Art Handlers

by littleBits

Published on April 23, 2014

Rock your artwork back and forth with a cam on the dc motor and two folded paper hands.

Art Handlers is a model of an installation featured in our MoMA Store window displays.

If you're re-creating this design at home, enter the littleBits Make it BIG Challenge [littlebits.cc/MoMA] for a chance to win cool prizes.

The "Make It Big" Bit bundle has all the Bits you need to make a version of the Art Handlers. Learn more or buy now!

Remember that littleBits is an open-ended, modular library so we encourage you to be creative and customize the circuits at will.

How To Make It


Take a power module and connect the battery cable and 9V battery to it. Be sure that the teeny on/off switch on the power module is switched to "on". Next, assemble the circuit: power + dimmer + wire + dc motor. Note that instead of the slide dimmer you can really use ANY input you like. 


Build the support structure. We cut a base out of wood and attached a piece of foam core to it perpendicularly, creating a back wall. Then we used colored paper to decorate the foam core.


Construct a hollow 3-dimensional frame out of foam core. Affix a dowel to the back of the frame. It should be placed off center. This dowel will be used by the cam arm to pull down a side of the frame, therefore rocking it.


Inside the frame, hang a "bead curtain" of styrofoam balls. To do this, we strung styrofoam balls onto strings and hung them from the top of the inside of the frame. Now when your frame rocks back and forth, the styrofoam ball curtain will swing back and forth.


Attach the frame to the support structure using a dowel on which the frame is able to rotate. The frame should be placed in the center of the top half of your foam core. We placed this dowel slightly off-center so that the frame hangs to one side.


Make your cam mechanism. Download the template attached below called "Art_Handlers_Mechanism_Template.pdf". A cam is a device that converts rotary motion into linear motion. Basically, it uses the spinning motion from the dc motor to make your frame rock back and forth. Construct the wooden box for your dc motor to sit on top of and assemble cam parts that will attach to the dc motor shaft. Place the dc motor into the feet holes on the box and push the cam (and arm) onto the shaft of the dc motor.


Place the cam mechanism on the base against the back wall. The cam arm should extend up behind the frame and oblong shaped hole should attach around the fixed dowel on the back of your frame. Glue the cam in place.


Make the hands! Either cut out your own hands or use our template (very complicated). Print out the template attached below called "art_handlers_hand_template.pdf". Glue the hands to the front of the frame.


Make the arms. Fold a thin strip of paper back and forth to create a zigzag pattern. Fix one end of the strip to the hand and fix the other end to the base.


Get ready to rock your frame! Power it up and watch it rock back and forth in search of perfect positioning.

Related Projects

Cat Toy

This cat toy works well with playful cats. I tested it on my cats Izzy and Dex. Only one seemed to like it,but it still works...

Shoe Box Alert

Do you have special things that you keep in a shoe box? My example uses a shoe box as a pencil box. This project will sound an ala...

Leprechaun trap

Added littlebits to leprechaun trap made for my daughter to inspire her into electronics world.