For an introduction to the world of automata, Cabaret Mechanical Theatre should be the first stop. CMT was a gallery of automata in Covent Garden, London, from 1984-2000. They are no longer in Covent Garden, but now run automaton-building workshops and exhibitions all over the world. The artists page has links to many of the artists featured by CMT. The making section has many resources and links to books, video, and other websites. The Cabaret Mechanical Movement book is an especially helpful guide to the principles behind mechanisms and how to build them. Keith Newstead’s “How to Make Automata” video is an excellent summary of simple mechanisms and provides a good classroom overview before hands-on activities.
Henry T. Brown’s 507 Mechanical Movements was first published in 1868 as a collection of drawings to explain motions of components of machinery. Many of the drawings are available as animations here.
Cardboard Automata at the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio, with a downloadable activity guide.
Cardboard Automata on Instructables.
YouTube channels of some of our favorite automaton builders: