Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Le Bureau Automatique automaton by Paul Spooner

Take a look at this clever automaton by famed maker, Paul Spooner, titled Le Bureau Automatique.

Learn more automata-making legend, Paul Spooner, at Cabaret Mechanical Theatre.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

3 classic automata from Fourteen Balls Toy Co.

Late last month I got word from Matt Smith at Fourteen Balls Toy Company that they would be making some new editions of classic Fourteen Balls automata. Among the editions to be made are:

The Misers Deathbed

An Allegory of love

Being Followed

Check out all of their amazing creations at Fourteen Balls Toy Company.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

'Be still my blinking heart' by Paul Spooner

I guess with February right around the corner, it's not unreasonable to start thinking about Valentine's Day...or at least heart-themed automata! This cute little blinking heart automaton is another fine Paul Spooner creation.

Here is a link to Cabaret Mechanical Theatre's page for 'Be still my blinking heart'.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Manet's Olympia - a classic Spooner automaton

You have to admire the organic, even sensual, motion that renowned automaton-maker Paul Spooner achieves with this piece based on Edouard Manet's famous painting 'Olympia'(shown below).

Manet's Olympia
What a great idea to use a famous painting as the basis for an automaton. Of course, the substitution of Anubis in the background of the automaton adds a very distinctly Spooner touch!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How to be Foreign automaton by Paul Spooner

Another nice automaton by Paul Spooner. He's used a similar mouth/head mechanism in the design of several pieces. It is quite effective, I think.

Visit Cabaret Mechanical Theatre to see more automata by Paul Spooner.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Enchanting World of Automata, Paul Spooner

Here's a Paul Spooner piece that at first glance seems to depict the most innocent of automata themes. Indeed, simple ballerinas and musicians have long been the subjects of automata.

However, automata also have a long history of more adult themes -- and sometimes in conjunction with the more respectable subjects. For example, there are many pocket watch automata that show a simple, tasteful scene on the watch face. A door on the back of the pocket watch, though, may reveal a more graphic, shall we say..."amorous"...tableaux.

Spooner tips his hat to both of these themes in the piece shown here (NSFW). With tongue firmly in cheek, he has titled it: The Enchanting World of Automata. Paul Spooner's wit is second to none in the world of contemporary automata.

See the full scope of Paul Spooner's automata at Fourteen Balls Toy Company or look into buying a piece at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre online shop.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Flickr Set of Some Great Contemporary Automata

he Council Counsellor, by Paul Spooner and Matt SmithHere is a nice Flickr set of photographs of a nice private collection of contemporary automata. There are large photos of the pieces. Particularly well-represented are the artists Jan Zalud, Keith Newstead, and Paul Spooner/Matt Smith.

Shown here is The Council Counsellor, by Paul Spooner and Matt Smith of Fourteen Balls Toy.

Here is the link to the Flickr set of automata.

[ Thanks Steve! ]

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Photos of Automata in Paul Spooner's Tribute

Paul Spooner: A Cheap Automata Shop
Our colleagues and friends over at the blog Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik have directed me to a massive picture pool of automata by dozens of artists that participated in the exhibit celebrating Paul Spooner.

Paul Clarke, and his mother Margery Clarke, operate "The First Gallery" in Southampton, England. The assemblage of photos is by Paul Clarke and is located on the Gallery's website.

Visit the Paul Spooner Tribute Exhibit photograph page.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Life, Love, Death Automaton by Paul Spooner

An automaton triptych depicting the phases of life. I don't want ruin the experience by saying too much. Note: This video is rated PG-13 for some adult themes (nothing overly graphic, mind you).

See more of Paul Spooner's work at Cabaret Mechanical Theatre.

Spooner's Moving Animals or the Zoo of Tranquillity
If you love Paul Spooner's work as much as I do, you might like his book: Spooner's Moving Animals or the Zoo of Tranquillity which is an assortment of printed paper patterns and parts, with instructions for cutting and assembling a variety of animals and machines that move.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spooner's First Puppet to Swim the Channel

From the wonderful mind of Paul Spooner, we have an automaton in which a figure is controlling a swimming marionette. There is something delightfully reflexive in an automaton figure manipulating a puppet figure. You -- as the user of the automaton -- are animating them both...which leads to even deeper questions.

