As you know I have a delight in Heath Robinson-like contraptions, automata and all things that clink and clonk, I love to paint folk tales in medieval hues, and make things from wood. So I thought to combine all these things into Once Upon O'Clock, my laboratory of creaking and ticking and a place where you can buy my original paintings with a twist.
My first toe-dip into the horological workshop was a few years ago when I made this clock on the left as a gift for my parents. These new once upon o'clocks are made from slices of wood from a tree down the way that has been logs for some time, logs that are a perfect round clock size.
The wood, once cut, was sanded and the bark left on. Then the hole for the spindle was drilled, off centre to match the rings of the tree. The "Old Mother Time" painting is inspired by the many world myths of the fates spinning the threads of our lives and of time and the familiar old woman of fairytale who spins.
I liked the idea that the hands of the clock would turn around her spinning wheel, and I have spent time making the surface of the paint look aged and worn and the cracks in the wood into a feature. I hope that these clocks will be unique and unusual treasures, useful and beautiful, strange and old, ticking away once upon o'tales on your walls ...
To celebrate my new creations, I have been busy making a ticking tocking website-with-cogs where you can spend time in this once upon o'clock world. Tui has made the most amazing music for the site out of recordings of clocks and treadle sewing machines, bells and scuffles, as only he knows how. I think the sounds add a whole new dimension to the page and make wandering off into the imagination of this wonky contraption of a place quite unavoidable.
I invite you all to go and have a look ... it will grow as I make more clocks, there's even a rhyme. And don't forget to turn your speakers up!
Pricing of works is always a dilemma and a half for me... Artists who make their main living from their art, as I do, have to charge prices that reflect the time and costs involved in the making of a piece; this, after all, is a wage. But it is an ever present problem that if you price a work that has taken you two weeks for example at an amount even half another person's average fortnightly wage, they fall backwards in horror, mutter "um thanks anyway" and scuttle off never to be heard of again!
So what's the answer? Either to undercharge dramatically, subcontract your work to a factory in China, or fill your living room with wonderful never-seen artworks.
With this problem in mind, neverending drizzle outside the windows, and a cavernously echoing piggybank, I have decided to try to make these clocks at affordable prices, because I want people to buy them. The idea is to make a one-off original painting in oils on wood which I would normally charge several hundred pounds for and turn it into a useful object: a clock, a unique creation that will never be made again and charge just sixty pounds - one pound for every minute!
I hope that each one I make might sell and then I will make another. This one took me four days. I would really like to hear your views on whether you think this is too much, too little, affordable, silly, cheap or otherwise. Would you buy one? Why/Why not?
Here is the new Once upon O'Clock Etsy Shop where I hope these clocks will flit in and out in a tick and a tock ... first come first served!
It was once upon o’clock
When a jumping jackanory
Called to his ticking flock:
“Come and spin a yarn with me
Around this loom of time,
And I’ll tell you horologically
Of the spinning wheel of rhyme.”