Paper Mechanics


About me





How I got the idea to construct paper machines


        1949 in Algermissen, a village near Hannover in Northern Germany.

I studied philosophy and theology in Frankfurt and German languages and politics in Mainz. Since 1978 I live in Bremen in Northern Germany and for 25 years I was working there as a teacher in a vocational training centre belonging to the German Federation of Unions. We trained jobless workers for to get a better chance on the labour market. Shipbuilding and fishing industries crashed in Bremen and so the rate of unemployed people is rather high. One of my subjects was technical drawing and sometimes some of my trainees are building mechanical devices in the workshop which we had developed in theory before. So my profession and my artistic interest were close to each other. Since May 2006 I work as a graphic designer.

Politics:    Bremen is one of Germany´s 16 federal states, and for one legislative period I was a member of parliament there, a memory is my model "The Representative". For 15 years I was engaged in the Green Party, because I was interested in environmental affairs and development policy. As the Greens conformed to the political mainstream and became similar to the other parties I left them.

Since my childhood I´m interested in drawing and sculpturing. I trained my skills by going to artistic courses. The result can be seen in our garden: water-spitting frogs and lions all around which I have made out of concrete. Due to my job as a teacher I had to do with mechanical principles and mechanical devices and I became fascinated by kinetic sculptures, especially those made by the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, who created completely useless machines. In 1999 my wife and I visited the Tinguely-Museum in Basel and we went to nearby Winterthur with it´s well known "Technorama"-Science-Museum. There a special exhibition "Kabinett der Mechanik" - Mechanical movement - took place, among others 30 exhibits of the "Cabaret Mechanical Theatre" / London could be looked at, funny little machines made out of wood and metal, driven by a crank mechanism. Small wooden sculptures were moved by a mechanism placed in the box. The titles of these automata gave a hint to the story they were telling: Bird Watcher, Lion Tamer, Poisoned Milk, Skiing Dog, Wave-Machine, The Council Counsellor and so on. We were fascinated. Later I discovered card cut-outs with similar designs made by the same artists like Paul Spooner, Peter Markey, Keith Newstead and others. I remembered my former handcraft experience with ships and castles out of paper, assembled some of these models and then I started to construct paper automata by my own.

The paper-machines do not try to imitate reality in a smaller scale, but fundamental is the idea of movement or the intention to tell a story. In this sense the designs are originals in a 1 : 1 -size.

I would be  very pleased about your opinion, your experiences and your suggestions::

Walter Ruffler
Roonstraße 73
D - 28203 Bremen
Tel./Fax: 0421 - 74421