Book by Ben Harris
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4.9 | 12 reviews
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Book by Ben Harris (40.00)

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Machinations - magic
Machinations Machinations Machinations Machinations Machinations Machinations Machinations Machinations Machinations

With Machinations, Ben Harris builds upon an unusual and unbelievable puzzle developed by Martin Gardner and Bob Neale known as “The Trapdoor Card”. This topological effect allows you to essentially turn a card INSIDE OUT.

In effect, you display a playing card (or piece of paper, or ticket, or ANYTHING similar) with a small door cut out just off-center. The spectator can then hold onto this tab as you fold around it and cause absolutely impossible and visual miracles happen. You can cause images to vanish, the paper to turn inside out or even make the entire shape change.

Ben Harris has meditated on this principle and taken it in wild, new directions. If you love "Card Warp" or playing card art, and enjoy whimsical presentations, this is THE book for you.

This gorgeous volume features 100 pages of detailed illustrations and instructions. The book is tactile - the props you need are part of the pages, and additional gimmicks have been tipped in, so that you can follow along in real time. Every effect is incredibly easy to perform and requires no practice.

You’ll learn handlings that involve playing cards, schematics for magical doors, Houdini-based escapes, and how to use "The Trapdoor Card" in a packet of cards.

Machinations features more than TWENTY effects using this principle, including:

Zoo Ticket - Cause a zoo ticket printed with donkey images to impossibly transform into a ticket with penguin imagery.

Houdini's Escape - Using a paper "padlock," you assist the famous Houdini in a trapdoor escape.

The Wishing Paper - Showing a paper with birthday candles, the spectator makes a wish. When the paper is unfolded again, their wish appears on the other side.

The Wad of Paper (by Bob Neale) - In this impromptu effect, you and a spectator contemplate the meaning of life while performing the powerful and direct “Trapdoor Card”.

And so much more!

100 pages. Hardbound. Gimmicks included.

Need extra gimmicks? Machinations gimmick refills are also available.

"Machinations is marvelous! Ben Harris ventured through the trap door and boldly went where no man has gone before. He returned triumphant, toting this trove of treasure... Highly Recommended." Tom Frame (Genii Magazine)

A most entertaining, beautiful, and wonderful book." Richard Kaufman

"Machinations is more wicked than I could have imagined. The glory of seeing a great idea get the 'all in' treatment twists my brain inside-out in a good way." Jonathan Friedman

"A stunning book... dedicated to one mystery, but opening up doors to a whole new world of endless possibilities." Paul Romhany (Vanish Magazine, July 2020)


Customer reviews for Machinations

VI Monthly


This might not be a book for everyone, but it is just a great book! It gives history and insights in this principle, shows and literally gives lot of examples how to use it. But with that, your mind should start to work and makes you think how you could and want to use this principle. And the gimmicks are of great quality.

VI Monthly


I listened to the podcast The Insider with the interview by Ben Harris. I loved how he thought about creativity. The book is a great way to see this in progress. Highly recommended.



Great book. Ever since I put my hands on Terri Rodgers Parallax way back in the early 90’s I was fascinated with topological magic. This book does not disappoint. Great gimmicks printed well which accompany the excellent stories / effects in the book. Ben Harris has a winner here.


Mohammad Zubair

A good combination of magic + puzzle to amaze anyone. Was always fond of thoughtful tricks and this is one of those. You can generate good laughs, awes and amazement in your audience. And if you are a good story teller, you can have a good 15 minute routine with the different puzzles.

VI Monthly


What a fun book. So many great variations and possibilities are at your hands with the concepts and materials provided. But even setting aside the magic effects potential, it's a really engaging, interactive, hands-on activity that you can play around with to entertain either yourself, or your whole family as a group event. If you're saving up to purchase something you can put into your show, this may not be for you. But if you'd like to explore a relatively unknown side of magic, that shares space with topology and optical/physical illusion, and that you can share for the rest of your life with family and friends, this is really worth purchasing.



I just received Machinations by Ben Harris and it is an absolutly beautiful book. Of course, this shouldn't be a surprise being published by Vanishing Inc. As stated in previous reviews, the book is sturdy and well assembled. The writing is clear and the drawings are well done. I personally enjoy owning a book on an ocscure effect that is explored to its fullest. The gimmicks provided are well made and although art work and downloads are provided, I highly recommend you purchase an extra set of gimmicks or two because they are well worth the asking price. It would be nice to see a series of such publications on other unusual effects such as the Mobius Strip, The Jastrow Illusion and the Gozinta Boxes to name a few. Well done Ben Harris...



Really great book!! Easy to read and understand!!



Machinations, a good quality hard back book, very easy to read, and very well explained, the book is printed in colour, comes with the templates, which are in a sleeve on the inside back cover, also this comes with a download link for the templates too, these are also in colour,
Once you type in the address, it automaticaly downloads the templates, which is a first for me.
Great fun, and very enjoyable.



