Scary optical illusions! This trick is a variation on an effect I saw Paul Daniels perform on his 90's TV show 'Secrets'. You may well remember it!

The magician shows an ordinary blown up balloon and two coins. The magician asks a spectator to choose a coin. Whichever one they choose the magician proceeds to penetrate the spectators chosen coin into the balloon.

There is no mistake the coin really is inside the balloon. The magician shakes the balloon and the coin can be seen bouncing around inside. The magician slowly lets the balloon down and removes the coin from inside. Watch the effect below then learn the secret...


THE SECRET: For one of my favourite scary optical illusions you are going to need to make a special gimmick. All you need is an ordinary coin (in my example a 2 pence piece) and a fridge freezer magnet. These magnets are usually quite thin making them perfect for this effect.

Alternatively you can use some magnetic paper as I have used. Glue the small disc magnet to the back of the coin and you are set. You are also going to need two smaller coins (that are attracted to the magnet) in my example two one pence pieces and an ordinary balloon. If possible a clear balloon is perfect, alternatively a white balloon or a strong light source behind the balloon should work also.

TIP: Having trouble finding magnetic coins in your currency? Use a metal washer or some other flat magnetic metal object!

To set up the trick place one of the smaller coins into the balloon and blow it up. Hold the balloon tight so it doesn't go down (no need to tie it). Place the larger magnet gimmick coin against the coin in the balloon at the bottom and allow them to stick (pic 1). You should then be able to turn the balloon upside down so the larger coin is on top and secretly inside the balloon is the smaller coin magnetized to the underside of the larger coin (pic 2). Place the second smaller coin on top of the balloon too and you are set!

scary optical illusions

Show your spectator the balloon with two coins on top of it. Ask them to pick a coin. Whichever one they choose pick up the smaller coin to do the trick with. If they pick the larger coin say "Right that's your coin, so I will do the trick with my coin" (and pick up the smaller coin). If they choose the smaller coin say "Ok watch me do something cool with your chosen coin". Either way the spectator will think they have chosen the coin for the trick!

Take the smaller coin and tap it lightly on the balloon a few times. On the third or so tap hit the larger coin firmly but not too hard. The smaller coin that is magnetized to the bottom of the larger coin will fall from under the coin into the balloon and into the spectators sight.

At the exact same time use this misdirection to either hide the coin you have in your hand or simply clip it (pic 3) between your forefinger and middle finger (hidden). This then makes the hand look empty when your palm is facing you. Remove the larger coin from the balloon, being careful not to show the underside of the coin where the magnet is. You can just leave it on the table. The spectator has no reason to inspect it as all attention will be on the balloon.

Shake the balloon a few times to show the coin really is inside. You can then either pop the balloon to get the coin out or slowly let the air out and get the spectator to remove the coin. As you casually place the larger coin into your pocket you can drop the duplicate smaller coin in too.

Why is this one of my favourite scary optical illusions? Because if the balloon pops you make your audience scream!! :-)


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