A Big Donor – Part II by Paul Spooner

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A Big Donor - Part II by Paul SpoonerArms made and a coat of red paint applied. This colour is as near as I can get to Indian Red, a pleasant earthy colour, not too garish like cadmium reds. Indian Yellow is a different matter; it used to be made by boiling down the urine of elephants that had been fed exclusively on mango leaves. The makers of Liquitex paints no longer use this method, which is a shame in a way but good news for elephants because they prefer a mixed diet.

A Big Donor - Part II by Paul Spooner

The air is fed up the legs of the operating table to feed the 3 pneumatic devices. I thought that the holes should be made as smooth as possible so I put a hot wire up to sear away stray fibres of wood that might impede the airflow. Probably not necessary but the hot pinewood smelled pleasant and reminded me of the Birdman of Alcatraz who was said to have charred the tiny mortice and tenon joints he used in his birdcages to harden them. Incidentally, he wasn’t allowed to keep birds in his cell on the Rock. I found that out when I visited recently.

A Big Donor - Part II by Paul Spooner

The machine needs a gearbox to produce three different speeds. This shows the drilling of holes for bearings that will carry shafts rotating at speeds appropriate to the different actions. The first shaft rotates at about 80 rpm, the speed of the motor, the next shaft at 1/3 of that speed, the next at 1/3 and so on to allow the different actions to happen at suitable rates. There are four shafts, one more than the number of actions so I can choose between them to get the best result.

A Big Donor - Part II by Paul Spooner

Gears and motor in place. I usually rely on luck to get the spacing of holes right but this time I used the dial on the cross slide of my lathe. I felt quite grown up, especially when all the gears ran smoothly together.

Consulted my copy of Bailliere’s Popular Atlas of the Female human body to find out how the inside workings should look. This is the 1942 edition.

A Big Donor - Part II by Paul Spooner

A Big Donor - Part II by Paul Spooner

At my all-boys boarding school there was a craze for ‘The Visible Man’, a plastic kit that made up into a 9-inch model of a man with openable chest and removable organs. Many of us got one for Christmas 1960 and the more artistically inclined of us painted the insides very carefully in beautifully visceral colours. There was also a Visible Woman with breasts and optional pregnancy (or Miracle of Creation if you prefer) but nobody dared ask their parents for one. Sue Spooner gave me one for my 40th birthday. I haven’t made it yet. I’m 64.

The purple lettering has definite erotic overtones even though she does look like Doris Day.

A Big Donor - Part II by Paul Spooner

Mine is a loose interpretation, more heraldry than anatomy. Liquitex goes well on leather and should be flexible enough to endure years of pumping.

A Big Donor - Part II by Paul Spooner

It’s not a woman either. More of that later.

To be continued…

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  1. P Spooner says:

    Hello Bob. Yes I do remember the Morgans’ visit. It was in the nineteen eighties I think. John was a professor then- he should be field marshal of all American automatists by now.

  2. Bob Jeffery says:

    Hi Paul!
    I have been following your work since taking an automata class with John Morgan. Do you remember when he visited you?

    I plan to own my own Paul Spooner sometime.

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