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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday: Custom Clock

Yes, yes, I realize that its Wednesday. Move along.

Today's tutorial is for a custom clock. If you don't know, I am pretty frugal; especially with things like decor that can be very expensive. Charlie's bedding is the rocket ship pattern from Dwell Studios at Target. There was a pretty extensive decor set to go with the bedding, but it just wasn't in my price range. I mean really, $20 for a night light and $60 for a canvas print? No thank you.

A few months ago, I did a tutorial for customized wall art using scrapbook paper and inexpensive frames from Michael's Crafts. Well, here is another piece for the set!

For this project you'll need:

Wall clock (I got this one for $4.97 at WalMart)
Screwdriver, needle nose pliers
Scrapbook paper that matches your theme
Patterns from the wall art
Glue, scissors, tape, marker

This project works best with a really cheap clock. I'm talking, cheap. You'll want to be able to unscrew the backing so you can take it apart, so leave the quality ticker for your living room. Which brings us to step one. Unscrew the back of the clock and pull it apart.

IMPORTANT! The hands of the clock are attached to a mechanism that makes them turn (duh) and there is a metal pin running through the middle of it. The red second hand is attached to this pin. Take extreme caution to not pull out the pin as you pull the red second hand off. If the pin pulls out, the gears inside will fall apart and your clock will not work.

Go ahead, ask me how I know this.

If as you pull the second hand off, the pin starts to come with it, have needle nose pliers handy to hold the metal pin still as you take the second hand off. It is possible! I promise!

Now that you have successfully taken your clock apart, its time to be artsy! With some clocks, the backing with the numbers on it will come off, but on others it will not. For this clock, the paper backing is glued into place, so I just have to work with it as is.

Trace the glass face onto the paper you want use to back the clock. By measuring the glass and measuring the clock face, you can cut off the difference and make a perfect fit. For instance, the clock face is 8 1/2 inches, but the glass is 9 inches. By taking off a 1/4" around the entire circle, it should fit into the clock face (left picture).

Try it out, making adjustments as you go. If its too big in one place, press the paper into the corner with your fingernail (right picture). When you pull the paper back out, you've marked what is too big and can easily cut off the excess.

Once you have it sized correctly, using a pencil, poke a hole in the middle so it fits over the clock mechanism. Now, if the paper backing pops out, just cover it with paper. You lucky dog, you.
This part is optional, but I'm a big spaz and need things like this. Before gluing the paper into place, use little sticky tabs or tape and mark off where the numbers are on the front. This will help you space them properly afterwards.

After marking your numbers, glue the backing to the clock. 

Next, cut out the pieces you'll be affixing to your clock. Here is where you can get creative! I decided to make little circles for the numbers, a simple background pattern, and a little rocket ship for the second hand. When you're happy with your pieces, its time to start gluing! I just use permanent glue stick - its cheap, easy to clean up, and works great.

Once my background was together, I worked on the second hand. At first, I put the rocket ship on the second hand so it would look like the rocket was orbiting the star in the background, but when I put it back together, it was to heavy and the second hand wouldn't turn. Instead, I taped the rocket ship to the middle of second hand and cut it down. The rocket ship would spin as the second hand ticked.

See how the pin is attached to the second hand? Yeah, NOT correct. When I pulled it apart to change the rocket's position is when the pin pulled out and I broke the clock. Sad face. After almost an hour of playing horologist, I gave up. There was no fixing the tiny gears that fell out of place.

Assuming you didn't screw it up like I did, once you have everything in place, its time to put the hands back on the clock. You know how when you change the time on a clock, the minute hand and hour hand move in tandem? Put the hands on the clock so they hit 12 o'clock exactly. Its a good starting place to make sure they'll move correctly when you set the time. If you notice in the finished picture at the top, the hands of my broken clock are at an impossible time. My second grade teacher taught me that if the minute hand is near the 12, the hour hand should be on either the 7 or the 8, not in between.

Aren't you glad I screwed up so I could give good directions? You're welcome.

After that, snap the second hand back into place and screw everything back together. Enjoy your new custom clock!

If you would like a custom clock, please contact me. I promise not to screw yours up.


  1. "Go ahead, ask me how I know this."

    I LOLed

  2. At the time, there was definitely no LOLing. More like, "Noooooo! Effffffff!!!"

  3. Such a cute idea Jen! I made a clock out of a hub cap for a bf once (he was a mechanic) and have a saw blade I still have to make into a sunflower clock.

    One of these days we should have a craft weekend!