Welcome to the magical world of automata, the perfect synthesis between craftsmanship, engineering and artistic expression. At the beginning of this one-day, face-to-face course you will learn some basic theories about the most common mechanisms used in mechanical toys and their different building techniques. Based on a design provided by the tutor, each student (maximum 2 participants per course) will then start building one-shaft toy, drawing and cutting cams, cranks and mechanisms, using different type of wood and a vast range of tools available in my workshop (band saw, belt and circular sanders, pillar drill and other power and hand tools, see attached pictures). Once assembled, you can paint your toy with any of the many acrylic paints available. This course is designed to be fully hands-on, and students will learn by building every single piece of the toy under the constant guidance of the tutor, who will provide additional information and explanations at each step of the process. At the end of the day you will understand the basic movements of a mechanical toy and how to design and build eccentric cams, snail cams, lobe cams and cranks. Participants can expect to finish the day with a lovely, fully functioning one-shaft mechanical toy. Suitable for absolute beginners as well as those who may already have some experience. Please note that due to the potentially dangerous use of power tools, this course is unsuitable for those aged under 14. Children aged 14 and over may attend if accompanied by a participating adult. Children 6 to 14 year old can attend the other course I'm running on CraftCourses "Automata Making for Kids". My name is Stef, and I’ll be your tutor. I am Italian and because of my previous job I lived in many different Countries. I moved to the UK in 2017. I started designing and building automata in 2013, when I was living in Bangkok. Since then I designed, built and sold dozens of automata. Please note that the course is held in my workshop, which is located at “Freestone Studios”, a warehouse in the St Philips area of Bristol home to an eclectic mix of artists, fashion designers, makers and creatives. My workshop is located on the 1st floor (accessible only by stairs, no lift available). On the ground floor there is the restroom and a common kitchen area with a microwave and a fridge. Please get in touch for additional information.

What's included in the price?

All material (plywood, wood, dowel rods, acrylic paints, paint brushes) and use of all hand and electric tools. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): safety glasses, dust mask and ear covers. If you drive and provide in advance the registration number of your car, I can arrange visitor free parking at walking distance from the workshop. Please bring your own lunch as there are no shops at walking distance from the workshop.


7 hours

Cancellation policy

Easy - Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts



Penlan Crafts

with Craft Courses since 2021

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Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Seniors
  • Teenagers
  • Romantic
  • Pet lovers
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Christmas
  • Fairs, festivals & exhibitions
  • Easter
  • Intermediate level
  • Father's Day
  • Mother's Day
  • Parking provided
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Freestone Studios, Freestone Road, Bristol, Bristol, BS2 0QN