half, Zig-Zag, linking rings, newspaper tears, bird productions, escapes the list goes on. These aren’t tricks exclusively well known to magicians; everyday people have seen these tricks, many of them in person more than once.
Even card tricks suffer from this. I’ve heard a plethora of magicians, myself included, say, “Now, we’re going to do a little something different. Pick a card.” Yeah, nothing screams brand-new cutting edge magic like, “Pick a card.”
The question is: how can you transform this commonplace trick into your own signature magic performance?
Familiarity breeds contempt. How do we remedy this?
In 99% of the cases, your first safe bet is throw away the performance instructions, whether that’s a piece of paper or a DVD. Why? Because there is art hidden in the instructions—this applies to demo videos too. Take a look at the gimmick, the gaff, the whatever you received with the instructions. That’s not art—at least not performance art, even if it’s the best thing since sliced cards—it’s an art supply.
If learning to draw were the same as learning magic tricks, the artist’s how-to books would be filled with finished illustrations. Unless you’re wanting to copy another magician’s work, then I would ignore how other magicians perform the trick you’re wanting to add to your show—at least in the very beginning. I recommend doing some research later, after the creative process to make sure you didn’t accidentally recreate someone else’s act.
So what does that mean for our example trick, Sands of the Desert?
Since some of our listeners may not know what I’m talking about when I say Sands of the Desert, I will need to first explain, briefly, what Sands of the Desert is—the traditional, mainstream routine—then we’ll dig in, and go over all the working parts. That way we’re all on the same page. Here is the routine in a nutshell:
The magician fills a glass bowl with water, waves his hands through it, and the water turns black. He pours red sand into the water, stirs it up. He does the same thing with blue sand, then yellow sand. He reaches into the water, and not only is he able to retrieve the red sand by itself, it emerges completely dry. The magician repeats this with the next two colors, one at a time, then waves his hands through the water, and the liquid magically turns clear again.
Pretty famous trick. You can perform it closeup, parlor, street, stage—very versatile routine.
How does Sands of the Desert work?
The Sands don’t mix with the water or the other colors of Sands. Thus, the Sands are separate and dry. The “Black Water Clear Water” effect uses three chemicals. You can discover these chemicals in Chemical Magic by Lippy, or you can buy the chemicals ready to go at SandsoftheDesert.com.
Obviously, in my description of the method, I didn’t actually expose the secret. You won’t need the secret for this podcast, as the secret is very easy to keep secret while discussing fully the trick and how it’s performed. If you don’t already know the secret, then honestly, that’s pretty cool. You’re in for a treat. You can literally amaze yourself with this stuff. I mean, technically, you could amaze an audience with a demonstration of the secret to this trick. It’s that cool.
There will be two types of magicians listening to this, one who wants to perform their very own, signature Sands of the Desert routine, the other type will want to perform the traditional routine. The version they’ve seen before, or have heard about, and know they can purchase from magic shops. As is, it’s an amazing effect. Huge impact, closeup or stage. I get it. I understand why you want to perform the popular, or mainstream version, even though those are sometimes derogatory terms.
But where do you start?
The bowl. The traditional routine centers, in many ways, around the bowl, the vessel you will use to hold water. That’s the traditional routine . . . another routine may not even use a bowl. But in the mainstream version, the bowl is where the Sands go to be magical. The bowl doesn’t have to be big, in fact, a small bowl is ideal even if you want this trick for your stage show. I see magicians using large aquariums. Sometimes it looks good, sometimes it doesn’t. If the only reason why you want a big tank of water is to make the trick look bigger—more grand—then save your money. It’s unnecessary. That’s what the reveal is for. And that makes a whole lot of sense if you think about it. You mix the Sands into a small container of water, then let it flow from your hands in a big way.
Similar to an Oil and Water card routine. Mixing the cards takes a while. It’s a process. Un-mixing them is instant. It’s magic.
Hobby Lobby sells a round dish, clear, about a foot across, maybe six inches deep. It’s the perfect size, in my opinion, and it has a flat bottom. I think it’s about $20 or $30 dollars, but they usually have a 40% off coupon on their website. Hobby Lobby has other glassware there too, but beware, items that seem like clever Sands of the Desert vessels, might actually be the same prop other magicians gravitate toward—the giant martini glass, for instance—or it could make the trick more difficult because of its shape—the giant martini glass, for instance. That v-shape causes the Sands to end up visible against the bottom of the glass.
