The newest artfully unique clock in the collaboration between
Dave Bruckenstein and Guy Marsden is Dots, time in a cylinder.

Clocks made using the three different wood species.


I’ve wanted to make clocks for each of my three children since 2015, when I first began to design and build clocks. But it wasn’t easy coming up with a clock design that I thought they would all like. Finally, this most recent clock, the ninth clock developed in collaboration with Guy Marsden, turned out to be the perfect fit. Dots has been fabricated using four different materials for the base and top. I’ve kept the clock made from aluminum and my children Z, K and E get the clocks made from cherry, maple and walnut respectively. They know how much clock making means to me and I know they will cherish their clock.

As with our other collaborations, in addition to contributing to the clock’s design, Guy is also responsible for the entire fabrication. He made a terrific video documenting the fabrication of Dots and you can find a detailed summary of the clock’s fabrication on Guy’s site as well.

How Dots Tells Time

At rest, Dots “beats” slowly with a single pulsing light as shown for the three clocks in the video, below. Dots tells time in five-minute intervals so lets assume it's 9:20 on the left clock. To tell time, start by waving your hand near the touch sensor (the brass circle on top). Because this sensor behaves more like a proximity sensor you may find that it “triggers” even when your hand comes near the sides/rear of the white acrylic cylinder. Dots starts displaying the hour by sequentially lighting LEDs from the bottom up to the top until nine LEDs are lit. Once all lit, the LEDs soon all darken. Following a brief pause four LEDs sequentially light up to display minutes (4 x 5 = 20 minutes). These four LEDs then all fade and the clock goes back to slowly pulsing with a single dot until the next time it is activated with the touch sensor. The other two clocks are displaying 9:15 as only 3 LEDs light up during the minute cycle.


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The Dots clocks have been amongst the most enjoyable to build of the 10 different clocks that Dave and I have collaborated on. I particularly like the aesthetic that we came up with for both the metal and wood versions; it’s decidedly postmodern and elegant. The fun part for me is using all of my power tools and skills to make the cylindrical sections at top and bottom of each clock in either aluminum or wood. While I am an experienced woodworker, I am still learning my way into metal machining, and machining something this large was a first for me on my mini lathe.

When making my own light sculptures, or collaborating with Dave, I am much more engaged and interested in the process of creating them than seeing the completed work. With my own pieces, I get to keep them for an indefinite period of time, however I usually ship the completed collaborative clocks to Dave within a few days, or a week, and have no strong desire to keep them around. By the time it’s done, I am completely creatively satisfied and in general have learned a few new fabrication tricks during the process. I just shipped off the latest three wood Dots clocks and already Dave and I are working on our next one!


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See Dots Work:

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