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Simon Tait’s Mews No.6

November 30, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Sue Jackson & Paul SpoonerWanna tell you a story…

If you’ve been following the Magic of Cabaret day by day you’ve got some idea of the range of what CMT does, and elsewhere on the site there’s a bit of history, but I think you ought to know the real story about how the whole thing came about, and that’s Sue Jackson’s story. I warn you, though; it’s a breathless roller coaster we’re boarding. Read more

Day 19 – ‘Carlos Zapata’ by Andrew Lanyon

November 30, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Magic of Cabaret - Day 19A new book by Andrew Lanyon, in which Andrew examines some of Carlos’ most challenging pieces of work. As he says ‘We are grateful to Carlos for being brave enough to make these awful things’.

The subject of war, oppression, poverty and disease are all observed in these demanding works.
Handbound 28 pp
20 cm x 15 cm

c-zapata-lanyon1‘Carlos Zapata’ by Andrew Lanyon – £12

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'Carlos Zapata'  by Andrew Lanyon'Carlos Zapata'  by Andrew Lanyon

In 2007 one of Carlos’ war pieces was shown at the Royal Academy in London –
Carlos also has permanent exhibits at the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia, the Gumma Museum in Japan, a new collection box at the Natural History Museum in London, and the glorious ‘Is my Truth your Truth’ at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, seen here with museum founder and director, Rebecca Hoffberger.

Rebecca Hoffberger - AVAM

Day 18 – Harmless Fun

November 29, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Magic of Cabaret - Day 18This evening we feature a little piece by Paul Spooner which was first sold in 1997. ‘Harmless Fun’, a gnome sitting on top of a toadstool, were produced by the Fourteen Balls Toy Company, (but no longer available).
This one is number 50 of the edition. Dated 11th July 1997.

The accompanying rhyme – (written by Paul Spooner aged 49)

When yawning Orpheus drops his lyre,
and pixies of their trilling tire,
All softly to the dell I creep
To see the place where fairies sleep
And, while they dream a solitary Gnome
Is gently tossing in a toadstool’s dome.

Harmless FunHarmless Fun – £195 (excl. VAT)
15cm high
7cm width
4cm deep


Harmless FunHarmless Fun Poem

Day 17 – The Skateboarder Kit

November 28, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Magic of Cabaret - Day 17A brand new kit for 2009 – the Skateboarder. What better gift for the hard-to-please teenager than this lovely indoor project? Alternatively you can buy one to make it as a present. These kits can also be painted which adds to the fun.

The Skateboarder KitThe Skateboarder KitThere is a great action on the this piece, the skateboarder’s knees bend as the board swings from side to side, and he balances to compensate.

The Skateboarder Kit – £20.50 (ex VAT)

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Making automata from a kit is tremendous fun, and can be a great start to designing your own pieces.

Here at CMT we have also enjoyed inspiring people to make their own automata, and wooden kits play a great part in this, including of course our own Designing Automata Kit. However one of our favourite projects has been making automata out of food. Our popular DVD ‘Making Automata out of Food‘ is full of recipes to try at home. Here are two of our favourite designs.

Food AutomataFood Automata

Day 16 – Friendly Gifts

November 27, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Magic of Cabaret - Day 16If plastic carrier bags are practically illegal where you live (as they are in parts of London), this CMT tote bag from our Cafepress store is a great alternative. We know that there are only so many ‘bags for life’ that you can fit in the hallway, but this one is quite special, and can be used exclusively for tins of catfood if you like.

The CMT sigg water bottle, also from our CafePress store, cuts out the disposable plastic drinking bottle problem, whilst adding both style and content to your drinking habits.
Barecats Tote BagBarecats Sigg Water Bottle

BarecatsOur logo features our favourite piece of automata, The Barecats. It’s the only one which includes automata within automata. This Fourteen Balls Toy Company Design was made by Matt Smith, and is based on a drawing by Paul Spooner. It was some years after opening Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Covent Garden that Paul told us that ‘Barecat’ was an anagram of ‘Cabaret’. So now you know.

Day 15 – Xan Xi Drinks the Sea

November 26, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Magic of Cabaret - Day 15‘Xan Xi Drinks the Sea’ by Andrew Lanyon

Artist, author and film-maker and Cornish resident Andrew Lanyon produced a small letterpress edition of this book nearly 10 years ago.
There are now only 20 remaining of the edition of 200.

Andrew’s books have been critically acclaimed, and his witty treatment of Paul Spooners automata in this book make it a real treasure.

‘Such a marriage of the cerebral and the practical in the composition and production of books is a rare thing today’ Dr Chris Ridgway

Review of ‘Xan Xi Drinks the Sea’ – ‘Hybrid myth/models that transgress the rules of day to day sense’.

Xan Xi Drinks the Sea by Andrew LanyonXan Xi Drinks the Sea – £35

Sold Out.

Xan Xi Drinks the Sea by Andrew LanyonXan Xi Drinks the Sea by Andrew Lanyon

STOP PRESS Andrew has just produced a new book featuring the work of Carlos Zapata – watch this space!

For those of you who enjoy the process, here is a film that Andrew made of the letterpress printers Denis and Anthony Stevens of St Ives Cornwall.

