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Automata: The Scrappy Flying Machine

The scrappy flying machine! 🐦🛠️

🛠️💔: I first posted about this automata in August. When, after months of 5 mins here and half an hour there, it was nearly complete. All I had left to do was glue the handle to the axle… And then the handle broke, along with the axle.

And I asked myself the question that makes or breaks many projects: “Am I looking for an excuse to stop, or a way to keep going?”

🤕♥️: I gathered up the broken pieces — of both me and the automata — and got to work on it again the next day. Because my heart wanted so bad to build this beautiful little frankenbird…

🐦⏳: I still needed to fit this project into the corners of my day, so in one 5 minute block, I cut off the broken handle. In another, I drilled out the broken axel. In another, I started shaving down a replacement… etc etc until a week or so later I glued the new handle onto the new axel onto the old gear and… LIFT OFF!

🐦♻️: It’s the details of this automata I’m most proud of. Because it is scrappy in materials as well as spirit (I like to think it takes after its mom…). It’s made from buckthorn branches, and broken cedar coathangers, and a glue-damaged board, and offcuts, and offcuts of offcuts. The gears are handcut. I bought the screws and washers, but everything else is found, foraged, and upcycled.

🐦✈️: I’ve been wanting to share it in motion for awhile now. It’s got quite the wingspan though, and I couldn’t work out how to film it. But when I came in from chores today I realized the stepladder I was carrying might be a serviceable tripod, if I propped my phone against my hat, and cleared the sunscreen and chicken treats off the front hall table… Success 🙂

🐦💪: I’m super proud of how these scraps of time and wood alchemized into more than the sum of their parts, and built the stuff my dreams are made of.

🐦💡: So I guess my lesson to myself is don’t give up on your dreams when they break. You never know… in the end, they might still fly.

Have a great one folks!
Automata design and instruction by Eduardo Salzane.