Toy Automata Booth August 13th

Hey there everyone! I hope you’re enjoying your summer – somehow Seattle managed to escape the heat that seems to have enveloped America. So with that – I’m excited to announce I’ll be hosting a booth in Seattle at the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade. Come visit and save yourself from the shine wave.


I’m going to be making automaton toys out of card board, paper, and other materials with kids. I’ll also have copies of my first issue of the Horologica Obscura zine and it’s all free!  It’s filled with some exciting (but true) short stories about magicians and other odd happenings, a magic trick or two, and some patterns from my (soon to be out!) coloring book.  I hope you’ll make the trek! Come learn about gear loops, cams, and simple mechanisms.

Here are some of the toys I’ve made for examples.  A little cardboard goes a long way!

The Fox and the Sea

It was late at night in the West Dean workshop when I decided to make a little toy automaton for my husband Thomas for Christmas one year.

Nico Cox toy automata automaton toys

From the top

As we both love foxes and I was literally an ocean away, I decided to make a little fox on a boat at sea.

As you turn the handle the waves go up and down and the ship rocks to and fro.

A central arbor with eccentric brass discs controls the motion of the waves and boat.

Fox and ship automaton clockmaking watchmaking nico cox brittany cox hugo

From the front

After whittling them from wood, the waves were stained with oil paint and the fox painted with acrylics. The ship was from a jumble sale. When I acquired it, the masts were broken and hull damaged. After some repairs the ship was back in sailing order.

Nico Cox Brittany Cox toy automaton automata fox and ship

From the back

Once assembled, I found the waves were a bit heavy and required counter weights. These were made from brass cylinders soldered to pins fixed to the waves. After adding the filed taper pin to secure the arbor to the box wood frame, I gave the handle a little turn and was pleased.

the fox and the sea automaton toy ship automaton fox automaton

The Fox and the Sea

As the finishing touch I added a little gold tassel curtain in front.