UK automata makers inspired these new projects.
SHOP OWNER: Charles Mak
LOCATION: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Among his work, British automata-maker Ron Fuller is best known for his Sheep Shearing Man (aka - sheep shearer - http://tinyurl.com/2v3fs4) and his lion tamer. Last April (2007), I successfully made a lion tamer based on Ron Fuller's book and I subsequently posted a video at http://tinyurl.com/38jpy4. At the time of making the first piece, I cut all the parts in duplicate, knowing that in terms of collections, one is better than two. Ten months later, I finally found time this week to make a second lion tamer with those spare parts.
This time I used a different color scheme. Also, I used a round head I bought at a craft store for the tamer and replaced the square head in the first piece with the same kind of round head. Finally, I affixed an actual UK postage stamp featuring the Lion Tamer on the side. The Circus was the PostEurop theme for European postal administrations in 2002. Ron Fuller's circus automata were used as the main feature on the presentation pack. (To see the presentation pack, browse here: http://tinyurl.com/38hsvz).
Believe it or not, the most expensive items for this project, not counting my time, are the stamps I ordered from an online philatelic store in UK. Having 'tamed' the lion twice, I'd like to take up the challenge of making a sheep shearing man. It employs a complex mechanism using snail cam and slow motion cam to achieve what it does. The shears chops off the head on the 10th turn of the crank handle (the man ducks on every other turn, buying time for his fate).
UK-based automatists Paul Spooner and Matt Smith have been behind the creations of many popular automata since the 70s / 80s. Soon after I developed interest in automata making, I made a couple of Camel Simulators based on their works. I've just completed another piece after their “Press-up Anubis”. The following information about the Press-up Anubis is from the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre website which sells their works:
Mens Sana in Corpore Sano – (A healthy mind in a healthy body). Anubis, who looked after the dead, had a lot to think about. It's always more fun watching other people exercise and while you're getting fit by turning the handle you can contemplate your own mortality. 10cm high. Designed by Paul Spooner and made by Matt Smith (14 Ball Toy co.)
To add a woodworking dimension to the pieces, I hand cut the through dovetail joints. For one of them, I designed the crank handle to look like a dumb bell as the theme is about exercises. In addition to the pictures posted here, a video clip of the mechanical sculpture can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/2orb3o
I’d like to acknowledge and thank Matt Smith for his friendly advice on the mechanical aspect, which probably saved me hours of trial and error. Let's stay healthy by doing more 'exercises' in the workshop!
. . . Charles Mak