Keepers of Time

Inspiring Objects Writing

As writers, even the smallest thing can provide a spark of inspiration. In the last post of my informal series on inspiring objects, Evangeline Denmark commented on her love of old clocks, another item which has always intrigued me, and she brought up the excellent issue of their symbolism.

Thereโ€™s almost endless variety in clock appearance, and each type of timekeeping device speaks much about the society that produced it. The culture of grandfather clocks and pocket watches is decidedly different from that of digital clocks and wrist watches. Without clocks and the ability to monitor time in a specific fashion, the pace of life would look very different–something to consider when creating fantasy realms.

Moreover, clocks add a strong element of symbolism as a recurring object in any kind of story. Time shapes our perception of life, and clocks provide a precise measurement of time–an ordering to our days. They provide a seeming continuity to time and offer regularity amid chaos. The very fact that they measure the temporal can also remind of the eternal and the God who exists unbound by time. In short, theyโ€™re rife with meaning that can be adjusted to fit any particular story or world.

Without further ado, here are some lovely examples of real world clocks:

Image credit: Corrafig

Image credit: Michael Vadala

Image credit: Atirme

Image credit: TW Collins

And a question for you…would you like to see more in the inspiring objects series?


  • Mary
    July 23, 2011 - 11:37 am · Reply

    I love these, Sarah. Absolutely beautiful, and so thought provoking. Definitely food for the imagination. I for one would love to see more posts in the “Inspiring Objects” series.

  • Evangeline Denmark
    July 23, 2011 - 7:14 pm · Reply

    Ooh, I’m glad my comment sparked your creativity. Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures! My mom recently gave me an owl pendant with a clock inside. You press the owls “ears” to make his wings spread and reveal the clock. I love it! The symbol of wisdom with a hidden timepiece inside!
    This post made me think of the enchanted hourglass in Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. The sand in the hourglass flows at different speeds depending on the conversation in the room–just a little detail that added to the richness of the story. I suppose we can use any object in our story–symbolic or not–to paint a more intricate picture of the character’s surroundings.

  • Emily
    July 25, 2011 - 8:54 pm · Reply

    I simply loved this post, Sarah! I have a passion for old clocks, antique keys, ornate doors… you get the gist. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also like photography quite a bit, so the pictures piqued my interest. I would enjoy seeing more in the “inspiring objects” series!

  • Sarah Sawyer
    July 26, 2011 - 12:10 pm · Reply

    Thanks, Mary and Mirriam! I so appreciate your input, and I’m glad you found the post inspiring. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Evangeline, your owl clock sounds lovely. I’m impressed by your mom’s gift buying prowess. Great example of the hourglass. It’s amazing how the little details can add up to make a big difference in the story. There are so many opportunities to make a story world more vivid and real, if we take them!

    Emily, thanks for your feedback! It’s good to know there are so many others out there who love old and unusual objects. ๐Ÿ™‚ From a photography perspective, I probably liked the first picture best–the lighting, the angle, and the rich bronze color made a lovely combination.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      August 2, 2011 - 2:35 pm · Reply

      Love it! She’s added quite a bit to the store since I was last there. I’ll keep it in mind for Christmas shopping this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

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