Hands of Time

Gifted East Bay clockmaker's joyful, heartfelt timepieces tell intimate tales as well as time
Hands of Time
Clockmaker Steve Hurst sells clocks off the shelf, and does custom work too. Left: 'The Joy of Rising Everyday,' a custom wall clock approximately two feet in diameter, is made from a tabletop. Right: This custom is made of spun bamboo, poplar, dichroic glass, and other oddities.

Inspiration comes to artists in many different ways.

For clockmaker Steve Hurst of Point Richmond, it often flows from the people he comes to know in and around the charming East Bay enclave, where 19th and early 20th century storefronts and Victorian homes are centered on a small park.

One inspiration was Amira Hayes, a woman beloved by neighbors and shop-goers because of her charm and beauty, her outrageous fashion sense, her Minnie Ripperton-like afro, her dimples and smile.

Hurst has been fabricating artistic clocks for nearly 25 years, producing more than a thousand so far, he estimates, from his STEVENart Design Studio. They range from small, tabletop models to wall clocks that can dominate a room.

Former pro basketball star Magic Johnson bought one. Oprah owns another, a gift from Hurst, her cousin.

Hands of Time
Six unique Steve Hurst designs: each with a tale to tell.

Hurst sells clocks off the shelf, and does custom work too. If you're in line for the latter, bear this warning in mind: Don't ask the artist to match the color of your boudoir. He's more of a portraitist and storyteller than a decorator. The imagery and materials used in Hurst's clocks draw on symbols both obvious and obscure, taken from his own life and the lives of his clients.

He aims at visual delight, at conveying emotion, and providing joy. And he wants every clock to tell time for a long, long time.

"First of all, I never do clocks on the basis of 'oh, this is nice for someone's decor,' and we try to do something to match trendy colors. I go with an emotional feeling," he says.

We all know about the wonderful George Nelson clocks found in so many Eichler and other mid-century modern homes, most famously Nelson's joyful, simple starbursts and sunbursts.

  Hands of Time
Hurst (above) understands that he is selling not just art, but a functioning product—and that product needs to keep running.

Hurst's clocks are similarly joyful, modern in their materials and in the use of found and collaged materials, the use of LED lighting, the clocks' abstract flair. But rather than stripping design to its essence, as Nelson does, Hurst's process is additive, his clocks assembled from a variety of materials, many of them repurposed from past lives.

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