Friday, October 09, 2015

Wooden kinetic sculpture that simulates the motion of a hummingbird in flight

Derek Hugger recent wrote to let us know about his latest creation.

Derek Hugger writes:

Thought I'd share my latest and greatest with you. Colibri is a wooden kinetic sculpture that simulates the motion of a hummingbird in flight. Every element of motion has been completely mechanized, from the beating wings to the flaring tail. Intricate systems of linkages and cams bring the sculpture to life with a continuous flow of meticulously timed articulations. As each mechanism has been linked to the next, Colibri cycles through its complete range of motions by the simple turn of a crank. This project took me roughly 700 hours and contains about 400 parts.

Amazing work. Just amazing.

Woodworking plans for this project are available are here:

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Cache Machine by Martin Smith

Check out this very inventive use for a cam-based wave machine...

From the video description:

The Cache Machine is a kinetic sculpture that adds rhythm and irony to the tradition of hiding coins in a safe place. Taking its form language from the industrial heritage of the North of England and obsolete scientific apparatus, the machine comes to life when a coin is inserted. This coin travels along a mechanically generated transverse wave that is activated by a poetic system of cams and levers. Upon reaching the end the coin is deposited, with a satisfying clang, into an eagerly awaiting collection vessel.

See more clever things by Martin Smith on his web site.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Book: Figures in the Fourth Dimension by Ellen Rixford

Jere Ryder, Conservator of the Guinness Collection (of automata and mechanical music) at the Morris Museum wrote to let us know of an important new book on automata. Here's what he wrote:

I think that many of your readers will be interested to learn that there is an exhaustive, 512 page hardcover publication just released: Figures in the Fourth Dimension authored by Ellen Rixford. Over the past 3-4 years the Morris Museum participated in the creation of this book, focusing mainly on the 19th century automata chapter. Throughout the book, the author explains in extraordinary detail how the internal mechanisms of mechanical puppets, marionettes and automata were and are today designed and created. Every cam, lever & linkage is revealed in detailed photographs, exploded view illustrations, and full mechanical descriptions. For any technician, restorer, conservator or contemporary automata or puppetry artist/builder, this reference piece will be required reading.

That's high praise from a very knowledgeable source folks!

This book is now available in the Morris Museum Shop and can no be ordered through our Museum Shop webpage (, or directly from the author’s website (

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