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Automata making online

The Sneeze, made by myself. Now at Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum, Detroit.

About the Course

The course is usually at Kingsgate Workshops in Kilburn/W.Hampstead, London, however since the lock-down I am running the course online. This of course relies on the student having access to tools and materials, so if you're still interested, please read on. The online course is on Monday and Wednesdays mornings and afternoons and Saturday mornings 10.00 - 1.00. The course is one to one and is conducted on the phone, email and Skype/Facetime, with weekly hour long tutorials. What you make depends on tools you have available, however I will send materials and components if required.

The four session course is £340 (including £20 for consumables and materials)
Eight session course £680 (including £40 for consumables and materials)

I have taught for over 25 years in schools of all ages and have am a qualified 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 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 move - 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 projects that will suit your ability, from beginner to the advanced student. Please feel free to call or message me if you have any questions or would like to discuss a project you have in mind.

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.

If you will be redeeming a CraftCourses gift voucher on this course, the voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.

What's included in the price?

I will take your idea through all the stages from first sketches, through sketch models. Along the way you will learn about different types of mechanisms ans skills, such as soldering, metal-work and wood. By the end of the course you will have completed a finished working automaton from one of my projects of your own design.

Most materials are included except for specialist hardwoods, electronics, motors but I can advise where to obtain all these, in advance if necessary. I actively encourage the use of reclaimed and recycled materials and parts as this can imbue the work with special qualities.

Home-work will be a necessary part of this course. I will set a goal to achieve by the next session, which is mainly design and accumulating materials and components. I look forward to hearing from you.


Tom Wilkinson at Tom Wilkinson
Unit 20 Kingsgate Workshops
110-114 Kingsgate Road
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Suitable for

  • Accommodation offered
  • Advanced/pro level
  • Intermediate level
  • Public transport
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • UK Holiday

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4 - 8 x half days (three hour sessions)

Available dates:

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