Time is running out if you want to get your hands on one of Deborah Ellis’s whimsical clocks made from recycled materials. She will be showing her work in Blackberry Hall at Cracked Pots, an annual art show held at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Deborah Ellis gets ready for Cracked Pots, working on a clock made with a light fixture and CD base.The event is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, July 24. However, time is on your side because the clocks also are sold at Grapevine Graphics & Picture Framing art gallery space, located in the Singer Hill Cafe in Oregon City.

“I also have clocks on display and for sale in the lobby of the Clackamas County Public Service Building on the Red Soils Campus in Oregon City until Aug. 3,” Ellis said.

by: PHOTOS BY ELLEN SPITALERI - A working clocks Deborah Ellis made from recycled materials.Ellis, a Milwaukie resident, has been making the clocks for more than a dozen years, and calls her business Timediscs. And make no mistake about it — these clocks work and keep accurate time.

Describing her work as “edgy art clocks,” Ellis faced a special challenge in selling her work at Cracked Pots, a display of indoor, outdoor and wearable art.

“At least 80 percent of the materials used in the piece of art must be recycled; they must have led another life,” she said.

In addition, “we need to have available for the customer a story about each piece, about where it came from.”

Ellis has some pretty compelling stories about her clocks.

One particularly eye-catching piece is titled “U’Melth,” and Ellis said the base of the clock was pulled from the Clackamas River after last September’s Down the River Clean Up.

When she saw the silvery, misshapen piece of metal, she immediately thought it looked like a raven, so she researched names for ravens in mythology and came up with U’Melth.

“U’Melth is a spirit raven familiar to indigenous people of Northwest Coastal British Columbia. The legend is that U’Melth brought the moon, fire, salmon, sun and tides to the people,” Ellis said.

As near as she can tell, the bird beak-shaped piece of metal came from an automobile and may have been part of the car’s dashboard.

Used cooking implements figure in some of her pieces. One clock is made with a trivet base and is adorned with steamer basket “fins,” while several others began life as burners on a stove top.

Other recycled materials include transmission flywheels, black plastic packaging, tension coils and light-fixture bases.

Although she has sold her clocks in various venues, “Cracked Pots caused me to jump ahead and explore other mediums. It has been a real boon to my artistic development,” Ellis said.

Right time, place

In the late 1990s, Ellis began taking classes in a variety of art forms at First Impression in Northeast Portland. At the same time, she saw an article about a woman who had made a clock from a compact disc.

Ellis liked the idea from a creative standpoint, but also from an environmental point of view, adding, “I hated to see CDs being thrown away; that is a terrible waste.”

Soon she began experimenting with the discs, drilling holes, painting them and even warping them with a heat gun. Then she made a clock for a friend, and when others admired it, she found herself with a business.

She became really serious about the clocks “after the events of 9/11, when I felt a need to create something colorful and whimsical, after a dark time. It was a boost for me. I do smile when I make them,” she said.

“I do not have an interest in welding or soldering, but I love assemblage. I love taking things apart and putting them back together in a way they were not originally meant to be. Michelangelo said, ‘Form reveals itself to you.’ “

Ellis noted that in addition to spending hours making clocks, she also spins, weaves, dyes and explores the fiber arts. She will sell her hand-painted and dyed yarns and fibers at the annual Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September, at the Clackamas County Events Center.

She also teaches a paper-making class, noting, “I just love the tactile nature of fibers.”

And although she does not want people to drop off anything at her doorstep, she does have a piece of advice: “Don’t waste materials. If you have the time and inclination, there are wonderful things people can do with recycled materials.”

Fast Facts

What: 14th Annual Cracked Pots, a show of indoor, outdoor and wearable art

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 24

Where: McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 S.W. Halsey, Troutdale

Visit: or call 503-669-8610

More info: Contact Deborah Ellis, owner of Timediscs, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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