Houdini historian John Cox has a thorough write-up of the history of this electric and short-lived illusion on his Wild About Harry website. Cox notes that Houdini wrote a short playlet about the piece in order to copyright the effect, a practice still used today by magicians such as Teller so that they can protect their creations from intellectual property thieves (As a side note, I am looking forward to hearing David Copperfield speak on this very topic next month at the New York Historical Society).
For my version of Walking Through a Brick Wall, the curtain will rise revealing an empty stage (except for a carpet in the middle). I, Smallini, will then drive a forklift onto the stage and unload a pallet of cinder blocks. Mr. Widdle will then proceed to build a wall in front of me, in full view of the audience. When the wall is completed, and I can no longer be seen, a curtain will be briefly lifted and then then lowered, revealing that I am now in front of the wall! As Mr. Widdle’s hands will be in view the entire time, and I, of course, cannot move on my own, the effect should be perplexing as seen inside the Suitcase of Wonders Miniature Magic Theater.
I am looking forward to acquiring the materials for this illusion. There is a Florida company called MiniMaterials that makes and sells miniature cinder blocks in various scales. These are the real thing, only in miniature. They not only carry the cinder blocks, but the mortar and mini trowel as well! Mortaring the blocks onstage would be time-consuming and not particularly cost-effective, but given the right performance situation I am tempted to try it, at least once. I would love to give the wall out as a souvenir at the conclusion of the illusion!