Monday, November 5, 2012

Kinetic Toy!

I am in the midst of creating a very challenging project for my third semester ceramics students at Sehome High School. I'm asking them to create a kinetic toy using at least 25% ceramic parts. I figured I should make one myself and see what challenges they will encounter. How hard can it be?? Here goes...
After much sketching, I finally created a design drawing of a surprised fisherman in a leaky boat, holding a big fish.  I made paper patterns for the boat and water.  Temporarily taping them together helps me get a sense of the scale of the piece.

I rolled a large slab and cut the parts for the boat and water using the patterns as a guide. Looks complicated.
Next step: start the assembly of the leather-hard slabs...

The boat's almost ready for the water that's "leaked in".

Once the water is added and waves created, the whole boat becomes a template so I know where to cut the hole in the large slab that's the wavy water. This large hole will allow for vertical wooden push-rods to make the fish move and the fisherman's head to turn.
The hole is cut and the clay scored in preparation for attaching the boat.
Detail is added to the waves using soft clay and a modeling tool.

Pinch pots are the basis for the fisherman's head and torso...who said pinch pots are too basic?

Detail is added to the leather-hard pinched forms using small modeling tools.

The torso is used as a template for cutting a hole in the water for the mechanicals that will make the head turn.

A sharp X-acto knife makes a clean cut.

The boat is nearly complete and will be dried out and bisque-fired.

Holes are drilled in the torso at the leather-hard stage using metal drill bits (held and turned by hand---no drill needed). Once the holes are made, wooden dowels can be used to verify that the holes are properly aligned.

The parts for the arms and the fish are pinched/formed by hand.

Once dried to the leather-hard stage, the arm and hand parts can be carved for detail. A metal drill bit is shown here holding two parts together. After bisque-firing, wooden dowels will be glued into the holes in each joint.
After bisque-firing, all clay parts are primed with a water-based primer, then painted with acrylic paints and detailed with fine-tip permanent markers, color pencils, etc.
The head gets some detail applied.
A preliminary test of the first cam showed that the cam was okay but the vertical push-rod was a too high and the fish stuck at it's apex. A little bit of the wooden dowel was cut off with a coping saw, parts reassembled, and the fish jumped up and down successfully.

All the ceramic parts are removed and will eventually be glued on the wood structure with  wood glue. In the mean time, the rest of the mechanical parts (pulleys, a string belt, and more cams) are built, attached and tested. Almost done. I know it looks complicated but I referred to many examples I found on the internet for ideas to make the mechanical parts work.


Here's the You Tube video...

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