3. Prepare the piston.
Measure 6" of wire, and follow the template to
create the basic shape (Figure K). Grip both
long edges of the rectangle in the pliers, then
bend the rectangle over to make a V in profile.
Twist the loop so that it lies parallel to the V
edges (Figure L). Leave the long end trailing.
4. Construct the connecting rod.
Measure 5" of wire and follow the template for
the first half of the connecting rod. Slide the
piston onto the top edge of the rod, with the V
edges straddling the sides (Figure M), before
completing the template shape (Figure N).
Twist open the loops at the base of the
5. Mount the mechanism.
Thread the trailing end of the piston through
the cylindrical coil on the frame, hook the
base of the connecting rod onto the crankshaft (Figure O), and close the loops by
twisting them back into position.
6. Build the bird.
Follow the template to bend your choice of
bird. Turn a loop at the top of the piston, and
another at the top of the frame. Twist open
the loops, attach the bird, and close them.
These days people make automata, or actuated mechanical sculptures, out of materials
like metal, wood, and paper. Wire’s great too.
Alexander Calder, famous for his mobiles,
also experimented with directed motion in
expressive, evocative bent-wire crank toys.
Arthur Ganson’s soldered wire automata
lovely and futile. His work is fascinating. ;
Lea E. Albaugh is a recursive acronym. She makes things
to hold, wear, and inhabit, and writes interactive fiction.
Matt Mets is a classically trained electrical engineer, and
enjoys inventing instruments, hacking on open hardware
projects, and traveling the country to visit hackerspaces.
He likes to make his own food and derives much of his
inspiration from puns.
146 Make: makezine.com/29