Tuesday 22 January 2019

How to make a large clock face for under $30

Large old clock faces are not always easy to find but that's not a problem. You can simply make an inexpensive one from scratch in the design of your choice and age it to perfection. That is exactly what we've done to acquire this and other statement pieces like it. 

Bigger is better

I love oversized pieces in a room. Placing it next to "normal" sized pieces creates a focal point and makes the room bold and exciting. Many people have asked me if using a large clock face, for instance, in a small room will not make the room seem even smaller. The opposite is, in fact, true - the room will actually look bigger! 

How it works

It's as if your mind is saying "well if you can fit something this big into the room, the space has to be big". Or maybe it plays with our sense of proportion - if your brain cannot figure out the exact size of the space, maybe it concludes that it is probably big. Whatever happens, using large pieces really works.

Look at the example above - your brain can easily calculate the size of all the objects based on the chair - you know how big a chair is so everything else is seen in relation to that. However, placing the clock face against a blank wall, the brain will try to find another familiar shape like a door or window as a reference to calculate the size.

Why go big?

My point is, if you are going to spend time making or painting something, it is much better to produce larger pieces that make an impact and can be used in any sized room.

Won't smaller be less expensive?

Not really. Let's say you halve the size, will it cost half the price? No, it will probably cost 20% less. Why is that? We use MDF board which is relatively cheap and comes in large sheets. By not using the full width of the board, you have wastage and the price of half a board won't necessarily be half the price. 

Half the paint will be half the price, but you make the paint yourself so that works out very cheaply anyway.

The main expense is your time. You have to come up with a design, make the construction and paint the whole thing. This is exactly where you save tons on a larger piece. It takes no more time to design a clock face twice the size, it takes marginally longer to construct it and it takes the same time to mix a larger batch of paint than it does for a smaller batch. The only place where the time will be double is painting the larger details, such as the numerals.

How can the materials be so cheap? 

The clock face is painted on 3 mm thick MDF board which we cut into a large circle with a diameter of 1.2m. To make it look thicker while keeping it lightweight, we added a 16 mm MDF frame to the back. The frame can be cut from offcut pieces that you fit together to make a circle. You can cut all the pieces yourself using a jigsaw and attach them with glue, nails or screws - whatever you have available. Then all you need to do is sand all the sharp edges round using 40 grit sandpaper and fill any mistakes or joins with wood filler (unless they are nice looking mistakes).

The process

The design process and paint process we followed are exactly the same as in the Clock Face module of the FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Online Course (see image below), even though this clock face is substantially larger than the one in the course. 

How we prepared the clock face before adding the design

The MDF board has a very smooth surface. To ensure we got the best results, we sanded the entire piece and then applied homemade stain followed by several coats of homemade casein paint.

How we altered the design

The design needed some tweaking to suit the size and shape. We decided to stick to the Roman numerals which we merely enlarged. and transferred the outlines onto the surface. You can, however, use other numerals if you wish.

Unlike the clock face in the course, the new design called for a lot of lines. But doing this is a lot easier than you may think. You simply need is to determine the centre of the circle. Then you have to divide the circle into 12 identical wedges. Next, you make a template of the other details you wish to add to a wedge and simply copy it to the other wedges. This way you will avoid a lot of unnecessary measuring.  

Final touches

This part is so easy. You simply need to colour between those lines you've drawn using casein paint. We used several shades of grey and charcoal.

After the paint had dried, we distressed it just enough to look gently touched by time and not too battered. How much you would ultimately like your piece to be aged is something you have to keep in mind all along while you apply the different layers of resist and paint.

Finally, we sealed it. How you do this will, of course, depend on how and where you will display your clock face.

The bonus

Due to its size, a large clock face like this doesn't actually have to hang on the wall. It can quite easily rest on something like a chest of drawers or even on the floor. Alternatively, it can be something more practical like a table top. Not just a pretty face after all!

Happy Painting!


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