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Robert Sabuda talking about movable books

Pop-up Books: A Brief History by Robert Sabuda

I am currently working on a movable children’s book. This video of Robert Sabuda talking about both history of movable and popup books and his book designing process is very useful. First half an hour is about he history and second half is about his pop-up book making. There is a part at the end where he explains the assembly process which is very interesting.

What Was Left Behind

This sunday we went on a trekking in Bitez to Adabogazi. It was about 10000 steps walk by the sea and in the forest. Beautiful weather, beautiful nature but life… This area is one of the places where Surian Refugee’s try to go to Greece by the sea.

We first ran into a policeman at the beginning of our trekking. He was there to make sure there are no refugees coming there. And later… everywhere, everywhere full of things left behind them. Clothes, food, medicine, things for babies and even a boat.








Sometimes it is easier to express feelings with music rather than trying to write or talk..


Koi  - Pull-Tab / Weight Driven Automaton

And another automaton makes it to my blog.. A wooden koi fish with a weight driven pull-tab mechanism. It has taken 2 months to complete this piece, by working when I have time left from busy life.

It is 110x45cm (44×18 inch) made out of wood. I used lead sinkers as weight pieces.

My inspiration to create a pull-tab mechanism came from a Meggendorfer Movable Book and a Steiger TV film about movable and popup books which was sent by Dear Falk Keuten from Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik. He was very kind to send me these valuable gifts. I would love to thank him again for his continuous support…

So, back to my automaton, I illustrated in computer and created a prototype first. And then cut the main parts in CNC, used my old friend dremel tools for detailed work and painted in acrylic.

Koi  - Pull-Tab / Weight Driven Automaton


Automaton Mechanism

Automaton Mechanism

Automaton Mechanism

About Koi Fish

Koi fish have a very long history in Chinese and Japanese culture. When I designed the piece I knew that they had a special meaning associated with them but I did not know that both their swimming direction and the colors were important. Last week, while I was searching on the net, I run into this nice post about Koi tatoos. “Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning—Color, Direction, and More” So, according to this post here is the legend:

“According to Chinese and Japanese myth, there was once a giant school made up of thousands of koi fish swimming up the Yellow River in China. As they swam, they gained strength by pushing against the current. However, on the Yellow River, there is a waterfall. Once the fish reached the waterfall, most turned back and just went with the current because it became too hard. The ones who remained continued to try to reach the top of the waterfall. These koi kept trying for one hundred years. At last, one koi successfully leaped to the top of the waterfall. To reward this dedicated koi, the gods turned it into a beautiful golden dragon.

The falls have become known as the “Dragon’s Gate.” And legend has it that to this day, any koi that has the strength and perseverance to complete to journey up Dragon’s Gate will become a heavenly dragon.

It is also said that if a koi is caught, it will await the cut of the knife without a quiver with the bravery of a Samurai warrior facing the sword in battle. This clearly portrays the cultural beliefs in the strength and courage of the koi.”

And the meaning behind which direction the Koi is swimming;

“Beliefs about the meaning and direction a koi fish is swimming vary greatly. Some theories of what it means are actually contradictory. But, if you are using a koi in your tattoo, you can choose the meaning that applies to you. Tattoos are your form of self-expression.

-You are currently in a battle or struggle and are still fighting obstacles but won’t give up.
-You have overcome obstacles and have now gained the strength you need to continue against the current.

-You don’t yet possess the strength to make it against the obstacles and move towards success.
-You have already achieved your goals and overcome your obstacles, and you are no longer fighting the current.”

So my kois are swimming downstream 🙂

If you like to read more, click here.

Making Of Koi:

Some pictures from this looong process here:

And a beautiful song:


I tried creating a different mechanism for this automaton. I wanted to experiment timing of the mechanical movement. Wings and beak move one after the other.


Refugee – 41cm x 57cm x 7cm

I like to create planar mechanisms so that the final piece is more like a moving painting hanged on the wall. The main focus is to create a 2d like mechanism for a thinner piece. While I was trying different ways of achieving opposite movement of each wing and the beak, I ran into this post by Beverly Wilgus on facebook The Automata / Automaton Group  about a “Living Picture Automaton“. I realized that what I was trying to do was a living picture automaton only with wooden parts instead of paper. After some research about this type of automata, I found some good videos showing the both front and back side of living picture automata. Such as this playlist on youtube: Automaton Living Pictures from Nannette Rod’s Channel ( )


I drew the bird and the mechanism of wings and beak in Adobe Illustrator. You can download pdf file of the actual drawings here.


Click to download pdf file.

I created gears in Gear template generator sofware. After that I cut the pieces of bird and gears in CNC.


I decided to install a small music box. This is one of the most exciting part for me about this automaton. I created a pin wheel to drive the music box.


Making final adjustments was the most time consuming part. Take apart and put it back… I dont even know how many times I had to do this.


After making this, I will be able to create a more precise mechanism for the next living picture automaton. Less friction, less noise coming from the mechanism and the handle on the side instead of in front.

Making of Refugee Automaton:

Pictures are self explanatory. Please click thumbnails to enlarge.