You will want to use about an ounce of Sands per inch of water due to pressure. So a six-inch dish, filled to 4-5 inches deep, would need about four ounces of each color of Sand. That’s a pretty big handful if you’re using Waxed Sands. Waxed Sands are first poured to the hand, then placed in the water, which means if you want to use wax-coated Sands, and a huge container of water, you better have big hands. But I digress . . . you want enough Sand that your audience can see it from the cheap seats, and you want enough Sand so that it really flows on the reveal, but not so much that it’s unmanageable.
Remember, whatever Sand you submerge, you’ll need to remove from the water—that’s especially important if you’re pouring the Sands from a glass. If it won’t fit in your hands, you will either need to use another prop, or use both hands, which can look suspicious—not always, but sometimes—or you can leave some of the Sands submerged. That only works if you use an opaque bowl, or leave the water black at the end, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
You can also get a bowl, similar to the one at Hobby Lobby, from Walmart. In their floral department, they have one with rounded sides and one with straight sides. I like them both, but for different reasons. I really dig the rounded sides because it’s on a bowl only a few inches deep. The shape makes it look fuller than it is. I think those bowls are both under $10 each. The problem with fishbowls, is that the top is usually too narrow for both hands . . . and those vessels look like fishbowls. You’re making statement that better match your presentation.
Antique stores are another good place to find bowls. The old crystal sometimes has a charm to it that you can’t get with modern glassware. You will need some other items too. Chances are, you want your props to either match, or go together as part of a specific theme, eclectic or otherwise.
You’ll need three vessels from which to pour your Sands, either to your hand first, or directly to the water, depending on which Sands you buy, Synthetic or Waxed.
If your bowl is short, three very tall, long-stemmed wine glasses might give a nice contrast. Hobby Lobby has those too, of course, you can find them elsewhere. There are candle glasses that are also very tall, sometimes three different heights to a set. You’ll find those at the big home decorating stores, pretty cheap. Is Garden Ridge still around? Or is that regional? Pier One, may be a more general brand.
Consider using a pitcher from which to pour water into the bowl. You can start with the bowl already full, but you can also have Chemical One from Black Water Clear Water in the bowl to start, then fill the bowl with water right before the trick. Adds a lot of impact, I think. You must do that with some chemical brands. The first chemical, especially if it’s the cheap stuff, will turn water yellow pretty quick. All versions yellow the water a bit after an extended period of time, but Black Water Clear Water, that specific one from Sandsofthedesert.com, linked to on the essay page, doesn’t yellow hardly at all. You can start clear, and end clear.
And then you need some presentation/setup for the reveal.
That might mean, if you can afford it, letting the Sands flow from your hand to the ground or stage to be swept up later, and trashed. You don’t have to buy the Sands starter kits, buy the Refill Packs. They come with all the same stuff, just more Sands. It saves money. Some performers buy 20+ Refill Packs a year, others can make one pack—that’s three pounds of Sands, one pound of each color—last for a year’s worth of performances. On the reveal, you can pour the Sands into a container—a different one for each color. That way you dry them out and reuse them. Sands are reusable for, I don’t know how long specifically, there are a lot of variables there, but several uses at least.
I would think most magicians collect and reuse the Sands. And sometimes the Sands are still usable even when they mix together—for instance, you can use red and blue Sands to make purple Sands. After the Sands dry, store them in a tub, jar, or bag, then use them for a special version of your routine, or as a practice Sands if nothing else.
Kirby VanBurch uses big white plates in his show. The plates are standing up on end, I assume on a plate holder, as they are at a slight angle. He lets the Sands flow from his hand, over the plate, which really makes the Sands pop—they contrast the white plates. I don’t know if he had a little tray to collect the Sands, or even if he reuses them. I also don’t know if that’s his original idea, or if the credit goes to someone else. It’s really a clever way to reveal the Sands.
Another idea, is you can have a spectator hold a glass as you pour the now dry and separate Sands right in front of them, and the audience as a whole. On stage, you could have a wire holder that tips a glass bowl forward, or even a white bowl. That’s a good way to integrate the Kirby concept with a built-in tray to recover the Sands.
You will also need—just like in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—a towel.
Do not underestimate the convenience of a towel, both in method, and to honestly keep your hands dry.
