These past couple of weeks I spent most of my spare time on a present for my parents’ wedding anniversary. Lo and Behold: The Anniversary Automaton
The idea was to animate my niece’s drawings and to make a simple automaton out of cardboard with a crank that would allow for a ‘Jumping Jack’ - style movement of all seven characters. As usual, it turned out to be a bit more complicated than expected, but it was good fun building it!
I prepared the brilliant drawings that my niece had done by laying out the separate parts on cardboard and connecting the cut out pieces.
Once all the parts were assembled, I rigged the characters with brass wire. The design is based on the idea that the characters’ feet are locked down, while the body moves up and down in a linear movement with the arms doing an additional circular movement (i.e. the body moves down and the arms swing up).
What I hadn’t really thought through was that the characters needed stabilizing to keep them from wobbling about. In the end I added a piece of wood with two wires which are connected to the back wall of the automaton.
This bit of wood defines how much the characters can actually move up and down. When the character can’t move any further the movement from the crank then pulls the wire directly which makes the arms move up.
There’s a few pictures showing the whole wire, wood & cardboard construction - probably explaining it better than my waffling.
The whole construction is very handmade and ever so slightly wonky, but it’s certainly made with love :)
I hope to eventually get around to working with stronger wood and gears, shall keep you posted.