A few years ago I wanted an antique clock as a focal
point on our mantle. The clock the wife and I were excited about with a price tag of $1,400.00 was just not affordable for us; once seeing that clock nothing else compared to it. A friend suggested that I build it myself; that was a great idea except I have no knowledge of woodworking, the tools or the skill, but I couldn’t get that clock out of my head.
The wife and I were attending a barbeque and the children were having a great time trying to break open a piñata; that’s when the light came on and it occurred to me, make the clock from papier mâché.
Since that first clock I have perfected my craft; it is only upon close inspection that anyone can tell these clocks are not made of wood, even then people are surprised to hear they are papier mâché.
I have made kitchen clocks, wall clocks, alarm clocks and of course mantle clocks, there is no limit to the style of clock you can make following my techniques.
Follow along and I will show you the steps and the techniques I use to produce a realistic, faux antique mantle clock.
We will be making a French Belle Époque balloon shaped mantel clock c.1900
You can make this mantle clock yourself with items readily available from a local hardware store or purchased on line.
No special carpentry or woodworking skills are required for this instructable.
Step 1: The Following Items Are Needed:
1. A sturdy corrugated cardboard box
2. 1 sheet of black Bristol Board
3. News paper, 5-10 pages
5. White glue (PVA Glue)
6. Cold water
7. Ready-To-Use Drywall Compound
8. Hot glue sticks and gun
9. 4 oz. bottles acrylic paint (more on paint colours in the finish section)
10. Glazing Liquid
11. Polyurethane satin or semi-gloss finish
12. ¼ cup strong, cold tea (for paper dial only)
13. Paste wax (auto, floor or furniture)
Step 2: the Following Tools Are Needed
1. Serrated bread knife
3. 1 inch paint brush
4. Artist’s paint brushes
5. ½ inch putty knife
6. Offset artist’s pallet knife or a small cake decorating spatula
7. Ruler or a square
8. Pencil and a fine-tip marker
10. Cloth measuring tape (seamstress measuring tape)
11. Mixing bowl
Step 3: The Following Clock Parts Are Needed
1. Standard Quartz Movement (Chime is optional) the original c.1900 clock had a bim-bam movement.
2. Clock dial, (template included for a paper dial)
3. Set of 1½ inch quartz clock hour and minute hands, black spade (free with movement purchase).
4. 4 inch Bezel/Crystal/Dial Combination, (more on this later)
5. Battery for clock movement
Step 4: Before We Get Started a Couple of Notes
I order a lot of my clock parts on line from www.clockparts.ca/. (I am not affiliated with or reimbursed in any way by Clock Parts.ca) They are also available from craft stores, hardware stores, Amazon and eBay.
Clock fit up movements are another great option that works well when a chiming clock is not wanted; by making small adjustments to the front of the clock case it will easily accommodate the fit up movement. Fit up movements range in sizes up to 8½ inches dia.
I will show you how to use a fit up by also making a small desk clock, follow all the steps in this instructable except those that state omit this step if using a fit up movement; replacing that step with the step “if using a fit up movement:”. I will be using a 2 inch fit up movement.
Clock movements are available with stems of different length, if the stem length is too long we can shim it, to make it fit, by stacking small squares of cardboard onto the shaft before attaching the movement to the dial. Choosing a longer stem is the best choice over one that is too short. The stem must fit through the case and the dial and the hands must move freely behind the crystal.
The cost to complete this project is dependent on the clock movement you choose, there are several options for the movement ranging from under $5.00 to more than $100.00.
I have even purchased a wall clock from a dollar store and carefully taken it apart salvaging the bezel, hands and dial this is cost effective and works well. Though I do not recommend using the movement, they seem to be loud and unreliable.
Vintage bezel, crystal and dials are available on eBay.
A new combination set that combines the dial bezel and crystal is a good value available for $24.95 and is available online.
I purchase craft paint, brushes, white glue, glue sticks and Bristol board at the dollar store. Ready-To-Use Drywall Compound, glazing liquid and polyurethane from a hardware store
Step 5: Let's Get Started: the Template
We need a template for the clock case. I do a search for antique mantle clocks, choosing one with a clear, straight on picture of the front and back of the clock, download and save these pictures, or take pictures in antique stores, and print the picture of the back of the clock enlarging the photo to the desired finished size and cut it out.
