I'm starting a new project and returning to the very first topic I ever posted on this blog...AUTOMATA! (For you newbies, it's basically a mechanical toy with cranks, gears, cams...whatever creates movement.) Today at work, I had an unexpected email exchange with a product engineer I met just yesterday. I had commented on a fun little crank toy on her desk, then ended up referring her to my blog to see what I've made over the years. That exchange just reminded me of how ridiculously long it's been since I've made one of my toys. Unlike previous posts of finished automata, this time I'll show you the "making of" process as I build it.
The sketches above of the "Digger Bot" were done last year sometime, but they were intended to represent a Sculpey piece, not a "kinetic" sculpture. I just put them in a folder, thinking I'd eventually get back to it. Now, the idea of turning it into a moving mechanical thing seems like a natural. I may still use Sculpey for some detailing, but it'll mostly be out of wood.
This sketch shows where things starting heading today. I'm sure this will go through several variations before I figure out how to make it work. Since I'm not an engineer, I'll have to look at some books I have on machines, and gears, etc. I haven't decided which way the "arms" will bend...like a human elbow, or like a modern earth mover on a construction site. I'm pretty sure I'm leaning towards a "steam-punk" approach (think Jules Verne era), with boilers and rivets, etc. Stay tuned! You can click on the "Automata-Handmade Toys" Label to see past projects.