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  • Writer's pictureImpossible Bottle

From the archives: impossible bottles in Magicseen Magazine

Here's another interview I did shortly after my website launched in 2010, this time with Magicseen Magazine, a monthly publication for magicians.

It remains the first (and only) time that I have been called a 'master craftsman'. I'd give it a solid 7/10 on the cringe-factor.

Full text below...


Yes, it sounds like an effect you can buy online, but we are talking about putting a WHOLE deck of cards inside a REAL bottle. You know, like those ships you see inside a bottle at the seaside - but done with real class. How is it done? Well, Magicseen talks to master craftsman Phil Evans...

Impossible bottles - go on then, tell us how you do it!

I have no idea! I just put the objects next to the bottles before I go to bed, and in the morning they’re inside. No but really, if I told you, I would be hunted down by other bottle makers. All I'll say is that the key ingredients of a great impossible bottle are a huge amount of patience, a steady hand, and a good pinch of lateral thinking.

How long have you been doing this sort of thing? Tell us a little bit about the history of it and the development...

Although I've only been making impossible bottles for about nine months, the art form itself dates back hundreds of years. The earliest known ship in a bottle was made in 1784 in Italy, whilst the first mention of objects in bottles goes way back to 1719. However, most magic-related impossible bottles today are influenced by Harry Eng, the acknowledged master of the art. Although he was a schoolteacher by trade, Harry made over six hundred impossible bottles in his lifetime, many of which are now collectors' items, and worth a small fortune.

Any more ideas to put in a bottle? E.g. Pete Firman (life size)...

In general, the objects you can put into a bottle are limited only by the imagination, and the obvious laws of physics. I mention on the website that I'm working on bottling my Mother in Law, so perhaps Pete isn't too far behind...

Major technical difficulties?

The whole process can be very frustrating at times, and one mistake can often mean having to start all over again from scratch. There are very few (if any) authoritative sources on how to make impossible bottles, so when I started out I was largely on my own. To say it was a steep learning curve is an understatement...

Is this what you do full-time?

I wish it was, but unfortunately no. I have a regular day-job, a wife and two young kids, so I make the bottles when time allows.

Reaction from people so far?

Reactions are comparable to those when performing magic. You know how it is - some people enjoy that child-like state of amazement, whilst others only get frustrated by it. I think it largely depends on the personality and outlook of each individual. What's certain, however, is that everybody who sees them is utterly bewildered.

Tell us a bit about yourself in three sentences...

  1. When I'm passionate about something I put everything into making it succeed.

  2. I believe that the impossible should be embraced and not avoided.

  3. My favourite definition of the word 'impossible' is 'what nobody can do until someone does'.

Where do you sell them?

I initially started selling them on eBay, but it soon became obvious that their originality and 'uniqueness' warranted setting up a website. As a result, was born. I currently create and sell three bottles, each with varying degrees of difficulty, and therefore varying prices. More bottles are in the pipeline, so watch this space...

Who are your favourite magicians and why?

My earliest memories are of watching the Paul Daniels Magic Show with my two brothers. Our grandparents would record the show for us every week, and for me, Paul was the magician who first got me hooked on magic. I loved his whole down-to-earth style, and the effortless way is audiences were instantly put at ease. Bringing things a bit more up-to-date, I love the oft-bizarre magic of Paul Harris, and the sheer comedy-entertainment value of Bill Malone.

If I wanted to bottle Mark Leveridge's charisma, do you do bottles that small?

Sure! Just let me know when you've found it, and we'll take it from there...

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