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Macbeth Marble Machine

Storytelling with mechanisms. 

3.5 weeks

RISD advance studio

Traditional plays such as "Macbeth" is usually brought to life through meticulous acting and performance. Is there a way to depict the stories through another form of artistic creation? Macbeth marble machine tells the tale of the well-known play "Macbeth" with a collection of different mechanisms. This machine illustrates Macbeth's first encounter with the three witches.  

The machine in action:

The following video shows how the machine works.

Concept stage.

I started drawing mechanisms that I believe have movements that represent the story I want to illustrate. I went straight into woodworking after sketching since wood is easy enough to work with and is much more consistent than other mediums such as cardboard. The idea is to make each mechanism into modules that can later interact with each other.

drawing marble 1.jpg
drawing marble 2.jpg

Below are the initial wooden mechanisms modules I made and what they represent. All of them ended up in the final machine.


       This Mechanism is called "The Witches are off" shifting the focus to the three witches. The mechanism shows that the Macbeth marble releasing the witches, allowing them to move on to the next contraption. This represents how Macbeth's action validate the prophecies of the witches. 


       The story of Macbeth is one the eventually would repeat itself; thus, I designed a resetting mechanism that can potentially loop the entire machine. I called this mechanism "The never-ending fate".


       This first mechanism on the left is called the "Macbeth the trigger" in which the Macbeth marble releases the three other marbles into a runway. These three marbles represent not only the three witches but also his own pride in the previous war.


       The most visual and interesting part of the play I want to incorporate is the frantic dance of the three witches. I call this staircase mechanism "The Dance" because I thought the motion in which the three witches move through the stairs best seems like a ceremonial dance of some kind.


       This Mechanism is the final contraption for the witches to get to their melting pot. This is a marble holder that has a counterweight, equivalent to slightly a bit more than the weight of two marbles. When the third marble comes, the mechanism releases all three marbles into the next contraption.


Final machine.

Working marble machine made using Walnut, Cherry, Pine and Birch wood.

The color palette of the machine is designed to give the resemblance of a medieval castle. Wood such as walnut, pine, cherry and birch were chosen.


Thank you

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