It’s my son P who’s been encouraging my predilection for steampunk animals. (He’s been advocating for a clockwork pelican, which may come in time, although I actually want to do a real pelican, too.) I thought a bat would be cool because I was picturing how a mad scientist-type might build such a thing, and I originally envisioned it with kitchen funnels for ears. But I couldn’t make them look good despite several attempts. I think I redid the ears more than anything else on my sketch before settling on placing the wind-up key atop the head (or, since it’s a bat, below the head, I guess.) Because I’m not really an engineer designing a real functional device, I admit I’m a little vague on the actual workings of this critter. The wind-up key implies clockwork, while the dials imply steam power. I make no claims that the gears shown would produce successful powered flight. What I was aiming for was a basic level of plausibility, topped off with a dollop of all the fun stuff.
As for the carving, I wanted this bat to be hanging in the dark, with enough shadows that its eyes would look like lit lightbulbs. I’m not sure I quite succeeded in that - I just can’t seem to help myself from carving out plenty of white instead of leaving dark and shadowy texture. But I’m happy with it anyway. After all, I never intended it to be spooky or sinister. I wanted a friendly robot bat, and I think I got one.
And now I need to come up with another idea for another block, because my next chance to sit carving for a weekend comes up in just two weeks at Dedham Open Studios. Hmmm… So many wonderful possibilities!
[Picture: Nycteris & Flederer’s Patent Mechanical Chiropterid (Model 3), rubber block print by AEGN, 2015.]