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Branded - By Tim Trono




The Painless  Card Blister


IMAGINE:   You show a painful looking blister on your thumb from your last attempt at this hazardous stunt. Someone selects a card and concentrates on it while gazing into the flame of your lighter. You pinch the flame and the bubbling blister magically morphs into the configuration of their card. In other words, the image of their thought appears fried into the flesh of your fingertips--seared into your sizzling skin - BRANDED! 


This gimmicktakes over where the other gimmicks left off. It's now a very practical, easy, no-nonsense method that happens in the open, with nothing to hide! No more pocket management. No more public displays of affection. No more unwanted glances. 


With Branded, you'll leave the room in a blaze of glory!





  • - Instructional DVD.
  • - Precision-made Gimmick. 




  • - No pocket work.
  • - New design of realistic numbers and pips.
  • - Includes gimmicks for BOTH regular and mini Bic Lighters (Bic Lighter NOT included)





"I love this!  It's Amazing! - David Blaine


"Branded is fantastic. What a great idea! I highly recommend this." - Keith Barry


"Branded really raises the bar! This is a drop-dead easy, incredibly convenient handling of the card blister effect. It's a sturdy, simple, real world worker that a pro will really use."  -Paul Harris


"Wow, what a GREAT idea. I wish I would have thought of it! Now that the perfect method has been created for this excellent effect, I look forward to adding it to my repertoire." -Daryl


"This is a really hot idea. I'll take two." - Kevin James


"Brilliant idea! Finally, a natural and sensible way to create a blister effect without palming or fumbling in your pocket. No more hassles. No more misses. Clean and direct. I'll take twelve for my personal use. It doesn't get much better than this."  -- Kenton Knepper


"The Blister Trick I dropped into the ocean has become a full blown tsunami."

-Jack Tillar





In this blog I will discuss and share various ideas, suggestions, handlings, etc. that I receive and feel are noteworthy for those who have purchased Branded. I am confident that once you start playing with this you will come up with touches, handlings, and ideas. If you would like to share them I would love to get them at I will ensure you are properly credited for your input.

I will keep the posts broad enough not to give away every detail but without the actual gimmick most of what is discussed will not do any good to others who have not purchased it.

I first became aware of this wonderful idea of the "card blister" through Brent Walske's "Pyro Perception". In researching the history I found that Brent had independently created an idea that was first released by Eric Mason titled "Stigma" and was in a set of his lecture notes. Most people are not aware of this resource but Michael Weber turned me on to it and it was noted in the 2006 Cardopolis web site by David Britland. Obviously the guy who started the whole blister craze in the early 1970's was the wonderful Jack Tillar. Jack and I discussed Branded at length many times. Originally Jack was not fond of the idea of a card blister. The more we talked the more Jack saw the strength in this effect and decided to endorse Branded as noted in his wonderful "Blister Book". What really put Jack over the edge was when we added the idea of the regular round blister morphing the card blister. This is the first time this had been done. The morph really sells this. People can't relate to card blisters as they have never seen them but they CAN relate to round blisters. So you establish the idea of the blister and then change it TO the card blister. This kills. I can't tell you how much time Greg Wilson and I spent sharing and hashing around ideas with Branded. Without Greg this would be no where as strong as it is and I owe Greg a tremendous amount of thanks for all of his time, effort, and creative thinking with Branded.


Greg Wilson and I have spent a tremendous amount of time playing with, using, and discussing ideas and handlings with Branded. We have discussed but not ever really used some of the following ideas:

 Have the card blister turn BACK to a regular round blister - so that the spectator is left with the feeling or question of "did I really see that?"
 Force another card and have the blister change to that new card - thus it "appears" the round blister can just change to really almost any card they pick.
 After the first revelation sinks in, you execute a Top Change and then follow up with a matching blister change.
 You can also do a Magician's choice to apparently burn away invisible cards until you get one of the 3 cards on the regular Bic gimmick. This allows you to not even have a deck of cards. Most of the times though I find this process too procedural.

Quite frankly the reason we never really tried these ideas is that we both liked the simplicity and singularity of effect of the blister morphing to the selected card blister. The ideas, although interesting, seemed to be gilding the lily. Sometimes less is more.

The Gripenwaldt Idea

Dave Gripenwaldt, a VERY clever southern California magicians and creator, provided some very valuable thoughts. IF you were truly pinching a flame between your right first finger and thumb you'd theoretically burn BOTH of those appendages thereby getting blisters on both. When the transformation of the blister to the pip/number occurs it provides more continuity as each blister transforms - the one on your thumb transforms to the blister of the pip and the one on your first finger transforms to the number. Great point. Thanks Dave.

