Contemporary automata makers are drawn to this labor intensive art form for a variety of reasons and make work in a range of materials and sizes.
I use metal, glass enamel and found objects to construct small, wearable, mechanical jewels encrusted with three dimensional images and text that tell stories when you turn a tiny crank. This art form was a way for me to originally express a mix of profound feelings: I made my first automaton about 7 years ago--one month after my son's father passed away.
It was an epiphany to me that the simple movement caused by turning a crank could convey such a well of personal emotion at the same time as addressing profound universal themes, all in a single piece of jewelry, and enveloped in a cloud of wonder...
With this new format available for expressing my inner world, I read as much as I could about automata and began adding to my repertoire of goldsmithing techniques to add new levels of meaning to my work.
Historical inspiration: For about a decade I have collected early to mid-twentieth century vending machine toys and gumball charms, Stanhope peep charms, antique mechanical toys and lilliputian Victorian curiosities. I work directly with these diminutive oddments, making molds of them for use in my work, deconstructing them to make the mechanical figures and details in my wearable automata. I manipulate them to form my own narrative, integrating universal themes in tandem with the questions of my own heart.