Like most of us, I have been making holiday gifts by hand for more than a decade, which means that I’ve baked, burned, sewn, sworn, crocheted, ripped up, stamped, smudged, and scrapbooked my way into a mid-December coma more times than I care to remember. This year, however, I have come up with a ridiculously simple project that couldn’t drive me crazy if it tried. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s customizable, and best of all, it makes a great excuse to haunt the local antique mall!
Cool clocks are everywhere on the interwebz, where a variety of sellers will cheerfully charge you $40-$140 dollars for the privilege of knowing the time. Using this tutorial, you can make your own cool clocks, and what’s more, you can easily customize your clocks for every person on your holiday list while spending as little as $10! (You can scale the price for every recipient, though, splurging on your mom or dad while saving on Cousin Myrtle, ’cause she was always a little mean anyway.)
A Note about Clock Works
Clock works are widely available on the internet and at craft stores. To create the samples for this tutorial, I picked up a four pack at Hobby Lobby for $14.99 – but since I had a 40% off coupon, I paid even less, getting each clock started for $2.25. If you have a Hobby Lobby nearby, you can find daily coupons on the web site, and you, too, can enjoy this steal of a deal!
Creating a Wall Clock: Things You’ll Need
I have built my samples around comic book covers that reflect something about the people I love, choosing a shoot-em-up cowboy comic for a family member who loves old Westerns and a comic depicting Superboy at a card game for a family member who plays cards like a fiend. You can use comic books, paperback covers, or picture book illustrations as the basis for your wall clocks. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Clock works
- A cake pan or pie tin, available for $1 or less at Goodwill or Salvation Army.
- A vintage comic book cover, paper back, or picture book with art appropriate for your recipient
- Basic tools: Mod Podge or other glue, a foam brush, a pencil, and scissors
- A drill and a ¼” drill bit (or large enough so that the shaft of your clock works can slide through)
- Whatever you want to do for numbers: bingo pieces, dice, dominoes, plastic figures, small cars or other toys, etc.
- Up to 12 bottle caps per clock (to mark the numbers)
- A 1″ circle punch (optional but recommended, especially if you’re low on embellishments)
- Loctite or other super glue
If you don’t have a working collection of dominoes, bingo markers, and the like, don’t worry. You have two options: 1) buy those things from the antique mall as you need them when you pick up your comics or books; or 2) use a 1″ circle punch and select art from your comic / book to fill in the bottle caps.
Creating a Wall Clock: The Ridiculously Easy 10-Step Process
1. Choose the cake pan or pie tin you’re going to use for your clock base. Turn it over so the bottom faces up.
2. Find a plate or bowl amongst your dishes that’s smaller than the bottom of your clock base by one inch or less.
3. Identify the area of your comic book cover or book illustration that you want to appear on your clock face. Invert the plate or bowl over that area and trace the circumference with your pencil.
4. Cut out the circle.
5. Apply Mod Podge to the back of the comic / book art.
6. Center the comic / book art on your cake pan or pie tin, lay it down, and smooth it out. Some Mod Podge will ooze out; use this to go over the edge of the circle with your finger. This last step will prevent the edges from peeling up.
7. Drill a hole in the center of the tin.
8. Insert and assemble the clock works according to package directions. Affixing the hands at this time will ensure that you don’t glue anything to the clock face that will impede the movement of the clock once you put in the battery.
9. For the numbers, start testing various combinations of tiles, Bingo markers, toys, and whatever else you have until you’re satisfied. Again, if you don’t have a lot of embellishments to add, you can use your circle punch and raid your comic book, as I’ve done in the Superboy example below.
10. Once you’re satisfied, glue everything down!
While I myself am a fan of plain, exposed metal, you can add alcohol inks, paint, paper, microfilm, or anything else you can dream up to make the perfect clock. Most clock kits come with the hanging element attached, so your clock should be finished and ready to hang! Is that not ridiculously easy?!
For other free, fabulous tutorials from wonderstrange, click here.
Karen (cairnlae) · July 1, 2011 at 10:16 am
Awesomeblossoms!!! I have some cake tins left over from the recycled candlestick project. I may need a clock for the artroom…
BTW, many wonderful vintage tins can be found on Ebay! I've bought a few lately!
AnnDAngelo · July 1, 2011 at 10:26 am
Yes! Good point! I love the vintage tins for the darkening of the metal and the cool design elements. I lucked out and got a vintage look with the cake pan I found at Goodwill. (My pie tins, though, are all shiny and new looking.)
Amy L Sargent · July 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm
I love this, Ann! I've never made a clock, but you make it seem very easy to upcycle vast quantities of my secondhand stash into awesome gifts . . . and i think i'm going to look for some automotive stuff to make one for my dad's and my uncle's home garages/workshops. They both are always tinkering on their restored Malibu & El Caminos, respectively, so it will be great way to make a gift that's manly and gives me an excuse to visit one of my local auto salvage yards. Thank you for the inspiration! Wonderstrange Goddesses Unite! *punches it in*
AnnDAngelo · July 1, 2011 at 10:20 pm
Oh Amy, this comment makes me so happy, first of all because it IS totally easy to upcycle all the random weird things we amass into gifts that looks chic and amazing, and second because I love the idea of adding salvaged auto bits and bobs to clocks for your dad and your uncle! It's well-night IMPOSSIBLE to come up with homemade gifts that are still manly, so you can imagine my excitement when this idea popped into my head! Have fun – and share pics!
cindyjob · July 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm
LOL@ "punches it in" Me too!
Good point about the man gift Amy…boys are tricky sometimes but this is such a fun one to customize .
Catherine Drazkowski · July 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm
Super cool!! Another, or several other things to add to my list for the Goodwill and HLobby. Oh ,and I have that same Dutch blue tin in my collection, just don't quite know where it is right now……………………….
AnnDAngelo · July 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm
Thanks, Catherine! How funny that you have the same tin! Clearly, we have excellent taste . . . 😉
Amy L Sargent · July 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm
this is a wonderful "manly" gift or "boy" gift . . . oh, the comic book guys and album art guys (reduced color copies of LP art? yes please!) who can finally quit wearing those nappy handmade scarves they feel obligated to utilize! lol!
Carol B.C. Honkanen · July 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm
I LOVE this idea!!! I have always entertained the idea of making a clock, but NOW you really motivated me (a bit more). 🙂
Kate Mortimer · July 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm
Great Idea! Might be the perfect present for my son, who at 29 still loves D&D and fantasy. I can really see a clock with those themes for him….
@Jasongadgetguy · March 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm
Love the superman cool clock version
TomHardy21 · February 21, 2013 at 10:59 am
Why have I never seen this! I would love to make an Ironman clock, do you have any super unique wall clocks for sale? http://easyaccessmall.co is a site I have been looking at but I'm very open to suggestions.
AnnDAngelo · February 21, 2013 at 11:37 am
I don't have any clocks in my shop, Tom, but it would be so easy for you to make an Ironman clock for yourself that even if I did have clocks, I would feel a little guilty selling you one! 🙂
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