For the mainstream routine, your setup is the bowl on the table, either filled with water, or there is a pitcher there too. If the bowl is empty, Chemical One is sprinkled in the bottom, but if the bowl is already full, you have Chemical One mixed into the water. Some magicians even package Chemical One and Chemical Two together at their proper proportion, so that both chemicals are added to the water at the same time. Regardless, you have two little packets hidden somewhere. One with Chemical Two (and possibly chemical one, depending on the aforementioned setup), and one with Chemical Three. In the old days, they used a piece of a coffee filter, or of one-ply tissue paper to hold the chemicals—little folded packets. Toilet paper works so much better. It nearly dissolves. At minimum it will stick to the bottom and stay there (if you guide it to that position).
Where to hide the packets? In your hand towel, of course. After you pour the water in the bowl, or even if you began with the water already in there, wave your hands though the water, then dry them. When dry, get the first packet, which contains Chemical Two. Wave your hands through the water again, and now the water turns black. You can submerge the little piece of paper, or ditch it in the towel when you dry your hands.
Here’s where the routine diverges depending on your Sands choice.
For Waxed Sands, you will pour the Sand from the vessel in which it’s displayed into your hand. You’ll squeeze the Sands into a clump, then place the clump in the water against the bottom of the bowl. For Synthetic Sands, you can simply pour the Sands straight from the glass into the water, and it will automatically pile up into a little clump on the bottom of the bowl.
Now, for both Synthetic and Waxed, you reach into the water, find the clump—both types clump UNDERwater—and you move the pile of Sands to the left side of the bowl, toward the back. Too close to the wall, the people behind you might see through the dark water. Repeat the previous step with the next color, maybe move it to the right, then the same with the third, only the third pile goes toward the back middle.
Stir the water with your hands between each Sands color. How to do that? You put your hands in the water straight, but then bend them. You want to only stir the upper and middle columns of water, yet you want it to look like you’re up to your elbows in water—an exaggeration with the short-sided bowls I recommend, obviously. I like to make this part of the routine as messy as possible. Others, seem to keep their version pretty clean. The black water is a dye, so you do have to prepare your other props if you plan to be sloshy.
All you have to do now is reveal the Sands are separate and dry.
Reach into the water, remove a clump. Very important here, shake off the excess water while your hand is still closed, and still over the vessel. Synthetic Sand will flow free from your hand right away, Waxed Sands will need a little caress first to open up the clump, then it flows just like the Synthetic. Dry your hands, of course, especially on the last one, that way you can get Chemical Three. Wave your hands through the water again, and viola! It turns clear.
That’s it, really. That’s Sands of the Desert. There are a lot of differences in Sands though. First, I don’t know of anyone who is still using silicone vapors to make Sands. And only the cheap stuff uses an oven and waterproofing spray, like that which is exposed on YouTube. The truth is, the method for making the good, true Synthetic Sands is known to very few people on Earth.
When made correctly, fine-grained Sands look a lot better than, say, courser Sands, which are more forgiving. SandsoftheDesert.com sells mostly fine Sands. The colors are pure, and you can mix and match . . . in other words, the packs are sold in Original colors, Fluorescent, and Naturals, but you can choose whatever colors you want. Magicians in the U. S. like to get red, white, and blue Sands. Magicians from other countries like to have their flag colors too.
How Waxed Sands are made is pretty much common knowledge, but the good stuff doesn’t use regular wax like you buy at the store. It’s a special wax, made in-house, that is more of one ingredient than the other. If you’ve ever felt the different between good Waxed Sands, and crappy Waxed Sands, you know what I mean.
Can you pour Waxed Sands? Yes, with a lot of practice. I can pour Waxed Sands, no problem. I use a straight sided glass, as you should, to concentrate the pour into one place. You also have to be near the surface of the water. Most people I talk to, who try to pour the Waxed Sands, get too frustrated. They either squeeze first, as was intended, or they switch to Synthetic.
HYBRID Sands, the newest Sands of the Desert Sands, is both. When the special wax is made, a proprietary additive that simulates the traditional synthetic coating is added to the mix. The Sands are made, then another special coating is applied. It’s pourable Waxed Sands, or clumping Synthetic Sands, however you want to look it.