Keep your eyes open at the end of the video to see the ingenious profile-cam used to make the swimmer's arms move.

See more of Paul Spooner's Automata at The Cabaret Mechanical Theatre web site.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Spaghetti Eater Automaton by Paul Spooner

Here is a Paul Spooner classic entitled The Spaghetti Eater.

See this and other Paul Spooner automata at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre online shop.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Article on the Exhibit Celebrating Paul Spooner

Article on the Exhibit Celebrating Paul Spooner
The eminent automaton artist, Paul Spooner, will be honored in an exhibit featuring his work and the work of dozens of other automaton makers. This is sure to be an amazing exhibit.

They will also be devoting a portion of the space to honor Sam Smith (1908 - 1983), a sculptor whose work inspired Paul Spooner, Peter Markey, Frank Nelson, and many others to become automaton makers.

The exhibit will be at The First Gallery in Southampton.

Here is a link to the article on the exhibit to honor Paul Spooner's 60th Birthday. Here is a link to the image gallery of automata to be shown in the exhibit.

Found via Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Our ways are not your ways" - Surreal Automaton

From the quirky, ingenious mind of Paul Spooner comes this surreal automaton. I don't want to spoil the effect, so please...take a moment to watch this little video. Not your ways, indeed.

When you're done head on over to http://www.cabaret.co.uk/ to learn more about Paul Spooner and many other top automaton makers.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Organic Butcher Automaton by Paul Spooner

Paul Spooner's work never ceases to amaze me. This video shows what looks to be an incredible work-in-progress. The automaton features a little devil figure that emerges from doors in the floor. The figure raises its arm and an air organ begins to play. Two doors in the structure above the figure open in turn, one showing the organ pipes. The sequence is then reversed. All of this magic is powered by a hand-crank!

[ Thanks David! ]

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Early Paul Spooner - Frustrated Felines on Ebay

A master of the contemporary automata art form, Paul Spooner, is known for his ingenious and artful automata. His work is available at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre shop and can also be seen at The Fourteen Balls Toy web site.

Shown here is an early Spooner design entitled Frustrated Felines that is currently available on eBay. It's cool to see the label that is on the underside of the piece.

Here's the eBay listing for Frustrated Felines that also features an article on Paul Spooner.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Automaton by Paul Spooner: Dummies with Ale

Paul Spooner automaton of many men with beer bottles
Titled Intermittent motion from two cams arranged as an 'AND' gate this is one of several new pieces by Paul Spooner.

Of this piece he says:
"I have been trying to get a good title and decided yesterday on;
Intermittent motion from two cams arranged as an 'AND' gate. This avoids any mention of the dummy scene but has the virtue of
describing the mechanism that makes the fifth dummy from the left look at his watch every so often. I was going to give them different things to hold, the names of all of them challenging to the ventriloquist: eg. beach ball, poppadom, marmalade, pineapple but went for seven traditional bottles of beer (labeled "beautiful beer bottled by british brewers"). They are a bit like the bottles of bass in Manet's bar of the folies bergere, which was painted ten years before the invention of the crown cap - hence the corks (but really I think they would have had hard rubber stoppers)."

This and many other photographs with commentary of new pieces by Paul Spooner can be seen on this page.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Poisoned Milk - a Classic Paul Spooner Automaton

Here's a great little video of an classic Paul Spooner piece called Poisoned Milk.

The means of animating the tongue is very clever and requires some lateral thinking. See if you can figure it out.

Visit Cabaret Mechanical Theatre and Fourteen Balls Toy Co. to see more Paul Spooner automata.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Video of Swimmer Automaton by 14 Balls Toy Co.

Here's a video of a classic from 14 Balls Toy Company. The piece was designed by Paul Spooner and made by Matt Smith. How to Swim cleverly animates a swimmer whose legs kick, arms rotate, and head turns. Notice that everything on the swimmer moves at the right pace. Brilliant.

Here's the link to the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre page for How to Swim

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Miser's Deathbed by Paul Spooner & Matt Smith

Here is a short video clip of The Miser's Deathbed automaton by two of my favorite artists - Paul Spooner and Matt Smith. The video gives you a sense of the humorous scene. Timing is everything!

Visit The Fourteen Balls Toy Company web site to see some great close-up photos of The Miser's Deathbed.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Automaton Artist: Kazu Harada

The Automata / Automaton Blog is pleased to present you with Japanese automaton artist Kazu Harada.

