These clocks, and many others, along with candle holders, signs, weather stations, desk sets and now tables, are overrunning all the spaces on the lower level of our split level home. Spouse has been creating these works of art at least since I retired two and a half years ago. Actually he has made more beautiful things and has been making them longer than that.
He made the clock with the San Francisco skyline before we met. This, along with a beautiful large and heavy clock made from burl wood and a game table made from a large spool which previously had carried electric cables wrapped around it, were part of the decor of his Long Beach bachelor pad. Making things like this out of wood was a hobby he had developed when he had first struck out on his own, and he’d made a little money off it by selling them at the swap meet. He had been salivating to get back to it in retirement, and went at it with an enthusiastic vengeance as soon as we were permanently settled in our retirement home.
He still gets a lot of enjoyment out of making this stuff, but that has been unfortunately tempered by our inability to sell any of it. We didn’t really try to sell them for the first year. During that time he was having more fun getting wood from our new neighbors, two or three other retired gentlemen, working to return the raw material to them as finished products. We tried to place them for consignment sale in some local craft shops, but the reception of the owners there was tepid at best. Finally, at the end of last year, we made a sale at an annual holiday arts show. We learned from other craftspeople at that show that the place to move this sort of locally produced natural product was in the Great Smoky Mountains town of Gatlinburg, which, like its neighboring cities of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, is kind of a rustic yet sophisticated, woodsy yet modern, eclectic and airy “mountain resort” in a beautiful natural area that is now, more often than not, crowded with vehicles and amusements of all types. This gateway to America’s most popular (probably since entry is free) national park boasts an aquarium, an indoor ice rink and a distillery, as well as a “historic beautiful and peaceful craft crawl” on an 8-mile loop of local roads which has been designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail.
It was there, as we walked in and out of half a dozen or so stores that included wood products in their guidebook descriptions, that we were joltingly reminded that nobody uses clocks any more to tell the time; we all do that on our cell phones now. Still, the clocks that Spouse has made in the past remain beautiful works of art, and I think the tables he is slaving over and investing in now, are even more beautiful and, perhaps now that our eyes have been opened to the facts of modern life, possibly even more functional and salable. That, at least, is our hope, as we prepare to bring our wares to the local holiday craft show again later this year, and to really and finally join the 21st century sales force, by taking a class together at the local library so we can learn how to etsy, which I think could probably be a verb like google and facebook.