Inspiration, design and creation of bespoke, desirable and playful items

Crystal Hefner's Automata

Crystal Hefner asked us to design and create a totally unique gift for her husband, Hugh Hefner. I thought there might be some potential in hand-cranked automata and we discussed a few options. The beauty of automata is that almost anything or any theme can be depicted as everything is carved from wood. Crystal likes mermaids and Hef was well known for his trade mark sailor's hat, so I suggested we combine the two and depict Crystal swimming in the ocean as a mermaid and Hef could be in a submarine. Crystal liked this idea and we discussed the details and developed our ideas including Hef's submarine being liveried like the Playboy jet in black with the Playboy bunny on the fin.

We included some swimming fish, the submarine screw turns and Crystal has a great swimming action. We devised a story line where Hef is inside the submarine when he spots mermaid Crystal swimming by. The hatch opens and slowly Hef emerges and his eyes pop-out on stalks. The eyes were a homage to Tex Avery, a famous cartoonist whose characters often had popping-out eyes. This is also a nice link to Hef's early career as a cartoonist.

The automata was often on display in the Great Hall at the Playboy Mansion and was very popular with party guests. So much so, that when I was working at the Playboy Mansion recently I needed to give our automata some tlc and make some adjustments and minor repairs to keep it in good running order.
I would be delighted to discuss what kind of unique automata we can create for you. The possibilities are endless.