Above: our largest and second smallest hourglasses
After gathering time and grinding sand, we’re mid-way through the process of filling hourglasses, ranging in scale from mere seconds to 4 hours. We’re measuring minutes and hours in approximated ounces, funneled through variable apertures and checked over and over until accurate. It’s not a science, it’s an art, and yet the implements share similarities.
Filling each hourglass is complicated by a process of sieving, weighing, pouring, filling, flipping, timing, correcting, and re-timing (and sometimes re-correcting and re-re-timing). Because the aperture of each hourglass is hand-crafted, timing varies from glass to glass, even when hourglasses are the same size.
Our hourglass-filling ‘studio’ has shifting from one friend’s garage to another’s spare basement room (thanks Alia & Mike!) The process itself is impacted by temperature, static, humidity, fogging, tapping, upright-ness, attentiveness, over-attentiveness, and other more subtle conditions.
It is (no pun intended) a time-consuming process – dust to dust.
Some of the hourglasses are more statically charged than others, prompting sand particles to spin inside the glass like snowflakes inside a snow globe. “They’re like little planets and they have their own gravity,” Lane said of this phenomenon, “they’re attracted to each other.”
The hourglasses themselves were fabricated by a UK-based company called Day-Impex, notable for their craft, precision, and experience. A family-owned enterprise, Day-Impex has crafted sand timers (along with laboratory equipment) for over 50 years. We selected these hourglasses for their quality and accuracy. Plus, Day-Impex is one of a few companies that make hourglasses in variable sizes (from the size of a penny, to over 2 ft tall).
Once the hourglasses are filling, micro-moments will be preserved in crushed rock, spinning over and over for years to come. The precision of these moments, unlike digital time, will vary with environmental conditions – impacted by arduinos and motors, but always leaning just a little more towards art than science.