Automata and mechanical toy making online: 12 classes

'Crustacean Keep-fit' The Museum of Automata, York.


Come with your idea and be taught live online. As a qualified teacher I've experience in secondary and University (Wimbledon Theatre School). The online automata course is flexible to fit with your schedule - it will involve an initial discussion with you, where you can tell me what you wish to make and email sketches.

The course is one-to-two and is conducted on Zoom/Skype/Facetime, with an hour tutorials each week. The more tools you have the better however, very sophisticated automata can be made with few basic tools. I can send special materials and components, if necessary and this is covered up to £20 worth excluding postage.

You will be lead through the process of how to make your idea in bite size pieces - from sketches, through card and MDF sketch models to the final automaton or toy.

The twelve online session course includes £20 for consumables and materials and during this time you will be able to make an moving automaton. A shorter (eight session) version of the course is also available (see More from this Maker below).

A little bit about my working background - I have taught for over 25 years in schools of all ages and have am a qualified secondary level teacher. I currently tutor at Wimbledon College of Art in puppetry, animatronics and automata - some of the work can be seen here. I also run Meta Props and am co founder of Arts Republic, making environmental kinetic sculpture.

There are a variety of projects for all levels of experience and skill - you could make a hand-cranked or motorised automaton you have in mind, or you could do one of my projects, for example 'To breathe life into an inanimate object with a hidden mechanism'. In this project you would choose any small everyday object, such as a book, and make it open - as if by magic. In this project the means of producing the movement is up to you - it is wide ranging from the low-tech of motors and cams as in automata, to the high-tech of Arduinos and servos as used in animatronics.

I also have all kinds of projects that will suit your ability, from beginner to the advanced student. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss a project you have in mind. Homework is essential whether to get on and design and make, source materials or acquaint yourself with different terms such as crank, pulley and cam, from the books and the web.

You can learn many practical skills such as metal and wood work, soldering, mold-making, papier mache, simple electro-mechanics and electronics and coding.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

Twelve hour sessions at £420 (including £25 for consumables and materials & £5.00 p&p).

When the situation permits, actual classes at my workshop will resume in London. These will take place at a time to fit with your schedule. There are places for two students at each session.

What you will need

For this online course you will need access to a drill, preferably a pillar bench-press type, a range of hand tools; pliers, hammer, punch, vice, hack-saw, jig-saw, fret saw.
Card, MDF, birch ply, various woods, brass rods, silver or bright steel rods.


Tom Wilkinson at Tom Wilkinson

This course is taught online

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Advanced/pro level
  • Easter
  • Fairs, festivals & exhibitions
  • Intermediate level
  • Limited mobility
  • Seniors
  • Spooky
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • Wheelchair users


12 hours (flexible times to suit)

Bronze Badge
What does this mean?

This craft course provider has been awarded Bronze status for receiving 1 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.

They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.





See available dates Buy a gift voucher

Browse similar courses, kits, live classes and online workshops in:

Leave a review

Will be published next to your review
Will not be published

Contact information will not be shared or used for marketing unless you opt to receive our monthly newsletter about UK creative courses. You will be notified by email within two weeks if the course provider responds to your review.

Have you done this course?