"Vespa" by Anthony Lent & Acme Clockworks
An automaton is a mechanical device that is self-operating or appears to move of its own accord. Such devices appear frequently in history and myth and throughout the world, with ancient accounts of artificial animals, hydraulic machines, and robotic statues coming from places as far apart as Greece, Mesopotamia, and China.
During the European Renaissance, there was renewed enthusiasm for automata, which represented to the people of the time a kind of "mathematical magic." Many were built, and they weren't merely toys for amusement. They were objects of scientific observation, attempts to prove that humans could not only understand and recreate natural phenomena but replicate the actual motions of animals and even ourselves. Some philosophers, notably Descartes, went so far as to speculate that humans and animals are themselves machines, and that the only thing distinguishing us from automata is that the human machine has a soul.
Tony Lent, in collaboration with Steven Parker, has brought this history, and the automata, back to life. Their mechanical creations—in which jewelry and art meet engineering and imagination—continue to amaze and delight with their uncanny, animated movements. While they seem far removed from the jeweler's bench, they are as close to the heart of Anthony Lent as any ring, necklace, or bracelet we make. They are moving, like our jewelry, and they are also moving. They have hidden surprises, like every piece in our collection, and they suddenly surprise when you wind them up. And while these automata may not have souls, you can't argue that they don't have soul.