People see UNCG’s Bell Tower every day, standing alongside Spring Garden Street next to the Alumni House. Bodenhamer’s work is a seven-foot-tall, one-sixth replica, complete with bells, chimes, four functioning clock faces, meticulously simulated bricks and mortar, a metal roof, handmade corbels and fluted posts. It was done over four years in his spare time and an occasional vacation stretch.
“The detail is amazing,” said Pat O’Rork. “You can check the details on the real Bell Tower and then look at the model – it’s all there.”
It’s there, all right, right down to the replica of the dedication plaque on the big Bell Tower, which was funded with a gift from Drs. Nancy Vacc and Nicholas Vacc, who were faculty in the School of Education. It’s the most expensive item, size-wise, on Bodenhamer’s clock, and cost about $100. Bodenhamer says he stopped keeping records on the cost of the project, but admits “It was more than I thought it would be.”
When you see the replica – you can’t really call it a “miniature” – the question that comes to mind is “What got you started on this, Bo?”
“I can’t say that I’ve been able to come up with a reasonable answer to that question,” he said. “It was something I wanted to do; I worked on it over almost four years, and it’s finished now. People seem to enjoy looking at it.”
The detail is meticulous, and Bodenhamer, who is the associate vice provost for academic technology systems, comes by that attention-to-detail naturally. His job requires it, and he grew up with it. His father did clock repairs, and when Bo was around eight or 10 years of age, his father began teaching him the trade, something that requires patience and attention to very fine detail.
Bodenhamer took many photos of the bell tower and its clock faces and produced pages of diagrams and plans. He had to search the Internet to find the correct clock face and also the correct font for the lettering. The texture base for his bricks came from “stone touch” spray paint, but then he spent days cutting out the individual bricks in a template that he could spray paint – red for the bricks and white for the mortar. He says there should be as many bricks on the model as there are in the real Bell Tower.
He duplicated the stone molding with wood and then chiseled it out to look like a rough stone finish. The model’s roof is aluminum, in a color that resembles the Bell Tower’s. When he couldn’t find clock hands that were a scale replica, he made them out of stainless steel.
When its stay is over at the Provost’s Office, the replica will go back to Bodenhamer’s house. He still does clock repair in the workshop he converted from a barn, and plans to do it as a business when he retires.
By Steve Gilliam
Photograph by David Wilson