Making Paper Strandbeesten

Jansen's linkage, paper model of a bar linkage

We love the artistry of paper mechanisms.  Simple tools and techniques creating humor, beauty, and amazement.

[Federico Tobon] from [Wolfcat Workshop] makes amazing automata, crosses between cut paper art, origami, and traditional carved wood automata.  He’s put out a useful new video on making linkages in paper parts.

In this short video, [Federico] shows us how to make a paper version of the leg mechanism for [Theo Jansen]’s classic Strandbeest, which we’ve covered in many variations.

Rotating joints in paper automata are sometimes done with a mechanical fastener like a post screw, but it violates the simplicity of the affair and often looks clunky.  [Federico] uses a simple self fastener. A 5 mm hole in one part mates with two “flaps” in the other part. He’s made a separate video covering how to make the fastenings. He’s using a paper crafter’s Cricut-type machine to cut the parts.  Pretty cool.

We’ve covered lots of other cool stuf from [Wolfcat Workshop]. If you want more of his automata eye candy, check out Simple Automata Extravaganza.

15 thoughts on “Making Paper Strandbeesten

        1. Quite interesting read and thanks for linking muster! Muster exists in German too as example, pattern and even model in meaning. I also see now the latin Latin mōnstrō (“to show”). I would never have guessed how dynamically words change.

          A word like accumulator and accumulare are easier to spot, but I don’t know much about language. I am am lucky to speak three and only two of them well. I fell for a red herring by thinking about an actual monster :)

          1. Latin ‘monstro’=’show’ does actually come from the Latin ‘monstrum’, which comes from ‘monere’=’warn’ — the sense of monstrum as “a creature that is monstrous in appearance or size” is sort of a special case of monstrum as ‘portent’ or ‘bad omen’; one of the classic omens of impending doom (or events that were later interpreted as such) was the occurrence of birth defects in newborn children and animals in the vicinity.

    1. I thought it was a pun on strandmeester. The strandbeest is a master of the beach so to speak. A strandmeester usually takes care of flotsam beached on the beach, and if left unattended, a strandbeest ends up exactly that.

      1. “Duits” was the old Dutch ford for … well, being Dutch (Netherlands).

        Our anthem is even stranger, it says we are of “Duitsen” (In current Dutch: German) blood, and we always honored the king of Spain (we were at war with Spain at the time of writing). the anthem was written by a Frenchman.

  1. OMG, thank you so much for the mention Ann! Humor, beauty, and amazement. I don’t get complimented like that so often :)

    Worth mentioning that the fun parametric tool I’m using to generate these designs is called (

    I’ve been working with them making longer format youTube tutorials and I genuinely really like it, check it out if you are looking for an intuitive vector tool that can still do a lot of fancy stuff like components, parameters and in-app custom javaScript.

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