I love science and art, so when my little sister received a Tinker Crate on robotic art I knew I would want to use one of the activities for my blog. The activity I chose is based off the idea that anything can create art, even a windup toy. Of course a human needs to be involved at some point in the process. An owl windup toy can’t decide on it’s own to get up and paint a picture. But once the owl is wound-up you lose control over the patterns or creations of the toy. The windup toy operates on its own, creating a type of art called generative art.
Paint of any kind – I used watercolors
A variety of windup toys
Paint palette or small bowl
Step 1: Take a Q-tip and cut off one end. Tape the Q-tip to the toy, the end of the Q-tip should barely be touching the paper.
Step 2: Pour your paint choices into a palette or bowl and place paper down on a flat surface. I found using a large sheet of paper works best for this activity since it gives more space for the toys to roam.
Step 3: Soak the attached Q-tip in paint and wind up the critter. Place on paper and it will create a pattern! Try different kinds of windup toys and see how they vary in pattern. Repositioning the Q-tip or using multiple on one toy can change the created patterns as well.
You may need to play with the positioning of the Q-tip if the toy- doesn’t move, falls over, or is otherwise negatively affected by the Q-tip. You can also put more than one Q-tip on a toy; for example I attached three Q-tips to the tail of the chameleon and it successfully created a pattern.
Generative art: Art that has in whole, or in part, been created by a self operating system that independently generates the features of an artwork. Basically, art that can create itself. Jackson Pollock was famous for his generative art of splattered paint that created unplanned textures and patterns.
How does a windup toy work?
Generally speaking windup toys consist of 4 basic parts-
1- A key (the plastic knob that sticks out of the toy) that when wound up adds energy.
2- A spiral spring inside the toy that stores the energy added by the key.
3- A set of gears powered by the energy stored in the spring. The gears also control the speed of a windup toy and how much force it can produce.
4- The operating mechanism the gears drive. This mechanism varies toy to toy and may consist of more than one part that sets it into action. As a whole this mechanism is the moving part of a wind up toy.