In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine someone making accurate clock mechanisms without using a single piece of metal. And yet, Andrey Martyniuk, a woodcarver from Belarus, manages to create intricate clocks exclusively from wooden components.
As a child, Andrey Matyniuk loved to sketch. He then got an education as an engineer, and later in life developed a passion for wood carving. After a master carpenter told him that wooden clocks are the pinnacle of perfection, he decided to combine all his skills to create artistic yet functional mechanism exclusively from wood. Bit it was easier said than done, and the ambitious woodcarver spent three years working on his first wooden clock. He tried copying the mechanism of a metal clock, but although the principle is exactly the same, there are two important things to take into consideration to ensure the clock measures time accurately – the softness of the material and the humidity of the environment. After years of experimenting, the master learned he had to increase the size of the gear teeth and treat the wood with a special compound to make it resistant to humidity. He also found that wood had a big advantage over metal – it has a much lower coefficient of thermal expansion, so it is much less affected by temperature changes than metal.
In the 16 years since he started making clocks exclusively from wood, he has only designed and completed 20 of them. Although the time he takes to finish one of his masterpieces has diminished considerably, he still needs up to six months to make a single clock. He can’t really call it a job either, considering he sells his works for about $500, hardly enough to support a family, but he’s really happy when someone is interested in buying his clocks, because it’s a recognition of his skills. He says the price he sets for his wooden cloaks are symbolic compared to the time and effort that go into making them, but it isn’t financial gain that drives him, but his fascination with wood. The Belarusian woodcarver takes great pride in knowing that something made by his able hands will give joy to someone else, as well.
Making beautiful clocks from wood is impressive enough, but what’s even more special about Andrey Matyniuk’s are as precise as any Swiss watch. It requires great patience and perseverence, as well as an eye for the right kind of wood – he uses up to 15 types of wood for a single clock – but after all this hard work, the woodcarver is rewarded with a unique work of art that will turn for a very long time.