Made from discarded Bakelite, rubber and metal, Gordon Bennett’s robots proudly evoke a sense of 1950s futurism. We caught up with him to talk about the unique creations he regularly adds to his Bennett Robot Works website, where they’re available to purchase.
CREATIVE REVIEW: How did you first start Bennett Robot Works?
GORDON BENNETT: I saw a piece of tramp art in an antique store; it was a figure made from old junk but it reminded me of a robot. I thought it was beautiful. So I wanted to see if I could make something from all the junk I had lying around my basement. After a few tries I ran out of parts so I went to the local dump and started going through the scrap metal. The most difficult part was figuring out how to connect all the stuff together.
CR: How long does it typically take to make a robot?
GB: About a month. I start by placing pieces next to each other, a lot like doing a layout on a page. There’s an aspect of symmetry to it: sometimes I play around with this by having slightly different arms or legs, just like a machine that’s been repaired with whatever parts were available. I’m also intrigued by the way humans interact with machinery, how we put labels on things to identify them, but do it in a haphazard way.
CR: When you’re looking around for objects, you must constantly think, “oh this will make a brilliant head….” Can one object inspire a whole robot?
GB: I look for rounded shapes for the heads usually. The best pieces for heads seem to come from lamps or motors. It’s always lucky when I find a part with a face already on it.
CR: What materials are you working with right now?
GB: I just found a bunch of old fuse boxes with fantastic old nameplates on them. I plan to make a robot pair from two of them.
Of the robots shown above, Kenmore 3 (far left, $5,400), Motorhead (second right, $3,000) and Johnson (right, $2,700) are available to buy at bennettrobotworks.com