The Vanishing Elephant has been in my repertoire since the beginning of the Suitcase of Wonders. After reading the fascinating and entertaining book, Hiding The Elephant, by Jim Steinmeyer, I was inspired to create a version of Houdini's famous illusion, but in miniature. Around the same time, I acquired a small automaton elephant that not only looked incredibly lifelike but also lumbered along like the real thing (This great mechanical marvel has since been discontinued, but luckily I have two!).
My first iteration of the illusion consisted of the elephant walking on stage and then being covered by a shiny cloth. The outline of the elephant was clearly visible. After attempting to make it disappear a couple of times by waving my hands, I brought out a Magic For Dummies book for consultation. Frustrated, I slammed the book down on the cloth, where it seemed to squash the elephant flat. The cloth was whisked away - the elephant gone.
I decided to create a box for the elephant to vanish and re-appear in. Based on an old vanishing box called the Gung-Ho Box, I assembled my version using bamboo coasters I found in a shop in Chinatown. I'm quite proud of the result, as my box differs from the original in that it can make an object vanish and re-appear. Also, it can be shown from all sides inside and out.
I also added what I believe to be a nice touch to the presentation in that instead of just seeing nothing for a few moments, the audience sees a small bouquet of flowers where the elephant was standing a moment before. (I place the flowers in with the elephant at the start of the trick).