The Iowa, USA based clock maker cum sculptor makes some truly unique kinetic-driven clocks made entirely out of wood.
Timeshapes is the creation of Iowa-based designer James Borden. Since the 1980s, James has been in the business of creating some very special kinetic sculptures. They are essentially mechanical weight-driven or spring-driven clocks, and maybe most impressive of all is that every component is made of wood.
James Borden hails from a small town in the state of Illinois – once a strong center of American watch and clock making. But interestingly, his formal training had nothing to do with clock making. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and then went on to finish a Master of Divinity Degree.
In the meantime, James had tinkered with timepieces as a hobby and had come across wooden clock making during his studies, but only in passing. When he built his first clock as a class project, that’s when his passion for designing wooden timekeepers started to roll.
Soon after, he opened a clock repair and restoration shop while attending his courses. From repairman he became a designer, creating standing and suspended clocks that have all of their gears exposed.
Gradually he then went on to make the hand-carved pieces we are familiar with today, all of which are made from fine woods like walnut, cherry, maple and hickory. They have been so well received that they have won several awards at the Smithsonian Craft Show.
Designs include clocks that can be suspended from the ceiling, which can measure nearly 3 meters in length and 2 meters in height, or standing clocks, which can be even larger. The table clocks are a bit smaller, standing at about 60 cm.
The inspiration behind the unique clocks comes from shapes found in nature, whether that is a tree or the silhouette of an animal. The clocks are all based on quite simplistic forms, like arches and spirals. But when James puts these shapes together, the pieces comes to life and leave a lasting impression.
When set in motion, the pieces have a smooth motion and the passage of time can be heard through soft and woody clicking sounds. This is quite different than the high-beat ticking of watches – it represents a slower and calmer passage of time.
Borden mostly sells his clocks at fairs and exhibitions. He also makes specially commissioned pieces for private customers, and prices range anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 USD. Of course, there is no mass production here – the master craftsman and clock maker can only manage to make about 10-15 of these clocks per year.