Cardboard Automata: Toy-Making Workshop - Atlas Obscura
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Seattle, Washington

Cardboard Automata: Toy-Making Workshop

Join Nico Cox for a unique afternoon of mechanical toy-making.

Join antiquarian horologist Nico Cox to explore cams, levers, and linkages as you create and craft your own toy automata.

Interwoven with the fascinating history of timekeeping, you'll learn how gear loops work and discover the whimsy of mechanical devices through the use of everyday materials and simple machine elements. In this two-hour workshop, you'll learn to make clever mechanical toys and moving scenes with materials such as cardboard, straws, tissue, and more, taking inspiration from centuries of intricate automata. 

You'll begin with an instruction sheet to get you started on a basic movement. You can then decide to play it safe with a proven design or branch out to create a unique toy all your own. At the end of the workshop, you'll be going home with at least one toy and set of instructions—and a whole lot of new ideas.

Nico Cox holds international certifications in Swiss, American, and British horology, as well as a Masters in the Conservation of Clocks and related dynamic objects. She owns and operates Memoria Technica, an independent workshop in Seattle where she makes mechanical automata, toys, optical illusions, mechanical magic, and teaches heritage crafts. Her workshop includes a collection of machines from the original Bulova watchmaking factory.


  • A separate $15 materials fee will be paid directly to Nico Cox on the day of the class.
  • Address will be sent to registered attendees.
  • Children under 10 years of age are required to be accompanied by an adult.
  • Recommended for those eight years old and up.
  • This workshop is limited to eight attendees.

Questions? Email Shin Yu Pai at

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Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.