Victorian Zoetrope
Victorian Zoetrope
(Click the image for a larger version)

Hull's "Hands on History" museum commissioned me to build a replica of a Victorian Zoetrope. Invented in 1834 by William George Horner, the Zoetrope was the earliest, simplest and most successful of the 19th century animation machines.

It consists of a rotating drum, with 13 slits arranged regularly around the upper half. Placed inside the lower half of the drum is a paper or card strip, on which is a sequence of 13 drawings, or sometimes photographs.

When the drum is rotated, a viewer looking at the drawings through the slits sees a simple 13-frame repeated animation. The effect would be startling in the 19th century, and it's still quite magical, despite our familiarity with film and video.

I have to confess that I subcontracted the steel drum, and had the slits laser cut. That would have been a lengthy job by hand. But turning the base was a delight. It's not often I get the opportuntity to mount a piece of wood that large on my lathe.