This was my first attempt at making an automaton. I chose to use wire to create a shaft, handle crank, and driving cranks. The wire I used is very stiff tie wire used to connect rebar. The stiffness is good because it does not lose its shape, but it makes it hard to bend. I used a little cardboard box as the frame.
The followers were also made out of the wire. I realized right away that the followers were slipping on the crank and would need to be stabilized. I wrapped a thinner copper wire around the crank on each side of the areas where the followers were attached. Then I tried to solder them to the tie wire, but it would not bond. However the solder did stick to the copper and created enough of a block to keep the followers from slipping.
I added ceramic bearings on each side of the shaft and a ceramic bead to the crank handle.
My first figure was a cardboard man with jointed limbs. When I turned the crank, he jiggled himself apart. Disappointed, I put the automaton aside and got busy with some other things. As often happens when I walk away from a project and let my mind rest, I got a new idea – needle felting. I am much more comfortable with fibers than I am with cardboard.
Two little needle felted bees would be just perfect for this project. I needle felted two little yellow oval shapes. Then I took a few strands of black yarn and added stripes and eyes. I cut tiny white wings out of white felt and felted them onto the bee bodies.
I used an awl and a little pair of shears to cut a slit in the bottom of each bee and stuck them on the top of the followers.
A needle felted flower completed the project. When the crank is turned the bees flutter over the flower. Here is a video of the bees in action.