Review: SvenPad™ by Brett Barry

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: Madame Curator”][vc_column_text]Having observed a huge shift towards modern electronics used in mentalism these days, it is nice to be pleasantly surprised by simple deadly tools that you can use to amaze your spectators… without any worries of batteries dying or bluetooth signals not working!

Firstly I must thank my dear friend, Belgian magician Maarten Bosmans, for introducing me to Brett Barry’s brilliant line of products that never seem to stop growing! The Phoenix based mentalist touts his SvenPad™ as the world’s finest svengali-style forcing pads and in my humble opinion, it isn’t too far from the truth.

While Brett may not have invented this age old principle, he was the first to mass market these to the industry and the man’s customer service is top notch; a worthy point to make because he is a full-time performer and I know how insanely challenging it can be when you’re juggling orders, fulfilling stock demands, while doing shows you are booked for and on the road constantly!

Owners of the SvenPad™ range of products get special access to Brett’s page on Facebook where ideas, experiences, suggestions and routines are constantly shared. Personally, I really love the energy there and it truly is all about “magicians helping magicians”. It’s a great positive environment and it’s nice to see how people from different countries and cultures come together with various uses of this clever utility tool.

Here are some photos taken using my phone (WYSIWYG there is no photoshop or fancy DSLR camera magic here) from what I currently own. The company is expanding its range and I’ve been suggesting to Brett to produce a black hardcover luxury A4 sized version with blank pages in spiral-binding, like a good artist sketch book you can find in good art supply shops, so we’ll see if it happens ;)


The beauty of this is simply when you flip through the sheets, your spectators see a wide range of different options and it all feels fair and square. However, when you hand it to them to choose a selection, they will always choose a forced page. You’re only limited by your imagination!

These innocent looking mentalism utility tools, as pictured above, are currently available in the following range directly from Brett:

Pocket size (4.25 x 5.5″) – This was the very first SvenPad™ that started it all. A nice almost squarish size, it’s the one in the white cardboard cover in the picture above. Mentalists who do pre-show work will love this one!

Mini (3 x 4.5″) – This is the fancy one resting on top of the Pocket size. Its elegant cover is a nice textured black cardboard that looks like leather and handle nicely. Because they’re stiffer than the white cardboard of the pocket size variety, they will last longer. Personally, because I have smallish regular sized girly hands, I much prefer this handy size. I find that it fits better in my pocket too. This also comes in Stage size (5.5 x 8.5″), which I do not currently have, but if you’re a stage worker this bigger size would be perfect for higher visibility.

Triple blanks (5 x 3.5″) – I love, love, LOVE these. It was my first introduction to the SvenPad™ and a bit different from the rest, with 3 x 40 pages instead of the usual 50 pages (25 forced pages and 25 regular pages with different things written). The colours – pink, yellow and blue – just pop and they remind of the regular neon Post-It pads you would find at any office supplies or stationary store. Which brings us to…

Notes (3 x 3″) – Pictured resting above the Triple blanks, it’s probably the most diabolical of the lot since it looks exactly like regular yellow 3M Post-Its! Brett also provides the ungimmicked version if you so need, which he cleverly differentiates from the gaffed version with a printed barcode on the back label sheet, just so you don’t accidentally confuse the two.

KøD (5 x 3″) – The newest baby of the lot, it comes in red or yellow (as pictured above, I got a nice bright, cheerful yellow memo pad). I think the spiral wire binding is a really clever touch to it. It’s completely cosmetic because like the rest of the range, the sheets are all carefully glued together but which spectator will realise that? This looks like an everyday lined memo pad that is completely innocent looking and normal, unlike some forcing tools sold in magic shops today, that lack real world motivation BUT the sheets are actually specially printed for that perfect thickness and feel. I would get more of these in the near future :)


Here’s a close up of how finely cut these SvenPad™ sheets are. The 1/24 inch difference is so insanely minimal it looks and feels completely deceptive! …You could of course, continue with the traditional DIY method, but IMHO all that work and finesse may not be for everyone. I know of magician buddies who absolutely hate craft work or gaff assembly of any kind, even though it’s pretty straightforward stuff in theory.

In that aspect, I’d rather not be penny wise and pound foolish. Instead of wasting precious time because we only have 24 hours a day; it’s far easier to simply make a direct purchase for a professional quality product that many workers have already successfully utilised on television appearances. It also presents you with download links and a rich online resource of tips, routines, ideas, support and more.

You can then spend those hours saved on far more important things like your closest dearest people in your life, improving your performance, working on new marketing ideas, rehearsing for a new act, enjoying a cuppa as you read the provided 14-page PDF instructions which includes Bob Cassidy’s customised Scary Movie routine; instead of investing time in assembling a DIY pad that you may not be fully confident if it works all the time.


Brett shared that after officially releasing his SvenPad™, other producers quickly jumped on the bandwagon but I guess it can’t be helped. Thanks to the stellar success of the (growing) product range, such forcing notebooks and writing pads are no longer a trend. I dare say, they are now a modern mentalism staple! I see it akin to the mentalist’s swami/ boon/ nail writer. Shrewd performers will always choose the best available option that they can fully trust and rely on 100%.

So yes… I’m a fan of the SvenPad™ because they are remarkably made. Since it is precision cut and professionally assembled, quality is topnotch and Brett also gets full marks for customer service and that all important follow-up support. I’ve no hesitation supporting their future product range expansions. Different styles in the product range ensures that there’s something for everyone. In fact, there’s already much buzz teasing about some new product releases coming up shortly!

The community on Facebook is growing and people are extremely helpful, with folks sharing alternatives to the gel pen, routines that worked for them, etc. Hint: You can and absolutely should use Chris Philpott’s latest release Narcissus with your SvenPad™. We’ll review this super brilliant mentalism gem (incredibly strong close-up effects using the 100th Monkey principle) next week on NingThing.

Also! If you can get hold of This Way Up, written by professional UK mentalists Paul Brook and Colin McLeod (foreword by Marc Salem), you will find an amazing, powerful arsenal of possibilities that you can easily use with your forcing pads. There’s a very clever chair test routine in there and much more.

Full marks for this one, it’s a clear winner!


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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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