I have included a template for the French Belle Époque balloon shaped mantel clock case I am making for this instructable (see Step 41), the finished clock measures:
Height: 12.25 in
Width : 8.75 in
Depth : 5.5 in
I have also included a template for the small balloon shaped desk clock (see Step 41), the finished measurements are:
Height: 7.5 in
Width: 6 in
Step 6: Cutting Out Template
Choose a corrugated cardboard box that is large enough to accommodate the template 3 times without folds, or flaps.
Disassemble the box, trace and cut out the template 3 times using a serrated bread knife. Set aside the remaining scrap cardboard for later use.
Using a felt tip marker write front on one, middle on another and back on the last one.
Step 7: Cutting Hole for the Dial (If Using a Fit Up Movement Omit This Step Go to Step 9
Make a pattern of your bezel (the bezel is the ring that holds the crystal in place) by tracing around it on cardboard and cutting it out. Take the front piece and place the bezel pattern ½ inch from the top and ½ inch from each side, holding the bezel pattern firmly in place draw around it using a pencil and carefully cut the drawn circle out.(I use the same bezel for all my clocks so I made a pattern of it from cardboard you can simply trace around the bezel instead of making a pattern if you want to)
Step 8: Omit This Step If Using a Fit Up Movement and Go to Step 9)
Align the front piece on top of the middle piece and using a pencil trace the hole drawing a circle onto the middle piece.
Taking the middle piece and using a pencil and a ruler divide the drawn circle into 4 equal wedges; poke the pencil through the center of the circle, twisting as you go to make a nice round hole. Take the clock movement and using the stem as your guide check the size of the hole, adjusting the hole with a small sharp knife until the stem will slide through it easily. Set the movement aside.
Go to Step 10
Step 9: Follow This Step If Using a Fit Up Movement Only:
Make a pattern of the back of the fit up movement, by tracing
around it onto a piece of paper or a thin card, cut the pattern out mark it fit up back.
Place the pattern onto the front piece ¾ inch from the top and ¾ inch from each side. Holding the pattern firmly in place, trace around the around the pattern and cut the circle out. Make sure the fit up movement fits snug into the hole.
Align the front piece on top of the middle piece, trace around the hole drawing a circle onto the middle piece; remove the front piece and cut the circle out.
Run a bead of hot glue around the front piece then align the front piece on top of the middle piece gluing the two pieces together. Check once more that the fit up movement fits snug into the hole.
This now becomes the front piece.
Step 10: Clockcase Access (Omit This Step If Using a Fit Up Movement and Go to Step 13)
Align the front piece on top of the back piece and using a pencil trace the hole drawing a circle onto the back piece and cut the circle out. Elongate this hole if needed; for your hand to fit through, making an oval by cutting towards the bottom. It is through this hole you will insert the clock movement, change the battery and adjust the time.
Step 11: Blackout (Omit This Step If Using a Fit Up Movement and Go to Step 13)
Paint both sides of the middle piece as well as the inside of the back piece, with black acrylic paint. Allow to dry and give a second coat of paint if needed.
Step 12: The Separators (Omit This Step If Using a Fit Up Movement and Go to Step 13)
From the scrap corrugated cardboard cut 5 pieces, ¼ inch wide x 1½ inches long and cut 4 more pieces, 1½ inches x 5 inches. These pieces are the separators.
Take the ¼ inch x 1½ inch separators and the front piece; run a bead of hot glue along one of the 1½ inch outer edges of these separators and glue them to the front piece; centering them vertically, on the left and right sides of the hole, as close to the hole as possible without obstructing the hole (see pictures). This now becomes the inside front.
Take 3 of the 1½ inches x 5 inches separators and the back piece; run a bead of hot glue along one of the 1½ inch outer edges of these separators and glue them vertically on the left and right sides of the hole; as close towards the outer edge as possible without obstructing the curvature (see pictures).
Take the last separator run a bead of hot glue along one of the 1½ inch outer edges and glue it 2 inches up from the bottom (see pictures).
Paint the separators black.
This now becomes the inside back.
Go To Step 15
Step 13: Follow This Step Only If Using a Fit Up Movement:
From the scrap corrugated cardboard measure and cut out 4 strips, 1½ inches x 2½ inches, these are the separators. Take a separator and run a bead of hot glue along one of the 1½ inch outer edges and glue it vertically to the front piece; between the hole and the top edge (see picture) as close to the edge as possible without obstructing the curvature. Repeat by gluing a separator to the left and right side of the hole (see picture) Take the last separator and glue it 1½ inches up from the bottom (see picture).
The picture is showing the back piece of the large clock. I glued the small clock together and realized I didn't have a picture showing the placement of the separators. Glue the separators as shown in the picture to the front piece.
This now becomes the inside front.