And the last word is about Surian Refugee Crisis…

While we have been living in peace in our cities, villages; an estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since 2011 beacuse of “war“. They have been leaving the country where they were born, their relatives, best friends, homes, their hopes, their dreams just to find a piece of land to survive. In Turkey, they are all around, in Aegean Sea Coast where I live and in Greece to where they try to go illegally at night inside black boats… Tens of people inside one black boat. It is a total tragedy. Here is a news from a Turkish Daily Newspaper: “Yoga meets refugees as Turkey captures 1,800 Syrians on Aegean Sea in four days

New Addition to My Studio: A CNC Machine



My brother in law is a genius. He made a CNC machine for himself couple years ago. He has been making and selling CNC machines lately. In this spring when he said that he was making a CNC machine for me, I was very very excited.

After making my first automaton project in winter, I was frustrated about cutting the wood, not being able to create what I wanted to do with the limited hand tools I had. I tried using different materials like wire and even concrete to use on automata projects.

In June he brought the machine and installed. It is such a big big step for my automata projects. I have not been able to use it much beacuse of the busy summer time. My daughter’s holiday, my work and all the other things. I was only able to complete one automaton project so far, only working whenever I had a minute. But starting from mid september, I will have much more time for automata using CNC. Can’t wait….

Big big thanks to my brother… It is a magic machine.


Devran 1
Devran means something like a “period of a specific time” in Turkish.

This is another try using different materials. This time copper, brass and wood.

Devran 2

Actually this is not a total automaton. More like a kinetic art. There is not any mechanism making the carousel turn. It can turned by hand though.

Devran 3

I needed to make a lot of welding. I soldered copper and brass with soldering wire. I do not have a weldering machine. Soldering machine did not work. Thanks to my friend Tahir who suggested me to use copper and brasss and showed how to solder using a small kitchen gas tank. There are some pictures of making of this piece below. Unfortunately no pic of the welding. Maybe I will show in another post.


handsBase part was going to be the concrete hands I made. I first planned on using iron wires to make the carousel part. But after switching to copper and brass, the hands did not look good. So, I took some of Zeynep’s old wooden toy parts and designed the base.



Making of Devran:

(click thumbnails to view larger pics)

No needed to shoot a video for this one.

Concrete and The Bird

beton 1
I have spent the last couple of months trying different materials for automaton. Making everything out of wood by hand carving and hobby machinery was both very tiring and time-consuming. Also, it was not possible to make precise parts like gears out of wood; I wanted to try using metal and concrete for some parts. “Concrete and The Bird” is one of those I made in April.

beton 2

Base is made out of cement. Mix black cement, marble powder and water, pour inside the mold, wait for 24 hours. It cures totally in about 2-3 days. (fully cures in 21 days.) There are types of cement which cure in couple of hours but I could not find here. Maybe I will write another post about making concrete parts later. It seems like a good material to use for this types f automata. Finding a proper mold is kind of hard. I was going to try making the mold as well but I decided spending more time on automata. I used a box of an old toy. I put the wires inside the plastik ball and then poured the mixture later. So, wires were inside the concrete part.

Body of the bird: First I bended the wire into the body shape, covered with masking tape. I prepared a mixture of white acrylic paint, white wood glue and plaster. I then painted the masking tape with this mixture.

beton 4

Wings: I covered wires with a layer of thin gauze. Then painted with the above mentioned mixture.

After the bird was dry, I aged with brown acrylic paint.

Mechanism: When the handle is turned, the wings go up and down. Very simple and common mechanism.

Making of pics:

(click for larger pictures)


An automaton trial I did in January. Actually, here I tried different use of materials not the automaton mechanism. Aged wood together with rusty metals. I glued a piece of old cloth over the big piece in moon shape. Aged with walnut ink.


There is a very simple mechanism. When the handle is turned, iron wires transfer movement to the upper part.

Making of Gerdan:

(click thumbnails to view larger images.)

Paper Prototyping For An Automaton Project

Just watched these videos by Katy Hargrove about paper prototyping for an automaton project. Very helpful and I definetely recommend for beginners like me. By the way I have found these videos through Dug North’s The Automata Blog which is an amazing website full of information about automata.

and part 2:

Hotel Room Paintings

This spring I made 20 acrylic paintings for a boutique hotel; “4 Reasons” in Bodrum. 4 Reasons is a family run hotel settled on the peaceful hills of Yalikavak, a small, charming Aegean seaside town.

It was such a different experience for me to get in front of large canvases and paint in bright colors. I consider myself more like a sculptor who likes to work with different mediums but still I enjoyed it a lot. Here some of the paintings:

Acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 120cm

Acrylic on canvas – 50cm x 120cm

Acrylic on canvas - 100cm x 150cm

Acrylic on canvas – 100cm x 150cm

Acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 120cm

Acrylic on canvas – 50cm x 120cm

Acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 180cm

Acrylic on canvas – 50cm x 180cm

Acrylic on canvas - 100cm x 150cm

Acrylic on canvas – 100cm x 150cm

Acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 70cm

Acrylic on canvas – 50cm x 70cm

In my studio

In my studio

Fantastic Collection: The York Museum of Automata

An automaton mimics the movement of living things. It is a glorious expression of human inventiveness. Created by man for the sheer enjoyment and entertainment of his fellow creatures.

The York Museum of Automata

I ran into this video while I was browsing this website.

This is a promotional film of Museum Of Automata once located in York, England. A wonderful collection to see for automata enthusiasts and for people who wants to understand what is automata. Museum was located in York, England but was closed in 1996 and collection moved to Japan. (via The Automata Blog)