Meet Hourglass Maker Frank Lacavera, One Retiree Who Knows How to Pass the Time

updated 06/05/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/05/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Like the sands through the hourglass, so are the days of Frank J. LaCavera's life.

LaCavera, a 70ish retired electrical engineer, lives in Cleveland in a house that is filled with reminders of the temporal—more than 300 one-of-a-kind hourglasses that he has designed and made in the last 32 years. Each is set on a marble base with the hourglass in a wooden frame, and the whole is adorned with whimsical decoration. "I only do this stuff when inspired," says LaCavera. "It's like magic."

Among the inspirations that became hourglasses are: Castle and Dragon, which includes a tiny steel dragon next to a tiny castle, set on a piece of amethyst, all inside a crystal ball; Pluto, with the hourglass perched atop a spaceship; and Ribs, which includes a plastic pig under glass, reclining in a centerfold pose.

LaCavera took up his hobby when he was looking for an hourglass to decorate his study and found out that the closest thing he could buy in Cleveland was an egg timer, so he went into business for himself. He had to invent the machinery and instruments, including one to remove static electricity from inside the glass and another to determine the proper size of the hole between the two halves of the hourglass. (His hourglasses are accurate to 14 seconds an hour.)

LaCavera has sold only a few hourglasses over the years (they run from $89 to $1,500), but he prefers to hang on to his work, which now fills the modest three-bedroom frame house he shares with wife Phyllis on the city's west side.

Phyllis thinks the world should see more of her husband's hourglasses. "Work this beautiful," she says, "should be out there where people can enjoy it."

From Our Partners