Monkey Costumes

Designing a costume for an automaton is different from designing for a static figure because the clothing should contribute to the motion. Costumes must be designed with plenty of room around the cables so the fabric or seams do not upset the balance or interfere with the movement of the automaton. For Monkey automata the primary movement happens at the waist so a stiff fabric such as mohair fur will work if the shirt top can move independently from the bottom.

“Jayfred Monkey” – 2014 – interior view – 14″H x 8.5″W x 9″D – Mixed media – One-of-a-kind

The final step is designing clothing that will not restrict the movement of the Automaton. Chris and I have to work very closely together at this stage, to make sure the automaton figure will retain the desired movement. Sometimes it may be necessary for the clothing to dampen (confine) certain motions.

MARCO - before costuming...

MARCO – before costuming…


in progress…

with mohair fur body...

with mohair fur body…

Same but Different

The hand-crank mechanism is the same for all the monkeys, but their movements appear different because they have distinct personalities. The crazed looks of Bonzo and JoJo evoke high energy, while LuLu, with her dainty pink tutu, Jayfred, with his sly grin, and the elder monkey, Marco, appear to be more subdued.

Monkey in Motion

Go to CM VIDEOS to see “Marco”

Created with the Support of Creative Pinellas and the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners;
the City of St. Petersburg Office of Cultural Affairs and the St. Petersburg Art Alliance.