Adirondack furniture has always intrigued me. Made from scavenged twigs and bark, the simplicity and earthiness of this technique has made it a truly American art form. That idea resulted in the Hickory Flat Owl Cuckoo Clock. Here is how the idea evolved.
Adirondack Furniture Applied to a Cuckoo Clock
On my evening walk at my farm with the dogs (and often the barn kitty Reid) one evening I picked up some birch bark. “Hum…” The image of an Adirondack desk I had seen recently popped into mind. I headed inside to conduct an experiment, grabbing a poplar board scrap from my wood workshop on my way.
First I ironed the bark, then glued the pieces down to the wood, placing parchment paper and a heavy book on top.
The unveiling the next day was quite promising, so I continued on to exploring with how these materials could be applied to a cuckoo clock.
Oh yes, got something here.
Next I started playing with the shape of the clock. Here’s a Facebook post in which I shared the shapes, looking for input.
That’s when I got to thinking that “Blue Ridge” would be more appropriate a name for my clock than “Adirondack.” After all, I live just short of the southerly end of the Appalachian Trail. While mucking stalls I better idea came to me. Since I gather materials from my farm the clock must be named “The Hickory Flat Cuckoo Clock” after the hamlet in which I live. Perfect!
Natural Ingredients from the Farm!
Of course, twigs are an important element in this art form, so I chatted with a man who makes high end Adirondack furniture. He told me not only what to use to seal the natural materials, but also how to dry my materials. Time does the job for sure, but if not, yup, in a high-tech kiln!
For a mock-up I traced my cuckoo clock front design onto 1/4″-thick poplar and cut it out with a scroll saw, then glued the pressed bark and beech leaves to it.
From a larger stick, I a piece for the bottom ledge of the clock, sanding it with my mob on my drill press.
For the sides of the clock I rehearsed stained popsicle-sticks-turned-clapboards. Hum, not sure about that, so I’ll move on for now.
An Owl Cuckoo Clock!
For some reason I recalled that there is such a thing as owl bellows. Could it be? Yes! I found a video of a cuckoo clock with them on You Tube. They showed up a supplier’s catalog online, but they wouldn’t have any for months. Okay, I know they exist, I’ll worry getting some later alter, I thought. I was excited to get going on the owl that would replace the cuckoo!
Could I sculpt it? I got some clay out and went to it.
Now how to get him in a form that I can reproduce for clocks?
A friend of a friend let me borrow a 3D printer, a MakerBot Replicator 2X. I ordered Hatchbox wood filament and printed out an owl from Thingiverse. OHHHH! This is doable!
Now, how to get my owl into electronic form?
I tried camertography. Gosh, cumbersome. When I told him what I was up to my friend Zach Manring of Southern Ginger sent me a link to the Einscan SE. The reviews were great so I gulped and hit “order.”
Within less than an hour of opening the box I had my first scan. And boy did it look good! I then moved my laptop to the MakerBot, plugged it all together, and used the suggested starting settings, and hit print. It took a few attempts to get a complete owl. I was thrilled!
Putting the Owl in Motion
Next up, I needed something for the owl to sit on and move in and out in place of the cuckoo. I built a box with a runner and a platform for our little guy to sit on and go back and forth.
Then the MakerBot went to work printing it.
My first glimpse at the owl cuckoo clock put together. Love it!
Rough prototype done it was time to start fresh, first creating the clock in Vectric VCarve, cutting it out on my CNC, and continuing on from there. And what to do about a dial? Hum… a log slice with the numerals burned in?
I took the rough prototype to the Wild Birds Unlimited Vendor Mart. It created quite a stir. I was calling it “The Hickory Flat Cuckoo Clock” but I receive calls and emails asking when the “Owl Cuckoo Clock” will be ready. Back to work on it!