Most people think, wow, that’s perfect. But there are some drawbacks. First, HYBRID is expensive due to all the manufacturing steps. Second, it is not very forgiving at all. During the practice stages, you’ll go nuts. It’s a totally different animal. It has the characteristics of both, but it’s more like working with Waxed Sands—so it throws off all those people used to Synthetics. Once you learn to use it though, HYBRID is the best Sands on the market in my opinion, though I am obviously biased, since I invented it.
Whichever Sands you get—Refill or Starter Pack—they both have the same, full instructions—if you’re into that sort of thing. My recommendation to magicians new to Sands of the Desert, start with a Refill Pack of Synthetics, whatever colors you want, originals are the most popular, and a regular pack of Black Water Clear Water.
There’s also a thing called the Black Water Pouch Kit, which contains a special liquid for turning the water black, it comes with pouches for holding the liquid—a very cool product—but it does not work with Black Water Clear Water. The water just stays black. Some performers prefer it. It’s actually a pretty incredible product. As soon as the liquid touches water, it disperses instantly. But once the water is black, it stays black. If you don’t want to use either Black Water product, simply use an opaque bowl.
There you go. That’s Sands of the Desert in a nutshell. All you need to get you started.
Next, we’re going to talk about how to take information like what you’ve just heard, and turn it into a signature magic performance. But first, I want to take a quick break:
Are you tired of toy store chain escapes that leave your audience in doubt? Now, you have a professional option. The Old World Siberian Chain Escape is an industrial-strength steel chain, one-inch steel rings, and a genuine Brinks 5-pin brass padlock, charcoal-fired and gas-torched to look every bit as mean as the convicts it was designed to imprison. Real steel. Real strong. You still escape in seconds!
And we’re back.
Here we have this trick, Sands of the Desert. We want to transform some or all of its pieces into a new, signature magic performance. This might be your next big feature. If you’re just starting out, it might be your big break. Magicians come to respect you, audiences love you, and venues pay you. It’s a big success.
In that case, there’s a lot riding on this.
How are you going to pull it off?
I like to start with what drew me to the effect in the first place. In general, I like scalability. I like little tricks that I can perform in a living room if necessary, or stretch across a stage. My favorite example of this is the $100 Billet Catch. I was backstage in the greenroom of a theatre, and basically asked last minute to perform five minutes to a crowd of about 100 people. It wasn’t a huge audience, but I was a closeup guy, and I had done very little stage at the time, and never impromptu stage magic. This was around twenty years ago. I had nothing on me to perform. But I had been really gnawing on some ways I could incorporate a Bullet Catch into my act. Right there, on the spot, I developed my signature version of the Bullet Catch.
It literally took me under ten minutes to put that routine together. Despite coming together so quickly, the trick has passed the test of time.
True, the Bullet Catch had been on my mind the past few months. So when I saw a balloon backstage—a prop used to demonstrate the bullet passing through the air and into the magician’s mouth—I began thinking along those lines. Another performer had just used a common magic gimmick backstage to mess with one of the non-magicians—the rest of the routine sort of fell together in my mind.
In my version of the Bullet Catch, I use some of the same props, minus a gun. It’s almost poking fun at myself for not doing an actual Bullet Catch. Certainly, I am riding on the popularity of the Bullet Catch. I even tell a bit of the history in a serious tone before I begin the trick so that the audience thinks that’s what I’m setting up to perform. I do that, really, to make sure they know what a Bullet Catch is, because the $100 Billet Catch is many times more entertaining for an audience who has seen a serious Bullet Catch performed, on television or in person.
The scary part is that I went on stage unprepared with this specific trick. But I knew I had it. All the moves were techniques I used everyday in my closeup performances.
The reason I like the Bullet Catch in the first place, is because it fills the stage. Literally, from one side to the other. For me, though, the Bullet Catch is not all that amazing today. I think audiences are tense during the performance, but ultimately everyone thinks they know how it’s done. I knew that in whatever version I ever came up with, I wanted it to fool modern audiences. Eliminating the gun does this in my routine. Everything else stays the same. With props that fit in a watch pocket, I can perform a HUGE stage illusion.
In some ways, that’s what draws me to Sands of the Desert, but sort of in a different way. All of my typical Sands props fit in a very small space. There are a lot of separate pieces, but not a lot of gear. I can perform it silent or with patter, three minutes or twenty. I don’t do the routine described above. I have several other versions that work better for me.
In the beginning, like a lot of magicians, I wondered what I could pass the Sand off as closeup.
