Sunburst Wall Clock

1115clockThis modern take on a mid-century classic is a study in precision geometry.

by Andy Brownell

page 42

The sunburst-style wall clock came in a variety of shapes and sizes during its heyday of the mid-1940s to the mid ’60s. Its aesthetic captured many of the design elements common to the mid-century modern style – curves, colors, acute angles and mixed materials – all elegantly arranged to deliver both beautiful design and function. Designers such as George Nelson with his work for the Howard Miller Clock Company (the iconic polygon clock), as well as his imitators, followed a simple set of three structural elements.

The first is the central structure of the clock face – usually round, and either painted or adorned with a printed metal face of Arabic or Roman numerals, and, of course, the hands of the clock. Next are the spokes, typically round brass rods extending outward in a concentric pattern, and numbering anywhere from as few as four to as many as 48. Then come the rays that connect to the spokes; they often resembled sunflower petals, sun rays, globes or diamonds, and were commonly made from teak, walnut and rosewood.

These three key elements form the basis of just about all of the mid-century modern clocks that were produced last century, and they are replicated today. They also provide the baseline for developing an almost endless number of styles and variations. The version I’ve built here measures 30″ in diameter, has 24 rays and uses Brazilian rosewood and carbon-fiber tubes – an updated look to the traditional brass.

Web site: Visit Andy Brownell’s web site.
Plan: Download a free SketchUp model of this project.
Article: Read a free article on making a country-style grandfather clock.
In Our Store:Mid-century Modern Furniture: Shop Drawings & Techniques for Making 29 Projects,” by Michael Crow.

From the November 2015 issue

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