The effect[ edit ] The assistant usually a woman is placed in an upright cabinet, her face, hands, and left foot visible through openings in the front of the cabinet. Further developments[ edit ] In recent years, following exposure of the basic illusion by the Masked Magician , a number of magicians have begun performing variations on the basic illusion. In another variation, rather than being divided into three pieces, the assistant is instead divided into five - This variation is commonly referred to as the "Five-Way Zig-Zag". Method[ edit ] The design of the box creates a usable space shown in pink larger than the audience would expect. Black stripes down the front of the cabinet make this space appear narrower, and the blades shown in red do not extend all the way across. Apparent ornamentation on the box shown in green is hollow inside, providing the performer with more space.

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On February 4th , young Ned Williams was born there, to later become quite a famous stage magician and illusionist in the history of magic. At age twenty Ned left South Africa and moved to London.

While demonstrating magic to the public, he began to build up his own magic act. Then by age 23 he was performing with the Maskelyne Mystery Show throughout London. His early act consisted of cigarette productions, the torn and restored newspaper, cut and restored rope, a book test, concluding with the production of a girl from a previously shown small empty box.

By he had changed his name to Robert Harbin and became the first illusionist to move from a stage performance to the fledgling medium of television, appearing on the BBC — T.

He then began his own T V show in Robert Harbin while not a performer with a huge stage production, he was never the less a master of illusion and a highly creative writer of magical books.

He was continually writing down notes and ideas for his tricks, as they presented themselves while designing and inventing a number of classic illusions.

His instructions often had to be modified and altered by the illusion builders, as his notes were not always clear cut. But the end results were really incredible. Fortunately he had editors and ghost writers who would revise his work, so that when it appeared in print it was far more legible and comprehensible. His creativity was unique and expansive.

It still continues to amaze and bewilders people everywhere, even if they know the secret. He also designed the Aztec Lady illusion that is still performed today and his Little by Little illusion.

The Zig Zag features a lady who enters a cabinet and then two steel blades are passed through her body supposedly cutting her into three pieces. The illusionist then pushes the centre part of the cabinet away that appears to literally Zig-Zag her body into 3 sections, yet her face and tummy and feet are still seen. It is truly an amazing illusion. Both are really magical. This narrow box with holes through it, so that spectators could see inside had a piece or rope inserted into one end, then turning a dial, the rope fed through the device coming out the other side full of knots.

Finally a steel rod passed through the entry hole seemed to bend to 90 degrees as it emerged out of the top of the cabinet. His range of Origami books are still sought after and can be found in many public libraries and schools. The Little by Little Illusion was a large cabinet consisting of 4 stacked boxes that the lady enters. Each box door is closed and the 4 boxes are removed from the cabinet and mixed up on stage, and then reassembled in a different order.

When the doors of the boxes are opened it shows the lady all mixed up with her feet showing where her head should be, and the rest of her mis-made body quite disjointed. The boxes are again rearranged and when opened up, the lady appears once again as she should be, whole and unharmed. The lesson that Harbin gave magicians was the methods and plans to build his illusions but with limited copies of his book printed, it kept his illusions fairly exclusive.

The limited edition ensures that only the serious magician will gain access to the secrets it contains. The book has become a series of magic lessons to be treasured. Robert Harbin passed away in and his remains are interred at Golders Green Crematorium in London. Fortunately there are video clips showing Harbin performing his Zig-Zag and worth a visit to YouTube. Robert Harbin will indeed be well-remembered in the history of magic for his contribution to our fascinating art, to encourage others to follow after him and keep alive our traditions.


Robert Harbin



Magic of Robert Harbin by Robert Harbin


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