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Kinetic Mechanized Toys.  Automata. 

Whimsical kinetic mechanized toy-like automata are made to move via such means as wind, water, and hand-cranking.

Museums with Automata

American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore)  "....Not only is the museum the national repository for the artworks created by self-taught artists, the building's architecture is an artistic creation unto itself -winning many international and national awards for its design and beauty. Our venue is easily accessible by foot (a 15 minute walk from the Convention Center) or by water transport (Water Taxi or Harbor Shuttle) and convenient to all of Baltimore's downtown attractions...."

We had a wonderful visit to the AVAM on our last trip to Baltimore.There are many delightful facets to this wonderful little museum, with the permanent display of automata alone worth the trip! The grounds are sprinkled with all sorts of delightful outsider art, including a gigantic amazing egg mosaiced with glass and mirror shards.

The history of Automata "... This extract comes from the film "The Jaquet-Droz androids".

"My First Attempt at Making Wooden Automata"


Arthur Higgin's Mechanical Art   Some "abstract" and stylized mechanical art.  I like Arthur's Butter Rocker.

Automates-Ancien: The Androids and Artificial Animals website  "This website is a tribute to the talented European watchmakers and technicians, who, through the 18th and 19th centuries, tried to discover the secrets of life by giving birth to extraordinary creatures of great mechanical complexity: automatons and androids created by Vaucanson and the Jaquet-Droz family, talking heads created by Abbot Mical, the fake automaton and the talking machine by the Baron von Kempelen, clock automatons by the Maillardet brothers, writer automaton by Von Knauss, android automaton by Kintzing, tricked automatons by Robert-Houdin, "pygmy" automaton by Stèvenard...Also on this website: sale of music boxes, automatons, instruments of mechanical music, videos about automatons, CDs of mechanical music, carousels and many other musical merry-go-rounds, miniatures, cuckoo clocks, componiums, musical dolls and so on..."

 Automates-Passion  a French site featuring very elaborate and beautiful animata in the Victorian tradition.

Automatons Theatre (teatro de automatas) "Thirty seven mechanical engines in continuous movement"


Barking Dogs Automata "... I enjoy every aspect of this artwork: From sketching the whimsical idea, to finding the right mechanism for each piece. Once I cut the wooden figures, it takes me hours to find the perfect movement in the cams and levers. The grand finale is hearing the laughter from people who crank my automata in all its irresistible illusion of unique animation."

Downloadable Automata Kits  "... We design fun and fascinating moving paper model and automata kits that you can purchase, download and make. A range of full color, easy to build moving sculpture models made of paper. Each model come with illustrated instruction and require only simple tools. Simply cut out the pieces, score and fold along the line, glue and assemble the parts together. Once completed, turn the handle and see your creation comes to life!"

Chomick and Meder  Figurative Art and Automata. Beautiful site.

Clockwork Universe "...we restore and build Automata, Clocks, Singing Bird Cages, Bird Boxes, and Whistling figures. We are capable of building pieces entirely from scratch. This includes parts all small as whistles and bellows up to complete movements. Birds as small as bird box size can be completely fabricated."

Dug North  "... an artist who creates original handmade wooden automata."

Gallery of Automata Many full color photos of 19th century automata.

Tom Haney Articulated Artwork Piano-like "keys" cause encased marionettes to move.

KeithNewsteadAutomata  of the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre  "The Source for Kinetic and Electronic Arts Information and Resources"

Mouseworks  Contemporary Automata

Optical Toys

"Optical Toys is a vibrant little company, devoted to the creation of various sorts of paper toys. We take pains to faithfully reproduce original antique pieces but also publish toys of new designs and forms. The company started on the living room floor in 1988 with a focus on bringing to the modern market, early paper movie toys with the belief that the invention of the cinema historically interrupted interest in these types of toys.... As we have grown, we have discovered an equal fascination with paper toys, most especially those of a unique (and weird) graphic sensibility. The company now distributes some 50 different products and flipbook titles. Phenakistascopes, flipbooks, thaumatropes and other paper toys are sold in museum and specialty shops throughout North America, Europe, Japan and Australia."

Peter Markey Paper Automatons for purchase. Delightful! Kissing Couple... bird watching cat...   mechanical cowboy/jockey...  a mechanical rower... a hand-cranked tennis game...  even a minature golf game for your desktop.

Keisuki Saka Automatons  Paper automata for purchase.

See also Paper Engineers Workshop for more Keisuki Saka automata

Two Dinosaurs to buy

Robot Factory (France) "... of course, these are just some sensitive mechanical assemblies. No soldering, at most a little electronic zest, just some bolts, some rivets and some everyday objects reshaped to maimie their esthetic possibilities. Abolve all, they are the result of much research work and artistic care. That's why, merely the turn of a key is enough to get their mechanisms to start the whirring of their gears, and that's all there is to it... for the memory, hours just pass in playtime, conceived and produced by Serge Jupin.

Walter Ruffler Papier Maschinen  A delightful gallery of paper automata.

Sidestreet Automata "Designing and making an automaton is a tedious and exacting task. The design is first worked out on paper. Then parts are fashioned from wood and metal. Aside from raw materials, very few commercially available parts are used. This means that all gear wheels, belts, sprockets, cams, levers, and other mechanical parts must be fashioned by hand. This is all part of the process (or insanity). Consequently, making even a simple automaton takes an enormous amount of time." Gallery of works.

Martin Smith: Automata Maker

Spectron Instruments  Michael Molesworth's automata site.

