Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Prop hats from a felt donut: Chapeaugraphy or Tabarin

One old but still very amusing routine uses a simple felt donut that can be twisted and clipped to make many different prop hats, as shown above. I first saw Chapeaugraphy mentioned in a blog post by Tom Antion. British public speaker Nick R. Thomas mentions in his blog that he has done it.

Chapeaugraphy apparently goes back to a 17th century French street performer, who called himself Tabarin. You can find descriptions for making 25 hats in a 1902 book, New ideas in magic: Illusions, spiritualistic effects, etc. by William Henry James Shaw. Search in Google Books with the phrase “New ideas in magic”, and then look inside, starting on page 67 or search inside under the word chapeaugraphy.  

You also can always do something surprising with that felt donut, like in this other YouTube video, where it first becomes a steering wheel, a rap record, and a porthole on the sinking Titanic.

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