Kinetic Non-Swap (Craftalong)

I’ve been wanting to do a kinetic swap for a while, but it does not ever get enough votes, so I thought I’d set it up as a craft-along. That way, you can keep your handcrafted item for yourself or gift it to a family member or friend.

The idea is to create something that has some sort of motion. It could be a small and simple thing like a pop-up card…or as elaborate as you’d like (anyone up for making an automaton?)

Here are some ideas to get you started.

• Pop-up card
• Balance toy or climbing toy
• Mobile
• Pull-string toy (jumping jack or other)
• Wind-powered item like a kite, weathervane or yard sculpture
• Puppet or marionette or automaton
• Wind-up or crank-powered toy
• Optical toy like a flip book, kaleidoscope, phenakistoscope, zoetrope, or praxinoscope
• Zen sculpture with a swinging pendulum that writes in sand
• Cuckoo clock
…Can you think of others?

If you are interested in trying an automaton, one great source of inspiration is wolfCat Workshop’s “One Month of Small Machines”. These are quick, simple projects made with paper, so they make automata seem more accessible.

Please share your ideas, resources, etc. … and if you do a project, please post pictures here. I’d love to see progress pictures as well as completed project photos.

As a challenge, I’d like to propose a goal date of February 14 for completion of our projects.

Hope you join me and have lots of fun crafting items that MOVE!

Edited to add a link to my Pinterest Automata board:


FUN! I am not sure I will be making something, but boy would I love to see the things people come up with! I do have a bunch of thaumatrope ideas pinned, so maaaaaaybe I can squeak one of those in.


I think this is a good solution! I just ordered a pattern book to make a bunch of felt birds. I’m not sure what I will do with them, but maybe something in this craftalong will speak to me.

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Make them a mobile! :grin:

…I would love a cuckoo clock, but my husband cannot stand things that tick. But I just did get a laser cut kit for a wheel thing that might fit nicely in here.

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Have you seen @KarenLouiseM 's Santa Dancer? So cool.

I’ve been planning something for over a year, just gotta get up my courage to actually do it. I may have over planned for a first project, there are a lot of tricky elements.


Automata have been a fascination of mine for thirty years since I first saw this guys work in London. I’d like to have a go, but I’m in a total ideas vacuum-I’ll think on


Oh, what great ideas! Somehow, I had missed the dancing Santa project. It is awesome!

Decades ago, I had a couple of dancing clown music boxes that were very similar. I even made a couple of sand-powered box toys that were sort of similar, except they rotated instead of going up and down… but, sadly, the sand-powered versions are very fragile and both broke.


More automaton inspiration sources:

I made several automata years ago by adapting plans for a wind whirligig. I’ve been wanting to try more advanced versions, but don’t have the patience for wood or paper crafting.

Good news, though; I found designs to 3D print and assemble, AND an app the includes a variety of gears so I could design my own.

I’m ready to play!

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Yay! More crafters!

I had this Paul Spooner automata book in the 1980s and made several of the projects in it.

It is a fabulous book!

I’m so glad you made this craftalong and included ideas! I was intimidated by your swap suggestion. Maybe this will give me the courage to try something myself.

My 11 year old son recently became flip book obsessed. He made 16 in the last month and a half. He started by using his laptop screen to trace pictures and then teally upped his productivity when I brought home a light box. Nearly all of his Christmas break has been spent manufacturing flip books. I will try to make and post a video of one of his books in action.


Oh, how cool! I love flip books. There is a local textbook company that gave out promotional flip books of cool geometric figures in motion. And I had a Disney flip book years ago, that showed Cinderella’s dress turning from rags to a ball gown.

Edited to say I found my stash of old flip books!


I’ve made lots of moving/pop up cards. But making something a bit more interactive sounds fun. Hopefully I can make something, I have quite a few projects on the go I need to finish first


Those look so cool! Thank you for sharing.

I do hope you share your son’s also!


This sounds fun! And, it’ll finally get me to break open my kit that I’ve had for ages. I wanted to do them with my students in my tech ed class, but I couldn’t get it to fit in with the curriculum I had to teach. I have a bit more freedom this year, so maybe I can do it in the spring. Our return to in-person (still hybrid) just got bumped to Jan 25th. So, I can’t hand out printed templates until we go back in person. But, I’ll be trying it out myself, first!


Yassss! I have a couple plans for automatons bopping around in my head, this may get me to actually pursue one of them!

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I made videos for two of my son’s flip books. Here they are.


Those are both so fun! He really created a lot of movement with the blobby shapes. Well done!


I think this is just fantastic!

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