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Island Chic

Art doesn’t always have to hang on a wall or sit on a shelf. It can tell time, block the afternoon sun, keep you warm or serve pupu for a party. Meet 10 Island artisans who create stunning, functional pieces for the home.


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Frank Chase was inspired to make a wood dial clock in 1973 while working as a clerk in the post office. “I saw a copy of FIne Wood Working with a dial clock on it and snuck a look,” he says.

Photo: Olivier Koning

Frank Chase

Chase Designs, wood dial clocks


Frank Chase’s all-wood, entirely handcrafted clocks do more than tell time, they aid in the celestial mapping of Mercury. “I have a lot of New Age friends who are always talking about the planets,” he laughs. His dial clocks, 24-inches in diameter, are “handless,” the Roman numeral dial rotating to the top once every 24 hours to indicate the time. The Mercury clocks come complete with a small metal globe of Mercury, the large dial turning every 88 days, “the time it takes Mercury to rotate around the sun,” says Chase. The smaller dial to the right tells time.



One look at a Chase clock and you’ll see its intricate design. “It takes me two months per clock,” say Chase, “and I make all the pieces, except for the chain, which I used to also make,” he says. He uses koa wood for dials and inlays, fashions pulleys out of ebony and uses cocobolo for the chain wheels. The clock frames and shafts are made out of English walnut, which he dyes black.

His current series ranges from $6,000 to $10,000. Chase sells primarily to clock collectors. “These clocks provide interaction with their owners,” he says. “Making them soothes my soul.” Chase has been making clocks since 1976 at his studio on the Big Island, where he also handcrafts furniture, wood motors and harmonographs—wood pendulums that create geometric designs. HCR3, P.O. Box 13561, Keaau, 808-756-6212, www.chasedesigns.com.


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Honolulu Magazine November 2017
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