Mechanical Mind

Craft & Design
Mechanical Mind


You could hear the laughter of the kids turning the cranks on Woody Jones’ handmade automatons at the October 2014 Atlanta Maker Faire long before you approached his large wooden sculpture, called simply Big Head.

Jones creates custom-made dioramas full of bits and pieces that reference important milestones in his clients’ lives. “It’s the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had,” he says of his 30-year career as an artist in Decatur, Georgia.

“I look for the unique characteristics in people that make up their real stories,” Jones says. He then uses a band saw, grinder, and belt sander to create scenes that bring a story to life. Turn a crank and two wooden people dance and spin, an animal jumps, and a man in a hammock gently swings.


While Jones typically creates smaller, shoebox-sized dioramas, Big Head is his biggest hit — this eight-foot-tall wooden noggin contains dozens of scenes. Most are specific to Jones and his own life story, with hundreds of figures and objects controlled by a number of cranks, levers, and gears.

Approachable and always willing to share his own stories, Jones knows the enjoyment his creations bring. “When you leave my booth,” he says, “my goal is that you leave happy.”

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James Floyd Kelly is a freelance technology writer in Atlanta. He has written numerous books for students on subjects such as Arduino, Lego robotics, and game programming.

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