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CLOCKS CAN BE TIMELY WAY TO DECORATE WALLS, DESKS

Clocks have come a long way from the days when prehistoric peoples told the time of day by watching shadows cast by the sun.

Still, the basic function of a clock - big or small, plain or fancy - remains the same, to let us know the time of day. But a clock also serves as a decorative element in the household, whether it be an ordinary clock for the kitchen wall an ornate one for the entry hall or living room or an unusual desk clock.From $6 to $600 - and much, much more - there's a clock to suit every budget and every decorating style - and every age.

Here's is just a sampling of some newer ones available:

For young children, the Crayola Helping Hands Wall Clock (about $15 at discount stores) will not only help kids learn how to tell time but help them spell the numbers from one to 12. For older kids, there's the Crayola Home Learning Aid quartz alarm clock in bright red. At $10, it may be just what you need to get your kids up and off to school on time.

Even inexpensive battery-powered wall clocks for adults come in shades as colorful as the Crayola clocks for kids. Six-inch wall clocks in frames of yellow, green, blue, black, turquoise and other colors are a Target store decorating bargain at $5.99. One would be perfect for laundry room, workshop or that tiny apartment kitchen. Larger wall clocks come with frames in various wood finishes, faux finishes or in plastic for under $20.

New at Pier 1 is a design from Brazil that functions both as wall clock and curio shelf. Designed to be hung on the wall or placed on a table top against the wall, the wooden unit, stained dark blue, includes a small clock built in atop two shelves designed to hold trinkets. $70.

On a much larger scale is the recently introduced tall storage chest cum clock from the Thomasville Furniture Collection. The clock chest from the Stone Terrace line features seven drawers perfect for lingerie and small items of clothing. It gives a totally new look to the old grandfather clock and also solves the problem of getting dressed on time. You won't dare dawdle while dressing with the large clock face at the top of the chest keeping track of the time for you. The oak clock chest is priced about $1,300.

Speciality stores offer a variety of whimsical, if not inexpensive, choices. The face on one diminutive clock has smiling eyes and rosy cheeks. The $265 price tag is probably the reason for the smile.