Acacia Artisans is Native American artistry in silver, shell, quill and bead work. Southwest home decor. Hand cast and hand painted decorative wall plaques, clocks, ceramics. Other unusual handmade and hand crafted folk-art. Southwest artisanal foods and candies.


Kokopelli Mantle Clock
by Jim Bridges

Jim ordered some Frontier Studios pieces, telling us that he was going to use the pieces to make a Mantle Clock for a friend's Christmas gift. This sounded like an interesting idea to us, and we asked Jim if he would send a picture of his project when it was finished. Not only did Jim send the picture, but complete instructions and materials list. As a former Industrial Arts teacher, Forrest was very impressed. It is difficult to write such clear and complete instructions, and we think if Jim isn't a teacher, he would make a very good one! He kindly gave us permission to use his work plus his name, which we really appreciate. So, congratulations, Jim, for giving us such a wonderful start to our new "You Did It!" pages. (Now you can email your friends, as you mentioned wanting to do.)

Required Materials
6" Kokopelli left-walking figure
5" Happy Sun figure
Walnut Hollow clock parts available at craft shops
clock quartz movement, battery powered (3/4" shaft minimum) $5
clock hands, black (3" long minute hand) $1.40
clock numerals $1.80
Plaster of Paris - 25lb $8
Small bag of fine play sand
AA battery

Tools:

Electric hand drill with 5/16" bit, Scotch tape, scissors, paper, plastic food wrap, rigid cardboard box large enough to hold the clock, bucket to mix plaster

DESIGN

Sketch a full-size drawing of what you want the clock to look like, positioning Kokopelli and the Man-in-Sun. Plan the clocks numerals to be in a 6" diameter circle. You can use either the numerals or markers that come with the clock kit and paint them any color.

It is suggested that you first build a half scale model for practice. This will also give you a good idea of what colors the final clock will be as well as helping you anticipate problems before attempting the final unit.

Working with plaster is messy. Keep a bowl of water and a towel nearby to wash and dry your hands before handling the figurines.

Cut down the cardboard box so that it is about 3" high. Line the bottom and the side closest to you with plastic food wrap. Tape it down at several points along the edges.

PRACTICE

Mix about 2 pounds of plaster with cool water per directions on the container. The plaster/water mix should have a smooth (no lumps), heavy consistency that holds it own shape.

Drop the plaster mix on the plastic wrap. Shape and smooth it with your hands. Make sure the base is thickest at the edge of the box closest to you and that this edge is straight up. Slight irregularities in the surface give it a natural appearance.

Cover model with sand. Tap the sand into the plaster. After the mold has cooled, remove the plastic wrap and wipe off excess sand. This is the test model.

PREPARATIONS

Draw two straight lines on the back of the sun between opposite tips to determine the center of the face. Where the lines intersect slowly drill a 5/16" hole so as not to suddenly break through and chip the face. Mount the clock onto the back of the sun and tighten the nut onto the shaft. If the hole is not perpendicular to the clock's surface and the nut will not thread, redrill at the correct angle. If the nut cannot be threaded, tape can be wound around the clock's shaft to make a tight fit. Cover the clock's shaft opening with tape.

The plastic protective shell that served as the packaging for the clock movement can be used to form the clock's cavity in the plaster. Cut away the top of the shell leaving only the sides. If your clock did not come with such a case, form a box the size of the clock out of cardboard.

Cut out a 5" diameter paper circle to use as a template and mark the paper where the clock's numerals are to be placed. Cut out a 1/4" hole in the center.

Draw the clock's outline on the cardboard box. The cardboard holder the Kokopelli was shipped on can be used to raise up the clock's movement, giving it more depth and an angle. Cut off part of one of the folded sides to give it the desired angle and tape it into the box where the clock's movement will be. Line the box with plastic wrap. Tape the protective shell onto the plastic wrap where the center of the clock will be.

PLASTER

The next four steps must be done within 10 minutes (before the plaster starts to harden.) It helps to have a second person with clean hands to place the figurines and clock numerals.

1) Mix about 15 pounds of plaster with water in the bucket and pour it onto the plastic food wrap, shaping it as with the practice unit. Do not let the plaster overflow inside the protective shell. Although it is better if the plaster does not even touch this shell, the opening must be small enough to be covered by the sun. The base must be thicker than the rest of the clock to give it stability. Wet your hands and smooth the surface and sides.

2) Place the Man-in-the-Sun in the plaster, guiding the clock into the protective shell. Be sure your hands are clean and dry before handling the figurines to avoid white smudges. Press down and wiggle to set it into the plaster. Place and set Kokopelli into the plaster.

3) Place the paper clock template over the sun's face to use as a guide to set the numerals into the plaster. Remove the template.

4) This step must be done quickly to get an even finish. Pour sand generously, coating every place where plaster is visible, including the sides. Press the sand into the plaster, applying pressure over the entire surface, especially close to the figurines; otherwise, the finish will be inconsistent. Lift up the plastic wrap at the sides and top of the clock to round the edges of the plaster with your fingers and coat with sand.

After the plaster has cooled off, brush off the loose sand. Adjust the clock so that the minute hand is at 12:00 before pressing the hour hand in the same position. Place clock on the mantle, step back and admire your beautiful work of art! Note: the small C-wrap lizard ($17) next to the clock adds a nice touch.

VARIATIONS

A simpler clock can be made by omitting the Man-in-the-Sun and using the plain surface of the plaster for the clock's face. Be sure the hands will clear the face of the clock through a full circle. Smaller clock hands reduce the space required for the face of the clock. Consider placing an S-lizard in the opposite corner to balance Kokopelli. Another variation is to use both a right and a left-walking Kokopelli, each facing the clock between them.