On the Drawing Board: The American Barn Cuckoo Clock


The Quintessential American Barn Cuckoo Clock

american barnThat’s my goal: to create a clock that says American farm through-and-through. It’s been interesting to reflect on such a notion.

Being from New England I had in mind my own vision of an American Barn. Red, that gambrel shape — oh wait! Suddenly my own definition of what a signature American barn is became fuzzy. Many Vermont barns are attached to houses and aren’t barn cuckoo clockshaped that way at all. That’s okay, gambrel speaks to many as a dairy barn, so we’ll go with that.



Pennsylvania hex signsGoogling “barn” I found pictures of Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs on barns, a sight I saw a lot growing up and travelling in the East. Yes, what a great addition to the clock! Once I had my barn drawn out for the cuckoo makers in Germany I added the photo you see here thinking a few would be fantastic on the clock. It’s interesting that now that I’ve shown the prototype to a few people some have never seen such a thing. That’s okay, I’ll write an article about them for the web site and those who aren’t familiar with hex signs can enjoy learning about this tradition brought over from Europe and made part of our culture.

Barn Clock Critters

American Barn Cuckoo Clock

My first glimpse of the Barn Clock as I fetched it and brought it home from the cuckoo doc. I had to hold it in my lap all the way home.

Onto the critters. As soon as I showed the barn on Facebook people started suggesting cow breeds. Oh my goodness, people feel as strongly about cows as they do dogs! What it boils down to is “barn” and “farm” mean different things to different people. Jersey cows to some, Herefords to others, and Holsteins for another contingent. That black and white will look smashing! We’ll see…

Let There Be Music!

Barn Cuckoo Clock

This is a snapshot from a prototype. The final layout will not be exactly like this.

The super excitement for this clock is that it will have music! This came as a surprise to me. I had learned that the only way to get back and forth motion is with a music box. (The pivot motion so common on cuckoo clock is powered by the bellows.) The factory manager in Germany waited until last to reveal the side stall  with the horse and pop the news that the horse would poke his head in and out of the stall. He knew I have horses — and turns out he did too before he and his wife had children. It took me over night to put two and two together — oh my! — the clock will have music!

As I write this the plain prototype clock box is hanging on my wall. I’m awaiting images from Germany so I can give the factory direction as to the final layout of the critters and barny accounterments on the clock, find out if they were able to make the roof tin, etc. With the music and all of the detail this will be the most expensive clock to date, so I’m anxious to see where the cost will fall. And a catalog is anxious to get the clock on their pages as soon as possible. So am I!

Now the big question is, what Barn Quilt block for the side of the horse’s stall? As soon as I have photos I’ll be asking for suggestions.

Jodie Davis

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