Friday, September 29, 2006

Make Your Own Dragon Automaton

Here is a web site that offers an amazing paper automaton project as shareware. You can download the plans and instructions to make this beautiful dragon. Should you choose to make and keep it, you're under the honor's system to pay $5 USD. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Make a slithering Jade Dragon automaton

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Little Girl Giant - Enormous Marionette

This astounding video is of a very large and very beautiful marionette. She requires a troop of puppeteers, dozens of block-and-tackle, and a crane to operate. The sum is far greater than the parts, I assure you.

The folks at The Mechanical Blog provide some context. The show is called The Sultan's Elephant and was performed by a group called Royal de Luxe.

[ Thanks, Aaron! ]


Monday, September 25, 2006

The Antikythera Mechanism

Long suspected as being an astronomical showpiece, navigational instrument or rich man's toy, the Antikythera Mechanism is a bronze mechanism built before the birth of Christ.

New research has convinced scholars in Greece that it is, in fact, the world's oldest analog computer.

Here's the recent news article: Revealed: world's oldest computer

And here is the Wikipediea article on The Antikythera Mechanism

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fourteen Balls Toy - 1 Meter High Wood Automaton

These folks make the best (and the most) contemporary automata. Fourteen Balls Toy Company is made up of Paul Spooner, Matt Smith, and Sarah Smith. I think you'll see more automata here than any other web site.

Be sure to check out the 1 meter tall version of their Head-off Anubis. Wow!

Check out the Fourteen Balls Toy website

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Automaton Kinetic Sculptures by Keith Newstead

Kinetic Sculptures by Keith NewsteadAs you've all probably gathered by now, I'm a fan of all the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre artists. In addition to my fondness for the work of Paul Spooner, I've always like the pieces made by Keith Newstead. In particular, I like the style of his figures, the inventive vehicles, and his skill with the use of brass.

Here's the link to Kieth Newstead's site

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Modern Automata Museum - Italy

I don't speak Italian, so much of this site is lost on me. Still, I can tell that this automata museum outside of Rome has a lot to offer. The list of artists in the collections include: Andy Hazell, Malcolm Brook, Luca de Pascalis, Neil Hardy, Rob Ives, Peter Markey, Juta and Jim McCord, Keith Newstead, Renni Orsi, Walter Ruffler, Keisuke Saka, Paul Spooner, Eric Williamson, and Carlos Zapata.

Visit The Modern Automata Museum

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Monday, September 18, 2006

MachineShop: A Design Environment for Automata

Glenn Blauvelt's dissertation looks at how children's abilities to think and reason about machines is affected by the task of designing and constructing simple machines. To do this, he designed MachineShop -- an integrated CAD/CAM system for children aged 10 to 12.

MachineShope provides the kids with a tool for the creation of the mechanisms for use in mechanical automata. Specifically, MachineShop allows users to design cams, gears, and levers which are then fabricated using computer controlled machine tools, such as carbon dioxide laser cutters.

Here's a cool gallery of automata created with MachineShop. Great idea!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Automata Flickr Set by Mark Frauenfelder

Drat! I'm not the only automaton-maker who wears a derby! (or bowler, if you prefer.)

Oh, well...I've still got the goatee for the added time-traveller-artist-from-the-past look.

Derby competitor or not, it would appear to be Ernie Fosselius week in the automata world. His work is fun stuff.

Double admiration for this link as the photos are by one of my heroes, Mark Frauenfelder.

Here's a flickr set of Ernie Fosselius's automata.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Automaton Maker Video Profile - Ernie Fosselius

Here's a video profile of automaton-maker Ernie Fosselius and his traveling workshop/theater. Very cool!

Video courtesy of the good people at the Make Magazine Blog

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre Footage on YouTube

Some kind soul has put together a little video of a Cabaret Mechanical Theatre exhibit that was at the Oxo Tower Gallery a couple of years ago. You can see automata in action from most of the CMT artists. There are pieces by two of my personal favorites: Keith Newstead and Paul Spooner.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre clip

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Soon-to-be-Sushi Automaton?

While my preferred material for automata is wood. I am continually amazed at what some artists can do with paper.
Here's a clever little automaton that creates a somewhat tense scene. I beleive it is titled Doomed Fish.

I'm still rooting for the fish!

View the wriggling fish automaton.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

David Copperfield - Museum of Magic with Automata

In addition to being one of the best (and best known) magicians of our time, David Copperfield is also the creator of a program that uses magic as a form of rehabilitation and esteem-building. Now...isn't that a good idea?

David Copperfield has an additional passion -- the preservation of the history of magic. He has amassed an enormous collection of magic artifacts from 16th century books to the tuxedo worn by Cardini! Among the collection's holdings are automata by the master, Robert-Houdin himself.

The website is Flash-based so I can't give you direct links, but if you go to it's easy enough to follow the links for "Project Magic" and "Museum". Be sure to click the link to "View Exhibit" at the bottom of the Museum section.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

For the Collectors: The Guinness Collection of Automata

The Morris Museum was recently awarded The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of 700 historic mechanical musical instruments and automata. The extraordinary collection represents one of the most significant of its kind in the world. The museum is currently showcasing 60 of these objects in the exhibition Musical Machines and Living Dolls: Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata from the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection.

Murtogh D. Guinness (1913-2002) regarded the collection as his life's work, and he persistently traveled the globe to search for the finest surviving instruments of their kind. He lived day-to-day with these devices, studying and refining for over 50 years what became a collection of nearly 700 pieces.

Like the mechanical musical instruments in the collection, the musical, French-made automata represent a broad array of styles. Snake charmers, magicians, singing birds, and other figures in the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection showcase the talents of their makers and constitute one of the largest public holdings of automata in the United States.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Scroll Saw Tips and Patterns

The scroll saw is a great tool for the automaton maker. It can be used to cut gears and cams, as well as the rough shapes for figures. Furthmore, it's a fairly safe and friendly saw for those new to woodworking. Frank Swoboda's scroll saw site has information on the following scroll saw topics:

  • What about Wood
  • Different blades for different jobs
  • Patterns on the Wood
  • Still cutting one at a time
  • Use of wax to cool blades
  • Which way to turn blades
  • Stack, Multiple Layers, and turning

The site also has free patterns, reference material, and useful links.

Visit the The Scroll Saw Tips and Patterns site.

Here's everything-scroll-saw at Amazon

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Scroll Saw Tip - Filing with the Scroll Saw

Scroll Saw Sanding FileScroll Saw Sanding File
Turn your scroll saw into a power sander. Silicon carbide abrasive is aggressive enough to cut as well as sand in most materials...

Scroll Saw Sanding File

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Automata by Pablo Lavezzari

Here's a video clip of some automata by Argentinian automaton-maker, Pablo Lavezzari. He's got a great style and some really wonderful designs. If I knew how to say "my hat is off to you" in his language, I certainly would!

Click out Automata by Pablo Lavezzari at YouTube.

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