Category Archives: Books

Make your own Trick Decks with this eBook

Trick Decks

I really wanted to learn card tricks when I was a kid. I had already envisioned the look on my audience’s faces as I performed mystifying feats right before their eyes. Of course, it never worked out. I felt completely frustrated and intimidated trying to work out my first card tricks with a confusing paperback magic book. Without access to good information, it was all just over my head. Ultimately, I abandoned cards, but I still made up my own silly magic tricks. I learned to rely heavily on humor, since my magical effects were so terrible. My style was much more Pee-wee Herman than Pen and Teller. I just liked making people laugh and smile.

I started dabbling with magic again over these last few years and have had a much better go of it. Still feeling the sting of card magic failure from my younger days, I’ve opted to work primarily with coins. I carry a silver dollar in my pocket and have gotten fairly adept at palming and vanishing coins.

Regardless of my success with coins, I’ve still been shy about working with cards, until now. Mark Frauenfelder, author or Maker Dad, has a great new eBook called Trick Decks: How to Hack Playing Cards for Extraordinary Magic. After reading through the book, I’m super excited to finally tackle cards again!

Mark walks you through how to make five different trick decks. The directions are detailed, very easy to follow, and include plenty of pictures. He even offers multiple methods and materials for making them. While it’s more a deck making guide than a magic trick book, it does get you started with a unique trick using each one of the decks, and offers additional resources for exploring more tricks. You can also view some instructional resource videos on the companion website, http://www.trickdecks.org/.

If you’re interested in card tricks and love making things yourself, definitely check out Trick Decks!

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Maker Dad, Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

As my daughter has grown, we’ve moved up from simple paper and glue crafts to working through more involved project books. I’m now always on the lookout for good project books suitable for the whole family. One of our favorites that we’ve found is Mad Professor, by Mark Frauenfelder. We’ve done several of the projects, such as the Shrunken Head, Old Tyme Robot, and Mini Glideabout, which the kids loved, but the dog–not so much. 

Shrunken Head project from Mad Professor

Shrunken Head project from Mad Professor

Now Mark has a new book that we’re even more excited about, called Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects. We’ve already completed our first project–astro ice cream. When I was young, I only remember completing a handful of projects from the project books that I had. Many were too complicated, used exotic chemicals, or were just plain boring. I’d pick the coolest ones (often repeating them) and then move on to something else.

When I flipped through Maker Dad with my daughter and asked her which projects she wanted to tackle, she said all of them! So did I! For a family project to work, everyone has to be interested and engaged, and this is where I think this book stands out. All of the projects seem challenging, educational, and fun for kids as well as parents.

We’re especially excited to make a Friendstrument – an instrument you play with a friend. We’ll be  sure to post our finished product. If you’re looking for a great family project book, be sure to check out Maker Dad.

Holiday Gifts for Dads – Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities

Looking for a truly unique holiday gift for dads? Then check out Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities, which is available for pre-order on Amazon, shipping just in time for Christmas (12/17 according to Amazon, although the author expects preorders to ship in the first week of December). Inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog, the contents of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities include a curated list from ten years of user reviewed tools, gadgets, and more featured on the Cool Tools website. Cool tools are described as “the best, the cheapest, or the only thing that works.” I can’t wait to get my own copy, which is precisely why I’ve already preordered it as an early Christmas gift to myself! I’m dreaming about perusing it with my kids on my lap, imagining all of the possibilities for future projects, and the adventures that will ensue.