More toys

The paper karakuri experiments last spring didn’t go anywhere, but they were rather exciting.  What is with my current interest in kinetic art that has elements of toys or ephemerality?  The sheer perversity of using paper to mimic machinery (but in an ironically fragile manner) struck me as a significant balance between humor and meaning.

Recently I became intrigued by the idea of puzzle or trick boxes.  While I am sufficiently self-aware to know that this sort of thing calls for a degree of precision that I dislike (and tools I don’t care to purchase), who doesn’t appreciate a few more proofs of humanity’s ingenuity?

There are several books on the subject.  Here’s a video of Hendrik Ball presenting a few of the approaches to trick boxes:

The box demonstrated two minutes into the video seemed the most ingenious in its use of centrifugal force.

There are kits for such boxes, but that shortcut removes all the enjoyment out of this sort of project.  The box shown in the following instruction video offers a much cleaner design than the others I found.


Exposed nails simply didn’t suit, though there must be some way to keep the idea of a retaining wall to keep the pins from falling out without sacrificing aesthetics completely.

Even if these toys and engineering experiments prove a dead end, they have clarified the creative stages that I most relish.  Solving problems and conquering challenges are extremely significant to me as an artist.  My ambitiousness is better satisfied by tangible improvement against objective standards than by any subjective ranking against my peers.

This is an important lesson for me to remember, even if I did learn it by making toys.