The idea seemed quite straightforward, but the
machine took twice as long as I was expecting to get it working properly
(about 2 months). The idea for a corn popping machine came from a commission 3
years ago from the Eden project in Cornwall for a tiny cinema (a garden
shed) seating 11 people. A miniature popcorn machine seemed the
natural thing to have outside a tiny cinema. 9 months ago the Eden
project revived the idea and asked me to make the popcorn machine
as an exhibit for their warm temperate biome. Then I decided to make a
second version for the pier as a slimming aid. A friend – John Barret
– suggested adding the mirror and even gave me a bit of plastic
mirror, left over from
fitting a Swiss hotel lift many years ago.
versions were plagued with technical problems – 90% of the corns
worked fine, but preventing the last 10% jamming the machine was tricky.
The pier version was built with bits and pieces I’d scavenged or had
leftover from other jobs. My worst decision was to use an old PLC
without enough outputs – endless rewiring, additional delay timers and
It’s still not perfect – the heating time varies enormously. As
the heat gun, chamber and tubing cool down, the length of heating time
for the next turn increases. The heating has to be quite slow or the
corn heats unevenly and doesn’t pop properly. The moisture content of
the corn also seems to affect the heating time.