"A Twirling Toy Run by the Sun"
Life Magazine, March 1958


The shimmering and fanciful contraption is a bit of artistic and scientific whimsy now, but it may be the forerunner of practical sun-powered appliances. It is the creation of Charles Eames, a designer who is fascinated by the potentialities of modern materials and a few years ago introduced molded plywood chairs. Recently Eames has turned his imagination to aluminum, capitalizing on its light weight to fashion a colorfully rotating, twirling, tinkling toy run by sunlight. A screen of shining aluminum strips focuses the sun's rays onto a row of silicon cells. These convert the light into electricity to power small motors fastened to an array of pedestals. The low voltage produced is sufficient to set the units of aluminum abstracts into whirling motion. The toy has no use and is not for sale, but the Aluminum Company of America is sending it on tour as an enchanting harbinger of more useful machines for the future


(above) The Sun Toy has complexity of Rube Goldberg gadget. Magnifying glass atop power unit keeps aluminum panels aimed at sun. Current generated by circular silicon cells (between panels) passes by wire to six tiny motors hidden behind colorful disks on pedestals. Rotation of pedestals moves diagonal drive shafts and pulleys, causes aluminum abstracts to spin. Two bulbs at left show intensity of sunlight.


(right) in motion, sun toy's pedestals turn, create color patterns as abstracts bob and rotate












return to the listing of eames articles