So the white Sands became salt, and the black Sands become pepper—there is a HYBRID Combo, meant as a sampler pack, that even comes with the Salt Shakers. In another routine, I removed the sugar from soda, then the label magically changed to diet. That routine comes with the Sands you get from The Magic Depot, and SandsoftheDesert.com. If you don’t want to purchase from those sources for some reason, then look at their covers—the product images—that brand is available elsewhere, and still comes with the full instructions. Since then, I’ve made Sands that look like sugar for other magicians too. It has become quite popular recently. Really, you can pass Synthetic, Waxed, and HYBRID off as sugar.
Another trick in the instructions uses two Sands, so the Salt and Pepper works great for this. I like to perform this routine at festivals, outdoor shows. It’s called Bowl and Plate. I didn’t give it a more marketable name, because up until a few years ago when I put it in those instructions, I hadn’t planned on marketing it. I bring it up now, because while I prefer Synthetic Sands over Waxed for most applications, Waxed is a lot easier to use for Bowl and Plate. Or HYBRID, obviously, which is what comes with the shaker combo.
For that trick, my props are pretty much the Sand and shakers, some water, and you guessed it, a bowl and a plate. A member of the audience stands facing the rest of the audience, holding an opaque bowl, which I fill halfway with water, then set a plate on top. My audience member holds the plate down with their thumbs, and does a little hula dance to swirl—mixup—the water. They quickly open the plate and I toss in a full shaker of “pepper,” then a full shaker of “salt.” Between each is the little dance bit. After it’s all mixed up, my helper tilts up the plate, I reach in, remove the salt and pepper one at a time. I prove they are dry by filling the shaker straight from my hand, and sprinkling it out the little holes. It’s a great trick to perform surrounded.
What did I do there? What was my process?
Basically, I wanted to do a more mobile Sands. Something with an easy reset—in this case, the Sands are reset during the show. I dry off the shakers, pour out my water and get new. At festivals—or those spring to summer Farmer’s Markets popping up in small towns, or at neighborhood centers in big cites—you can literally perform this next to the garden hose. I built the routine out of necessity. I was attracted to the idea of using sand, an interesting prop. You can use the sand to tell dramatic stories, or remind people of playing in sand, awakening a very different set of emotions. I wanted to use Sands in my show, it fit my character, but there were some very real restrictions, requirements that forced me to create a fairly specific routine.
You’re dealing with the science here. If a couple pounds of treated Sands, and some water, possibly some chemicals are your art supply, then from that, and whatever else you add, combined with the performance itself, is your art. The good comes with the bad, so to speak. Sands of the Desert works because the science works. If you try to defy the science, it won’t work. You have to wield these natural forces, these characteristics, to your favor.
This is the dream stage.
Some people don’t take the time to really acknowledge the features and the flaws in their raw goods, and then fully dream without limit the magical results.
In other words, you have what you think are limitations in the props, the raw goods, the art supplies, and it’s important that you recognize them, then brainstorm as if they weren’t there.
It’s like when you’re in a play . . . the director might say, “Emote more than enough, and we’ll tell you when to dial it back.”
Dream bigger than the method.
Bigger than the trick. Bigger than you, whatever that means. No limits. Some of the limitations may not be so bad in a whole different world. I don’t have to worry about a gun when I perform my $100 Billet Catch, whereas that’s a huge limitation in a Bullet Catch. Two different tricks to everyone else, but not to me. And you know what, maybe not to them either.
It’s abstract advice, and I get that. But don’t you want to think outside of the box? Like they always say. I offer it as a sincere step in the right direction. If you’re trying to create something—a magic trick, a business, a thriller, or whatever—you have to take the time to dream it.
You’ll notice this episode is filed under two categories on theSTUDY website—Composition and Plotting. By coming up with a new trick, you’re plotting. You’re creating the plot, you know . . . theme, setting, story. By weaving all those pieces together with the method, you’re composing the finished piece. How does the scene open, how will it work—the functioning method—how will this action or dialog move the story forward to the magic.
Lets say you do all this, but one of the limitations proves too much.
Turn it into a feature. You already did that with other restrictions, or you removed them altogether. If we use Sands as an example, a major limitation is water. You have to transport it, contain it, dispose of it, perform with it. That’s a lot of work if you don’t plan for it early. Clean up is different if you vary sometimes even the smallest component. We’re talking about a trick where you might go dump the water down the drain, or maybe there’s no time between sets, so you’ll need a bucket hidden behind your other gear, or maybe work that into your routine. Remember, dream without limitations. This trick doesn’t have to look like anything else. It’s up to you to compose a brand new trick, from start to finale. Maybe your version has a bucket right there on stage.
