Friday 27 July 2018

Revisiting this blog

As I was going through some automata sites, I decided to re-visit my own blog. It been more that a year and a half since I last blogged here.

Good to relive nostalgia and who knows? We'll see....

Thursday 26 January 2017

Further Updates on this Blog

Hi all,

I am experiencing a problem of getting into my blogs to update with new postings. I think it is due to some technical issue which many other bloggers are also facing, perhaps due to specific web browsers? I normally use a standard laptop where most of my pics are and update on Googlechrome.

I am able to update briefly now because I am using an IPad and am on Safari browser.

In the event that I am unable to further update on this blog, I will just create a new blog with a similar sounding name 'Unique Automata The Next Chapter'.

So see you all soon.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

More musical boxes and mechanism arrangements

I recently purchased more musical boxes from Japan and the US. Some of them come with additional accessories. I am trying out some of my musical boxes in various orientations for new proposed projects.

For example, I created a cradle for this musical box which has an attached turning movement on top (yellow). However, I added an additional movement with a rotating lever (white). I have drilled several holes on top of the setup, which will be the stage, to allow for wires to pass through.

Here, I am playing around with a rc car mechanism to be linked to a musical box.

These are 3 simple setups for experimentation.

Thursday 21 May 2015

Book Review of "Cogs, Cams, Springs and Things!"

I got this rather charming booklet in 1995 which coincided with an automata exhibition in a UK art gallery. It emphasizes the quirkiness of their output. Note that the mechanism is usually visible to the viewer which was not the case with antique automata.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Tinkering with another mechanism

Some of the gears were epoxied to brass rods. In the background can be seen a useful link mechanism to two pivots.

 I then took a couple of gears, juxtaposed their positions to a musical movement and fitted them into place on a suitable piece of basswood.

Another piece of wood was glued as backing to add thickness.

Refurbishing the Acrobat Piece 4

The cam followers were carefully nudged into the cam tubes and were allowed to rest on top of the cams. When I tested the mechanism, the cam were pushed forwards, not upwards by the turning cams, thus causing the cam followers to jam in the cam tubes. I solved this by epoxying several Lego bricks in front of each cam follower to prevent them from moving forward and distorting the upward path. The position of the bricks was optimised by checking that the cam followers could slide up and down smoothly. I also sanded smooth the face of the bricks facing the cam followers.

The top of the new stage was painted black.

This picture shows the disassembled acrobat lying on top of the stage. The arms are being remade. Notice that the left arm has a small brass tubing embedded within it. This will serve as a guide for the cam link to the left shoulder.

The background scenery pieces on the old stage will also be re-used.

A summary on Automata

Most of the information on automata can be found on the internet. A search on the internet for “automata” would reveal numerous websites and blogs. Here is a concise summary.

Automata can be divided into historical and contemporary genres.

Automata traces it roots back to the period of antiquity, when the Greeks and Romans were mesmerising the public with animated “gods” and toys. Most of this motive power came in the form of energy from gravity-fed water or heat propulsion. When we fast forward the chronology to the Middle Ages, there were gravity-driven clocks and spring propulsion. From the 18th century onwards, the advent of automata started in Switzerland resulting from clockwork expertise, then moved on to France where Gaelic artistic flamboyance saw the creation of doll-size mannequins dressed in fabric and brilliantly animated. These mechanisms invariably featured a key-wound spring mechanism connected to a shaft upon which numerous cams and levers would be mounted, each controlling various actions. Due to their complexity, most of the mechanisms were made of metal for durability.
This golden age of automata closed with the end of WWI, when that global conflict transformed the whole of European society and culture. Separately in Japan, there was a brief but separate development of sophisticated automata with wooden material.

Perhaps from about the 1960s onwards, there was a revival of interest in automata, possibly as part of a new art genre in animated sculptures. These were mainly rustic creations in wood and delighted many with their quirkiness. They were usually characterised by simple mechanisms.

With more awareness, literature became available documenting the history of automata and the principles of their mechanisms. Soon, a later group of makers started to produce more complex automata, using other materials besides wood. Some of these pieces are very big and would be classified as art installation. Most feature abstract themes as befits an emerging artform.