I've only recently begun building automata, and I'm not quite sure where it's going... so far they've been fairly funny, but I feel that there are some darker possibilities out there...


Melting snowman

The melting snowman arrived in the old frontal lobes pretty much fully formed... well, I mean I could see the action, but I had absolutely no idea how to build it.
So I started with a plywood box and then thought about the up-and-down movement I would need. Lots of sketches later I started making actual wheels and cams.
My original vision called for almost complete 'disintegration', with the eyes and nose falling off, then the whole thing pulling itself back together again... in the end I gave up on that since one action fought the other. I'm sure it's doable, though.
Paul suggested putting another mechanism in, so it has a golden sun (you can see it to the left and behind the snowman), which rises as the snowman melts.
I entered this into an international competition at Crankahead, and it came joint third!
It now lives in Switzerland, which seems appropriate!


The fly

I really don't know where these ideas come from... but this one was of a dying fly, wearing a mask of Jeff Goldblum, from The Fly (1986).
To make the six legs waggle and twitch, I made a strange lumpy cylinder and had the leg wires travel down through the box and end in fishing weights which bounce over the uneven surface.
To build up a super shine on the integument of the fly, I used layers and layers and layers of varnish. The mask is made of paper, and removable.
This one's for sale! £120 +P&P.


Snail was the first automaton I built, and it's pretty simple. When you wind the handle, the snail zooms round and round the bull's eye. Quite often backwards... sometimes it shoots off altogether.
If you know someone who needs a snail automaton in their life, this one is for sale too. £80 +P&P.



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