Great book and I think Jack summed it up very well .I had so much fun reading it that I went thru all of it the same day I got it. Great ideas from mentalism to physics,I kept thinking on that story of quantum mechanics and time travel where the main character ,a woman named Jane becomes a man in the future and gets pregnant by herself , there is a template that allows you to get in to this sort of story and performed it to my brother and loved it. I have always enjoyed mixing this sort of tricks in my shows and the author gives you so many options on how to present it and make your theme either for kids or adults , love that versatility .Scan and print the templates from the book and you will have a portable little miracle.



I love topological magic. I love Bob Neale. And now I love Ben Harris too.
It's fun to read and it's fun to play with the attached cardboard samples at the same time.
Very creative variations. Many thanks to everybody who was involved in this project.



Vanishinginc as once again produced an outstanding book in both quality and material. Of course the author of the material is the ever thinking Ben Harris who must have many sleepless nights getting brain-locked on a premise and juicing it for every drop possible. He truly is a visionary and one I've been a fan of for a long time. The book met and in ways exceeded my expectations, though I've gotten spoiled to Vanishinginc's level of production I tend to take it for granted.
As usual, the book is solid, heavy(ish) and very well produced. It even has a pocket inside the back cover for holding the props. I recommend purchasing an additional set of the props where those in the book can just stay there until the extras become worn. I love also the full size images within the pages for later scanning and printing. This sort of detail make this a complete book for a fascinating principle by one of magic's greatest thinkers.



Pros: The production quality is excellent. Nice paper props are included along with PDFs for printing more. The writing and illustrations are clear and the author shares some interesting plots. Readers who struggle with imagining plots or scripts will likely enjoy that aspect. The Rollover is a useful move and the idea of using multiple layers is worth further exploration. Which leads me to the cons.

Cons: I was expecting a much deeper and far-reaching exploration. The foreword alludes to some of Robert Neale's fascinating experiments (one using a sweater!) which had me expecting similar creativity. Instead, the book felt heavy on scripting and a bit light on lateral thinking. I breezed through the short text in one sitting and was left thinking this would be a great book or download for $25-30. If Neale's ideas from the foreword were included then $40 would have been a bargain.

Expectations are tricky things. People looking for plots, scripts, and some interesting ideas will likely come away satisfied. Many reviews on this page prove that! I had other expectations and so was left wanting.

(A bonus idea for fellow buyers: In the Houdini routine, I recommend making the chains the trapdoor card. That way Houdini extracts himself from the situation which is more logical and satisfying. Also, because the trapdoor card ends up reversed, you can leave the spectator holding an image of the chains with locks all open for a bonus magical moment!)


Community questions about Machinations

Have a question about this product? It's possible others do too. Ask here and other Vanishing Inc. Magic customers will be able to respond with assistance! Alternatively, email us and we can help too.

  • John asks: Are the printed cards (available separately) also included? All of them?

    • 1. Daniel answers:
    • 2. Eberhard answers: Yes, I have the same question : Does the book include all the gimmicks available in the Machination Gimmicks set ?
    • 3. Garry answers: The answere is yes, you receive all the gimmicks with the book, the gimmicks are in an insert in the back of the inside cover. Plus you get a download zip file off all the gimmicks too, Plus you can by just the gimmicks as a seperate from vanish ink. Hope this helps.
    Post an answer to this question
  • Patrick asks: Isn't Trapdoor Card a modification of Robert E. Neale and David Britland's Wonder Bill??

    • 1. James answers: Right in the description: Ben Harris builds upon an unusual and unbelievable puzzle developed by Martin Gardner and Bob Neale known as “The Trapdoor Card.”
    Post an answer to this question
  • Josh asks: Will this be available as an E book anytime soon?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Unfortunately not.
  • Michael asks: Does the pdf file provide the ability to print the tricks in the book as a giveaway?

      Post an answer to this question
    • Alan asks: Does buying the book give me the copyright to modify the pdf to alter the art to make my own version?

      • 1. Ben Harris (creator) responds: Hey. Of course. Please take the ideas, adapt, create and perform. Cheers: Ben
    • Jay asks: Are the "gimmicks" which are included with the purchase of the book completely separate from the book? Or does the buyer have to remove them from pages within the book?

      • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: They are separate, we also stock replacement gimmicks too.
    • chuah asks: Is there a download of the cards for us to print if we spoil the ones given ?

      • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Indeed there is. A PDF of all the designs for you to print at your leisure.
    • Dick asks: I would like some further information. I am disabled Veteran and I want something I can entertain neighbors and their little kids when I visit them on my senior scooter. Also friends at a luncheon or dinner meeting. It looks like I could carry several of these in my pocket. Is this easy to do?

      • 1. Jim answers: Machinations is very easy to do. As long as you can fold and unfold the paper while telling a story, you are good to go.
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