Open Thread – your comments or questions

Mon, 8 Jul 2013

Something of an experiment – just to see how it works. I've put this post up as an open thread for you to chat. Leave your comments below on whatever is on your mind, preferably related to paper engineering or this website or automata, but hey, whatever you want to write… If you have a username your comments will appear straight away, (though I reserve the right to delete posts.) If you comment without signing in I'll need to moderate your comment before it appears. 

Comment away!

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Comments (16)

  • tahnee July 8, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I’m wondering how long it

    I'm wondering how long it took you to become proficient/"fluent" at creating paper automata? I'm hoping to start a project this year that will involve maybe several dozen, and I'm a complete newbie (though I am quite crafty). Thanks, and hello open comment thread!

    • robives July 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

      Thanks Tahnee, Good question!

      Thanks Tahnee, Good question! I've been making paper models for perhaps 15-20 years (!)  I like to think that I have got better as time has gone on but that is not to say that the early models I produced were no good. I think the secret is to start simple. Don't try and create something super complicated for your first project. The part the takes the most time is learning to use software. I use Adobe Illustrator most of the time. With repeated use I have learned how to use it quickly and efficiently. Pick your software, Illustrator or perhaps the free InkScape and learn it inside out then you can convert your ideas into actual projects. Good luck!

      • Andrew Dewar July 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm

        Please allow me to join in

        Please allow me to join in here.  My own feeling is that it might be best to try designing a few projects with pencil and ruler before adding the burden of operating software.  My paper crafting goes back to the 1960's, so software was not an option.  (Amazingly, I still have some of the paper templates I made more than 40 years ago.)  The difficult thing in designing models like automata is learning how to break three-dimensional shapes down into flat pieces.  This requires a fair bit of visualization, which in turn requires experience.  Some really basic, analog cutting-and-fitting will help develop a feel for that faster than trying to do it on a screen.  I would also recommend starting by building a bunch of published pieces, and when familiar with them, modifying either the mechanisms or the decorative parts of the model to try new things.  Work in increments!  No need to reinvent the wheel each time!  

        Thanks Andrew, I agree with you about making things with paper and pencil. In my own design process I still often start with physical paper before transferring to the computer. The advantage of the computer though is the ability to make small changes quickly. You are alos right about not re-inventing the wheel. I often reuse parts in more than one model. – RI

        • tahnee July 12, 2013 at 10:41 am

          Hey thanks guys! Yeah I think

          Hey thanks guys! Yeah I think I'll start off with simple paper-pencil-ruler trial and error experiments and learn as I go along. And 15 years is quite a while to be crafting! (I won't feel so bad for my humble beginnings) 😀

          Enthusiasm is the key and you certainly have that! – RI

          • umehta July 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm

            This is a new topic: has

            This is a new topic: has anyone made a paper crocodile snap its jaws? If not, perhaps Rob can add it to his future project list. 

            It is not something I’ve tried but I’m sure it would make an interesting project – RI

          • Smelter July 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm

            Our very own member “coolie”

            Our very own member "coolie" has a website that has just the crocodile model you are looking for. 


            Do check out the video for this, it is so cool! – RI

          • cool022883 July 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm

            i wish that was my site

            i wish that was my site lol

            but they do have a lot of great models a little bit expensive but they are pretty big models and have lots of details so worth the price.

            Which reminds me – I’ll do blog post about the dolphin model you made – so neat! – RI

          • Smelter July 14, 2013 at 6:49 am

            Oops! My mistake, thanks for

            Oops! My mistake, thanks for the reply. But the models over at "cool4cats" are pretty good, and the kits I have from them are a nice treat.

            Definitely well worth a visit! – RI

  • frankenpaper July 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Have your thought about the

    Have your thought about the NASA RFI (Request For Information) #NASAAsteroid ?

    They are looking for ways to identify, catch, redirect, and visit asteroids. Do you have any good ideas for how to save the earth?

    I’m not sure I could save the earth but I’m sure making paper models will help pass the time in the underground bunkers as we wait for Earth’s surface to become habitable again – RI

  • cool022883 July 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    if you go way back into the

    if you go way back into the blog posts there are a few blogs talking about a few models like a paper newtons cradle and some other models that were for an office automata book.i guess the book never got published so i wanted to know what happens with your models when the get sent to publishers and  don't get picked up.

    also during the desktop gremlins kickstarter campaign you mentioned maybe trying to do a kickstarter campaign of your own is anything happening with that?

    Usually with book designs I make an agreement with the publisher not to follow up within a certain length of time. I could certainly check about the office projects, that agreement has probably expired by now. I’m still planning to do a Kickstarter campaign. I am just waiting for David Landis to finish desktop gremlins so so that I can pick his brains 🙂 – RI

  • hermes July 11, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I really like this excellent

    I really like this excellent kinetic sculpture. Do you think that this can be done in paper ?


    • frankenpaper July 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      I am sure that it CAN be done

      I am sure that it CAN be done in paper. The real question is: Can Rob design something clever enough to imitate this kind of complex motion while keeping the model buildable?

      I thought I was being clever when I designed a tea set many years ago, but assembling it was far to complex. It was not worth building. 

      I hope that Rob IS clever enough to surprise and delight us. 

      🙂 – RI

  • DobbyKnits July 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Often, one reads about very

    Often, one reads about very simple tools and supplies they'll need to complete a paper model.


    What I'd like to know – from everyone – is what is your ULTIMATE group of tools and supplies?

    I have a bit of a fetish for pens and notebook so I have loads of them but my core toolkit is: 300mm clear plastic rule. Retractable swann morton scalpel, cutting mat, same pair of scissors I’ve had for years, and a glue spreader. – RI

    • DobbyKnits July 16, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Thank you very much, Rob.

      Thank you very much, Rob.

      A small CLEAR ruler will be very helpful.  I have a HUGE one for sewing (very inconvenient) and all my other rulers are metal or opaque.

      I've been considering an inexpensive hemostat to clamp really tiny pieces while they dry.

      I'll definitely look into the scalpel you have.  The way I tear through X-Acto blades, you'd think I owned stock in the company.

      Old scissors.  ^__^  Isn't it great when stuff works… and KEEPS working?

      I'd love to hear from other paper crafters – please feel free to add to this thread!

  • umehta July 14, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Hello Smelter and

    Hello Smelter and Maxlrainer:

    Thank you for the tips.

    Does W. Ruffler's crocodile jaw/Dragon's head closes by its own weight?

    I seem to remember it uses a metal washer as a weight. (I may be wrong though!) – RI

    • maxlrainer July 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Actually in the crocodile it

      Actually in the crocodile it is a 1-(Euro)Cent-coin in the upper front part of the mouth.

      Thanks for the info! – RI

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