Automaton: Drowning (Not Waving)

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Automaton: Drowning (Not Waving)

Drowning (Not Waving) is my first attempt at making an automaton. I’ve been talking about making automata and kinetic sculptures with fellow members of the Pack of Wolves for a few months now. With a few days to spare over the summer Faye Scott-Farrington and I got together in the studio to set to work making our first automata.

The final creation seen in the video above is made almost entirely from MDF, aside from the porcelain doll hands. Before this however, we had to gain an understanding of how basic cams and cranks work. Following some research online we created a couple of cardboard maquettes to help us figure out how the basic mechanics would work.

Automaton - Work in Progress (Cardboard Maquette)

Having grasped the basics we set about making more permanent constructions from wood and MDF. I created a simple shelf to house the machine and then I cut each cam individually, sanding them to as near a perfect circle as I could. These were then drilled out an mounted on a piece of dowel that would act as the main crank.

Automaton - Work in Progress

Using offset concentric cams I was able to ensure that the hands would all raise and fall at diffferent times.

The motion in my automaton is a little rough which I think is in part due to the bamboo skewers I used to spear the dolls’ hands. I also had to add some extra weight to the cam plates beneath the smallest hands because there wasn’t quite enough weight to enable the hands to drop back down again.

Drowning (Not Waving) Automaton Kinetic Sculpture

Keep an eye out on Faye’s blog for some photos of the automaton that she created. It’s a suitably creepy machine!