Charlie’s Handmade Butterfly Clock for Chrysalis

Chrysalis is a new mobile multi-functional community space currently being lovingly built by the hands and imagination of of hundreds of people across South Devon and Torbay.

Charlie is one of three regular carpentry volunteers for the Making of Chrysalis and has been working alongside Luke Jones from WoCo to construct the largely timber aspects of the modifications and fit out of the Luton van which is metamorphosing into Chrysalis. Here he explains the process of transforming wood offcuts into a unique clock for Chrysalis.

After making a few clocks using offcuts of the wood we were using on the Chrysalis project I was asked to make one to go in the van. I googled Sequoia for inspiration but as it is basically a red pine tree there was very little inspiration. I then googled chrysalis but again an ugly shape & no inspiration but as I looked through the images I saw the lovely shape of a butterfly.  To be honest I should have thought of a butterfly from the start but I’m not the sharpest tool in the box. I may not be smart but I’m very good at making things and in particular clocks.

Ok so I now have the theme for a clock but how would I tackle the making & shaping?  First I drew a butterfly shape on a piece of Sequoia. It was pathetic & childlike so I went back to google images for a better shape & that’s where this clock was born and as a butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, this clock emerged from the wood.

The first stage of the make, the clock outline on the sequoia off-cut (left). Shaping the top of the wings (right).

I didn’t want it to be just flat against the wall so I started by cutting away the rear of the wings at such an angle to look natural.  Cutting the front of the wings at a similar angle would prove much more difficult so I tried something I’d never tried before. I brought out my recently purchased angle grinder & with a grinding disc started to grind away the wood from the top of the wings. It wasn’t as easy as I imagined it would be. It took off very little wood but I persevered and gradually got the hang of it. After 3 hours it had gone from a piece of flat sequoia plank to a  3D butterfly shape.

Next part was pretty straight forward. I need to sand out all the marks made by the grinding disc. It sounds easy enough but the wings were so uneven. I started off using 80 grit but quickly changed to 50 grit. As it got closer to being level I changed back to 80 grit paper & as soon as it was almost level I changed to 120 grit paper.  

The clock mechanisms that I’d ordered for this clock arrived in the post so I set about marking up the wings for the best position and rather than wait to finish sanding I thought it better to drill out the holes now so that when I continue sanding it will take out any rough edges or blemishes caused by the cutting tool. The holes although cut to the recommended size were still a little too small for the clock & the temperature gauge so with a dremmel multi tool and a steady hand I ground out very minimal amounts of wood until they did fit.

I removed the clock & the temperature gauge to continue sanding the butterfly wings. Now using 280 grit paper. Believe it or not I have now spent 6 hours on this project to get it to this stage.  The body of the butterfly is having to be sanded by hand due to its shape.

The wings are really quite smooth but before I wax it I’m going to sand them a little more but with a 600 grit paper. This is by far my best ever piece of work.  I have no big pieces of machinery. This has been done with a jig saw, a hand saw, an angle grinder, a dremmel and a sander. I must admit that I did struggle at times. The jig saw, Grinder and sander aggravated my Arthritic hands to a point that I could no longer use the tools

9 hours in and it’s waxed and polished.  I’ve also added two antennae made from enamel coated copper wire.

I hope people like it and appreciate the work & effort involved in making this clock.



The Making of Chrysalis

Chrysalis will be a new mobile arts, culture and learning space made in 2018 - 2019 by the hands and imagination of people who live or work in the Bio Region of South Devon.