From the June 2015 Genii magazine. Reviewed by John Guastaferro
The name Tomas Blomberg may be new to many of you. Blomberg is a Swedish magician with a penchant for mathematics, modern twists on classic plots and fooling principles that have left knowledgeable magicians scratching their heads. There is no doubt that Blomberg’s master’s degree in computer vision and signal processing feeds his creative process. I’ve had the pleasure of being fooled by many of Blomberg’s effects over the years, so it was a thrill to see his work finally presented and preserved in such a handsome book as Blomberg Laboratories.
With its oversized square format and minimalistic cover design by Michal Kociolek, you’ll likely want this 328-page volume displayed on your coffee table. The content was written and designed by Andi Gladwin, who has clearly claimed his place as a voice in magic. With each effect, Gladwin welcomes you with a short introductory paragraph describing how the trick was born and why you should care. The text, combined with crisp illustrations generated by a piece of software developed by Blomberg himself, guide you with care and lucidity.
The book features over 65 tricks and sleights divided into 10 chapters that include non-card tricks, original moves, packet tricks, paradoxes, tabled card tricks, general card tricks and more. Just like a real laboratory, we are drawn into a room of experiments, research and breakthroughs. Not every effect is practical for strolling situations, and several require preparation and/or construction. For purists, there are also numerous impromptu card routines. I found them all to be worthy of study and fodder for further exploration.
The book opens with seven non-card effects. One of my favorites was “Magic Lesson,” a multi-phase ring and band routine. The handling is intricate, and the description may seem overbearing, but the final product is very commercial. Blomberg causes a ring to penetrate one strand, then two strands several times. And just when you think the effect is over, he offers a kicker transposition of the ring and band.
In “Neckless Grandma,” Blomberg solves two overlooked problems with the classic “Grandma’s Necklace” effect, where you pull two ropes through your neck. His simple one-degree addition allows you to handle the ropes more freely and make the finish more deceptive.
“Bills Witch” allows you to cleanly change two bills without any corners to conceal. After some preparation, this is something I can see many magicians carrying in their wallets.
Blomberg offers several original moves, including two double turnovers and the “Low Life Display,” a new take on Daryl’s Rising Crime Display.
In “QXS SXQ,” we learn that Tomas’ first magic book was Allan Ackerman’s Las Vegas Kardma (1994). Here, he uses Ackerman’s PH Move to great effect. Two Queens placed together in the deck immediately separate to find two selections. I like the presentational touch of referring to the direction that the Queen’s eyes are looking.
In the chapter called Interlock, Blomberg offers intriguing applications of Ken Beale’s Interlock concept. He utilizes it in “Low Cost,” an efficient in-the-hands variation of Paul Harris’ “Grasshopper.” He also introduces a new use with “Hindu Interlock.” This clever sequence achieves a force, switch and control all at once. He even causes the selection to jump from one packet to a determined position in the other. I think the biggest benefit is that the signed selection can be shown to have an odd back at the end.
Blomberg adds new layers of deceptiveness to the Gilbreath principle with “Interlocked Gilbreath.” You’ll feel like a real fortuneteller experimenting with the basic example, which allows you to tell something (color or odd/even) about every single card before you see it.
“Lucky 14” is a deceiving twist on the Gemini Mates plot. With its clever combination of genuinely free dealing and underlying math, you’ll fool yourself as you run through it, especially with the last revelation.
I’ve never seen anything like “Schrödinger’s Tie before.” Even after the deck is wrapped in a ribbon, a tug on the ends causes the deck to cut in two places. In typical Blomberg form, he offers a mathematical key to target what card is cut to.
Blomberg also shares a large-scale version of Paul Curry’s “Paradox” using a full sheet of printed cards. In “Torn Uncut Card Sheet,” the backs of 56 cards are clearly seen, then when re-formed, show an empty square in the middle. This one may be difficult and costly to attain.
I found a number of commercial card routines that would be great for strolling situations. “L-I-A-R” is a small-packet version of Martin Gardener’s “Lie Speller.” This collaboration with Tom Stone is clear, visual and baffling.
You’ll never leave for a gig without Post-It notes after reading “PreMEMOnition.” This prediction effect is a joy to perform and allows you to set the gaff up right in front of the audience. I prefer the alternate handling where the deck can be cut in the open rather than under the table.
With an eye for solving and simplifying, Blomberg also shares several variants to popular tricks. In “Signed Hot Mama,” he offers a novel solution to have the odd-backed card signed. In “Tattwo You,” he eliminates the need for the gaff required in Bannon’s original “Tattoo You.”
“Defect Gatherer” is Blomberg’s take on the Moving Hole plot. I like how he utilizes the Erdnase change, not as a color change at all, but as a justified action to put the cards in position.
In “Marlo Might Have Liked This,” Tomas offers his take on Herbert Milton’s “Sympathetic Cards” plot using two different colored decks. The two packets get a little too cozy for my taste, but the final result is clean and baffling.
In “One Behead,” Blomberg’s twist on “Twisting the Aces,” one extra card allows you to be both one ahead and one behind. Still, I preferred the variation by Alex Adlercreutz that does not require the extra card.
“Multiplex Re+Set” is Blomberg’s standout version of Paul Harris’ “Reset” using four different pockets. Akin to the interchange plot created by Jerry Sadowitz and popularized by Jack Carpenter, Blomberg offers a clean handling with no jacket required.
Blomberg proves his ability to devise engaging presentations, such as with “Hard Card Paradox.” This parlor presentation for Brainwave is 90% presentation, layered with clever lines to heighten impact and audience connection.
When challenged to develop a solution to Open Travelers using just four cards, Blomberg developed “Cardpool.” It’s a clever and fooling piece of magic.
There are several assemblies to explore. I liked “Gasp! Scream!,” an Ace assembly that uses just four Kings, four Aces and the cardbox. Another is “Rhythm Switch Assembly,” which features an exceptionally clean and instantaneous assembly. Be sure to explore the two variations. Perhaps the most powerful assembly is “TSAR” (Technicolor Progressive Assembly with Reverse).
Several times in the book we are reminded of the friendship and collaboration between Blomberg, Andi Gladwin and the late Jack Parker. A few of the effects were inspired by Parker, then taken to a new level by Blomberg. “Time After Time” is Blomberg’s variation of Jack Parker’s “The Third Time’s The Charm.” Three spectators find their own selections after random mixing, dealing and exchanging of packets. The best part is the he made it completely impromptu by eliminating the half-deck stack.
I’ve only discussed a handful of items from this vast collection of ideas, twists, intricate moves and unexpected surprises. Two decades in the making, it was well worth the wait.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Blomberg Laboratories. It’s a place I’ll keep visiting. I’m certain you’ll do the same as you explore and become inspired to devise some experiments of your own.