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Night 20 – Heavy Hooves by Pascale Michalski

November 30, 2010 by · Comments Off 

This evening we have a new one-off piece from young artist Pascale Michalski.
As is usual with Pascale’s work, this piece started life as a watercolour drawing.

‘Dondy always wanted to be a pianist, but unfortunately he was born with trumpet-arms and heavy hooves’.
Made from wood, ceramic compound, brass, crystal beads, silk and paint.

H 25 cm (10″)
W 15 cm (6″)
D 15 cm (6″)

£950 (excl. VAT)

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Pascale was featured in the November/December 2010 issue of Crafts Magazine, in the New Talent section.
Here is the link

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Night 19 – Geared Candle Holder by Ben Cowden

November 29, 2010 by · Comments Off 

You may be thinking about creating a festive atmosphere for the holiday season, if so, these wonderful candle holders by American artist Ben Cowden would make a great addition to your table.

You can buy the Candle Holders directly from Ben at Twenty Seven Gears.

The Geared Candle Holder is made from aluminium and costs 250 USD (Plus approx 40.20 USD for shipping to the UK).

Ben’s counterweighted candle holder (the candle rises as it burns) is 100 USD.

You can also find out how to make your own Geared Candle Holder in a very detailed project here which Ben created for Make Magazine.

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Night 18 – Breath of Time DVD by Arthur Ganson

November 28, 2010 by · Comments Off 

This evening we are taking the opportunity to get to know Arthur Ganson and his work at little better.

In Arthur’s world whole machines are constructed from fleeting moments (coming across an abandoned doll in the road or failing to cook an artichoke in a microwave). It is Arthur’s emotional response to these inanimate objects that is later manifested in his machines.

Arthur Ganson is naturally curious, with a deep understanding of engineering. Take a look at the TED talk Arthur Ganson Makes Moving Sculpture for very enjoyable introduction to Arthur’s philosophy and many of his works.

CMT first exhibited with Arthur Ganson at Technorama in Winterthur in 1999, and more recently we have enjoyed working together at phaeno in Wolfsburg, and the Don Harrington Discovery Center in Amarillo, Texas.

‘Machines and The Breath of Time’ is a DVD of a talk that Arthur did for the Long Now Foundation. The DVD is available from

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Night 17 – Cabaret Apron and Sketchbook from Cafepress

November 27, 2010 by · Comments Off 

If you are thinking about making your Christmas mincemeat, how about donning a CMT apron, and if cooking isn’t on your mind yet, you can get down to some new automata designs in one of our new sketchbooks. Great as presents or a treat for yourself.

See the whole range here.

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Night 16 – A Machine for Computing the Names of 13,500 Ventriloquists Dummies by Paul Spooner

November 26, 2010 by · Comments Off 

This evening we have a new one-off machine by Paul Spooner. This machine is reminiscent of one of Paul’s very first machines (1969) which was an art criticism machine that he made while at art school. It is A Machine for Computing the Names of 13,500 Ventriloquists Dummies. Paul tells us more about the mechanics and history of the machine below.

270w x 450h x 110d

£1,800 excl. VAT

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At art school I made a thing I called an ideas machine. It was like a one-armed bandit except that one arm was missing and it displayed words instead of fruit. The three drums rotated then stopped in a randomish way. On the first two drums were adjectives, on the third, nouns. I calibrated it with words I heard about me at the art school. Thus you got combinations like “RANDOM MECHANICAL OBJECT” or “INTERESTING CONCRETE DIALOGUE” or “VIBRANT MINIMAL EXPERIMENT”. There were 36 words on each drum, so it could produce 46,656 different combinations. The machine had a steel frame, two motors, drive bands, magnets and lots of little bits of steel that registered with the magnets to align the words when the machine stopped. It took weeks to make. I found this slide of it, less than half-finished, taken at Cardiff College of Art in 1969.

To me, it has the same forlorn look as the famous picture of Vaucanson’s duck, taken shortly before it was lost. We don’t know much about the fate of the duck but I know that my ideas machine was taken to pieces and made into other things. It was also a lot more rubbishy than the duck.

Now I’ve made another random word machine designed to make up names for ventriloquists’ dummies. The first names are taken from a list of comedy Christian names, then there’s an initial, followed by a bisyllabic surname.

The model for this type of name is that assumed by Groucho Marx in “Duck Soup”; Rufus T Firefly.

Although Colin Pitchfork, the first person to be convicted of murder using DNA evidence and Spencer Broomhead, a man once to be found in the Seven Stars pub in Stithians, lack middle initials, I had to include them because their names are in every other way perfect examples of the kind a ventriloquist’s dummy ought to have.

Too late, I thought of splitting the third drum in two, which would have produced such novelties as Pitchhead and Broomfork. And Stinkpop and Pramstorm and Moonscratch and 895 others.

This second machine took less time to make, has fewer parts and works better than the first. It uses a friction drive which is constantly applied to the 3 cylinders via 3 adjustable conical drums. A slowly-moving camshaft causes 3 levers to interrupt the cylinders at different times thus scrambling the stopping positions.

There’s a third machine, just made, designed to suggest ideas for xmas presents. It will be in the revamped window of the Seriously Solutions shop in Bedford. This one has only 15 words on each drum, so the total of possible combinations is 15x15x15, Do the math(s). This time there’s the indefinite article plus an adjective, another adjective and a noun so you can get “A HAND-CRAFTED EROTIC SHOEHORN”, or “A TO-DIE-FOR CHOCOLATE WORM FARM”.

