VERNAL — The wooden signs he made during his 18 years as a Uintah County employee still direct visitors to the myriad offices inside the state and county building in Vernal.
But it's Gene Bigelow's ornate clocks that keep people talking.
"It has 636 pieces and there's 3,877 inside cuts," Bigelow said Friday, pointing out a timepiece that replicates the spires and arches of Amiens Cathedral in northern France.
The clock is one of two that sit on a window ledge in the Uintah County Clerk-Auditor's Office.
"They're amazing," said deputy clerk-auditor Vickie Jackson.
"In fact, I bought one," she said. "I have one in my home that he made years ago."
Bigelow doesn't know exactly how many of his custom clocks decorate the building's offices. It's somewhere between 50 and 75, he said.
"I just didn't have no room at home for ’em," he said. "I don't think I can ever get ’em back, but they still belong to me."
In addition to the clocks, there's a one-of-a-kind carousel in the county Assessor's Office. Countless other pieces of wooden art created by Bigelow over the years can also be found throughout the building.
Then there's the personalized name plates that he made for each county employee. Some are straightforward. Others reflect Bigelow's sense of humor.
"He asked me if I wanted my name spelled Lizette or Liz, and I said, 'It's Lizzzzzzzzzz,'" said county human resources specialist Liz Grimshaw, holding the "Z" for emphasis.
Bigelow obliged and added 22 Z's to Grimshaw's name plate.
An employee who only works part time received a name plate with the top half of the letters cut off, Jackson said, and an employee whose name everyone seemed to get wrong received a rotating name plate with different names for each day.
"I changed my name a couple of times," Jackson said. "So he said this last time, 'Well, I'm just going to make your's so I can slide new names in on the last name.'"
Bigelow has worked with wood since he was a boy. After high school, he worked in construction for years before getting the job with Uintah County. He built desks, cabinets, cattle guards and buildings.
"Whatever they wanted built," he said.
And while Bigelow, who retired in January, was well-known for the custom work he did in the county shop, it was the beautifully crafted pieces of art that came out of his much smaller shop at home that many people have come to enjoy.
"This is like 8 feet wide and 15 feet long," Bigelow said, standing in the portion of his home occupied by a scroll saw and racks of tools and clamps.
"This is where I've done everything," he said. "I've cut everything out right here and most of it I've put together right here."
Bigelow's passion for woodworking can be seen not just at the county building, but throughout his house. His entire bedroom set is covered in elaborate scroll work and the bedroom walls are adorned with 24 wooden butterflies, each one different.
It's beautiful to look at, but there is one down side.
"It's hard to dust," Bigelow said. "Once a year, I take my air hose and dust it really good, but it is hard to dust."
Still, working on each new project is relaxing, he said.
"It's kind of like playing golf," he said. "You just forget everything but what you're doing."
And now that he's retired, he's got plenty of time to do just that.
"I have six Saturdays," he said, "six Saturdays and one Sunday."
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