A Flock of Seagulls - No Not the 80's British Pop Synth Band- Automata Seagulls!
Well these five seagulls are sporting a fresh coat of paint and patiently waiting a mechanism. I think I mentioned previously that sometimes I build all the characters and then fit the mechanism under them. This is such a case. Of course there is a risk that things may end up up being a little tight in the mechanism space, but seeing as we are COVID lockdown in Ontario right now, I guess I've got no excuse for not taking time to figure it out.
Let's review. The two gulls in the front tip forward to the ground and mysteriously seem to have bills with magnetic attraction capabilities!?! The gull in the centre rear, currently well hidden in the photo grouping, is the gull that lunges forward sticking his bill into things but really getting nothing for it. The two in the rear on either side turn their heads fretfully as things transpire around them. As a reminder, the early design evolution of this piece is covered in a free course in the Learning Centre. It's called "From Idea to Proof of Concept to Prototype".
These are painted as Herring Gulls with a folk art look about them. The carvers at the local club wouldn't be impressed with the absence of feathers and slack adherence to realistic proportion. That's okay I say, they have moving parts, do yours move? It's a constant tease between us. (They do beautiful birds by the way!)
Remember automata has a whimsical side, realism is nice but seldom amusing in itself!
Everyone Around Me is So Gullable!
Here is four of a possible five characters from a project I am currently working on. I haven't designed the mechanism yet but I know what is needed to do to make all these herring gulls go through their motions. Of course it remains a work in progress. The two in the back will not have their heads lowered into position until all the painting is done and you may have noticed that nobody has any feet yet. The legs will eventually mount down into a top plate for stability and the feet will be also attached to the top plate, although the legs will pass through them. They will be made separately. For now these guys just stand around on a piece of scrap watching me work. I told them if they stayed quiet i would bring them some fish later. They are so gullable!
I am trying to keep the size of this piece fairly small and hopefully it will appear a little "busy", suitable for the subject matter. Without giving away the story yet, I will say that the two gulls in the front will tip down to the ground and back up repeatedly. These two inspired the addition of a new course in the Learning Centre called "Automata Design, From Idea - To Proof of Concept - To Prototype". It is a 20 minute video course showing the process that I sometimes use to prove to myself that a crazy idea I may have can be tested out before commencing a detailed project design. These two guys are the example in the course.
Anyway a fifth seagull who "lunges" is in my mind to complete the crowd above so I need to set my brain to work tonight to come up with its design!
Be safe out there, Al
A new project building course has been added to the Learning Centre today. It is a simple project for beginners to get their feet wet building a kinetic project from wood. The course is being added for free.
The subject is the "Crankman". Templates are included to either build a large or small version. I designed these to let visitors to my display at wood shows, particularly children, have something hold in their hands and operate under my supervision. That said, I must stress that these are toylike pieces are not for small children, by rather a relaxation novelty and educational resource to engage observers.
You can navigate to the Learning Centre from my web Home page!
Today there is a new feature on the Conquergood Creative website. I have configured a Learning Centre where students can take educational and instructional courses on automata making. This includes some video courses where students can download templates and actually build automata projects following step by step instructions. I've created this platform because I wish to share my skills and knowledge with the many people who have contacted me in the art of automata making and are looking to build automata themselves.
One way to reach the Learning Centre is from the menu bar of my website. (You will likely have to click on the MORE tab to have the drop down menu to reveal the Learning Centre link.) A second way is to select the large Learning Centre shortcut link image on the lower part of the home page. Upon reaching the Learning Centre you will be asked to sign in and create your own student password, There is no personal or financial information gathered in this process other than your name and email. This will create your own student dashboard which will keep a record of your learning activity for yourself and allow me to communicate with students if required. I promise that this information will never be shared with any 3rd party.
On entering the Learning Centre you will land on a page that shows you all the courses available for you to take. you can review them as many times as you like. For now there is only a short list of selections. I will work to develop more choices over the coming months. Many will be free. Some may have modest fees to cover development and website management costs. Building projects will have higher fees due to the time and effort it takes to development them. Even these project courses will have free previews that let you audit a bit of the content before purchase. The first project building course posted has 12 hours of instructional video and 55 pages of template and assembly drawings! It is not my objective to make a living from my automata work but rather to recover my costs. As you leave the Learning Centre you will be taken back to the Conquergood Creative home page.
This seems to me like a workable opportunity as an alternative to establishing an in person course program. The costs to students including travel, accommodation and fees for destination schooling are beyond the resources of many interested parties. This scenario would also require facilities that I do not currently possess. So I have decided to step into the modern world and try this approach. I will make myself available to coach all students who take on building projects on this platform through email an telephone. If the site develops popularity, the opportunity exists to have project discussion groups, Zoom meetings and other communication mechanisms.
Payment for paid courses will be processed through PayPal. You do not need an account of your own to pay. You can pay directly through the PayPal process with a credit card. Using services like these allows me more time in the shop developing new content rather than administrating finances.
So I invite you to sign in and look around the Learning Centre and take the two free courses that are available today. Tell a few of your friends of this new educational tool. I am hopeful that this platform will become a good methodology for imparting skills and knowledge to interested woodworkers and hobbyists. By giving the opportunity to gain real automata building experience through the video project lessons students can gain confidence and ultimately, hopefully, become designers and builders themselves.
As always, have fun and stay safe! I look forward to your feedback.
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.