Friday, March 26, 2010

"FAKIR" magician automaton by Thomas Kuntz

Another masterful magician automaton from Thomas Kuntz!

From the video description:
This video shows the presentation and some construction highlights of a magical automaton. This piece, an original sculpture by Thomas Kuntz portrays the exotic albeit "dead" Fakir, performing a peculiar cups and balls routine ending in regurgitation. The mechanism needed to be extremely precise to produce the desired result. It was constructed of solid brass the cams acting on levers were cut by hand... all other mechanical components were custom machined metal as well either brass or steel. To allow the operator the ultimate control over speed and stop/ starts there is NO electricity on this piece, all functions are purely mechanical, cams levers gears linkages and a very unusual bent pitch sound device also controlled by a cam that emits a sitar kind of sound over the hum of a ratchet/pawl assembly that also serves the purpose of protecting the machine if the operator turns the crank in the wrong direction. The case is custom made too from solid oak and the mechanism can be viewed from a door at the back.

See more magic automata by Thomas Kuntz on his web site.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Restored fortune teller automaton circa 1900

Restored fortune teller automaton circa 1900
Here is a restored store-front attraction depicting a fortune teller. The automaton was made in Germany around 1900. For the last 40 years, it has been in the foyer of a mansion in Newport, RI.

From the eBay description:
The hands and arms move up and down in a lifting motion (for the picking up of display cards that were supplied by the renter of the automaton), along with the head nodding left to right. Another charming feature is the body articulating up and down. Additionally, the eyes move in unison, as though following you, and the mouth and lips purse as if it were speaking to you. All movements are synchronous and very smooth.

Here is a link to many more images and a very extensive description of this window display fortune teller automaton.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Satyr Head of Mystery - magical mechancial prop

The Cabaret Mechanical Theatre Blog has been ups to some really great things this month. Yesterday, they posted about this amazing mechanical prop meant for use by a stage magician. It's wonderful prop, though it seems like it may take some practice to get the hang of it.

From the video description:
Made of strong papier mache, gessoed and painted with leather eyelids and fine glass eyes in the tradition of the Parisian automata makers. Designed to produce one or two items from the mouth and top of the head. The final issue is due to awaken in the Spring of 2010, expressions of interest are invited.

Here is the link to the full post on The Mechanical Blog.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

"The Pasha" automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO

The Pasha automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO
Here is the latest automaton creation from Anatoly Zaya-Ruzo.

From the artist's description:
"The Pasha" is a classical automaton 32" x 12" x 24"(H) with 12 movements and 72-note music mechanism playing three tunes. The action is operated by specially designed heavy duty winding motor with 50 lb-in torque. The Pasha makes his magic by transforming the girl from one tent to another. There are 5 characters in this scene.

More about this automata (including video) will soon be posted on Anatoly's web site

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Isis Impossible Titanium Puzzle

Invented by a magician and manufactured from high-grade aluminum (not sure where the 'titanium' name comes from) the Isis puzzle is a mechanical puzzle with an interactive twist. Solving the physical puzzle is just the start. Now we can all feel like characters in The Da Vinci Code.

From the puzzle description:
As the Isis puzzles are supposedly "The hardest puzzles in the world" the manufacturer gives you some clues, encrypted of course available on their website. The Isis is a high quality puzzle, similar to a combination lock. The object of the puzzle is to solve the combination and obtain the secret number inside. Each Isis is unique, and you will need to obtain the key number inside and enter the numbers onto the Isis Adventure website in order to access the "Pyramid Map". Many hidden pyramids will be found on the map, and fantastic monetary awards are available to those that can solve the location and the pyramid passwords.
Here's a link with more info on Isis Titanium Puzzle and its even more difficult cousin known as Ramisis Pyramid Puzzle.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Death+Resurrection: In the Chamber of Reflection

Marvel at Thomas Kuntz's self-portrait based on a classic automata motif: the severed and restored head. The entire piece -- including the cams, levers, and actuating devices -- were hand-cut from brass, steel, and wood.

From the video description
This automaton, a nightmarish vision, was inspired in part by the 19th century Phalibois clown automaton. The first version was sold to a private collector and then this 23" tall automaton was made from a completely new set of sculptures with some added features and a completely new mechanical design. It is an auto-biographical self-portrait told through occult allegory and runs for one minute to complete the cycle.

See more amazing art by Thomas Kuntz on his web site.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009


Take a look at this video of a charming new piece by Pierre Mayer called "The Harlequin", which looks to be inspired by a classic automaton of old.

See more automata by Pierre Mayer on his web site.

[ Thanks Phil Sing! ]

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Conjuror, automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO

The Conjuror, automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO
Here is a photo of "The Conjuror" -- the latest creation from mechanical doll maker Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO.

From the artist's description:
The Conjuror is a classical automaton about 2 feet high with 7 movements including gong and and music movement. The action is operated by specially designed heavy duty winding motor 36 lb-in torque. The Conjuror makes his magic with 5 objects, which replace each other on the table. Music mechanism acts by "endless" perforated paper strip.

More about this automata (including video) will be posted soon on Anatoly's site

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO's hybrid automaton/robot

Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO's hybrid automaton/robotAutomata maker Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO has unveiled his new creation, entitled ATTABOY.

