Automata with Sarah Reast

Pat Malone

Many of our members will know that one of the interests of Jill Leventon, our Guild chairperson for this year’s conference, is automata and she has exhibited some in the members and themed exhibitions, which have always appealed to me. For years I’ve collected books on the construction of wooden automata and made paper ones and I was delighted that Jill had asked Sarah Reast, director and designer of Timberkits automata to take a workshop on the construction of these fascinating models. Although this wouldn’t involve any work in metal or enamelling, it’s vital to understand the principles of construction of automata and to see how the different mechanisms, such as cams, cranks, levers and push rods are put together to produce the desired movements. Despite having the appeal of toys, it is surprising how difficult it is to design even relatively simple automata without this core knowledge. Making models from a kit of pre-formed component parts would be very useful to that end.