What is a vomit clock? Why are they called vomit clocks?

What is a vomit clock?

"Vomit clock" can refer to two very different things, so it's important to consider the context when encountering the term.

1. Mid-century decorative clocks:

This is the more common meaning. "Vomit clocks" are a colloquial term for a type of decorative clock popular in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. These clocks feature clear or colored acrylic resin embedded with various objects, such as rocks, shells, dried plants, glitter, or even dead insects. Their chaotic and often brightly colored appearance led to the somewhat unappetizing nickname.

While considered somewhat kitschy nowadays, these clocks still hold a certain appeal for vintage enthusiasts and collectors. You can find them at online marketplaces like eBay or Etsy.

2. Informally describe any messy clock:

Less commonly, "vomit clock" might be used informally to describe any clock that appears visually cluttered or messy, regardless of its actual construction. This usage relies on the negative connotation associated with the original "vomit clocks" to convey a sense of distaste or disapproval.

Why are they called vomit clocks?

There's no single, definitive answer to why these clocks are called "vomit clocks," but here are the most likely reasons:

  • Visuals: The primary reason lies in the appearance. The embedded objects in resin often create a chaotic, jumbled, or messy look, similar to what one might associate with vomit. The mixture of colors and textures, combined with the seemingly random arrangement of objects, can evoke discomfort or disgust for some.
  • Humor: The term itself carries a humorous element, especially when juxtaposed with the practical function of a clock. The incongruity between the expected orderliness of timekeeping and the messy visual aesthetic can be seen as playful or ironic.
  • Social media impact: While the clocks existed before, the term "vomit clock" seems to have gained significant traction around 2017, particularly on social media platforms like Facebook groups dedicated to thrifting and unique finds. The humorous and slightly shocking nature of the term likely contributed to its spread and adoption.

It's worth noting that not everyone uses or likes the term "vomit clock." Some find it disrespectful or simply inaccurate, especially for clocks with more intentional or artistic designs. It's important to be mindful of the audience and context when using such terms.

What is a vomit clock made of?

There are two main parts to a vomit clock:

1. Base structure:

  • Clock mechanism: This is the traditional clock part that keeps time. It can be a standard battery-powered mechanism or even an older wind-up mechanism.
  • Mold: The clock is typically encased in a mold, often made of plastic or resin. This mold gives the clock its overall shape, which can vary depending on the design.

2. Embedded objects:

  • Main content: These are the objects that give the clock its "vomit" characteristic. They can be anything from rocks, shells, and pebbles to more unusual items like glitter, dried flowers, or even dead insects. The choice of objects is entirely up to the creator and often reflects their personal taste or aesthetic.
  • Resin: These objects are suspended in a clear or colored resin (most commonly acrylic resin). The resin hardens, encasing the objects and creating a permanent, three-dimensional display.

So, in summary, a vomit clock is made of a traditional clock mechanism encased in a mold filled with various objects suspended in hardened resin. The specific materials used for the mold and objects can vary depending on the individual clock and its creator's preferences.

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