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The Kid Should See This

Making a mechanical whale kinetic sculpture

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Carved from basswood, this mechanical whale is five parts of a swimming kinetic sculpture by Toulouse, France-based woodworker and designer Sylvain Gautier.

The humpback comes to life with a walnut frame, an acacia base, hinges, and a wire crank mechanism. It is named Wooden Migaloo after the rare all white male humpback whale that’s been spotted off the coasts of Australia since 1991. Via Australian Geographic, “‘Migaloo’ means ‘white fella’ in some Aboriginal languages.”

cutting the wood block
carving the whale
The kinetic sculpture is one in a series of wooden white whales that Gautier has put into motion. Previous Migaloo kinetic sculptures were auctioned in benefit of SeaLegacy, a collective of conservation-minded photographers, filmmakers and storytellers.

hooking up the mechanical bits
final whale sculpture

Watch these related automata and kinetic sculptures:
A wood automata submarine bustling with busy animals
• Hand-cranked mechanical singing birds by Bliss Kolb
• Hand-cranked kangaroo automaton (and friends)
• The Silver Swan, an 18th-century automaton at the Bowes Museum

Bonus: Humpback whale videos.

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