Orca Automata

Background and Inspiration

After speaking to Liz, we came up with the idea that I would make an automata as I had never done anything like this before. So then began the research of what I would make as the moving part. As I looked at different animals, people and vehicles as automata I found this beautiful blue whale which then led me to find Orca's. What charmed me about this was the movement of the whale and the fact that the automata part seemed quite complex for me to work out how to get my orca to move in the same way as a wave.

Problems and Solutions

Oh my did I struggle with this project.
When I first started this project I had put aside 2 weeks for the carving of the orca and 3 weeks for the automata. To start with I greatly overestimated the amount of time I needed to carve the Orca which took me around 4 days from start to finish. The rest of the 4 weeks I spent trying to figure out the movement of the mechanical part and the positioning of the wires on my whale, whether they should be underneath or on the side, where I needed to drill the holes in the top of the stand/box, how big the holes needed to be to enable smooth movement. There were so many things I had not considered which were fundamental to the smooth running of the mechanical orca.

I can now say that I have worked it all out, the prototype is finished and now that I know exactly what to do for each stage it should not take me more than a week to make the final product.

Process and Materials

When I decided that I wanted to make an orca automata I then had to choose how I wanted to make the orca. I could either sculpt, mold and cast (which is something I had already done) or I could carve it out of wood which would be something completely new. I went with carving the orca as it means that I am able to build my skill set and despite it being a very simple shape I still felt very fulfilled once I had finished carving. 
Quite a few woods were suggested when I looked into what is best for carving but in the end I decided to use jelutong.
Luckily I found a man (Sylvain Gautier) who had already made an orca automata so it taught me new ways of doing things which I would not have thought of had I not seen this video. For example, for the black parts of the orca Sylvain used a blow torch to burn the wood! I had not thought of doing it this way. When I got round to burning the wood I used a wire brush to get rid of the softer grain leaving the hard grain, this meant that my orca was brown rather than black but I prefer it this was as you can see that it is wood more clearly.