Current Work

On a Roll

On a Roll automaton

Completed project.  I plan to attached it to a wall at a fairly high level so that the motion of the eyes is more  obvious.

Here's a video of it operating: https://youtu.be/1g8L5eyYqvg

My starting point for this project was the last day of 30/30,  an exercise calling on me to make a new work of art on each day of April 2020.  The brief was:    "Try making that work you've been wanting to make over the past month and never got round to making."  I'd admired "Thinks" by Robert Race - see photo below - so I decided to see whether I could make a start on a "re-interpretation" of the idea.


Thinks by Robert Race





On a roll

This is how far I got:


It's a section of large bamboo from our garden that's rocked to and fro when the handle is turned, causing a ball to roll to and fro.

I planned to add a figure appearing to tilt the bamboo with his hand while following the progress of the ball by turning his head and eyes.  Over the following few months I tried a variety of ideas but wasn't comfortable with any of them.

papier-mache mask

Then I hit on the idea of using an existing Gelflex (rubbery) mould of my face to create a papier-mache mask - see above.

 This meant everything needed to be on a larger scale, so I ended up making gears from plywood and suspending my mask on a pole so that it would gaze down on a double-length strip of bamboo.

 Back view of

The photo above is a back view of the final project.
The gears slow down the rotations which are used to tilt the bamboo (using a cam), move the mask to and fro (by rotating a the black tube on the left), and move the eyes relative to the mask (using a fixed wooden dowel inside the black tube).   
The black tube on the right just supports the hand.

Mechanism for turning eyes


 The photo above shows the mechanism for moving the eyes faster than the face.  The eyes are connected to a home-made wooden "nut" fastened to a wooden dowel that's fixed at the base.  The mask is attached to a black plastic tube that fits over the dowel and is rotated to and fro by the mechanism shown in the previous photo.

Hand for

I think I made a nice job of carving the hand, which appears to be tilting the bamboo.


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