Step 14: Blackout for Fit Up Movement Only
Paint the inside front and the inside back with black acrylic paint, painting the sides of the separators facing the holes.
Allow the pieces to dry and give a second coat of paint if needed
Step 15: Omit This Step If Using a Fit Up Movement and Go to Step 16
Run a bead of hot glue along the top edge of the separators on the inside front and carefully line up the middle piece to the top and sides of the front piece, gluing it in place to the inside front separators. Repeat this step this time by gluing the inside back to the middle piece. This now becomes the skeleton. Go to step 17.
Step 16: Follow This Step Only If Using a Fit Up Movement:
When the paint is dry run a bead of hot glue along the top edge of the separators on the inside front and carefully line up the back piece to the top and sides of the front piece, gluing it in place to the separators. This now becomes the skeleton.
Step 17: Skeleton Check
Stand the skeleton upright; now is the time to check that the front, middle and back are aligned as well as the top and the bottom, if necessary make adjustments by trimming the edges with a serrated knife. Make sure the skeleton stands straight and level, make further adjustments as might be needed.
If using a fit up movement follow the above step and make sure the fit up movement fits snug in the opening in the front.
Step 18: Cutting the Bristol Board
Using a cloth measuring tape; measure the skeleton, starting from the center of the bottom going up the right side and across the top, then down the left side ending with a 1 inch overlap on the bottom, write down this measurement as the length. Measure the outside depth of the skeleton (front to back) and add ½ inch write down this measurement as the width. The extra ½ inch allowance gives some wiggle room while gluing the strip in place, the excess is trimmed away later.
Transfer these measurements to the black Bristol board and cut out, making a long strip. It is very important that this strip of Bristol board is straight and accurate; as this will become the sides and the top of the clock case.
You may need to cut two strips to make up the length; if this is the case, cut 2 pieces of equal length by measuring the skeleton from the center bottom up one side to 1 inch beyond the center of the top, in order to compensate for an overlap. To maintain a curved top; place these 2 pieces so the join happens on the side or bottom and not near or on the center of the top. Glue the overlap completely in place including across the seam.
Step 19: Wrapping the Skeleton
Place the skeleton on its side with the bottom facing you. Starting in the middle of the bottom run a bead of hot glue about 3 inches long, along both outer edges; align the Bristol board by centering it along this edge and gluing it in place, holding it there until the glue sets before moving along.
Continue running short beads of glue along the outer edges gluing the Bristol board completely around the skeleton; ending at the bottom where you started from; over lapping the finished edge ½ inch or so.
Trim the overhang snug to the outer edges with knife or scissors.
Step 20: Cutting Out the Base:
We are going to build a box with a step on the top so we need to cut out from cardboard 3 rectangles; two the same size and one smaller.
Step 20 A:
Stand the wrapped skeleton up-right on top of a piece of cardboard and using a pencil and a ruler draw a rectangle around the base adding a ½ inch to the width and the depth; cut the rectangle out. Using this rectangle as your guide; draw and cut out 2 more rectangles, take 1 of these rectangles and trim ¼ inch from the width and the depth. Mark each rectangles edges front, back, side and set them aside.
Step 20 B:
Using the small rectangle as your guide; cut out 6 strips of cardboard ¼ inch wide the length of each, matching the sides of the rectangle. Set aside
Using the large rectangle as your guide cut 4 strips of cardboard 2 inches wide, (if you are making the desk clock, these strips are ¾ inch wide) and the length of each, matching the sides of the rectangle. Set aside
Step 21: Building the Clock Case
Take note that the step on the base is on the front and the sides only, not at the back! The clock is designed to sit flush against a wall or the back of a sideboard.
Step 21 A:
Take the wrapped skeleton and hot glue it to the small rectangle; centering the back of the skeleton to the back edge of the rectangle, there should be ¼ inch overhang at the sides and the front. Hold in place until glue dries. We will call this “Part A”. Set aside and build the base.
Step 21 B:
Hot glue the 2 inch strips of cardboard to the edges of a large rectangle and hot glue the last rectangle on top, forming a box. Make sure this box is square. We will call this “Part B”.
Step 21 C:
We are now going to hot glue “Part A” to “Part B”.
Run a bead of hot glue around the bottom edge of Part A, and center it along the back edge of Part B this placement will produce the step we are looking for. Hold in place until glue dries. Take the ¼ inch wide strips of cardboard and stack them around the base of Part A building a step to about ¼ inch high, hot glue them in place. This now becomes our “Clock Case”.
