Thingamabobas Inventors


Design and Make a Thingamaboba

Draw a silly invention

Make your silly invention

Compose  silly sounds

Thanks for visiting the Thingamabobas Exhibition.  Can you? Stretch your brain and see if you can draw some really silly and fun contraptions for our circus.

Are ready to be an inventor? 

1) You need paper, a pencil or crayons for your drawing, ideas and plans.

2) Think about a name for your Thingamaboba silly contraption.

3) When you done with your awesome drawings send us photo using our online form, please get help from an adult. We will upload all submissions to our gallery weekly, so do come back and see the exhibition of drawings.

4) Add your pictures to our Gallery!


Need some inspiration?

Have you ever heard of William Heath Robinson (1872-1944), he was an English artist, cartoonist and illustrator he drew very innovative, strange whimsical contraptions. There is  a museum dedicated to his work in London. Click here to see one of our favourite drawings of his. What kind of machine could you invent?

Rowland Emett

Have you ever seen any odd contraption like one in the video?  The water-powered musical clock, The Aqua Horological Tintinnabulator, was designed and made by Rowland Emett in 1973 and is in the Victoria Centre in Nottingham, UK.

 Rowland Emett was an artist and a designer/creator of kinetic sculptures, he does not only draw strange inventions like Heath Robinson but he makes them come alive with different material from the kitchen utensils to scrap metal. We found a wonderful film of his inventions below.


The Wrong Trousers

Many artists and film makers today still makes contraptions like these. Aardman Studios made Wallace and Gromit, here is clip of the scene from The Wrong Trouser for some more silly fun.

Inventors storytime! 

We found some inspiring stories you can listen to help boost your imagination and get you creating your Thingamabobas! One is even read by an Astronaut in space. See here


Challenge Two

Techniques to help you build your own silly invention by Artist Michelle Reader. To find out more about her art work visit her site here.

Let’s Get Making!

Make an awesome Thingamaboba, a silly, nonsensical and fun contraptions. 

1. Let’s start by first thinking about what your crazy invention does? Does it do one thing or more than one? What features does it have? How can it move? Is it intelligent? Is it a machine with a brain that can learn or does it have an engine? Does it use any technology? Time to put your thinking cap on!

2. Some of best inventors and artists use simple materials to try out their ideas like cardboard, tubes, old toys, paper, string, wire and recycle materials. What can you find around your home to start building your nonsensical contraptions?

3. Check out our top tips video above on how to use recycle materials in our 2nd challenge video by Artist Michelle Reader above. Michelle is a nottinghamshire-based artist that reuses waste materials to create unique figurative recycled sculptures.

4. Share your awesome contraption by submitting your photo/s to our online gallery here.

Techniques to making things move

Make a Cranky Contraption – The Tinkering Studio

Cardboard automata is a type of mechanical sculpture. To build a cardboard automata like the one in the video above download from The Tinkering Studio.   Find more about the Cranky Contraptions in the video above.


Merry Go World - Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre as founded by sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudsky and theatre director Tatyana Jakovskaya in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1989 and has been based in Glasgow since 1996.


Challenge Three

Can you come up with some funny amazing music / sounds and make your own instruments for your Thingamabobas silly contraptions.

Here is your 3rd and final challenge:

Check out these steps to get started:

1. First think what would the Thingamabobas might sound like? Would they play any silly instruments?

2. Can’t hear anything...don’t have any instruments. No problem! Head to chrome music lab.

3. Finally share your awesome one minute video/ audio recording of your silly music and /or pictures of your instruments to our online gallery.

Make Music Online


Chrome Music Lab is a website that can be assessed on your phone, tablet or computer. It is time to make some fun music. Choose one of the experiments and download the music. We used a screen capture app to make this video below.

How to make a screen capture video:
A screen capture video is a recording of your computer screen for a set period of time. You can use an app like Icecream screen Recorder the free version (PC /Mac) lets you record a one minute video of your screen.

Please check with a grown up before you use or download any software. You can also try using a mobile phone video camera to capture the screen or sounds to submit for our gallery.

Add your pictures to our Gallery!

Arts Award

Lakeside Arts, Nottingham is an Arts Award supporter Discover at Home is an exciting way to take part in our arts activity and also get a chance to earn a certificate by doing what you enjoy.

It is a special home version of Arts Award for children under 11 years old. ‘Arts logs’ are used to record children’s achievements in the arts as well as collect ‘evidence’ of their participation (proof that children have completed each part of Discover at Home)’.

The Discover at Home special Arts Award Log book can be downloaded here and you can find for more information about the nationwide programme.


If you are working towards an Arts Award or Discover at Home here are the three things that you need to do. 

A) Take part in our challenge to invent a silly circus of Thingamabobas, draw and create it.

B) Find out about the work of one of the Artists that we will introduce weekly.

C) Share your Thingamaboba designs with us, your friends and family.

Submit your completed Arts Award Log Book here and we’ll send on to Lakeside Arts who will moderate and send you your certificate!


Arts Award

If you are completing Discover at Home Arts Award or just interested in artists that make Kinetic Sculptures, sculpture where movement is the basic feature. See below for two EastMidlands based artists you can research.


Find out about Martin Smith


Find out more about Phil Neal