After I get a general idea of the succession of events—in this case, what colors of Sands, how many different colors, just one, two, four, whatever I decide—then I start getting my narrative together. What am I going to say? If I am going to say anything at all. Regardless, even if it’s a silent act . . . what’s the story? Where do I start? Where do I end up? What challenges do I overcome on the journey?
Then I ask, “Where’s the magic?”
Gerald Kirchner over at Magic City always asks that question when you pitch a trick during the development stages. And Magic City has distributed my magic for so many years, I’m used to hearing it. That question is a valuable tool, even though it is so simple. Gerald Kirchner also has a history with Sands of the Desert, as he introduce Synthetic Sands back when Waxed Sands first became hard to find. In fact, Sands of the Desert would have probably fallen out of popularity had Gerald not resurrected it.
I think Sands of the Desert, whether you do a new routine or the mainstream version, you have to identify and emphasize the magic. You can play the water color change as a bit transition, or as a very magical scene. Think back to Bowl and Plate. Where’s the magic there? The Salt and Pepper unmix from each other, and seem to be unphased by the liquid. The Salt should have dissolved to some degree. The entertainment is with the little fake hula dance, the trick itself, the overall scene. My character (somebody) tosses salt and pepper in a bowl of water. He wants to remove them, [but] he can’t because everything is all mixed together, [so] he magically separates them, and removes them from the water, one at a time, dry—that’s the magic. That’s also the “somebody, but, so” method I discussed in a previous episode.
From working with other magicians, this is usually where another Sands of the Desert question comes in to play: “Can I mix and match colors?” We do that for customers all the time. Originals are Blue, Red, and Yellow. If you want Red, White, and Blue, we can do that. Other shops might mix and match for you too, I don’t know. SandsoftheDesert.com will mix and match colors. Order a Refill Pack, and get three pounds of whatever color or colors you need. One of my routines only uses brown Sands, so I would get all three pounds of brown Sands.
If the classic trick you are plotting and composing isn’t Sands, or something where there are options available to you, sometimes you have to make your own prop. I’m fortunate. I have a workshop where I can make almost anything. I do a lot of custom stuff too. I’ve built a medieval crossbow for a stage special effect, I make a lot of metal craft. The Cannibal Facemask for instance. So when I order a prop, say a wooden box from Amazon, and it’s the wrong color, we just strip it down and repaint or stain it. I wanted a specific size silicone ball with a magnet inside for a trick, so we cast it here. If you don’t have access to a workshop like that, or your local magic shop doesn’t offer those services, you can contact us, or see if it doesn’t alter your scene for the better by using the standard prop.
Is your version of Sands of the Desert an island?
Probably not. Rarely do we perform just one trick. Where are you sticking this routine? The beginning, middle, or end of your show? Not all versions of the trick will work everywhere. Maybe this trick has a ripple effect throughout your show. It’s something you have to consider early in the game. If you were rewriting a scene in a Les Miserables, you wouldn’t just toss in some random words and props. It has to fit your show, your brand.
Clothing is another consideration. The water is turned black basically with special dyes. Perhaps an opaque bowl is better for certain venues and costumes. There are options there too. If you have to take off your jacket, it’s a good time to change it out for a loaded jacket for the next part of your show, or it’s an opportunity to introduce a new character—sort of how Lance Burton’s show was vignetted by several different stories.
Once you have these considerations in mind, mix them with your dream; your vision of the trick from the previous step. Alter what you can, live with a few of the drawbacks if necessary, revolutionize it, script it, block it, rehearse it, and then perform it. Share it with the world.
Sands of the Desert, when properly composed, is a beautiful trick. I watch these Sands do their magic nearly every single day of my life, and it’s a great honor to be part of a classic trick, one with so many legends, such a nostalgic provenance, and even some controversies about the trick’s origins. I have a project I’ve been working on for a few years now, and when it’s finished I think Sands of the Desert will be viewed in a whole new way.
In the meantime, it’s your turn to add to the magic. How you will you transform this classic, or another legendary trick, it your own signature magic performance? Share your stories and experiences in the comments. Thank You!