Step 22: Preparing the Papier Mâché
Take the news paper and cut into ½ inch wide strips.
In a mixing bowl combine ½ cup white glue (PVA) and ½ cup cold water mix together blending well. Mixing more glue and water together as needed to complete the project; mixing at a ratio of equal parts. Store glue mixture in a jar/container with a lid during drying time.
Step 23: Applying the Papier Mâché
Either dip strips of newspaper into the glue mixture or brush with glue. Cover entire clock case in 2 layers of newspaper. Pay close attention to the edges were the side meets the front and back, pull the paper taught as you fold it over the edge. You want a nice clean even overlap to produce a fine edge. Do not forget to cover the raw edges around the hole in the back and front.
If using a fit up movement:
Don’t worry about the raw edge around the hole in the front.
Step 24: It's Drying Time
Set the clock case aside and allow to air dry 12-24 hours or until thoroughly dry.
You will know it is dry when it is no longer cold to the touch.
Step 25: Repeat Steps 23 and 24
Now that you have some experience with papier mâché the wrapping should be easier and a bit quicker. The drying time may take longer though.
If using a fit up movement and you papered the raw edge around the hole; make sure the movement still fits into the hole, if not make adjustments by trimming around the hole with a sharp knife.
Step 26: Applying Drywall Compound
Read and follow all of the manufacturer's instructions and safety precautions for the drywall compound you are about to use.
When the papier mâché is completely dry; take the drywall compound and using a putty-knife, off-set artist knife or a spatula; spread an even coat of compound over the entire clock case. The smoother you apply the compound the easier the sanding will be later. I poke a chop stick through the stem hole while applying the compound so I don't fill the hole remove it before setting aside to dry. (I generally leave the underside of the bottom until the second coat is dry and sanded this allows me to stand the clock case up-right while working and during drying time). Set aside and allow compound to dry completely about 8-12 hours or overnight.
Step 27: First Sanding
When the compound is thoroughly dry; using a sponge sanding block, lightly sand the clock case as smooth as possible. Please think safety and wear a dust mask and safety glasses while sanding.
Step 28: Removing Fine Dust
Using a damp cloth wipe the entire clock case. This will remove the compound dust. Again please wear a dust mask and safety glasses.
Step 29: Second Coat of Compound
Apply a second coat of dry wall compound in the same manner as the first coat. Allow the compound to dry thoroughly about 8-12 hours or overnight.
Put on a dust mask and safety glasses and sand as smooth as possible.
Remove compound dust as before.
Step 30: Sealing the Drywall Compound
In a small jar mix 1 part white acrylic paint to 2 parts water to make about a ¼ cup of white wash, Using a 1 inch paint brush paint this over the entire clock case and allow to dry about 60 minutes.
Once dry you will clearly see any imperfections on the surface. Keeping in mind that we are reproducing a clock that is over 100 years old and there are bound to be minor nicks, cracks, blemishes and even worm holes.
Your finished clock can look like a pristine museum piece, a family heirloom or a boot sale find, that choice is yours.
That said, now is the time to patch any imperfections by applying a thin layer of drywall compound only over any blemishes you wish to conceal. Allow the compound to dry; put on a dust mask and safety glasses and then lightly sand until smooth. Reapply paint/water mixture and allow to dry about 60 minutes.
Step 31: The Finish
Antique clock cases were made from various materials; stone, wood and precious or semi-precious metals, and combinations thereof, some were embellished with gem stones and pearls. We won’t be using any of those; we’ll turn acrylic paint and a glazing liquid into a faux wood finish.
There are several ways to apply a faux wood finish and just as many DIY videos that explain in detail the different methods. In my opinion there is no right or wrong way, what works for you is the right way. Practice on a scrap of cardboard until you are confident with the wood grain you create.
My technique is a simple one that works well for me.
Step 32: Base Coat
For the oak finish cover the entire surface with a thin streaky coat of yellow acrylic paint thinned with water. Use firm pressure on a 1 inch brush forcing the bristles to fan out.
For the mahogany finish cover the entire surface with a thin streaky coat of red acrylic paint thinned with water. Use firm pressure on a 1 inch brush forcing the bristles to fan out.
Allow to dry completely about 60 minutes
Step 33: Wood Effect Colour
I mix my paints in glass fruit nappies for ease in clean up.
For the oak finish mix together burnt umber, yellow and glazing liquid to achieve a honey/amber colour. I generally stir the yellow into the burnt umber when I reach the colour I’m looking for I stir in the glazing liquid eye-balling an equal amount of glaze to paint.
