Automata: Making Wood Move

Space still Available!

Cecilia will be teaching at North House in Grand Marais, MN in September.

Cranks wind, gears turn, dragons chomp and birds fly. Welcome to the whimsical world of automata: simple wooden machines that delight and amaze. Join Cecilia Schiller for a three-day exploration of the principals of making wooden machines and the simple mechanisms that make things move. Beginning with the design process, students will learn techniques to draw, drill and cut gears, cams and levers, and how to assemble machines that will actually work. There will be ample time to discuss design considerations and allow for experimentation with different combinations of mechanisms and the resulting movements. Students will choose from two different simple projects–a figure that comes to life and dances when the crank is turned or a galloping animal– and leave with plenty of ideas and inspiration to create their own whirling, chomping, and flying machines.

Dates:  Thurs, Sept. 04, 2014 – Sat, Sept. 06, 2014

Length in days:  3
Hours:  9am-5pm
Tuition:  $285.00 per student
Materials:  $50
Levels:  Intermediate to Advanced


North House Folk School

phone: 218-387-9762 · 
toll-free: 888-387-9762 · fax: 218-387-9706
PO Box 759 · 500 Highway 61 West · 
Grand Marais, MN 55604



WATER IS LIFE! is now on Permanent Display

Interactive Sculpture by Cecilia Schiller

Water is Life at Maplewood Mall.

Cecilia Schiller, together with Willis Bowman, created Water is Life, an interactive, water driven, sculpture in the form of a tree that is meant to encourage the community to share in the responsibility of protecting water and keeping it clean.  The sculpture is activated by rainwater from the roof that drains into a turbine, rotates the branches and plays a melody on chimes inside the trunk.  Viewers can also make the sculpture move by turning a wheel on a crank box adjacent to it.  Schiller’s idea for the sculpture was developed over the course of a year by interacting with staff from the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District, volunteers and community members and exploring sites and waterways within the watershed.  Ultimately she chose the location at Maplewood Mall for its unique challenge to use rainwater in creative ways and the opportunity to reach a large and diverse audience while promoting ideas of innovative water stewardship and its benefits in a fun, inviting way. (See the process on the In Progress page.)

The creation of Water is Life was made possible by a grant from Forecast Public Art in 2013 with additional funds from the Jerome Foundation and funds from the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District.


See Cecilia on MN Original

Automata by Cecilia Schiller

Birdhouse at Landmark Center

Cecilia Schiller was featured on TPT’s program MN Original in early January 2013, a show that showcases Minnesota artists and their work.

The program was recorded in May in her studio and at the Landmark Center while Cecilia was finishing up work on her interactive sculpture Birdhouse.

Cecilia’s story and the full episode is posted on

Visitors to the site will find additional content, web exclusive videos and links to MN Original artists.