Automata - 10

Talks and Demo’s

Michael Start General

Over 20 years we have been asked to talk about Automata many times and have developed a popular demonstration and a  range of well received talks that can be tailored to suit a variety of audiences and interest levels. Most popular are: 1 – Demonstration showing 16 antique automata and singing birds in action describing them and how they work. 35-40 minutes. 2 – Its Alive! – How automata  eat, drink, dance and sing (and other useful functions!).  45 mins 3 – Automata – A History of mechanical life. 45 mins 4 – Automata on Stage and Screen – from Fritz Langs ‘Metropolis’ to ‘Scorseses Hugo’.   The talks can emphasise the  technical aspects of automata, exploring the design and mechanical intricacies for an academic audience or  fast paced visual entertainment with leaping tigers and magical moving figures for a general or special needs audience. We have the knowledge and enthusiasm to bring automata to life in all situations! Email:- “The talk was a sell out and as someone who is passionate about his subject he gave a fascinating talk, moreover without a note” –  Heath Robinson Museum Chairman to Crafts Council, London 2018    


Robots Exhibition Review- Utrecht

Michael Start General

A great new exhibition of Robots and Automata ‘Robots Love Music’ that has gathered rare exhibits from around the world is reviewed by Michael Start of The House of Automata in the latest edition of The Music Box Journal. The exhibition runs until the 3rd of March 2019. To see the full article with photos click the Read More button and then follow the link which will work from there. Click here for the Robots Utrecht Review  


BBC 360º The Strange Dolls that come to Life

Michael Start General

Our Workshop has become an Interactive Experience thanks to the latest technology from the BBC.  Use your mouse to scroll around our workshop and see us working, surrounded by moving Automata. Can you spot the Crocodile and do you know why it’s there?  BBC Reel The Strange Dolls that come to Life     

"Tell me about Automata" say's Mr Moon.

Automata Evening – London – SOLD OUT

Michael Start General

All tickets for this event are now Sold Out. The master of creative crazy contraptions Heath Robinson has a museum devoted to him and his work. It is located in Pinner on the outskirts of London (Pinner tube station) and Michael Start of The House of Automata is delighted to present a talk and demonstration on the 16th of August at 6.30pm. The event will include performances of rare antique automata and an insight into the weird & wonderful world of the objects and their owners, its going to be fab!  The event is followed by an opportunity to enjoy the Crafts Councils excellent automata exhibition ‘A Curious Turn’ ……. featuring modern automata.    –     For more information:  Heath Robinson Museum “Tell me about Automata” say’s Mr Moon.


Automata – perhaps the definitive history in one article.

Michael Start General

The following article sent to me courtesy of Steve and Jere Ryder from the Morris Museum in New Jersey. Home of the Guiness Collection of Automata. Click on “Read More” for the live link.


Spring (repair) is here

Michael Start General

On a large automaton of Little Tich, the 19th century music hall performer. The large mainspring was found to have its hole torn out from the barrel hooking. This is a fairly common repair, a result of ‘overwinding’. The secret to the repair is the process of softening the steel prior to punching and shaping a new hole. The new end will be curved to fit the shape of the barrel and then the spring cleaned and greased before fitting.  

Automatacon 2018

Michael Start General

We are excited to be attending the 2018 Automata Convention in Morristown, USA in May 18th-20th. The schedule is now live and on the Sunday at 1pm we will be presenting a talk on the importance of Automata in Films and the Media. There is a full and varied Schedule of fascinating presentations by experts and enthusiasts from around the world, all talking on our favourite subject … you got it… Automata! Check the website for more details and see you in Morristown in May!  

Satyr Head potter 1 jpg

Satyr Head (Magicians Clockwork Prop) at Auction

Michael Start General

A Satyr Head Magicians prop made by us about 10 years ago and performed regularly on stage in the USA is coming up for sale at Potter & Potter auction in the USA on the 16th of December. It has traditional brass clockwork mechanism and produces cards from the mouth and the top of the head. We are not the sellers but  I hope it does well!    


The House of Automata – The Movie!

Michael Start General

A short film about The House of Automata by acclaimed Edinburgh photographer Euan Myles and ace film maker Jonnie Lewis (Trainspotting 2). They capture the magic and appeal of automata in this 6minute documentary film set in our North of Scotland workshop. (I never thought I would be skipping through the woods in the sunset clutching Bontems Singing birdcages!). Click HERE to view the film on vimeo.  

Musical Chair Acrobat c.1875

It’s Alive! Exhibition of Automata – Edinburgh

Michael Start General

Now finished. Stats for Exhibition: 60,000 Visitors to the exhibition and 1000 watching our live demo’s! IT’S ALIVE! MECHANICAL MARVELS ARE MOVING IN TO THE MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, in a free exhibition from the House of Automata (22 June – 18 September 2017).   It’s Alive! from the House of Automata will provide the first free, interactive and atmospheric display of these incredible examples of craftsmanship in Edinburgh with  special Automata performances throughout July, August & September. Open from the 22nd of June, this unique collection of mechanical marvels will include an amazing magician in faded silks, who keeps us guessing as he runs through his cups-and-balls routine; a dazzling acrobat based on a famous Moulin Rouge performer; and Heba, a beautiful harpist whose graceful hands strum her long-lost instrument. Fine automata such as these were made to entertain the fashionable elite of Paris in the late 1800s, and bring together the arts of the clockmaker, sculptor and couturier. ‘It’s Alive! Automata Performances Throughout July, August & September visitors will be able to see even more of the machines come to life, as Michael and Maria give demonstrations of the machines in action. These performances are not to be missed. Most Fridays at 2.00pm and Saturdays at 11.30am – check Edinburgh museum website for details.