Nancy Lee

3 O'clock

Medium/Materials: Halstead parts, copper watch case, grandfather clock gears

Dimensions:  2.5 x 2 inches

Photographer: Nancy Lee

Artist Statement: 

I created 3 O’clock as part of a challenge - not just for the SNAG benefit and Halstead Bead Challenge, but to challenge myself, push boundaries, get scared, and see if I could do it. Trading in my usual mode of work for some prescribed limitations was far more of a challenge than I thought it would be. I learned that the only way I was going to create anything worthwhile was to get away from the sketchbook and handle the materials. That’s when the excitement hit, creativity grabbed me, and I felt I could fly, reminding me of the art-making we are able to engage in wholeheartedly when we were children. That feeling produced the unifying theme for my project – it came to be about the tension of time in how we view the world. The found objects I added to the project helped me relate the story of time: a case from an old pocket watch, a tiny gear from that watch, and a couple of gears from another time-keeper: a grandfather clock. I added another quiet bit of childhood fun: the back of 3 O’clock is etched with a faded, timeworn Spirograph image. The wearer can even make it be 3 o’clock anytime, by manipulating the three layers of the triple-riveted assembly just so.

3 O’clock came to life with an assemblage of items from the Halstead package – brass, copper, and silver sheet, discs, and wire. To add found objects to the mix, I chose watch and clock parts. To make these things do my bidding, I used forming, etching, soldering, riveting, glues, and patina techniques. As I worked my way through the assembly, I focused more and more on the aspect of time. 3 o’clock was, in my childhood, the time school let out. No matter how boring or restrictive or tiring the school day had been, when it was 3 o’clock, the bell rang. The school bell meant freedom and a new rush of energy. As I worked, I compared this to my current project. The tension between the stricture of having materials choices made for me to which I added my own input brought back that feeling of tension between the school day and the school bell. It was 3 o’Clock for hours on end as I worked on this project. In some ways confined, I knew I had the power to ring the bell, and it was exhilarating. Now the bell has rung, the project is finished; I’m satisfied with my best effort. It is left to the teachers to grade my homework.