Building Castles In The Sky


You don’t have to be Dwayne Johnson to grapple with a skyscraper. Here’s how to use a one to adapt a classic magic prop.

Appearing card castles have never looked very convincing to me – too square and un-triangle-y. They look more like, well, skyscrapers. So let’s lean into that.

The Prep

Redecorate a card castle as a skyscraper, with some grey and black card. You’ll need to experiment a bit to make sure it can still fold. Then collapse it down and cover it with a cloth.

Next, grab a deck of blank-faced cards and write ‘Skyscraper’ on the top one and ‘Pancake’ (or anything flat) on the rest. Now you can do a McCombical Deck-style routine:

The Trick

Mention your prediction under the cloth. Say you’ll have someone choose a card. Show the rest of the audience all the ‘Pancake’ cards, keeping the ‘Skyscraper’ card hidden. Force the ‘Skyscraper’ card on the spectator. Ask what they chose and act surprised. Take a beat to play off the flatness of your prediction – less Skyscraper, more Groundgripper. Then lift and reveal the skyscraper as your surprisingly spot-on prediction.

Video Call Version

This still works online. Just have the spectator close their eyes while you show the ‘Pancake’ cards to the rest. Have the spectator say stop and Riffle Force the ‘Skyscraper’ card. Sure, some of the other spectator’s will also see the card, but you still get to do the (literally) big reveal.

If you give this a go, I’d love to see photos of your ‘skyscraper-castles’ – just email me at