Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas: The Pre-Reindeer Era - automaton by Dug North

What better time of year to upload this new video of an automaton I made some years ago?

Titled Christmas: The Pre-Reindeer Era, the automaton depicts Santa making deliveries in that legendary time before he acquired the famous flying reindeer. Poor Father Christmas must do the flying himself -- arms flapping and eyes squinting in the cold wind -- with his bag of toys in tow.

The scene is tinted with a light metallic blue to create the effect of a frosty, moonlit Christmas Eve. The piece features a detailed house and landscape over which Santa flies. The roof of the house was covered with individual miniature wooden shingles. The bag is made of balsa wood to reduce weight. The internal mechanism employs a scotch yoke. Santa is mounted upon a blackened brass piston assembly.

Happy Holidays!

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Blogger Manuel said...

A beautiful piece indeed. It seems that you have a ratchet mechanism in the crank, why do you need it? if you turn the crank backwards, will that be a problem? or is because if the sound effect? Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2012 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Dug North said...

That's a great question, Manuel! The Scotch-yoke should work fine in either direction. Something must be a little out of whack because this mechanism definitely has a preferred direction of rotation, though it really shouldn't. It's actually a mystery that I intend to solve in the next few weeks. Merry Christmas and happy new year to you!

December 27, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous kim said...

this is so charming dug, even the mailbox has a little flag that you can raise! i was curious about the scottish yoke too, but you answered that question :) . i'm also curious about how you attached the arms at the underarm area and at the wrists. the movement is so smooth and natural...i made a tiny bird fly in a cage for a recent piece but was never happy with the movement, i know there are better ways than the one i chose. it was pretty much a "piston" i guess, like yours, and the wings were on with tiny hinges. but how i anchored the wings is what i would change...

January 24, 2013 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Thank you, Kim! The arms are notched below the wrist with small slots. The ends of the brass rods simply rest inside of these notches. I was inclined to do something more complicated, but the slots allow for a freedom of movement that would be hard to accomplish any other way. This freedom adds some subtleties to the motion.

January 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM  

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