ATTABOY is a hybrid automaton/robot that has 8 body movements, can speak, do a card trick with special prop, and draws 17 images on the paper with a marker.

The piece includes some 15 motors, 46 relays, 34 cams, and a 24-button wireless transmitter/receiver.

More about this automaton will be soon be available on Anatoly’s site.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

'El Gran Garmendia the magician' automaton

'El Gran Garmendia the magician' is an absolutely amazing new automaton from artist Pablo Lavezzari. Lavezzari has a way of incorporating surprising and clever features in ways I greatly admire. He is one of my favorite automata artists -- without question.

The video production is top-notch too! A pleasure to watch.

See more of Pablo Lavezzari's automata Flash-based web site.

[ Thanks Pablo!, Thanks Sergio! ]

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alchemyst's Clocktower - Automaton by T. Kuntz

There is a reason Thomas Kuntz is one of my very favorite automata artists. Just watch this video to see why.

The artist on 'The Alchemyst's Clocktower':
This particular show is called "Pillars" It took many years to realize this automaton and care was used to make the advanced technology below stage adaptable in the future while keeping the figure itself purely mechanical.The Alchemyst is only 12" tall and consists of hundreds of hand machined brass and steel spieces.The tower itself was built from scratch out of wood, steel brass and fabric and just about any other high quality material where needed.

Visit the Artomic Design Studio web site for more works by Thomas Kuntz.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

"L'Oracle du Mort" - Fortune Telling Automaton

L'Oracle du Mort (ORACLE OF THE DEAD MAN) is the latest stunning automaton by Thomas Kuntz.

The automaton depicts an 1880's magician from the French occult revival. The complex mechanical system -- consisting of cams, gears levers, springs, sprockets and pulleys -- tells 7 fortunes. If you attempt to fool the magician a devil appears in the window to correct your error!

See more automata Thomas Kuntz on his web site.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Levitation Magician Automaton by Thomas Kuntz

Levitation Magician Automaton by Thomas Kuntz
Shown here is The Great Kundalini Thelema-gician!, a one-of-a-kind automaton by artist Thomas Kuntz.

The automaton performs the following sequence:

1 - The magician looks left to right and his mouth opens and closes as if addressing the audience.
2 - He waves a wand over the girl.
3 - The girl struggles as if to covey something has gone wrong.
4 - Her feet wiggle and she begins to levitate.
5 - The magician's long pointed hat levitates also.
6 - The girl descends and the magician opens the left side his robe. (A message or item could be included here.)

A very complex modern automaton, the masterful sculpting, engineering, painting, and cohesive theme are hallmarks of Kuntz's work. He is a rare talent.

Here is the eBay listing for this amazing Levitation Magician Automaton by Thomas Kuntz

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Large Magician Automaton from the Film 'Sleuth'

Check out this fantastic vintage magician automaton that was featured in the film Sleuth (the original one).

At 56 1/2 inches high, the figure is approaching life-size. The magician does a transformation routine, magically changing the items under the hat four times.

This was the very automaton used in the movie "Sleuth" (1972)-- a thriller, starring Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Amazing!

Here is a very complete listing with additional photographs of the Large Magician Automaton from the Film 'Sleuth'.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Magic Decapitation Automaton by Artist Zdenka

Swiss artist, Zdenka, is apparently known for her work in making fully functional limited edition automata in the style of the 1800s. There does seem to be a lot of detail and workmanship this magic-themed automaton. I have seen antiques that perform this same trick. The listing says she uses rare doll bodies to make up these pieces.

This Magic Decapitation Automaton is currently open for bids on eBay.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Wild Contemporary Magician Automaton on eBay

Contemporary Magician Automaton frontHere is a very interesting automaton depicting a contemporary magician performing a trick. The image is a bit small, but the magician appears to make a rabbit disappear or else turn into another animal It is hard to tell exactly which.

Contemporary Magician Automaton backSimilar automata I have heard about have a concealed item turn into something else. This piece looks quite complex with a lot of activity to supplement the actual magic trick being performed. Just take a look at all those gears and linkages!

Here is the listing on eBay for the Contemporary Magician Automaton.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chinese Magician Automaton - Auction

This is one of the many automata that will be auctioned by Skinner Auctioneers in Bolton, Massachusetts on October 28th, 2007.

Nick Hawkins -- Skinner's resident music box/scientific instrument/automata expert -- was kind enough to give me a live demonstration of this piece.

It is quite large and the sequence surprisingly long. Overall, one of the most remarkable pieces I have ever seen.

Visit Skinner's site to learn more about the upcoming Science & Technology Auction and the preview dates.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reader Contribution: The Magician

This week's Reader Contribution comes from Tony who writes that he has just started making automata and would like some constructive criticism.

When I make an automaton with a very simple mechanism, I consider hiding it in order to showcase the figure and its action. I did this with my piece An Interesting Specimen. Tony could consider making a stage to set the scene for his magician. Then again, there is a long tradition of showing the mechanisms, no matter how simple.

It is worth noting that Tony did something that is hard to do: he got a rather complex set of motions from a simple input motion. Well done!

For a book on how to make wooden automata, see Rodney Frost's
Making Mad Toys & Mechanical Marvels in Wood. Frost is particularly good at making stages or sets to hold his mechanisms.

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