Create a Wonderbox


Create your own art wonderbox!

In this 3-part workshop for adults and teens, you will learn how to build a miniature world with animated figures — then light them up, make them move and play sounds.

We will show you how to design your wonderbox, build it, decorate it, and animate it with small electronic parts, such as LED lights, servo motors and/or piezo speakers.

You can take your wonderbox home with you at the end of the course. You can then mount it on a wall, put it on a shelf or offer it as a gift.

We will meet for 3 weekly classes on Thursday evenings, on February 7, 14 and 28, between 6pm and 9pm, in our state-of-the-art makerspace at Tam High School. (Note that there is no class on February 21, during the school winter break.)

This 3-part course costs $200. Materials are included: a wooden box, a variety of figures, art supplies, lights, motors, speakers, batteries and an optional Arduino board (a $50 value).

Multimedia innovator Fabrice Florin will be your teacher for this course. Fabrice has led the development of many pioneering projects in education, news and entertainment, working at Apple, Macromedia and Wikipedia.

Fabrice teaches popular Maker Art workshops, helping children and adults create magical worlds like cities of the future, haunted houses and time machines. His creative workshops combine art, tech and storytelling to help people express themselves and learn new skills in playful ways.

No experience necessary. Anyone can make a wonderbox. See the examples below for ideas you can adapt.

Your optional Arduino board will be pre-programmed to activate simple lights, sounds and motion. If you wish, we’ll get show you how to program your Arduino board. But you don’t have to learn programming or use that board if you don’t want to.

Maximum class size is 10 students. Students ages 13 to 18 can enroll if a parent also enrolls — or with instructor’s prior approval. After completing this class, you can extend your skills and build your own projects by signing up for the Maker Club workshops.

For more info, email Fabrice Florin.

We hope to see you soon!


The wonderboxes shown below were created for the Pataphysical Slot Machine, a poetic oracle designed by our art collective in Mill Valley.

Wonderboxes are modular wooden boxes used to display interactive artworks. We designed them so the boxes could easily be taken apart by artists, then put back together quickly. Wonderboxes are typically made of 5 interlocking pieces of 1/8” birch wood, which we make ahead of time with a laser cutter. Wonderboxes come in different sizes, to fit your needs. Large wonderboxes are 9.25″ wide x 9.25″ high x 6.75” deep. Medium wonderboxes are  about 7″ wide x 9.25″ high x 4.75” deep, and small wonderboxes are  about 7″ wide x 7″ high x 4.75” deep.

The ‘Time Flies Wonderbox’ shown at the top of this page was created by Phyllis Florin. This is a simple wonderbox that only uses three LED lights and plays the sound of a ticking clock. What is a birthday if not the recognition of time passing, another orbit around the sun? This wonderbox features a birthday party set in a field of grass and daisies representing life and growth, and acknowledges the true birthday celebrant: time. On the back, a clock with a bejeweled face and wings: time is precious, time flies.

This is the ‘Luck Wonderbox’, created by Stephanie Levene. This wonderbox is filled with lucky charms, totems, sparkles and gold. Inside the box, a sign reads “Yesterday’s Bad Luck is Tomorrow’s Good Luck”.  The glowing lights were created by Freddy Hahne, who also mixed the soundtrack.

This wonderbox is called Om Shanti and was created by Fabrice Florin. It features three ’singing flowers’, each with a surreal eyeball and a pulsing light hidden in their orchid petals, perched at the top of their swirling cobra-like stems. As you open the box, the flowers sing ‘Om shanti’ in turn, a capella, while their lights cycle through the colors of the rainbow. The music is by Shanti & Friends in Kerala, India. This artwork is controlled by an Arduino Uno with a Waveshield sound player and 3 pulsing LEDs. Learn more in this schematic and specification — and check out the code.


This projects below are a bit too advanced to create in this 3-part workshop, but we are showing them here as examples of what can be done if you have a more time and are prepared to learn how to program. If you would like to create an advanced project like this one after our class ends, Fabrice is available  for occasional  consultations during our weekly Maker Club workshops on Thursdays.

This is the ‘Ask Ubu Wonderbox’, created by Fabrice Florin for the Pataphysical Slot Machine. This wonderbox features Père Ubu, a wild character created by french poet Alfred Jarry at the turn of the 19th century. The Ubu sculpture is made of paper clay: its head spins left and right with a servo motor — and its eyes light up with LEDs that cycle through the colors of the rainbow. In the back, a spiral “gidouille” spins back and forth with a gear motor to create a surreal optical effect. This artwork is controlled by an Arduino Uno processor, using this code.

This is the ‘Balinese Cuckoo Clock’, created by Fabrice Florin. This advanced wonderbox features a poetic robot inspired by the eagle god Garuda. When you open the box, Balinese gamelan music plays as Garuda slides out of his temple, then a cuckoo clock chimes while he flaps his wings. He then shakes his head and sings ‘Om Swasti Astu’ (“God bless you” in Balinese). After a while, he returns to his temple, and the doors close behind him.

To see the Balinese Cuckoo Clock in action, watch this video. Six different servo motors control the motion in this scene, while seven LEDs light up the eyes, wings and temple, in a carefully choreographed sequence. This artwork is controlled by an Arduino Uno, using this code, as shown in this design spec.