Taking the Heat Away

In a discussion with Greg Wilson we talked a lot about Dave Gripenwaldt's thought above. We also discussed changing the moment a bit to take the heat (no pun intended) off of the moment when you get the second blister. So here is a possible change in handling that provides a bit more cover.... You force the card through your favorite force OR you start the Cross Cut Force (just the initial cut). As they are doing this you remove the lighter in your right hand so it is loosely cupped within the hand in correct orientation but with the flame end pointed down. Your right first finger and thumb squeeze in on the round holes to get round blisters. If you have used the Criss Cut Force you now have them look at the card they "cut" to. You advise the spectators that you will sacrifice yourself for them. Transfer the lighter to the left hand and light it. Pinch your left first finger and thumb together well above the flame. The back of your right hand shields the fact that they are well above the flame. Pull your right hand away and shake it and/or wet the right first finger and thumb with your tongue as if you really burnt your fingers and are trying to cool them down. Look at them and advise they are already starting to bubble up and say "look at those nasty blisters". State that you will use your body to show them something very strange. As you are saying this you openly put the lighter away in your right back pocket. AS you are putting the lighter away openly you are squeezing the gimmick shell to get the images of the pip/number over the regular blisters. The wonderful thing about this is that it does a few things... 1) it gets the lighter out of play. You've apparently used it to create the round blisters and you now just have put it away 2) it allows you much more cover to get the pip/number blisters as you are not doing it in front of them. You are doing it almost behind you or in your pocket as you are putting the lighter away and 3) since it takes a few seconds to put the lighter in your pocket it gives you more time to get the number/pip impression. You now ask them to concentrate on their card. AS they do so you stare at your right thumb (blister pointed toward you and other fingers curled in) and you act amazed as you apparently are seeing the blister transform. You state "wow... does that look like it's changing to a [name the pip]... look, look [as you now quickly extend your right first finger out toward them] can you see it transforming to a [name the number of the card]". Some people will swear that they have seen the pip transform since you are openly putting the thought in their mind. So it's not the flame that is causing the transformation it is them thinking of their card. The flame was just made to cause the initial blisters and then put away since it is no longer needed. This makes the lighter get much less heat or suspicion if you are worried about that.

Same Time Display

After comparing notes, we found it is stronger to show the blisters on the index finger and thumb at the same time. I'd also recommend keeping the thumb and forefinger close together initially so there is not a lot of separation between the pip and the number blister. This idea of making displaying the magic in s small frame was suggested to me by Shoot Ogawa and was stressed to Shoot by his teacher. Once the audience has realized what the round blisters have transformed to you separate your thumb and forefinger for a more dramatic display.

Gordon Bean

I received the following idea from Gordon Bean:

"Use the lighter to light either a candle or a cigarette, and then having that produce the blisters. There are two advantages here (against the disadvantage of having an extra prop). First, this allows you the motivated action of pinching out a flame or lit-end with your bare fingers-which is pretty impressive even if you expose the preparatory finger-licking. Second, it allows you to openly finger-palm the mini-lighter when it's not being used: with all attention on the candle or the cigarette, the lighter goes off the spectator's mental radar, especially when it's being put away.

So you start by taking out the mini-lighter and lighting a candle or a cigarette. As you direct the cross-cut force, you drop your hand to your side and secretly get the round blisters. Then, with lighter in open finger palm in the same hand, you pinch out the flame and then, immediately shaking your thumb and index finger as if something has gone wrong, briefly display the round blisters.

You then relight the wick/cigarette, and then in a "clearing the decks" build-up, put the lighter away as in your description. You lick and pinch again (this time just behind the blisters). Keeping just the tips of your thumb and index finger touching, you slowly-and lightly-extend them, rolling one out from the other while maintaining contact. The result is a kind of "money printer" reveal, with both numeral and suit-initial coming into view simultaneously, as if in some odd way producing the other. Finally, you spread them to the effective wide display as pictured on the DVD cover. I do think that by doing this reveal really slowly and really close to the spectator's face you can almost guarantee a vocal reaction, if not screams.

So in retrospect it becomes clear that your frustration at the round blisters was not that they had appeared; it's that they had stopped short of evolving into the full card blisters.

Obviously, with no candle or cigarette available, the "rolling" reveal can be used with just the lighter itself."

Andrew Gerard

Andrew Gerard had a great idea. He suggested using the card blister as a secret cuing that then "disappears" from your fingers. So you come out with an invisible decks of cards and advise that they can pick one card and you will burn the other cards away. You advise them to hand you the invisible card and you will hold it right by the corner. You have them look at the corner as you point to the number and suit blisters on your thumb and first finger though it appears you are printing to the corner of the invisible card. You ask them "can you see the number" to which they reply "yes". You ask them "can you see the pip" to which they respond "yes". You now ask them to call out the card. They name the card you have imprinted on your thumb and first finger. By now the "evidence" (blister) has disappeared and you can cleanly show your hands empty. You advise you will make the card visible. You have them toss it to your wallet and you open your wallet to show one single slightly singed card. You take it out and show it id the now visible invisible card. You can also use this idea and have them insert the invisible card face up in the deck. You spread the deck to show the card is now face up in the face down deck. You can then move into Guy Hollingworth's Voodoo Card Trick minus the first phase as the card is already face up. Andrew Gerarad's idea is really wonderful. Give it a try.