Refugio clockmaker shares passion for timeless craft
July 21, 2011 at 2:21 a.m.
REFUGIO - If there's one thing Larry Phillips makes time for, it's time.
To be more specific, clocks - and hundreds of them.
And as the 60-year-old gets closer to retiring, his love and time to create custom clocks from his home will only get stronger.
"I do just about anything," Phillips said as he examined the many clocks in his makeshift garage and clock-making workshop. "Anything except cuckoo or grandfather clocks."
Phillips is an Ohio native who moved to Refugio in 2002. To date, he still cannot get used to the hard, Texas heat.
Also, working in high heat and humidity does not agree with the clock-making process. It takes longer for the glues to stick.
As it is, two oscillating fans in his outdoor workshop attempt to cut the thickening heat from his face.
His best work comes during the fall and winter months, he said.
Sports clocks and deer hunting theme clocks are his forte. Phillips will travel almost anywhere, getting popular sporting banners and memorabilia just for one clock.
One of his favorite places is Hobby Lobby.
However, creating the clock is the easy part; it's visualizing what he wants to create that takes most of the time and effort. He uses a machine to carve the wood and some other products to give the clock its finishing touch, but he's not about to give away his secret, he said.
Phillips buys the clock mechanics through a company and just inserts those into his creation, but he has been known to fix some clocks.
He began building clocks in the '90s with a friend from New York. He remembers his first attempt.
His first clock completely cracked and wasn't even usable.
"The first clock I made was terrible," he said, scoffing. "You go through trials and errors through anything you do."
About 20 years later, Phillips has sold about 600 clocks, but has made many more.
Inside his home is one of his biggest projects: a 3-foot wide by 2-foot high clock that was carved to form a forest and deer scene.
The project took him and his friend from New York two years to complete.
Phillips receives several requests and can usually complete them fast. He's made many local school insignia clocks, which is a popular request.
He does charge people, but isn't in it for the profit, he said.
Others have been donated and auctioned off.
"I just do it to do it," he said.
Some others want their clocks more personal, with photos of a loved one for example.
Still, his favorites are the hunting and sports ones.
"There is something different about every one of them," he said as he scanned the clocks in the workshop. "I never make the same clock twice.