Check out my opinion how the steel needle appears to penetrate the Liquid Glass stage illusion.
The Liquid Glass stage illusion is a bigger version of the table top Peter Warlock Glass Penetration.
This stage apparatus with four quadrants glass windows with two uprights is created by magical illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer.
- Read these free books by Jim Steinmeyer
From what I gathered, Harry Blackstone Jr. used to perform this needle through glass trick at the Burt Reynold’s Dinner Theater in Jupiter, Florida (now is known as Maltz Jupiter).
Blackstone Jr’s apparatus (above) is featured in this auction site.
Liquid Glass Stage Illusion Revealed
I think the method of the Liquid Glass stage illusion is similar to the Warlock Glass Penetration or the Atomic Glass Penetration by Magic wagon.
In other words, the secret of Liquid Glass Stage Illusion is by shifting the glass sheet within the frame.
From my observations, I believe the magician uses his hand to slide the glass sheet side way to the uprights (legs or stands) of the apparatus.
Two Metal Clips
Initially when I saw the two short metal features on top of the Liquid Glass illusion, I thought they are devices for sliding the glass sheet.
Actually they are clips to hold the shutters or panels onto the frame.
This is a closeup view of the metal clip taken from illusion designer and builder William Kennedy’s website WK Magic LLC.
I notice the performers flip this metal piece each time after they have placed the wooden shutter onto the frame, and before they remove it.
These two clips on top of the frame are not only there to grip the wooden shutters, but also conspired with the secret of the trick.
They help to misdirect or camouflage the performers’ hand position and the movement when they covertly slide the glass sheet.
Glass Sheet Moving
Watch this brief sequence of this video clip by magician David Penn.
At 0:29, after he has placed the shutter, his left hand flips the clip on top of the frame, then it goes down behind the shutter to push the glass to the RIGHT.
You can clearly see the glass sheet slides to the RIGHT, just before David Penn knocks the glass sheet.
Focus on the top right hand corner of the glass where the smudge marks as indicated in the picture below.
You can see the smudge marks moving towards the RIGHT side of the frame.
Then at 1:32 his left hand goes behind the wooden shutter to push the glass sheet back to its ORIGINAL position.
Similarly you can clearly see the smudge marks on the glass sheet moving inward.
Glass Sheet Width And Positions
Since I speculate the secret of the Liquid Glass Illusion is by shifting the glass sheet within the frame, let’s take a closer look at the glass sheet.
First let’s check out the width of the glass sheet.
When it is pulled out from the frame, you would notice the glass edges are closed to the inner side of the 4-window frame.
Here are three images taken from Rick Thomas, Kamyléon and David Penn’s video clips respectively.
This is the original position of the glass sheet when it is placed in the center of the frame.
When the glass sheet is shifted to one side of the frame, this is how it looks like.
Positions Of The Holes
When you look at the picture above, the edge of the glass sheet on the RIGHT is NOT in the center of the RIGHT side windows.
But the red ribbon appears to go through the CENTER of the four windows.
From the picture below, you notice the shutter holes are actually NOT in the CENTER of the four small windows.
The two white dotted lines in the picture, indicate where the positions of the shutter holes are.
The red color line is the center of the windows.
To make the four holes appear to be in the CENTER of the 4 windows, the two pieces of shutters are purposely placed to the edge of the uprights or stand.
Slim Needle And Soft Ribbon
Based on my explanation above, the space allowance for the needle and ribbon to penetrate is limited.
Hence, it uses a slim metal needle threaded with a soft red satin ribbon to do the penetration trick, even though the Liquid Glass Illusion apparatus is rather big.
Here are three different presentations of Liquid Glass Illusion by French magician Kamyléon and Rick Thomas of “Mansion Of Dreams” fame and David Penn.
NOTE: For a clearer understanding, when I say LEFT, I mean your LEFT.
Liquid Glass Illusion By Kamyléon
At 1:13 when Kamyléon places the first shutter and slides it to the LEFT upright/stand, at the same time his right hand goes behind it to slide the glass to the RIGHT.
Now the glass has moved all the way to the RIGHT upright or the stand, as illustrated below.
At 1:26 Magician Kamyléon pokes the needle into the top hole, it hits the glass sheet inside.
Actually it is the glass edge that is near to the hole, as I have explained above.
The glass edge is just next to the two holes of the shutter or panel.
Then he pushes the slim needle slips past the glass edge through the narrow space inside the hole.
At 1:49, as he places the second shutter onto the RIGHT side of the frame, his left hand goes behind it to push the glass sheet to the LEFT as seen below
When the glass sheet is shifted over to the LEFT upright, its edge will push the soft satin ribbon along with it.
Thus the slim ribbon would be dragged into the LEFT shutter holes slightly.
But Kamyléon knows how to hide it away from his audience, by standing in front of the LEFT shutter.
Now the glass sheet is over at the far LEFT side of the frame.
