complete spider mechanism

After over 3 days of failed attempts I have finally constucted something which works fairly well. The 2 individual mechanisms were quite simple; an eccentric cam to create the up and down movement for the body (which also lifted the 6 main legs) and a rocking mechanism for the two tapping front legs.

The BIG problem was linking the two together so they worked from one handle and at the correct speed. I tried various methods to avoid using cogs because I just didn't feel confident I could make them well enough. It was fairly obvious that this was the only solution though. After about 4 sets of cogs I finally got a pair that worked smoothly.

The finished product looks crude but does work better than I could have hoped.

Spider legs up and running

After a little experimentation the spider legs, well 6 of them anyway, are working. I settled for a simple cam below the legs so the body just goes up and down making the hinged legs gently move too. Its a bit rough as the base is still loose but it seems to work well enough. Next I want to add two front legs which tap away making it look impatient. Not really sure how this will work....

Steam Punk Spider begins

I have started to experiment with making a steam punk spider as a automata. I had originally planned for all the legs to move but now I think only the front 2 will move up and down, tapping impatiently while the body itself slowly lifts and drops. This will be easier to make!
Int he background you can see a very rough mockup which i did to get a feel for joints and scale. In the foreground I have made a pair of legs from thin wood, jointed with brass with a few bits of plastic added to give a more mechanical feel.
The next step will be to make the body mechanism.

Steam Punk sorcerer, early designs and influences

I've always loved Jim Henson and Brian Froud's skeksis from The Dark Crystal. The long flowing and mishapen robes of office over the weird bodies give the characters such grape character. I've played with this type of figure before once as a clay wizard and 10 years ago as a puppet. A love creating long leather coats for my steam punk characters so I thought it was time to revisit the idea.

For years I've had a figure from The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (a Tod McFarlane model) sat on my shelf. I thought the two would go togehter really well.

The McFarlane version (right) really exaggerates the body shape and even has goggles.

I want the steam punk figure to have the usual goggles and breathing tubes but also some kind of mechanical bits coming out of his back. The elongated Skeksis type body is ideal for this.

As you can see I've constructed a very basic body and head from card and plastiroc. This is very crude and really only there to give me an idea of the shape so I can build onto it. Now I can play with bits of plastic and start to create the details which will give it character.

carnival of insects venice

I recently saw an advert for cannon sureshot featuring some amazing giant insect puppets in Venice. With a bit of hunting a found some more clips and images (click the photo link below or follow the address)

I love giant puppets so was instantly captivated by these, especially the preying mantis. I'm not working on anything at the moment and in fact have been too busy to really feel motivated but I now have an urge to amke a steam punk insect automata. I have a vague idea so far on making the legs move but will have to experiment.