VWA Blog

Will Matthysen on The Art of Making Exhibition

The Art of Making: Studio Woodworkers Australia demonstrates technical mastery pushing creative and material boundaries. Across an eclectic selection of furniture, objects and wall pieces, the exhibition highlights the unique qualities of Australian timbers and fine craft and design skills

Designer and Maker Will Matthysen, a former President of the Victorian Woodworking Association and current member, crafts clocks largely made from wood and materials such as brass, steel and glass. Each component of the clock is expertly designed and handmade by Will, including the wheels, pinions, escapement and clock case. In the Art of Making exhibition by Studio Woodworks Australia, Will’s Clock 204 is featured. 

Words from Will Matthysen on this exhibition:

Traditionally clocks were the product of two trades, the cabinetmaker and clockmaker, with the inner workings hidden out of view. I started making clocks over 30 years ago, largely out of wood, but also including other materials such as brass, steel, and glass. The idea was to combine the inner workings and the case into one unified whole where the clock mechanism is visible and part of the whole composition.

Clock 204 was completed in 2021. It is designed to be mounted on a hall table or similar, with glass panels front and back offering views from all sides. It has an unusual escapement mechanism that was designed by John Harrison 300 years ago called a grasshopper escapement. The escapement runs without oil and its operations are fascinating to watch as the ‘grasshopper legs’ jump out of the way with the swing of the pendulum. The mechanics of this clock contain a lot more brass and steel than some of my earlier clocks, many of which were made almost completely of wood. Either way, the basic idea is the same, to create a functional timekeeper that also works as a piece of mechanical sculpture.

Part of being a designer-maker is ongoing self-directed learning. I subscribe to various journals that address design, wood, clockmaking, furniture and CNC machining to keep me in touch with developments.

Getting involved in exhibitions has been a great way to gain exposure and develop a long-term profile. Most designer-makers and craftspeople either work in small groups or on their own. Working solo can be an isolating experience and joining an association can put one in touch with other like-minded people to exchange ideas, get inspired or inspire others. I have found the small group experience very rewarding, meeting wonderful people along the way and making many friendships. I joined the VWA in 1993, and SWA in 2012, and have exhibited with both groups over the years. I still get calls from people who saw my work ten years ago or more, and are now in a position to place an order.

My clock designs have evolved over time, each clock being a prototype for the next. I am pleased to report that these clocks have found homes in private collections throughout Australia and the world.

See more of Will Matthysen’s work here.

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