The diagonal ribbon is taut or tightly stretched is because the it is being pulled by the edge of the glass.
At 2:12 as he walks behind the apparatus, his right hand secretly shifts the glass sheet slight back to the RIGHT to its original position.
Just before he slides the glass sheet back RIGHT to its original position, the diagonal ribbon is taut or tightly stretched as seen above.
After he has shifted the glass sheet inward to its original position, you can see the diagonal red ribbon slacks slightly (indicated above).
It is because the glass edge has moved inwards, the ribbon looses its grip.
He has to shift the glass sheet back to its original position.
So that at 2:14 when Kamyléon lifts up the glass sheet, it should be seen as it comes out right in the middle of the four windows.
Based on my above explanation, the red ribbon behind the shutter or panels should hang loosely because of the glass movement.
To hide the loose hanging red ribbon, at 2:20 he puts on a dramatic finale by pulling the red ribbon tight, and then spins the frame around.
Liquid Glass Illusion By Rick Thomas
Now let’s watch how magician Rick Thomas performs his needle through glass illusion adapted from Peter Warlock’s creation.
When placing the shutter on the RIGHT side of the frame, his right hand slides the glass sheet to the LEFT upright of the prop at 4:18.
As I have just mentioned in Kamyléon’s act above, the shutter holes and the edge of the glass is very closed by.
Before he can safely remove the wooden shutter from the frame, at 4:49 his left hand flips the clip, while his hidden right hand slides the glass sheet back to its original position.
At 5:14 when both of them place the shutters onto the frame, the female assistant just pulls the clip.
It is Rick who is sliding the glass sheet towards the RIGHT with his left hand.
Now the glass sheet is pushed to the RIGHT upright, Thomas can insert the metal needle through both holes of the LEFT shutters.
To penetrate the RIGHT shutter holes, Rick Thomas has to go to the frame to slide the glass sheet to the LEFT upright.
To misdirect the audience attention, he puts on an act by passing the needle to his female assistant, then he makes a dance-like turn and proceeds to the apparatus.
When he is behind the prop at 5:34, Rick Thomas’ left hand pushes the glass sheet to the LEFT side of the frame.
When Thomas slides the glass sheet back to LEFT at 5:36, focus your attention on the red ribbon at the bottom hole.
You can see the red ribbon moving into the hole.
It is because when the glass sheet is pushing the soft ribbon, as it slides to the LEFT.
Now the RIGHT shutter holes can be penetrated with the needle, as the glass is now all set to the LEFT side of the frame.
To finish up the act, Rick Thomas has to slide the glass sheet back to its original position.
At the finale, when he walks back to the frame, he uses his right hand discreetly slides the glass to its original position at 5:54.
You can see the red ribbon through the top hole of the RIGHT shutter moves slightly.
Then using both hands, Rick Thomas coolly lifts up the glass from the wooden frame.
If my guess how the trick is done is correct, the ribbon behind the frame should be loosen because of the shifting of the glass sheet.
Look at the picture above, the ribbon on the LEFT shutter is taut or tight.
It is because the glass sheet is not over there to pull or stretch the ribbon.
Furthermore, at 5:58 the female assistant secretly pull the ribbon as she lifts up the ribbon, when Rick pulls the glass sheet out from the frame.
The ribbon on the RIGHT is hanging loose is because the glass sheet is on that side just before, it is pulled out from the frame.
Liquid Glass Illusion By David Penn
Here is another Liquid Glass Illusion performance by tech magician David Penn.
His first move I have already elaborated above.
At 0:29, after he has placed the shutter, his left hand flips the clip, then as he bends down, his left hand behind the shutter discreetly pushes the glass sheet to the RIGHT.
I have highlighted above you can see the glass sheet moving because of its smudge marks.
At 1:32 his left hand goes behind the wooden shutter to push the glass sheet back to its ORIGINAL position.
Again you can see the smudge marks on the glass moving back towards him.
Probably at 1:52, his left hand slides the glass sheet to the LEFT, so now he can insert the needle through the holes on the RIGHT shutter.
Then at 2:15, his left hand shifts the glass sheet to the RIGHT, then he continues to thread the ribbon through the two hole on the LEFT shutter.
Just before David Penn pulls out the glass sheet from the frame, at 2:29, his left hand moves the glass sheet back to its ORIGINAL position as seen above.
If it is based on my speculation of the trick, the ribbon behind the frame should be slacken or loosen because of the glass sheet movement.
But after the act, when David Penn turns the frame around, you notice the red ribbon behind the frame is rather tightly stretched.
Well, at 2:25 before he loops the remaining ribbon end onto the upright/stand, his left hand is tugging it to make it tighter.
That’s why the ribbon behind the frame is not loosely hanging when it should be.
This is what I think how the Liquid Glass stage illusion by Jim Steinmeyer is done, just by moving the piece of glass sheet.