Hands of Time - Page 2

Gifted East Bay clockmaker's joyful, heartfelt timepieces tell intimate tales as well as time
  Hands of Time
An iteration of Hurst's most requested design, 'Amira's Smile,' in memory of a lost dear friend. This version was for a dental office.

One clock, owned by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, was made from a pizza pan, a subwoofer speaker grill, sponge coral, a conical truck wheel nut, and more. Custom clocks often incorporate items that are special to the buyer, sometimes at the 12 o'clock position. One for a dentist shows a toothbrush brushing teeth.

But let's go back to Amira, who was "at the heart of so many people here in Point Richmond," Hurst says. "And she had these dimples and the smile that was just unforgettable. She died from cancer." Amira, a fine dancer, was a star at many of Hurst's legendary studio parties. She also worked in a Point Richmond fashion shop.

Hurst's series of clocks, 'Amira's Smile,' aims to revive the happiness Amira once spread. It is a series that incorporates glass beads, pistachio shells (a common Hurst material), recycled leather, and wooden architectural rosettes. He says the series succeeds in his purpose.

Another clock, 'Jim's Flight,' was inspired by another friend who died of cancer. "I love this man so much that the entire time I was working on this clock, I was thinking of him. And that's why I named it after him," Hurst says.

Hands of Time
"That's five feet of creativity this client is holding!" says Hurst of this wild design, an anniversary gift to this woman, a piano instructor.

This particular work, which uses a patinated fondue cover as the clock face, places the clock's hands atop the Chinese pictogram for long life. One portion of the design "represents his living here, and then that great, big void on the right is where he transitions to another life."

Hurst, 69, grew up with an artistic bent in the Ida B. Wells housing project in Chicago's South Side, creating art objects with vinyl scraps, and other leftover materials that his mom, a domestic worker, would bring home.

"The thing is, I learned at an early age how to work with materials," Hurst says. Among his materials was hair, which he learned to style, achieving success in the hairdressing trade.

"I had the baddest 'fro in the projects, and so guys would ask me to do their hair," Hurst says. "And so I started a business, and I was charging $20 when other barbers were charging $9."

Hands of Time
'Dena Joy,' named after Hurst's sister, is made from dumpster wood with formed rust, mahogany, a candlestick holder, washers, and the bob from a pendulum.

Hurst also played saxophone professionally, and still regrets turning down a job to join the band of soul singer Johnnie Taylor.

In the mid-1970s Hurst studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He then worked in graphic design in New York, Boston, and Cleveland, retiring after decades in the field to focus on fine art, a calling he had pursued part time throughout his career.

Keep in touch with the Eichler Network. SUBSCRIBE to our free e-newsletter