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Wild and Crazy Hawaiian Koa and Sapele Clock with Stained Glass

Okay, it’s hard to say exactly what happened here. If you could see the original drawings we made for what this clock would look like, you would know exactly what we mean. But this is just one of those times when a project completely and utterly took on a life of its own and became what it wanted to. Every step of the way, with each piece of wood we were working on, our intentions and its will did battle, and we lost. But boy do we love the outcome!

In the beginning, the plan was for a traditional looking desk top clock, with a case made of African Sapele and all of the decorative embellishments made of Hawaiian Koa. We made the initial Sapele case, but after that, the wheels came off. We had planned to have a thin top piece with a nice little upward flair on either end to embellish the top of the case, some nice prim Koa trim to go around the front face, and long slender legs going up the sides to give the chunky case some height.

The first piece that fought back was the top. It was a very rustic piece of Koa to begin with and resisted at every turn being pruned into a sleek shape. So in the end we used an angle grinder to give it hills and valleys all across the top, instead of just two flared ends, and even kept the burly knot at one end. As soon as we set it on top of the case we knew we were in trouble. We absolutely loved the wild look it gave off, and from there, we obeyed commands. We set aside the delicate little embellishments for the face and made new ones, once again using an angle grinder on larger pieces with crazy cuts and overlaps to add much more dimension. Then we chucked the idea of slender legs because they would look ridiculous and went instead with thick, chunky feet, each one its own rustic shape, all cut out of the same gnarly knotted hunk of Koa. We chiseled out squares from the tops of each to level the case and again took the angle grinder to the surfaces to add yet more texture. Once we set the case into the feet and put the ‘hair’ on top, we knew what we had to do. We had to make arms! We found two willing scraps of Koa in our dwindling pile and went with their natural shapes to form two distinctly structured arms for our clock. Wow.

All that was left was a complete rework of the stained glass design for the face. The original plan was pretty tame, with a clock centered on the front and some tropical themed small design of stained glass below that. But we couldn’t have this clock body and not give it a face, so we ended up making him a big blue eye in the upper right with the clock stem as its pupil, with 2 more pieces added in a sort of ‘dual plane’ Picasso style nose and mouth so that you can see him head on and in profile all at once. When it is turned on, the effect is really cool.

We finished the entire piece with multiple coats of satin, oil and urethane hand rubbed finish. The clock is battery operated, but the stained glass is lit by a small candelabra style LED bulb on a cord with an in-line switch. The case of this clock measures 8” wide x 10 1/2” tall x 6” deep, but with all of the wild embellishments the finished dimensions are 13 1/2” wide (at the arms and feet) x 13” tall x 9” deep (at the feet). The battery operated quartz movement clock comes with the hands packaged separately. The reinstallation is a straightforward process.

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