Chilliwack handyman takes beading to the extreme

Eighty-year-old Chilliwack man spent nine years building a six-foot-two inch grandfather clock from beads, which he completed last month.

Chilliwack senior Bob Peel spent nine years building a grandfather clock with beads. He completed the six-foot-two inch project last month.

Nine years, 20 miles of fishing line, hundreds of thousands of beads, and tired hands – that’s what will get you a six-foot-two beaded grandfather clock.

“It was so nice to finally see that pendulum going back and forth after nine years,” said 80-year-old Bob Peel.

Peel started making his “one-of-a-kind” six-foot-two beaded grandfather clock in 2003. He finished it last month.

“I don’t think you’ll see another one like it,” he laughed.

When Peel retired from pipelining in 1998, his common law wife told him he needed a hobby, he couldn’t just watch the tube all day. She suggested he take up beadwork.

Now, Peel, a former serviceman and pipeliner, never imagined he’d be threading beads for hours on end, “but once you get into it, it’s hard to get away from,” he said.

“It’s fascinating what you can do if you’ve got the beads.”

He started out small, creating beaded mantle clocks and picture frames, and gradually moved up in skill with a replica of Big Ben and three to five feet tall clocks.

“Just small ones,” he smiled.

And then, he had a vision: a towering grandfather clock of red, amber and crystal coloured beads. The clock would rise up six feet, two inches tall. It would weigh nearly 100 pounds. It would have a custom-made quarter inch steel frame, and wood box at the top to encase the clock face, which would be trimmed in glowing red beads. Inside it would feature Westminster chimes. All the rest would be beads.

Hundreds of thousands of beads.

Vertical rows of beads, horizontal strips of beads, beaded diamonds, beaded borders.

“I’d guess there’s at least 300,000 beads in there,” Peel said. “There’s 15-20,000 just in the trim alone.”

He doesn’t know the total hours he spent working on the project, but admitted to spending several hours holed up in his shop in the basement.

“There was no going down there for just one hour,” he said. “You don’t get nothing done in one hour.”

But would he build another?

Not in this lifetime, he chuckled.

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