Tag Archives: automata


A Shoebox Diorama: “The Factory”

Last October, a friend asked if I’d be interested in joining her friendly shoebox diorama competition amongst her acquainted artists, filmmakers, musicians, scientists, engineers, etc. Of course, this came at a particularly crazy time in my life — the aforementioned garage construction, the new startup business, and, ya know, the whole “baby thing” — so it didn’t seem likely. But in the end, I was too intrigued to pass up an opportunity to flex the creative muscle!
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Nyan Cat-omaton!

For the past couple months, I have been avoiding the shop.  It was a long battle to plead for garage permit approval only to boil down to 30 torturous minutes in a meeting with the horrible Board of Variance.  Their ignorance on the situation and their strangely biased comments against “the young people” moving into the neighbourhood culminated to the anger and deep hatred I feel for them at this moment; but in the end, I’m at a loss for words.  It is clearly a story for another time.
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Metamorphosis: Constructing the Caterpillar

I often lament the impracticality of subsidizing our west-coast life will selling homemade wooden toys.  My personally slow production rate notwithstanding, even the simplest wooden toy would take Geppetto several hours or even days.  Throw me into the fold and you have yourself an epic project spanning the odd evening hours over several weeks to make something you could buy at Walmart for under $30.
In the wake of mass production, I can only assume genuine toymakers are a dying breed in North America.  That being said, I will one day use this blog to document my bumbling efforts to build a personal CNC machine using one of my 14 decade-old computers collecting dust in my basement…but only after I build my garage…and then a new sideboardand then after I rebuild the deck…move the interior staircaserenovate the kitchen…add some french doors…

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Caterpillar Automaton

I’ve always found automata strangely fascinating.  Yes, it’s a fairly broad topic that can describe any self-operating machine, but I’m primarily talking about the wooden ones.  The kind of engineering delights that use cams and gears, cranks and crank shafts, levers and linkages!  It could be as simple as a wind-powered rooftop whirligigs — yup, that’s it’s actual name — that animates a lumberjack chopping wood.  Or on the opposite end of complexity spectrum of automata, amazing kinetic sculptures that artists like Reuben Margolin or Theo Jansen design!
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