Automaton by Kazu Harada
After studying Art History at in college, Kazu worked mainly as a computer operator. He started making automata as a hobby in 2002. Last September, he traveled to England "to meet great automata makers and develop my automata making skills".

Kazu chose his destination wisely; he has been apprenticing with The Fourteen Balls Toy Company -- under master automata makers Paul Spooner and Matt Smith -- while studying at Falmouth University.

See Kazu Harada's Automata Gallery at nizo.jp.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Woodshop Specialtes: Wood Gears & Marionettes

Here's a book that at first glance might not seem to be of much use to automata-makers, but not so!

There are three sections of this book that are of particular interest to automata makers (and woodworkers in general).

First, there is section on wooden clockworks. This section may only be 8 pages, but it is almost the only 8 pages I've found on wooden gears and their construction. This includes tips on cutting wooden circles, making pin wheels and pinions, and cutting slots for toothed gears.

Second, there are two sections on the construction of wooden marionettes/dolls. Take a good look at the work of Paul Spooner/Matt Smith or Keith Newstead. I would be willing to bet that they studied puppet-making as some point. You can see that they understand the human form, joints, and how to make them from wood.

I have only covered three sections of this book; there are two dozen more on diverse woodworking topics. At this price, Woodshop Specialtiesis a great resource.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Great Review of CMT Exhibit with Photo Sets

Over at the Pixelsumo blog, the author has a great review of a visit to the newly opened Cabaret Mechanical Theatre exhibit at Kinetica Museum that I told you about here.

The post features links to a huge set of flickr photos of the show itself.

Check out this great review of the CMT show at Pixelsumo.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre at Kinetica Museum

If you can be or will be in the UK between April 6, 2007 and May 5, 2007 you must visit Kinetica Museum located at Old Spitalfields Market, London.

Kinetica will be hosting
a major retrospective show on Cabaret Mechanical Theatre which includes more than 80 automata and a number of previously unseen works.

The show will feature artists including: Ron Fuller, Arthur Ganson, Tim Hunkin, Will Jackson, Pierre Mayer, Keith Newstead, Paul Spooner, and Carlos Zapata. (Many of my favorite artists are in that list!)

The exhibition will also include a series of talks and hands-on workshops by the founders of CMT and prominent British automata artists. Speakers will include: Tim Hunkin, Sue Jackson, Sarah Alexander, Will Jackson and Paul Spooner.

Learn more at CMT's Mechanical Blog or visit Kinetica Museum's site

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre (CMT) dates back to 1979, when a handful of automaton artists began to work together as an artists collective.

The group, founded in 1983 in Falmouth by Sue Jackson, moved to London’s Covent Garden shortly thereafter, where their collection of automata immediately received both critical and popular acclaim.

They produced a book (shown at left) that teaches about basic mechanics and the construction of automata.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

5 Best Books for Paper Automaton Plans

Here's a list for people interested in making working paper automata. This is a great way to make your first automaton. It is also good for people that do not have woodworking tools. Older kids, focused kids, or supervised kids can learn a tremendous amount about engineering by making a paper automaton. All but Museum of the Mind contain several complete projects. An afternoon's work and you can have made your very own automaton.

1 - Paper Automata: Four Working Models to Cut Out & Glue Together- Rob Ives

2 - A Handbook of Paper Automata Mechanisms- Walter Ruffler

3 - Automata Too: Four Working Models to Cut Out and Glue Together- Magdalen Bear

4 - Museum of the Mind: Build Your Own Thinking Machine from 192 Pieces of Paper- Paul Spooner

5 - Spooner's Moving Animals or the Zoo of Tranquillity- Paul Spooner

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Paul Spooner: One man and his cogs

This is a great article from a few years ago that appeared in the daily newspaper The Observer originally published in September of 2004.

The British Automata-master, Paul Spooner, is the focus of the article around the time of his solo show entitled A Day at the Butcher's.

I really appreciate this story for several reasons:
  1. Descriptions of Spooner's work

  2. Spooner's own thoughts about his creations

  3. Good money is being paid for good artwork
    (Here's a currency converter for those not used to Pounds.)

  4. A bit of history about the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre (to whom all contemporary automata lovers owe a debt)

Here is the archived version of One man and his cogs by John Windsor

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