Ready-made paper hat tears are available at Magic shops for approximately $1.00 each in packages of 10 or 12. As they are made of tissue paper and glue, the materials cost no more than five or ten cents each. What you are paying for is the time of the person who assembles them and the creative design. If you like craft projects and can cut and paste you can create your own paper hats following the instructions below.
For each hat you will need twice the amount of tissue paper needed for the hat. One set to make the hat and the other to tear up when performing the trick. It is more practical to make a dozen hats at the same time. You can often save paper by cutting hat bands or trims out of scraps from another hat. You may be able to cut two or more hats from one piece of paper if you use patterns made of heavy wrapping paper and move them around to fit it into corners. The easiest type of hat is a cone shape. This can be a Santa Claus hat in red and white, an elf or leprechaun in green, or, with a folded up brim, Robin Hood's hat. You can make a clown hat in any bright color or print and attach the torn up scraps to the top to be a pompon.
Cut a half circle of heavy wrapping paper to use as a pattern for a wide shallow cone hat like Robin Hood's. A 1/4 circle will make a tall skinny cone for an Elf. Experiment with circles of different diameters to find the right size for the type of hats you are making. The hats needs to be large enough to fit around either a child's or an adult's head plus a little extra for overlap. Try the pattern for size before you cut the tissue paper. It is much easier to adjust the pattern than to try to "stretch" paper after you have cut it.
Lay the pattern on the tissue paper and lightly outline it in pencil. Cut along the outline. You can cut 2 or more sheets if you staple them together so they won't slip apart as you cut. Use just a little rubber cement to make a ½" overlapping edges. Do not use too much cement or the color will run and the inside may stick together where you don't want it to.
Trim your hat with different colored bands and add paper flowers or feathers if you like. Use only a little rubber cement to attach the trims. Now set the hat aside to dry for several hours and make some more. When the hats are completely dry fold them up into a narrow strip and then fold the strip up accordion pleated into the smallest bundle you can. Don't worry! You can unfold them and fluff them back into shape again. Try it if you don't believe me. Clip the folded hat to the pieces of paper of the same color that you are going to tear up and you are ready to perform.
PRESENTING THE PAPER HAT TEAR
DO NOT tell the audience what you are going to do. The restored hat should come as a complete surprise to them.
Palm the folded up hat in one hand and show the pieces of paper to the audience.
Make up a story to explain why you are tearing up pieces of tissue paper. It can be as simple as saying, "My Auntie sent me a present, but when I opened it there was nothing inside. It was just this wrapping paper. Oops! I tore it. Oh, oh! I tore it again. This stuff is really flimsy. Maybe I can fix it."
Tear the papers into pieces. Make sure that at least one piece is big enough to wrap the others in. As you gather the pieces together fold the largest piece around them and squeeze them into a tight packet the same size as the palmed hat.
Keep turning the packet as if you are still folding it and exchange it for the palmed hat. Now you have the hat at your fingertips and have palmed the torn scraps.
If you want to ditch the torn scraps, you can reach into your pocket for some "invisible Magic Dust" and leave the scraps in your pocket. Or you can use double side tape to attach them to the hat itself as a pompon or flower.
Slowly open up the folded hat and spread it out and hold it up so that everyone can see what it is.
You can finish by putting it on your own head or on the head of your magic rabbit or puppet, but the best place to put it is on the head of the Birthday child or your volunteer helper.
REMEMBER! Always thank your volunteer and ask the audience to applaud him.
If you have trouble palming the folded hat or the packet of scraps you may want to use a Change Bag to do this trick. *See Fun-da-mental Magic Series #4, Make Your Own Change Bag. ©1999
You can make other shaped hats with the help of a head sized bowl or cake pan. Cut a full circle of tissue and put it over the bottom of the bowl or pan. Press the paper down evenly all around. If you have two bowls the same size you can use one inside and one outside the paper to push it into shape. Glue on a strip of contrasting paper as a hat band to hold the hat in shape. Take it off the bowl and let it dry thoroughly. When it is dry trim the brim all around. Here are some ideas for hats you can make. Try a Cowboy Stetson with a fancy hat band, an Easter bonnet with ribbons and flowers, a Pirate bandanna with an attached eye patch and earrings or a Magic Rabbit with ears. Use your imagination to create many more designs for hats.