DIY Plaster Clock

Oh, folks. This project. Talk about trial and error! I’ve decided to share the results anyway because it turned out just fine, if not entirely like I’d hoped. So here ya go; you get to learn from my mistakes. 

Last year I made a clock for our mantle and, while it did the job, I just didn't love it. So ever since I’ve been planning to make a second, and this is it.

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*Edit* Okay, well having this clock up and running for a few days has made me aware of one more thing I should have done differently. And I wanted to pass it on to you in case you also want to make an oval clock. Whenever you elongate a clock face, you need to gather the numbers a little on the long sides. Check out this clock to see what I mean. Because I overlooked that, it’s a little tricky telling what time it is from 2-4 and 8-10 hahaha! But no matter. It’s staying up anyway. Thad’s response, “Well... it’s still pretty.”

What you’ll need:

• Clock mechanism – motor, hands, and numbers. I got mine at Michaels.

• A plastic mold 

• Plaster of Paris

• Base coat, a couple colors of paint, and brushes

• Paper doily

• Optional: I chose different numbers, also found at Michaels in the sticker section.

Straight out of the gate, I made my first mistake. I have never used plaster of paris before, and rushed in without doing any research. So my mold was a cardboard box, but it should have been plastic (thin enough to cut with scissors).

The water in the plaster will soak through cardboard and warp the shape of the clock body. In my case, it gave the face a wavy look (which I actually kinda like) and made the application of numbers pretty tricky.

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Taping down tabs

Taping down tabs

Before mixing the plaster, measure the length of the metal spoke (the piece you’ll be fixing the hands to) that comes out of the clock motor and make a mark on the inside of your mold so that you only fill the plaster that high. You don’t want your clock body to be thicker than the length of that piece. You’ll want to measure it from where it begins at the motor to where the hands slide down on it. That’ll make sense when you take a look at the pieces and how they fit together. Mine was just over an inch and a half.

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And one more measurement – mark the very center of your mold. This is where you’ll attach a pen/marker (whichever must be slightly larger than the metal spoke you’ll be attaching the hands to). This is so that, when your plaster hardens, a hole will remain for you to fit the mechanism into/through. I just glued the pen right in there.

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Now mix up your plaster according to the instructions, and be very careful not to breath the dust. Good ventilation is important and a dust mask can’t hurt.

Make sure your mold is on a smooth, level surface and pour it in.

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Once it’s set, carefully cut the mold away, in sections. And carefully lift it up and over the pen.

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I set it up on a couple wine corks so that air could circulate around it. It finished drying quite nicely that way.

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Once it was completely dry, I coated it with a base coat, and then a few coasts of turquoise all-surface paint. As soon as that dried, it was time to decorate.

(Look how wavy!)

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So. This next part didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped either. It turned out alright, but took a little more time than I expected. Here’s what I mean – I thought that painting the negative space of the doily would be more straightforward, but the paint slipped underneath edges and made them messy.

However...

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The solution wasn’t that difficult. I just went back over the edges with my brush and cleaned them up. No big deal, just took a little time.

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And then I scalloped the outside edges...

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And as soon as it dried I applied the numbers. They’re adhesive, but I glued them on anyway (can’t hurt). I just eyed up the positioning for them, but if you’d like, here’s a link for a template.

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I let everything thoroughly dry and coated it all with some Mod Podge. 

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And while that dried, I painted the clock hands black to match the numbers.

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I gave everything more time to dry, and followed the instructions on the clock mechanism box to attach it to the body. Not hard at all!

And now it’s in its new home above the fireplace. I like it :). 

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