– Paul Spooner

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Night 15 – Carnivale Torso by Carlos Zapata

November 25, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Carlos Zapata has been burning the midnight oil to finish this vibrant new one-off piece in his Torso series.

All the excitement and colour of the Carnival is contained within the torso of a spectator, his eyes and tongue moving from side to side as he enjoys the happiness of the spectacle. At the very top there is a window that opens and a hand pops in and out. A frolicking friendly green dragon takes centre stage of the exuberant scene, with dancing participants dressed as birds, animals and even the devil. A wonderful centrepiece for any collection.

90 cms High
20 cms Depth
30 cms Width

£4750 (excl. VAT)

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If you haven’t visited CMT’s Virtual Exhibitions you can take a look at some of Carlos’ early work. In 1999 there was a group show, which also included some of John Lumbus’ first pieces. In 2001 Carlos had a solo Virtual Exhibition.

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Night 14 – Automata and Magic: Two Odd Volumes

November 24, 2010 by · Comments Off 

This evening we are delighted to bring you two Victorian volumes, which have been beautifully re-printed.

The Sette of Odd Volumes was a club of book collectors that was founded in 1878 by the noted London book dealer Bernard Quaritch. The club held a dinner every month, and the members, many of whom were noted authorities in their own area of specialty, took turns to give fascinating and erudite after dinner talks. These were often subsequently privately printed as small books which were circulated to the members.

William Manning was a club member who gave an after dinner talk on his recollections of the great magician Robert-Houdin. When Manning was a young boy he met the great magician and befriended Robert-Houdin’s sons. Reading the account of his talk today, over a hundred years after the speech was originally given in 1890, one is still struck by how forward thinking Robert-Houdin was and how down to earth. He developed many famous magic acts that are still performed today. Originally trained as a clockmaker, Robert-Houdin built all his own automata and magic props. He experimented with electricity and even wired his house with clocks and alarms in the 1860s which must have seemed very magical indeed. Manning captures the spirit of his admired friend. His words make the magician seem very contemporary and even more remarkable.

Manning’s talk on Robert-Houdin prompted another member, Conrad William Cooke, to undertake a brief survey on the history of automata down through the ages. That talk, given in 1891, resulted in the second wonderful book included here. Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata collects these two books into a single volume. Carefully reproduced from the original copies this book is a delight to read.

Recollections of Robert Houdin by William Manning, plus Automata Old and New by Conrad William Cooke.
Soft cover. 14cm x 18cm. 203pp.


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Night 13 – MechaniCards by Brad Litwin

November 23, 2010 by · Comments Off 

This evening we are introducing a great idea for a gift, from US artist Bradley N. Litwin. These are available to purchase directly from his site-

They come ready made (50 USD each, also available as do-it-yourself construction kits 40 USD each).

MechaniCards are miniature, hand-operated, kinetic sculptures, designed and produced in limited edition, (numbered and signed by the artist). The handmade cards are constructed primarily from paperboard, with a few bits of wood, metal, or plastic. They are suitable for mailing, as truly unique greeting cards, and each piece comes with complete instructions and display recommendations.

There are five designs in the range and the first two are The Radial Engine and The Ambigulator.

The Radial Engine features an operable cross-section demonstration of the crankshaft arrangement, found inside a seven-cylinder, radial engine, similar to those found in many propeller-driven aircraft. The Ambigulator features a hand-cranked optical effect, and a mechanism that asks more questions than it answers!

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Night 12 – Cool4Cats Mechanical Cutouts

November 22, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Our friend Tim at Cool4Cats has been producing amazing card automaton kits for several years.This evening we thought we would introduce his most complex piece, The Artist Automaton (not for the faint hearted!), which is available directly from Cool4Cats. When the handle is turned the artist looks up at his model, then down at his easel and – amazingly – he starts to draw. Keep turning and you’ll be amazed to see that he actually does a real pencil drawing of the model on a ‘post-it’ note! Although the model of the artist, the lady and all the little accessories (Paints, brushes,etc) are detailed and amusing, the real complexity lies within the case under their feet.

The handle operates a ‘worm’ gear which in turn drives two large cams. One controls the forwards-and-backwards movement of the artist’s arm, the other the ‘side-to-side’ movements. A series of levers transmit the movements and the combination of both actions results in the drawing. A final word: the artist is very imaginative…he doesn’t draw exactly what he sees in front of him!

This kit is very complex and will take many hours to assemble: a fair degree of patience and skill is required.
The price is £43 (plus £9 postage).

Please note:
This piece (and many others) are only available directly from Cool 4 Cats

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Night 11 – Marble Run Sets from Cuboru

November 21, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

This evening we would like to introduce you to the world of the Rolling Ball Machine, and in particular the all-encompassing website, (which also includes Falk Keuten’s informative Kugelbahn blog)

The Rolling Ball Machine is a close relative of automata and kinetic sculpture, and the machines have much of the same appeal. There are some incredible artist built machines to discover. Check out Mark Bischof’s Makromos, or The Superplexus Vortex.

If you want to have a go at making a rolling ball sculpture yourself visit Mark Gough’s site, which shows you just how he makes his machines.
There are also a whole range of marble run toys to choose from. The Swiss company Cuboro make a beautiful wooden set, which has endless possibilities. Visit their website and download an online version to construct your own virtual marble run.

Click here to download the Online Demo-kit from Cuboru.

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