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Automata: Mechanical Marvels in Wood

Course Overview

Cranks wind, gears turn, dragons chomp and birds fly. Welcome to the whimsical world of automata: simple wooden machines that delight and amaze. Join Cecilia Schiller for a three-day exploration of the principles of making wooden machines and the simple mechanisms that make things move. Beginning with the design process, students will learn techniques to draw, drill and cut gears, cams and levers, and how to assemble machines that will actually work. There will be ample time to discuss design considerations and allow for experimentation with different combinations of mechanisms and the resulting movements. Students will choose from 2 or 3 projects designed by the instructor. Past projects have included a galloping horse, a dancing man, a gymnast and an eagle being chased by a crow. You will leave with plenty of ideas and inspiration for your own amazing mechanical marvels.


Thu, Jul 27th, 2017  –  Sun, Jul 30th, 2017

Course Details

Length: 3 1/2 Days
Skill Levels: Intermediate to Advanced
Hours: Day 1: 5pm-8pm, Days 2-4: 9am-5pm
Intergenerational age: na
Registration Cost: $365.00
Includes materials fee of $65.00


You will need the following tools for this class:

carving knife (available for purchase in the North House School Store)
good 6″ or 12″ ruler with increments of at least 1/32″

Once registered, students will receive a confirmation packet in the mail that may offer additional optional tool recommendations and suggested reading.

Waiting List

This course is full.

Fill out the form below if you would like to be placed on a waiting list and notified if an opening becomes available.