Crafting curious automata with Stephen Guy

Crafting curious automata with Stephen Guy


This practical three-day course with Stephen Guy of Fire the Inventor explores the creative possibilities of automata using key mechanisms, such as cams, drives and cranks, using wood, metal and wire. Participants will explore how the mechanisms and linkages function, and craft their own (fairly) simple automata using these movements in tandem with their own ideas and artistic styles.

There will be structured exercises on the first day, then for the next two days, students work on their own projects under the tutor’s guidance. Students must be prepared to come up with ideas and work on their own initiative. The emphasis is on practical experimentation and prototyping rather than designing for a preconceived end product. This course is about being playful with mechanisms, thinking about how the movements themselves can inspire the artwork and how they can be harnessed for creative effect.

Stephen will provide a wide range of construction materials, art/craft resources and a junk box. Participants are welcome to bring along their own materials and any curious bits and pieces which could be incorporated into the designs. Participants will need the ability to use basic hand tools, such as drills, saws, pliers, and instruction will be given (if required) to use bench tools, such as a scroll saw and pillar drill.

By the end of the course you will have:

Learnt the fundamentals about how mechanisms work and ways to construct them, about the need for accuracy and good construction for machines to work well, and how to identify problems and solve them.
A solid grounding in combining art with mechanical movement, seeing the creative possibilities of different types of movement, and the confidence (if needed!) and inspiration to want to continue building mechanical sculptures.
Your own working automata! This will depend on the complexity of a piece, an individual’s skill level and working pace, but over the course of the three days you will have a working piece/s that you can take home with you

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 8 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

All equipment and materials will be supplied but please bring sketchbooks and notebooks for ideas. You will need sensible clothes and shoes fit for a workshop environment. All hand tools will be supplied, but if you do have your own tools that you like to use, please bring those.

Anyone with an interest in combining art and mechanics and making kinetic sculpture. No previous experience is required as Stephen will talk you through each part of the process.


Clayhill Arts at Clayhill Arts

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Clayhill Farm
Charlynch Lane

Suitable for

  • Accommodation offered
  • Adults
  • Parking provided
  • Residential
  • Suitable for beginners


8 hours (10:00am to 4:00pm)

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