Automata - Basic Making & Theory

I will take you process of making Automata making through a series of sketch models


The course is in four x one hour weekly sessions and will go, step by step, into the world of automata making and theory. You will learn a 'vocabulary' of mechanisms, about tricks and short cuts.
At the end of each class homework will be set to be presented at the following lesson.

A little bit about my working background - I am a qualified teacher having taught for over 25 years in schools of all ages and, until covid, was a visiting lecturer at Wimbledon Theatre School tutoring in puppetry, animatronics and automata - some of the work can be seen here. I am co founder of Arts Republic, making automata and public art.

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?

Session 1 is a brief intro in the history of automata, from the classic works up to the contemporary automata scene. Followed by looking at the six basic mechanisms and the advice on the best tools and materials to make a healthy mechanism.

Session 2 is learning the terminology of mechanisms from Cams to Ratchets, where you will make an example mechanism using basic materials.

At Session 3 you will be presenting your models and making a second mechanism. Followed by an introduction to the process of making an automaton - from sketch models to the final piece.

In Session 4 you will have the opportunity to put forward an idea for a personal project. I would advise you how to select an appropriate mechanism that will achieve the desired movements plus enhance characterisation of the figure or creature you wish to 'bring to life'.

Automata making is tricky and the essential 'housework' will need to be addressed - the boring bit; framework, spacers and pins. We will examine the poetry of the mechanism - how through choice of materials and mechanical symbolism further depth can be imbued into your project.

What you will need

Pen and paper. From session 2 card and/or MDF, a hole punch, kebab sticks, paper fasteners, rubber bands, glue, scissors, craft knife and tape.


Tom Wilkinson at Tom Wilkinson

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This course is taught online

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Christmas
  • Easter
  • Fairs, festivals & exhibitions
  • Father's Day
  • Learning difficulties (SEN)
  • Limited mobility
  • Mother's Day
  • Pet lovers
  • Romantic
  • Seniors
  • Spooky
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • Wheelchair users


4 hours (10:30am to 11:30am)

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