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Automaton. Automata. What is it?

Automata (or sometimes automatons) is the plural form of the word automaton. Contemporary automata are a form of kinetic sculputure. The finished product is often a hand-cranked device that employs a mechanism to animate a scene. They are the sophisticated cousins of mechanical toys and whirligigs, and related mechanically to robots.

Original Wood Automata by Dug North

So who is Dug North? I am an artist who designs and makes original automata using wood, brass, and a few other materials. I also write about how to make automata and provide various consulting services for enterprises related to automata and other things of a quirky mechanical nature.

Some of things that make my automata special:

  • They are made in limited numbers, often one-of-a-kind
  • They require a diverse set of skills to make
  • Hundreds of hours can go into their design and construction
  • They are interactive and captivating
  • Some of my automata perform magic tricks
  • Others feature my distinct brand of not-so-scary monsters

Contact Dug North with any questions or comments, or to discuss any opportunities related to automata.

What's New?

1 - My automaton titled The Unwelcome Dinner Guest is for sale! This piece was featured in a magazine called Gizmos & Gadgets. It depicts a whimsical scene with a dog and bird. This is a very rare opportunity to purchase some of my artwork.

2 - One of my automata was shown in a short film about the amazing collections of video game legend Richard Garriot. My piece, The Birthing Engine, which now resides in his collection of automata, may be seen in the film titled Room for Wonder at the 6:30 mark.

3 - The ninth installment of my quartery column for the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre Blog is now live! This one covers easy-to-make belts and pulleys. Pulleys and belts are incredibly useful to the automaton maker. They can transfer power from one axle to another and change the speed, direction or plane of rotation!

4 - I exhibited at the World Maker Faire, 2012. This was my first time exhibiting at one of the flagship Maker Faires. Over 55,000 people streamed through the gates over the course of two days. The response to my work was very gratifying. I was especially honored to have received two Editor's Choice Awards from MAKE Magazine! Here is a video interview I gave for during the event.

5 - I now have a credit on IMDb as a Subject Matter Expert for the documentary on the history of automata that is on the Blu-ray release of the movie Hugo! The featurette is titled The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo. Here is one of the clips in which I am featured.

When you purchase from, you can help me support my site and my art by navigating there from any of the links on this site.

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Copyright 2002-2013, Dug North All rights reserved.
Dug North, Machini, and Machini the Marvel are Copyright 2004, Dug North
The Derby & and Eyes logo, and The Derby & Gears Logo are Trademark 2003, Dug North

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Automata by
Dug North