This is not the first Pepper’s Ghost illusion to appear on Pop Goes the Page. Back in 2020, we posted a kid-friendly version featuring a spirited fox. The illusion is basically a reflection trick, but it’s very effective when done right!
- A clear plastic drink container lid
- Paper (heavier paper or thin cardboard works best)
- A small section of clear plastic (like the lid of a food container)
- Scissors and pencil for construction
- Cell phone
The project was originally designed and posted by artist Joshua Ellingson on his Instagram. First, wash a clear plastic drink lid. Then cut a half circle template out of paper. When you have a half circle that correctly fits at a 45 degree angle inside your cup lid, trace the paper template onto a piece of clear plastic. We used an acrylic gift box, but plastic food containers work great too. Tape the plastic half circle inside the cup lid. The hardest part is getting that 45 degree angle just right. I made about 4 templates before I finally nailed it. Here’s my finished cup with the plastic half circle:
Head to YouTube for a Pepper’s Ghost illusion on a black background. We tried a couple different ones, but had the most success with this hummingbird. Cue up the video on your phone, maximize it to full screen, and lay the phone on a tabletop. Place the cup lid on top. Finally, roll the video and turn off the lights! Your object will appear to float inside the cup lid! It’s really quite remarkable.
The original designer, Joshua Ellingson, also made a GIANT version of this craft with a thrift store bubble chair and his flat screen television. It’s a must see! And Disney’s Haunted Mansion famously employs this illusion, including an entire ballroom of ghosts!