Article 17: Something New


Something New

Kristen Kaniewski - Round Table Member Since 2018

It has been reported that more books are written about magic than any other. If you have ever wished for help in navigating the relentless onslaught of “the new,” you have found it. In this and future articles, members of the Chicago Magic Roundtable will share their suggestions regarding those books, DVDs, and downloads that have helped them take their magic to the next level. Up first is Kristen Kaniewski. During the week, Kristen is the visitor services manager at the Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. But on the weekends, she’s studying sleight of hand with playing cards. Learn which neoclassic is the roadmap she has used to find her way.

I’m very much a latecomer to magic, and for most of my short time in the community, I have been happy playing the role of the ever-willing assistant. Be it for the guest lecturer or two magicians comparing the best technique for forcing a card, I was a spectator and I loved every magical moment. I had no desire, then or now, to become a professional magician. And yet, after several years of seeing magic performed, it seemed it was about time for me to learn to do a trick or two myself. I wanted to be more than just the lovely assistant. I wanted to be able to create some magic of my own.

Where to start? It all seemed so overwhelming. I was new to magic, but I wasn’t a kid. Lectures seemed helpful if you already knew how to do a lot of magic. Books and DVDs were endlessly suggested as being the best for learning, but they were also somewhat daunting to tackle on my own. Between work and life — and, let’s be honest, no accountability to anyone for my new hobby — it was hard to get started. I needed a different kind of support system.

So when Ethan Schleeter mentioned starting a magic book club of sorts, wherein a group of interested people of all skill levels would together work through a classic of magic, I was excited. This was exactly the guiding hand I needed, a space where I wouldn’t be embarrassed that I was new and didn’t know what a spread cull was, let alone how to do one. Month by month, as a group, we have been working our way through the first volume of Roberto Giobbi's Card College, learning ribbon spreads, false cuts, and double lifts.

And it worked! I have had to put in the work, but it helps knowing there is a whole group of us trying to learn and figure it out together. I went from not knowing how do to anything to knowing a handful of card tricks that weren’t just self-working but required real sleight of hand. I may not be performing at the Magic Castle anytime soon, but I can do some simple card tricks that have delighted and mystified friends and coworkers. That feeling of wonder I had when I saw my first magic show, one of the many reasons I love magic, I was now able to share with someone else. We have nearly finished Volume 1 — only a couple of chapters left. By March, our little group will graduate on to our next book. So if you like card magic and are looking for a supportive environment in which to practice and get better, no matter what your skill level, I invite you to pick up Card College and join us. You won’t regret it.

What was your support system when you started learning magic?