Preparing Your Rope

Before you can perform with your rope, you need to prepare it. Examine your rope closely, and you will see that it is actually comprised of a number of inner strands surrounded by an outer shell. Cut off whatever length of rope you’re going to need for your trick with a pair of scissors, and grasp the inner strands by one end. Begin to pull them out, and the shell will “bunch up” around them. Unbunch this shell, and then you’ll be able to pull the strands out even further. Repeat this process of pulling and unbunching until the strands are free of the shell. This is known as “coring.”

The Indian Rope Trick

Originally, the “Indian Rope Trick” was a myth. As the legend goes, a performer would be outside, away from any trees or buildings, with a basket of rope and a flute. As the magician would pay the flute, the rope would rise from the basket, high into the air. A young boy would then ascend the rope, followed by the magician, who would be brandishing a sword. When they were both so high as to be out of sight, body parts would fall to the ground, and the magician would descend. The rope would fall. The boy was gone.

There have been less gruesome stage versions of this effect presented in modern times. What’s more common these days, however, is a close-up trick. In the close-up trick, a piece of rope becomes stiff and rigid, and then magically limp again. There’s usually a piece of wire or a straw inside the shell of rope (where the strands used to be). This wire or straw is only half the length of the shell. Thus, by clever manipulation, the illusion of the rope becoming stiff or limp, at the magician’s whim, is created.

Professor’s Nightmare

“Professor’s Nightmare” is a classic effect with three pieces of rope. They’re different sizes. Magically, they appear to all become the same length! More magic, and they’re all different sizes again! As usual, clever manipulation accounts for this apparent miracle. The shortest piece of rope is actually looped around the longest one, which makes them look like two ropes that are the same length as the medium sized piece. After that, a false count is employed to show them “separately.”

Cut & Restored Rope

The “Cut & Restored Rope” is arguably the most popular rope trick there is. The effect is just what it sounds like. You cut a piece of rope in half, and restore it. No, you don’t need a pact with the devil.:-) The principle is actually similar to the one from “The Professor’s Nightmare.” You end up, through more “clever manipulation” with one short piece wrapped around one long piece, creating the illusion of two pieces. A clever dodge is then utilized in the covert disposal of the short piece, and bam! You’ve restored the rope.

Ropes Through Body

Two pieces of rope are passed behind a spectator’s body. The ends are held by yourself and another volunteer. Two of the ends are tied into a single, overhand knot in front of the spectator, preventing their escape. You and the other volunteer tug on your ends simultaneously, and like a ghost through a castle wall, the ropes pass harmlessly through your bewildered spectator’s body. The principle in this one is known in magic as “Grandma’s necklace. The two ropes actually begin folded in half and tied together in the middle with a piece of white thread. The rest, as they say, is history. If you like this type of magic, “Abott’s Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks” will teach you just about all of the magic tricks with rope known to man.

By arnia