Main Project Idea and Aesthetics: Mechanically Actuated Buffalo Running

For my final project, I plan on creating a mechanically programmed sculpture. I was first drawn to this idea from seeing a video on Youtube Shorts from JBV create where he created a mechanically programmed ball bearing sculpture, as seen below:

Based on the video above, my initial idea was to create a CU logo where the logo moves in and out of view as the camshaft spins. The aesthetic I planned for this idea was a clean, minimalist look with a monotone color like black, gold, slate grey, or white. My second thought was to have the phrase “Sko Buffs” that also moves in and out, and I would design it with a similar aesthetic as the CU logo as being clean and sleek. I thought I could combine those two ideas, so the CU logo appears in view first, and “Sko Buffs” appears in view second and continues to swap places as the camshaft spins.

I was researching mechanically programmed designs when I came upon a laser-cut wooden horse that, as a motor or crankshaft spins, moves the legs as if the horse was running, as seen below.

For this idea, I would instead design it to be a buffalo running as I’m going for it to be CU themed to have as a souvenir for when I graduate. I would attach the driven gear to a stepper motor or crankshaft to drive the buffalo. I think the most challenging part of this idea will be designing the linkages, so the running looks realistic.

Mechanical Horse

The two aesthetics I was thinking about implementing into my design was a minimalist design made out of black acrylic or Delrin, as seen below, or keeping the raw natural look of the laser-cut wood, as seen above. I believe these two aesthetics paired with laser cutting, will help extenuate the layered portion of the design.


As for two alternative aesthetics, the first is a bohemian aesthetic, as seen below. The bohemian aesthetic consists of patterns and textures with natural materials such as wood, muted colors, warm earth tones, and pops of vibrant colors. It also features a design that looks vintage and handmade. For the application of this bohemian aesthetic to my project idea, it would be similar to the figure seen below.

Bohemian Buffalo

The second aesthetic I chose to try out for my final project idea was the organic aesthetic. The organic aesthetic is inspired by nature and often features flowing shapes, earthy colors, and natural materials. If I implement an organic aesthetic into my final project, I will design the form to be made out of natural-looking wood rather than a laser-cut sheet, and I would include contours that mimic the body shape of a buffalo.

Previous Post
Ornamental vs Mid Century Modern
Next Post
Project Plans and Alternative: Bathymetric Map

5 Comments. Leave new

  • Bodhin Peterson-Smart
    April 8, 2023 10:45 pm

    Hi, I think this project has a lot of potential and the ability to turn out to be something super cool. I think creating a mechanical buffalo in a similar way to the horse would be really awesome and the functionality would add a lot to the overall effect. I am curious if you have done any research into how to actually set up the mechanics of the moving buffalo if you go with the horse example.

  • Hey Hayden, this idea is great. I think it will be an awesome piece of memorabilia from your time here at CU and this class in addition to being a cool aesthetic piece you can show others and use yourself. I like how smooth the movements are, especially in the legs of the horse in the video. I’m curious if you’re planning on using a very similar mechanical system to one that’s already out there? Or are you going to attempt to make one from scratch specifically made for buffalo-like movement? To me this seems like the hardest step. Whatever you do, good luck and I’m excited to see what you come up with!

    • Thanks for the comment, Ben! At the moment, I was thinking of making the mechanism pretty similar to the one with the horse, but since I don’t have the CAD files, I will probably have to do my version of the mechanism. I think this will be the hardest step, and I will need to spend a lot of time designing it, so it doesn’t bind and looks fluid.

  • I’ve seen the JBV create video and I really like how you are modifying it to your aesthetic / environment. If you went with the organic aesthetic would you consider using peat moss or grass on the base to mimic the plains the buffalo is running across?

    • Thanks for the comment, Jon! I haven’t thought of putting in a scene yet but I like the idea of plains or it could be a football field with Ralphie running. All good ideas that I will have to consider when laying out my specifications.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.