Folk artists around the world make robots from recycled materials – and you can too! Check out these inspiring examples and get sample project ideas to get started.
One thing I love about robot sculptures from recycled materials is that they are a mash-up of industrial and vintage aesthetics. If you look at the character Wall-E from the Pixar film, he is a great illustration of this. And in fact, the director of the film Andrew Stanton talked about how the juxtaposition of old and new is a central theme of the film Wall-E.
Common Materials in Recycled Robot Sculptures
- Boxes or containers made from tin or wood, such as tin food packaging – if it has the branding on it still, with the old-timey fonts and messages, that’s really good – it could be food packaging or lunchboxes, or machine parts
- Radios and other items with dials and switches
- Bakelite dishes
- Large metal fire alarms
Heads – objects that have a fun shape, such as metal cookware such as funnels, colanders, pails, cake pans and citrus fruit juicers
- Opera glasses and binoculars
- Glass bulbs, headlights and lamps
- Round items like plastic or metal caps or metal washers
Hair, limbs and other fun details
- Car parts such as hub caps or hood ornaments
- Cooking utensils like egg beaters, graters and silverware
- Watch components
- Farm tools
- License plates
- Old metal toys
- Scrabble and other game pieces
- Small wheels
- Old rulers that fold up
- Any tiny tin boxes – Altoid, Aspirin, spices
Artists Who Make Robot Sculptures from Recycled Materials
Make Your Own Robot from Recycled Materials
Idea #1 – Take a piece of scrap wood, paint it a bright color, add details like the items listed above by screwing them on.
Idea #2 – Scribble Bot or Art Bot – make a robot that draws
Idea #3 – Capulet – These are robots I make from gray plastic caps that I drill with my drill press. They are connected with a “spine” made from recycled t-shirt string. Check out photos from when I helped 500 kids make Capulets at KIDfest 2017.
Idea #4 – Take-Apart Event – combine with a robot building craft night
Idea #5 – Cassie Stephens Robot Week Lesson Plans
Idea #6 – Visit Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair in Ann Arbor, Michigan, or some of the other combo store/tutoring centers that are part of the 826 network.