Without an everyday reference for a sense of scale, Szymon Klimek’s intricate mechanical creations could easily be mistaken for twice their true size. Made from 0.1 millimeter sheets of brass and bronze, Klimek’s miniature machines dance effortlessly in wine-glass enclosures that measure little more than 4 inches across.
Klimek’s latest creation, Sponge, is a steam engine-like machine named for the lattic work of tiny, interconnected brass pieces that expands and contracts as the engine runs. Sitting in a wine glass about a foot tall, a small silicon solar cell powers a concealed electric motor, which drives the 3-inch flywheel.
He doesn’t work to a specific scale, but customizes his designs for each glass: the opening of Sponge’s wine glass and the diameter of its flywheel differed by less than a millimeter. CAD programs assist with design, and Klimek, 57, assembles most of the machinery outside of the enclosures, cutting and shaping the pieces by hand. He says the wine glasses lend a bit of elegance to the display, and the spherical shape allows viewers to see the work from any angle. Sealing the top and gluing the machines down with clear resin also protects the delicate pieces from dust and curious fingers.
Living in Poznan, Poland, Klimek entered into the world of small-scale making in 2004 with a miniature steam locomotive and coal wagon, measuring about 3 inches. He’s built close to a hundred handcrafted brass and bronze miniatures, including ornate carriages, early 20th-century roadsters, and yes, even a ship with billowing sails that fits in a wine glass. Since 2008 he’s created nine “active devices.”
Next, Klimek wants to tackle a more challenging material: steel.