Cover the entire surface with a thin, even coat of paint mixture; with long continuous strokes; in the direction you want the grain. Applying firm pressure on a 1 inch brush, forcing the bristles to fan out. ( An old, ratty, 1 inch paint brush is great for this step).
This first coat may look streaky, that is exactly what you want. Do not over work it. Allow to dry completely 1-2 hours. Cover any leftover paint/glaze mixture and set aside for the finial coat.
The mahogany finish is achieved by stirring red into burnt umber making deep reddish brown. When you reach the desired colour stir in a equal amount of glazing liquid to paint. Continue as above.
Step 34: Dark Lines of Woodgrain
To add dark grain to the surface mix 2 tablespoons of burnt umber into 2 tablespoons glazing liquid. Load a 1 inch paint brush (same one as before) and using the same technique as in step 33 paint a series of lines, some straight some zigzag, some long and some broken. Use heavy pressure to really push the bristles out. Add as many or as few grain lines as you want.
To make a wide wavy grain. Do not turn the brush keep it in the same position and slide it to the left or to the right, then down in one continuous brush stroke. This maneuver will make a wider/wavy grain.
Allow to dry for 1-2 hours.
If by chance you are unhappy with your results; simply let the paint dry for 2 hours, Cover the entire surface with the base coat colour and start again. Don't be too critical of your work, no two wood boards are identical.
When surface is completely dry return to the “wood effect colour” adding to this enough glazing liquid to achieve the consistency of coffee cream. Load a soft bristle artist's brush and cover the entire surface in a thin even layer allowing the grain effect to show through. This thin coat softens the grain and adds depth to the finish allow this coat to dry 30-60 minutes.
Load an artist's fan brush with burnt umber; wipe across a piece of paper towel to remove excess paint. With very light pressure make random short broken strokes across the surface. Do not over it, the fewer the strokes the more effective this step is.
Set aside for 24 hours this rest period is important. The acrylic paint needs to cure before applying the top coat.
Step 35: Top Coat
Open tin of polyurethane and stir gently, yet thoroughly so it is well blend without air bubbles. Do not shake to mix as this will add air bubbles.
Load a soft bristle artist's brush and cover the entire surface with a thin even layer of polyurethane brushing in the direction of the grain.
Wrap the brush in a piece of kitchen plastic wrap and put in the freezer. This saves you from cleaning the brush, (polyurethane is oil based) until after the second coat is applied.
When completely dry about 4-8 hours or overnight; lightly sand the entire surface.
Don't forget to wear a dust mask and safety glasses.
Wipe away the dust with a damp cloth.
Brush on a second coat of polyurethane, set aside to dry completely.
Step 36: Dial
If using a fit up movement omit this step and go to step 37.
If using a metal dial glue it in place using a bead of hot glue and then go to step 37.
While the polyurethane is drying prep the dial.
Make a strong cup of tea, 1 tea bag to ¼ cup boiling water. While tea steeps glue the paper dial to a piece of black Bristol board a little larger than the dial, using white (PVA) glue.
When the glue is dry, brush the dial with thin coats of the tea, let dry between coats. The more coats you add the darker the dial becomes, use your own judgement here. This step ages the paper.
Trim the Bristol board around the dial and poke a hole through the Bristol board to accept the movement.
When the polyurethane has dried glue the dial in place using white glue.
Step 37: Waxing
Using a sponge or a soft cloth apply paste wax in a circular motion over the entire clock case including the paper dial; once a haze appears over the surface buff the wax with a soft cloth. A layer of wax will give your clock case the look and the feel of fine furniture.
Step 38: Clock Movement:
If using a fit up movement skip this step and go to Step 39.
Attach the clock movement through the back of the clock case
securing it with the washer and nut provided with the movement, attach the hour hand then the minute hand and lastly (if using) the second hand. Secure the battery in place and set the time using the turn wheel on the back of the movement.
Set the bezel and crystal in place, with a couple dabs of hot glue.
Your faux antique mantle clock is ready for you to proudly display.
Step 39: Fit Up Movement Only
Remove battery cover and secure the battery into the movement and replace the cover.
Set the time using the turn wheel on the back of the movement.
Slide the movement into the hole in the front of the clock case.
Your faux antique mantle clock is ready for you to proudly display.
To change the battery or adjust the time gently pull fit up movement out of the clock case.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this instructable.
I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
I thoroughly enjoyed putting together my first instructable for you.
I hope this instructable inspires you to build your very own faux antique clock..
Have a wonderful day.
Step 41: PDF Files
Runner Up in the
First Time Author