Our Paper Automata Experience
First let me say that we are NOT paper automata experts! We are only beginners and if you are a beginner too you might enjoy reading about our first paper automata experience.
I stumbled upon this paper craft completely by chance. I was searching Amazon for another item when I saw a book entitled Paper Automata by Rob Ives. I knew right away that I would order it. Not only because the projects looked amazing, but because I have a 12 year old paper craft aficionado on my hands and I'm tasked with finding projects of increasing difficultly to keep her challenged.
As you can see from the above photo, we have successfully completed one of the projects in the Paper Automata book. Here's our story.
I'll Go Ahead and Show You Our Finished Product First — We Think the Sheep Are Really Cute
Here's the Book We Used — It Contains Four Working Models
Amazon price: $10.20
Here's the product description from Amazon: "A collection of working paper models to cut out and make. As the mechanisms are operated, the hopping sheep hop energetically and the pecking hen pecks into its feeder. The motley man bows and acknowledges the applause he has earned and the flying fish flaps and undulates its wings. Each of the mechanisms uses a different principle to generate motion."
Getting The Book and More
For starters we ordered the book and, surprise, it was on backorder. We waited two weeks to get it. My child asked me every day if I had checked the mail. After lots of "No" answers, I was finally able to say "Yes". Apparently, this is a popular book. And I can understand why. Here's a picture of the book.
There are 4 projects in the book. There's the Jumping Sheep pictured on the front (the one we have made), The Flying Fish, The Pecking Hen and a Motley Man. I'm not sure what a Motley Man is. I need to look that up.
First Look At The Patterns and Instructions Causes Deer-in-the-Headlights Reaction
From our previous paper crafting experiences, I knew we would have the initial deer-in-the-headlights feeling at first glance at the instructions and paper automata patterns. Yes, I was right — but at least I knew what was coming and took a deep breath first.
Did it look intimidating? Yes! But like all intricately detailed paper crafts, I knew we would just take it one step at a time. Here's a picture of the inside cover giving basic directions that apply to all four projects in the book such as how to fold dotted lines etc.
The Patterns From the Book
Cutting these out perfectly is very important.
Note: I took photos of the actual jumping sheep patterns BEFORE we cut them out, but my camera deleted them. Just for an idea of what to expect, here's a picture of similar patterns of The Flying Fish.
Cutting: There's a lot to cut out! Four pages to be exact. We used plain scissors for some cuts, and my favorite tools of all time - a metal ruler and my X-Acto knife for more detailed cuts. Cutting out the insides of circles were the hardest cuts we made.
Scoring and folding: All dotted lines indicate folds. These lines must first be scored. You can use a lot of things to score the paper. The book suggests using a pen that's out of ink. Getting just the right pressure when scoring is important. Too hard and the paper will tear, too little pressure and the paper won't fold on the score line.
Glue: As far as the glue - the book suggests "UHU All Purpose Glue" the gel version. It says "Bostick Clear" also gives good results. However, we used regular 'ole craft glue because it's all we had and I didn't know beforehand to purchase it. I don't suggest using regular glue since too much can cause the paper to warp. So if you order the book, pick up the correct kind while you wait for it to arrive.
Here Are Some Of The Stages Of Cutting and Gluing — All Of The Patterns and Instructions Are In The Book by Rob IvesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hopefully This Information Will Help You If Decide To Give It a Go
How long did it take to complete? We worked on the sheep for about 3 or 4 days, one hour or so at the time. Since we used regular glue (see my notes above), we had to wait on the glue to dry between some steps. Note that in one of the photos above you'll see where I used a loose rubber band to hold the paper tight together while it dried.
What was the hardest part of the project? Gluing the parts together! A LOT of thought went into every single part of the printing of the patterns - this became very clear as we started gluing pieces together. Rob Ives went to great lengths using colors and labels to make assembly as clear as possible for the crafter. Still, we had to be very careful to fold tabs the right direction and to not glue things backwards etc.
Will we make the other projects? Definitely! And I'll post the photos here when they are complete.
Here's Our Sheep Again From a Different Angle
More Amazing Paper Automata Toys
As I've been looking for more paper automata,
I've found several kits available (see below).
These are by Rob Ives as well. I've also
searched out and added videos for
those products showing their motion.