Repair: Celebrating the cracks with fanfare! | the ReFab Diaries

A few months ago, the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse posted the pic below on Facebook. The message: everything you see here is free! Great for artists - come and take it! 

I knew a friend of mine was nearby and sent her an urgent message, something along the lines of "there's a clock on the table! back, left corner. Please grab it for me!" The response I got was something like "er... ok ... really? 'Cos it's filthy. And really broken. And really heavy." 

She was right. It was all of those things. And on top of all the obvious things wrong with it, the neglected wood was full of cracks. But... I still fell in love with the thing. I began the work of removing the old mechanism and cleaning the facade. One of the hardest jobs was removing the hands so I could completely remove the old mechanism!  

I don't know what metal I was dealing with, but it took a huge amount of force to bend it, and I destroyed the old hands in the process (you can sort of see the mangled mess of old hands near the bottom of the clock, left. 

Until last week, the two pieces sat on my work table. I didn't just want to fix it. I wanted to somehow draw attention to its imperfection Kintsugi-style. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing pottery in a way that treats the breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. It has a lot in common with wabi-sabi - accepting and embracing transience and imperfection. I wanted this beautiful old clock to flaunt its repair. And when I found this fan in a box of old toys, I knew how I'd make that happen.

This fan is made of paper-thin pieces of wood. I could cut it with scissors, so it was relatively easy to experiment and shape pieces to work.

Once I figured out what damage would get the fanfare (ha!), I picked a gold paint and got to work.

The body of the clock was so dry and cracked, it soaked up about three coats of stain and sealer. I used a black paint pen to touch up the numbers a little, but otherwise did nothing to the original face besides clean it.

Once it was dry, I attached a basic quartz mechanism. Then I glued on the gold pieces.

I have a fairly large collection of clock hands, but selecting a pair was difficult! So I just kept trying combinations until something worked. 

The last step: A heavy coat of high-gloss Mod Podge over the whole thing. I could see the fan pieces curling in humidity, so the extra coat will prevent that. More importantly though, this last step sealed all the cracks in the wood so they won't spread when the heat turns on in October and dehydrates everything. 

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in  
-  Leonard Cohen, Anthem

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