Grunting & Lifting 101 Training for Christmas

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Automata – intricate wooden devices that spring into motion at the turn of a small handle – are among the oldest of toys. This one takes a whimsical look at how a certain jolly old elf might get himself into shape for the big night.

Contemporary automata are hand-cranked wooden mechanisms that animate a miniature scene. This automaton features Santa Claus performing “dips” – an exercise that strengthens the triceps, chest and shoulders. Santa will need these muscles to go up and down chimneys on Christmas Eve.

While the exquisite clockwork automata of the 18th century made every effort to represent people and animals accurately, there is no taboo today against showing the linkages that make the automaton  move. Likewise, the carved figures in contemporary automata are more humorous than realistic.

I use brass and wood as the principal materials in my automata because they have an antique  appearance. I tend to hide more modern-looking material types, but this is a matter of personal preference. 

The box unit that holds the mechanism isn’t usually enclosed, for a very simple reason: People are sometimes more interested in the mechanism than in the animated figure. 

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