Earlier this month we were lucky to have a brief but inspirational visit from our friend and fellow tinkerer Noga Elhassid. Similar to past residencies with her, we used the three days we had to explore making simple mechanisms out of everyday materials.
On Thursday night for After Dark we repurposed small cardboard boxes to make shaky sculptures. One of my favorite things about this activity is how that by adding paper elements onto the box flaps, it exaggerates the natural motion of wiggling the box. The results were often surprising, silly, and satisfying. I was really impressed by how long folks stayed to build their sculptures; many people stayed for almost an hour iterating and complexifying their designs.
Over the weekend we changed gears and hosted a Whirligig Factory workshop. In this activity visitors explored making a wind-powered crank mechanism that activates a paper sculpture or creature. There were four steps to building the whirligig: making a propellor, making a stand for the propellor, making a crank, and finally building a creature.
Building the creatures was one of the most popular parts of this activity. People came up with really elaborate designs for how they wanted their whirligigs to move.
I love how this video shows that the size of your sculpture and propellor design both make a difference in how fast your crank spins.
Since we're big fans of automata of all types, we're going to continue to explore the potential of wind-powered contraptions!