Day 14 – A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

November 25, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Magic of Cabaret - Day 14This brilliant piece by Keith Newstead is set around a fairy tale dining table.

This new edition (of only three pieces) will make a fantastic addition to any automata collection.

A little sheep who is about to enjoy his lunch of lamb’s lettuce (probably with a baa-b-q sauce), the thinly disguised wolf has joined him at the table, and gnashes and lunges forward at every attempted mouthful.

The animals have optional party hats for Christmas.

Be quick!! These won’t last.

A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing by Keith NewsteadA Wolf in Sheeps Clothing – £2950 (excl. VAT)
By Keith Newstead
Height 49 cm
Width 33 cm
Depth 22 cm


A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing by Keith Newstead

One of Keith’s most recent projects has been the creation of three wonderful mechanical dogs for the play ‘Found in the Ground’ by Howard Barker. It was performed at the Riverside Theatre in London earlier this year.

keith dogs

Day 13 – Piano Player Cut-Out

November 24, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Magic of Cabaret - Day 13Piano Player Cutout – A Peter Markey Design.
This great paper cutout will make the ideal Christmas gift.

It seems that everyone wants to play the piano. But playing the piano is hard. You have to learn so many different things to do it, and you can’t surf the web or watch TV at the same time. And besides, there’s iTunes, so why bother? Here’s the solution. Simply cut out all the little parts, score and fold and glue them all together (in the right order) and then all you’ll have to do is turn a crank. Adagio or vivace, it’s your choice! Not that the piano this player is playing will sound all that good. To be honest it will sound like paper tapping on paper, but it’s a start. Composed by the mechanical genius of Wales, Peter Markey. Everything you need, except glue and patience, is included.
Takes around 2 hours, give or take, depending on how musical you are!

Peter Markey Piano PlayerPiano Player Cutout – £3.95 excl. VAT
A Peter Markey Design

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Peter Markey Piano Player

Peter Markey was the first artist to make automata for Cabaret in Falmouth, and his colourful wave machine was one of the first exhibits in the original Cabaret Mechanical Theatre exhibition.
Peter recently turned 80 but still contiues to design and make automata. The wooden Piano Player exhibit is currently in Germany in the DASA exhibition.

Wave MachinePiano Player at DASA

Prize Winner

Today we announce the winner of Sunday’s Competition to grab an early edition of Tim Hunkin’s book ‘Almost Everything There is to Know’.

Using a random generator we have picked Comment No.2 from David Gibbs.

Thank you to everyone who entered!


Day 12 – How Much!!

November 23, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Magic of Cabaret Day 12Matt Smith made a small edition of these pieces earlier in the year, and a recent look in the stock cupboard revealed that we have one left!

The man is calmly resting on the box with his arms folded, in his hand he holds his price ticket when you wind the handle he presents you with the ticket, however when he sees the price he takes a closer look. His jaw drops and his eyes pop out.

He is carved from lime with a Douglas fir box and various other materials, the original and rather elaborate painting on his Hawaiian shirt was devised by Matt’s wife Sarah whilst they were artists in residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco in 2004.

How Much!! by Matt SmithHow Much!! – £395 (ex VAT)


How Much!! by Matt SmithHow Much!! by Matt Smith

Matt Smith has worked with Cabaret ever since we first opened in Falmouth in 1979 – here is a picture of him as a young man behind the counter in the original shop. In 1985 Matt started the Fourteen Ball Toy Company with Paul Spooner, and from then a long automata-making collaboration began.


Day 11 – The Rudiments of Wisdom

November 22, 2009 by · 4 Comments 

The Magic of Cabaret - Day 11The Rudiments of Wisdom by Tim Hunkin. An A to Z of random, peculiar and fascinating facts.

Re-discovered and revived in Technicolor, this new title features Tim Hunkin’s entertaining and off-the-wall series of cartoons originally appeared in “The Sunday Observer” magazine between 1973 and 1987.

How does hypnosis work? What is chocolate made of? And what do crocodiles eat for lunch? Think of a question, any question and you’ll probably find the answer here.. Squeezed into each intricately drawn comic strip is a wealth of weird and wonderful information, as well as crazy tricks and practical experiments. With over 125 comic strips in total, “The Rudiments of Wisdom” is back to delight and entertain a whole new generation of enquiring minds. Whether you immerse yourself from A-Z or dip in and out, you’re sure to emerge with some amazing, crazy and fascinating facts to wow your friends.

The Rudiments of WisdomThe Rudiments of Wisdom by Tim Hunkin – £12.99

Paperback – 128 pp

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Almost Everything There is to KnowWe used to sell plenty of copies of the original green cover, black and white version of this book, which many of you probably still have. (You may even have your old clippings from the Sunday Observer..)

This evening, for old times sake, we have one copy of this old edition to give away, just leave a comment on this blog post and we will pick a winner on Tuesday evening.

Tim Hunkins coin operated machines, such as the Barman pictured, were incredibly popular at Cabaret in Covent Garden, and most of them can still be seen on Southwold pier at The Under the Pier Show.

The Barman by Tim Hunkin

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