One of the most amazing exhibits at this year’s World Maker Faire was the Mechanical Horse, brought by artist Adrian Landon. The horse moves in a galloping motion while suspended by wires. It’s made entirely from stainless steel, consisting of hand-pounded welded plates overlaying a series of limbs coupled by chains and custom laser-cut sprockets. A single electric motor drives the horse into motion at the push of a button.
Surprisingly, this is actually Landon’s second version of the horse. The first prototype of the horse was designed completely with pen and paper, but didn’t work reliably enough. Going back to the drawing board, Landon redesigned the horse in CAD software, resulting in the beautiful display that gathered crowds at the Faire. With over 100 bearings, 30 feet of chain, and 23 articulating joints, Landon said that the piece has taken almost two years to complete, and has been his most challenging project yet.
For Landon, the work represents the culmination of his extensive knowledge and passion for horses, his experience with mechanical Lego projects as a child, and his love for creation in general. Landon’s family has a long equestrian heritage, and with this sculpture he wanted to capture the beauty and elegance of the galloping horse. Given that this is his first large kinetic piece, I’d say that he has a bright future ahead.
While Landon says that this current working model of the horse still has a few problems he’d like to work out, he plans to continue improving the current version, and may design a new one that uses cast iron pulleys and rubber belts in the transmission mechanisms. I can’t wait to see what he builds next, and I hope that we’ll see another of his amazing creations at a future World Maker Faire.