amazing work

A quick post to share some links to other artists I'm in touch with and whose work deserves seeing.

Firstly Rebecca Pople and co at UWE studying animation have just completed a great little short stop motion film at

I was lucky enough to see their short film Guardian being made and even get a reference in an early mood board.

French matte painter Florence Dubin at is using one of my pieces in her work. Below is an early version she's just sent me, I think it looks amazing and can't wait to see the finished piece.

Steampunk Oz

The Wizard's robot head is now complete, although I may tinker and add more cables and tubes as I go along.
It's taken a few weeks to get him right, because, as ever I'm figuring both the mechanism and the look of the piece as I go, and have added a few movements along the way. Some of these are quite subtle, such as the eyelid, but as a whole it works.

The mask started as a cheap plastic mask which I cut roughly to shape.
It was edged with florist wire and tape to give strength and covered on both sides with papier mache made from newspaper to give a good surface on which to build.
I've used a thick solid card and split pins here to give it a more angular and mechanical shape. The original nose was hidden below the triangular one. The edges of the card are secured with hot glue and covered with masking tape.
The jaw was built entirely from card, and as it was too light to drop open as the mechanism turned has about an inch of DAS inside it. A piece of rass wire created the jaw hinge.
Each section has a few layers of pva added along the way for strength and also as a good painting surface.

Brown and black acrylic are painted over the surface. I use a stiff brush to apply the raw paint and mix as I go, rubbing it back with paper towels. I don't use much paint, spreading it as far as it will, once dry I add more layers, often with a layer of glue in between.

Below you can see I've added some tubes and brass pipes as well as a telescopic eye from bits of brass and palstic.
The back part  of the head, which move it from side to side has a weird plastic bit added here. I did this because it needed a counter balance to stop it swinging to quickly. I will add some green fairy liquid to these.

Still lots of work to do 'behind the scenes' of the Wizard's head but I am pleased because this was the most complex part around which everything else will fit.

The Wizard of oZ

Since experimenting with automata over the last few months I've wanted to create something with a steampunk feel. This was a challenge firstly because I wanted to have a lot more gears and have all the movements showing as part of some weird machine. The first hurdle was learning to make gears that both look good and more importantly have a smooth and accurate movement. I've tried making these by hand with limited success. However I recently discovered the joys of a computer aided milling machine: plug in an image and the miller cuts exactly what you want, so armed with an online gear drawing program and a lot of help from the school tech dept I have started making lovely gears.

the gears after removal from the miller

all sanded and fitted.

Technical problems solved, now what to make?
I had started with a little guy turning a crank, a steam punk Igor perhaps?

I knew I wanted lots of movements and at least a couple of guys operating various levers etc. but I also wanted them to have a purpose.

After a few sketches I came up with the idea of  a robot head which reminded me of The Wizard of Oz, where the Wizard is actually an illusion of smoke and mirrors operated by the PT Barnum like showman behind the curtain.
This presented lots of exciting challenges as I wanted the face of the robot to fairly complex: mouth, eyes, eyelids etc.
Below you can see the basic mechanisim worked out. As yet I've not added the other operator (s?) or any of the  tubes, vials, boilers and pipes that will give it a real steampunk flavor.

side view showing the head and operators chair.

Lots still to do as I'm spending a lot of time just working out how to get the movements to work.

Finished automata

Despite a few flaws, mostly as a result of figuring movements out as I went, this latest piece works well. The biggest problem was the coffin and rising corpse, the coffin doesn't open quite far enough, and to fix this I would have had to rebuild the entire piece. Also the handle is at the back which means the operator can't really see the working automata, again this would have needed a complete rebuild. That said I learnt a lot making this piece and know that I could fix these problems.

Below are some detail shots.
 The witches head, amde from sculpey, with 2 different beads for eyes, o give her an old rheumy look.

The witches hair is made from something I picked up from the scrapstore, glued to the head. It is hard to control so gives a suitably thin and whispy look.
The head and arms are operated by brass levers and thread. One arm only has a thread as at it moves it pulls on the other arm, unintentional but it works.

The graves are cut from thick marine ply and sponged with greyish acrylic, then the cracks are  exaggerated with black paint. Once attached they will be covere with bits of green modelling moss.
 The ghost is a simple head sculpted from Das on a brass rod with a cross piece for the shoulders. The one arm slots through this and is attached by a thread to the base, so as the ghost moves the tension on the tread makes the arm rise.
The figure is covered with thin white gauze to gve a ghostly finish.
 The corpse is built on a basic ply shape, hinged at the hips so it can sit up. the arm and the head are joined to the base with thread so as the corpse sits up they are pulled into position.
The figure is stained with yellow/brown acrylic to give and old look, the skull modelled in das has a bead eye and whisps of hair.
The coffin itself is wood line with red material.

you can see a more finished video clip of the automata on youtube.