There are bar tricks that use optical illusions and others that rely on wordplay. There are also bar tricks that use the power of the electricity that flows through the world all around us, and these can be astonishing, since many people will not be aware of how much static electricity there is for a smart magician to play with. The Electric Bar Trick depends on a quick gathering up of static electricity, and a theatrical display of its power. This is a delicate trick that could be ruined by a heavy thump on the counter, so work carefully from a solid base when you try it.
A Construction Project
For this trick you will need a wooden matchstick, two large coins, a clear drinking glass, and a inexpensive plastic writing pen. Since wooden matchstick are fairly universal in size, any brand or make of them should be fine. The two coins must have an edge wide for them to stand vertically on their own. The drinking glass must be at least two inches and as much as three and a half inches in diameter, and several inches tall – the diameter cannot be too wide or too narrow. A shot glass will not work. To perform the trick, you must carefully construct the following edifice:
1. Lay one coin flat on the counter surface.
2. Stand the second coin on its edge on top of the first flat coin, in its center. It doesn’t matter which way the coin edge points horizontally. This perpendicular pair of metal pieces will help manipulate the flow of static electricity.
3. On the very top of the second coin, carefully lay down the matchstick. The line of the stick should follow the horizontal direction of the coin’s edge, as if they are both creating a pointing device.
4. Cover the whole thing with the glass. Everyone should be able to see the matchstick and coin clearly.
The Hidden Power
Now that you have built your coin and stick edifice, you can begin your show. You will need a plastic pen, and at some point during the night, either openly or covertly, you need to load that thing with static electricity by rubbing it hard! A piece of wool will be best for the trick, but any cloth should be okay. The more rubbing, the better. Try to hide a quick rub just before the trick, and that will boost the static charge you have collected, and create a better effect. Now bring the pen close to the jar, as close as possible – without touching the glass – to one end of the matchstick. Gently wave the pen in a small motion, like a painter painting a wall. If you have charged your pen properly, the matchstick should respond to the static electricity flowing through he plastic pen. You can slowly use the attraction of the tip of the match to drag it in a circle. If you practice beforehand, you might even be able to get the matchstick to make a complete circle without falling off the coin.
Experiment with different coins and pens, and chose the items that work best for you. Cold days will be better for the trick than warm ones, and a shaggy carpet will be a great source of static power!
Check out the video located here for a demonstration of the trick: