Past Workshops & Events

Video clips of a variety of past workshops can be viewed on our You Tube channel

Abu Dhabi Science Faire 2015, Sharjah November 2014
This is probably the word’s biggest science festival, and our second year to be invited to run workshops there. We established a new record for workshop participants in a single day – 937 people ( and that’s without acompanying family members).  In all, over 4000 cardboard box automata kits were made in the ten days of the festival by school children and visitors.


Filming for BBC Learning  October 2014
We provided expertise and mechanical resources for 2 Sides TV’ production of a programme for teachers and schools about Design and Technology  for BBC Learning.  In the programme children learned about cams and cogs by designing and constructing a motorised moving window display for a toy shop, themed around Roald Dahl.  See the production here.

Brighton Maker Faire September 2014

Henley Youth Festival 2014
Cam box workshops for six local schools in two days.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre at the Paul McPherson Gallery, Greenwich, London Winter 20113/14
A programme of automata-making workshops for adults, children and family workshops.

Adult Experimental workshop

Abu Dhabi Science Festival  November 2013
Mad, crazy, manic, inspiring we had 4000 customers in ten days doing our cardboard box automata workshops. The demand was so high at times with queues way out the door we could barely keep up. We were in a lovely sunny enclave on the seaside promenade right next to a golden beach and clear blue sea. There can’t be many Science Festival venues where you can walk out to swim and sunbathe.

ACS, Egham International School, Egham, Surrey, UK
October 2013
We all loved the workshop. The classroom teachers felt that it was a great way to introduce the kids to cams, which they would have found harder to explain/ or create a practical activity about. We will definitely include making an automaton in the plans for next year.
Kirsten Marrs, Lower School Art Teacher

Oakham School, Rutland
October, 2013
We were invited back to run the same successful workshop as last year. See below.

Ye Olde Victorian Hack Day for Mad Lab, Manchester, May 2013

Ye Olde Hack Day at MadLab from Prohyena on Vimeo.

Introduction to Automata-making for Adults on board MS Stubnitz, March 2013


MS Stubnitz opening event included The Ensemble Workshop

More photos here

See Fire the Inventor’s You Tube Channel for more videos of Steve’s workshops

See other mechanical theatre projects Steve has worked on

Make Your Own Automata using a cardboard box and three chopsticks
Henley Youth Festival, March 2013

Thank you for a  great workshop.  It was very well run and a lot of fun,’ Cathering Gosby (parent).

I saw some brilliant work and have had many emails from the parents thanking us for providing such a great opportunity.’ Jane Gray,  festival organiser

Over 60 young people had their first experience of making automata. The results were brilliant, many participants being surprised at their talent in engineered creativity. By the end of the session, the words cam, camshaft and cam follower were common language.

The Rise of the Robots, Febuary 2013
Fantastic robots made using boxes and cam mechanisms made by Year 5 pupils from St John’s Catholic Primary School in West Sussex, UK. The robots were linked together to form a single machine. The workshop was part of a wider school project called ‘The Rise of the Robots’.
See video
“Many thanks for providing such a brilliant robots activity day this week: the children went home buzzing about it and were so excited that many dragged their parents back in to view their results too! The class have had a ‘wow’ introduction to cam movements: it has furthered their understanding of simple mechanisms in D&T and also helped them in their creative thinking.
Mrs Lynne Shill, Teacher

Museums Automata Project, Oakham School, Rutland, October 2012
This one-day automata workshop was about making a mechanical collecting box for an imagined museum. It was a strand in a          bigger project about creating and running a museum.
Similar pre-made components to those used in Camden School (see below) were used to build a basic cam ‘n’ crank drive, which students could then hack, adapt, develop linkages, chop to size or enlarge as their imaginations required.

Automata Olympic creativity project ‘Enginuity’ for Camden Community School, July 2012

Two day end of term workshop for 20 students of mixed ages and abilities, themed around the Olympics. Using some pre-made components, students made individual crank and cam driven automata, experimenting with and developing further mechanisms and linkages. The decorative designs were based on Olympic themes. The individual machines were joined up into a single machine, symbolising the Olympic ingredient of teamwork.  The project was on a bigger scale than our Ensemble kit workshop (see below) and students could take their work home.

The kids have been extremely engaged, yesterday I had people reluctant to leave for lunch and they came back early from lunch, and hung around after school. They’ve got loads out of it, they learnt masses, there’s been a high level of excitement and concentration and focus. Brilliant!
Linda Devo, Teacher and Acting Assistant Director of Learning & STEM Coordinator, South Camden Community School

Bits ‘n’ Pieces Automata Workshop November 2011
Many thanks for giving us such a good day yesterday. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and learned so much about the basics of getting things moving. You’re both wonderfully patient teachers!” Tanya and Mike Tier

I will say again how much I loved your course ‘bits and piece’ and it’s really given me the confidence to make all sorts of automata now!” Rebecca Fox (prop-maker & 3D illustrator)

Fire the Inventor ran its first ever one-day automata-making workshop in November 2011. The Bits ‘n’ Pieces workshop – for adults – provided a workshop space, tools, materials and a collective mechanical-making vibe, not to mention a robotic parrot which kept everyone well entertained.
See video

Make it Move workshops at the Science Museum
“We were at the Science Museum this week and made with our children your models. Our kids absolutely loved making the moving models, as did we.”  Fiona Oliver and Anna Colton

We partnered with London’s Science Museum to run three days of mechanical toy workshops during the school holidays at the end of October 2011. These were workshops on an industrial scale with over 750 cardboard box automata kits being constructed by enthusiastic families in three days. See video

Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference 2011
FTI’s Ensemble automata workshop (see V&A below) turned intellectual and academic at the TaPRA conference held at Kingston Uniiversity on 8 September 2011. Theatre and performance academics and practioners gamely participated in the (theory-free) workshop and afterwards gleefully theorised on the experience, including  whether a making workshop could be a performance.

Fire the Inventor at the Design Museum’s Family Day
We were thrilled to run two automata-making workshops at the Design Museum’s annual Family Day of activities, workshops and events on Sunday 26 June 2011.
The workshops were a sell-out, and set the Design Museum chattering away with madly inspired cam driven automata.

Launch Event, 25 March 2011, V&A

“What a great event you all put on Friday at the V&A so much energy and enthusiasm it was contagious I went home buzzing, so thank you for that. It was such a thrill to observe people engaging and getting stuck into making stuff

Tamara Violaris,  artist.

Fire the Inventor was launched at London’s V&A museum on 25th March 2011

Called ‘Performing Machines and Automata’, the event was part of the V&A’s hugely popular monthly Friday Lates, this one themed around  The Playhouse.  We created a ‘backstage’ theatre workshop – a workshop for performing machines and puppets. Hectic, crowded, buzzy, you could make an automata out of cardboard boxes to take away, experiment with a cam kit, or join the Ensemble Workshop by designing a machine to add to the WORLD RECORD BREAKING line-up of 52 linked automata, which formed a snake-like chain straddling seven large tables down the centre of the room.

See the V&A’s own photos of the event.

Fire the Inventor’s photos