Wind and Water Automata

Richard Windley "Arcadiaphon".. a unique blending of automata, wind and water sculptures and music.

The Water Organ and Other Sound-Related Automata


Robots of the Victorian Era

Flying Spaghetti Monster


Automata eCards and Models You Can Download for Free... and Models for Purchase as well...

Rob Ives' Flying Pig offers a WONDERFUL assortment of cards depicting various delightful automata. There is also an assortment of models to print out and make.... as well as a free newsletters. A wonderful site.

PaperPino  Delightful Italian site. 
Free Downloadable Paper Automata. Peace Dove.  Cowboy Bush (G.W.!)  Many more...

Free Animated  3-D Clip Art 

Instructions on Making Automata

Automata and Mechanical Toys "... This site introduces you to the world of Automata and is packed with information to help you make your own working models from wood, card and metal. Sometimes referred to as Mechanical Toys or Kinetic Art, they are marvelous small machines that utilize most of the mechanical processes which can be found in almost every modern machine employing cams, gears, ratchets and cranks... "

Kinetic Horse Sculpture

If you enjoyed Automata you also might like:

Science Toys

Kinetic Sculpture
Incredible Inventions
Culture: Art
Culture: Outsider Art


Karakuri "... Karakuri appeared in religious festivals, performed re enactments of traditional myths and legends and entertained the public with their sophisticated, symbolic and graceful gestures. T he Karakuri tradition of invisibly concealing technology extends beyond puppetry and robotics, and continues to manifest itself in popular culture. Karakuri influenced the Noh, Kabuki and Bunraku theatre arts and directly contributed to the industrial modernisation of Japan..."

KaraKuri Frontier: World of Mechanism, Art and Technology (Japanese)

Automata Galleries and Museums

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre (U.K.)

"It's a collection of contemporary automata, which is a kind of mechanical sculpture. Nearly all of the work in the theatre is humourous. As well as the smaller machines in the theatre there are about 20 coin-operated, larger scale pieces."

This is a wonderful site.. it is a museum and gallery. A source for learning and an ongoing inspiration. "We have the complete range of resources need to teach this inspiring and creative topic. Students will gain an understanding of basic mechanical principles whilst working on a popular and engaging project."

Automata shop has some delightful automata for sale.

Fourteen Balls Toy  "The Fourteen Balls Toy Co. began in June 1986 and has been making automata ever since. The company consists of Paul Spooner who designs the majority of the automata , Matt Smith who co designs and produces all the models and Sarah Smith ( Matt's wife ) who has been doing the bulk of the painting for the past few years. We originally started to produce automata together to supply The Cabaret Mechanical Theatre which had just moved to Covent garden in London and we are still producing two or three new designs a year ... "

Paul Spooner ... look at the drawing for his "Zen Gardener and Pupil".

Gallery of Automata 

Sammlung Gauselmann - Deutsches Automatenmuseum "This internet site presents the history of the fascinating, colorful world of coin-operated machines and shows a small selection of machines from the Sammlung Gauselmann-Deutsches Automatenmuseum (Collection Gauselmann-German Coin-Operated Machine Museum). Different categories – from dispensers and service machines to amusement machines with or without cash prizes – are presented and give an idea of the great variety, inventiveness in design and the spirit of different times through history. In addition, it offers an overview of the development from mechanical to electro-mechanical machines."

Hitchcock's of Bath  "A web site and sometime gallery, showing British Mechanical Toys, German Folk toys, Cut outs and hand made wooden toys for children. A selection from the famous gallery once situated in the Roman city of Bath."

Jean Tinguely Museum

Exploratorium in San Francisco often sponsors exhibits of automata.

Modern Automata Museum in Italy

"Fried Sparrow in a Boat Shed"

Automata Workshops and Lessons

Automata  "... This site introduces you to the world of Automata and is packed with information to help you make your own working models. Sometimes referred to as Mechanical Toys or Kinetic Art, they are marvelous small machines that utilise most of the mechanical processes which can be found in almost every modern machine."

Polymorf offers instruction in "gizmoneering" ... and other 3-D construction methods. "... Gizmos are gadgets you can build with Polymorf to make your models come alive! You can use these simple mechanisms alone or combined with each other to make models of flying eagles, creeping spiders, pouncing cats, or telescopes that have two-axis rotation. As a toy inventor you will learn how to engineer complex mechanisms that use bearings, levers, pivots, push rods, hinges, braces, etc. to power the action that you desire. Polymorf is the toy making toy!"

Flying Pig Education A wonderful, mostly-free resource. Instruction manual.   Workshop Notes: an on-going diary of developments, problems and solutions. The Design Process: workshop notes from the initial sketch to the final product.  Tools and Techniques: hints and tips on the tools and techniques of cardboard engineering. Mechanisms: how mechanisms work, from linkages to more complex mechanisms, a range of animations illustrating how mechanisms work.  Prototype development.

Solar Powered Kinetic Animal Sculptures

Discussion Groups

Flying Pig Blog


3-Doodlings  Newsletter of the Polymorf Network

Flying Pig Newsletter.  monthly newsletter complete with:

  • Monthly downloadable cardboard engineering project exculsive to subscribers.
  • Design technology education information and resources.
  • Special offers and seasonal discounts.
Other Titles
Automata and Mechanical Toys

Puppets and automata
Penny-in-the-slot Automata And The Working Model
A Handbook of Paper Automata Mechanisms

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eBay Sniper



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