Gift Idea Tutorial: Photo Backed Clock

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I realize Father’s Day was weeks ago and I’m just posting this tutorial now.  I’m going with the adage “better late than never,” because the day when I can pull off writing a tutorial before the actual holiday is probably not in the near future!  And really, this could be a gift for anyone on any occasion: Mother’s Day, a birthday, a wedding, an anniversary… consider it the little black dress of gift ideas.

First of all, let me show you what my husband crafted with the kids for my Mother’s Day gift this year:

Paint.  With a one-year-old and three-year-old.  More paint.  On hands.  Did I mention paint?  HE WINS.  Which means I needed to step up my game.  A card just would not do it this year.

The following is probably a tutorial on what NOT to do.  However, by either following my method or the helpful hints/ideas that I give along the way you WILL have a clock with a photo in it at the end.  Promise!

When I saw a photo-backed clock on the Better Homes and Gardens website, I thought, “hmmmm, that could either be really cute or sorta cheesy.”  I put it out of my mind until I spotted a pile of clocks at a local thrift store.  My hand moved over them until I found one that had a fabulous frame (‘good bones’, if you will).  I finally bought it with the thought that even if I didn’t keep it as a clock it would make a great frame.  Because I’m kooky like that.  Why I can’t just buy a round frame I’ll never know.  Gotta make things hard.

SO.  I was enjoying my post-thrifting glow and dozing off to sleep with visions of this bird clock in my head when it hit me like a ton of bricks:

HOLY CRAP.  THE CLOCK PROBABLY MAKES FREAKIN’ BIRD SOUNDS.

Sure enough, I flipped it over the next morning and doh-doh-dohhhhhhh.  Bird sound box.  But the good news is it had a separate battery area for that function.  Whew.  But first, I needed to make sure it worked at all.

Woot!  It works.  And no bird calls.  So step #1: I unscrewed the ring, collected the screws in a baggie, and cleaned the glass with Windex.

Step #2: I enlarged a favorite photo to 12 by 12 inches (the clock face is 11 inches in diameter so that would give me a little wiggle room) at Ritz photo.  You can do this at many different photo places including CVS, but I needed it done quickly in an odd size.

Step #3:  I put a dot in the middle of the glass so I’d know where the mechanism would fall.  I used that as my guide to decide where to place the photo so the the picture looked it’s best.  I traced and then cut out the photo using the glass as a guide.  Which was dumb, because the glass was bigger than the face of the clock.  So I trimmed it freehand.  Even dumber, because then the back was showing through in several spots.  See how I fixed it in step #5.  Simply using some old fashioned mathematics and a ruler could have helped immensely!
 
There’s a dot on the glass near Bee’s ear to help determine correct placement.  Wipes clean with Windex.

See where I cut it unevenly?  Note to self: math is your friend.  Use it.

Step #4:  Finding the center, I cut a small hole to fit the hands.  Then, I realized the second hand extended over the center so the extra piece would make putting the hands through pretty difficult.  I tried detaching the clock mechanism to simply place it through that way to no avail.  So, don’t try this at home, I bent the second hand’s extended “arm” (if you will) so I could slide it all in at once without creating a huge hole.  I used pliers to bend it back but it still looks wonky (see below for helpful hints to avoid this problem):

Wonk, wonk.  There must be a better way.

Step #5: I applied adhesive (a photo-safe glue stick) to the clock face in sections and glued the photo to the clock.  Working in a circle I pushed any air bubbles out from under the photo.  To fix my Edward Scissorhands approach to cutting out the photo, I glued black cording around the perimeter to hide the places where the circle was uneven.

Black cording glued around the edge hid my cutting sins.  The glue dries clear, I promise, I took this photo right after gluing so it looks white.

Step #6: I let it dry for 24 hours without the glass in case the adhesive off-gassed (this happened to me once with rubber cement and a plastic scrapbooking sleeve– it bubbled the plastic!) and placed the glass back on.  I screwed on the ring, and…

a clock for my husband with his babies on it, to hang at the office as a reminder of what’s waiting for him at home.  Little does he know the drama I could have avoided if I’d followed my own helpful hints below!

helpful hints:
  • You can use either a new or thrifted clock, the key is to find one with hands that are easy to either remove or thread the photo through.
  • If you can’t find a good clock to use, buy a clock kit and use a picture frame instead.
  • The smaller the clock face, the easier and cheaper it is to enlarge photos.  My photo cost $14 to enlarge because I needed it done in one day and it was 12X12.  An 8X10 in one hour is only $3.99 at CVS.
 
What do you think– Cheesy?  Sweet?  Wonky?  Swonky?  {I just made that one up}.  What did you give for Father’s Day this year?  I need to one-up my hubby next year after that adorbs framed flower hand print he made for me!

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12 Comments

  1. Have to give it to your hubby for the flower craft. Even more so if he was the one to frame them!

    The clock is a wonderful idea too, and thank goodness the bird chirps can be disabled 🙂

  2. I’m seriously thinking about trying to start pretending that the things I see on this blog are things I actually did. Like saying to my husband, “Remember that fantastic custom clock I gave you for Father’s Day? Aren’t I such a thoughtful and creative wife?” Do you think it could work?

  3. Nichole, yes, he even framed it! AND TOOK BOTH KIDS TO WALMART BY HIMSELF TO GET THE FRAME. I’m kinda in awe. 😉

  4. Not swonky! It’s adorable and love that you chose a black and white photo.

  5. I love the idea!! Thanks for sharing!

    I found ur blog in TMB.

    Angie
    mylittleinspiration.blogspot.com

  6. Wow, I love it! It would have been funny if it started chirping at him at work and he couldn’t figure out where it’s coming from, LOL!

  7. It’s not wonky at all! It is totally adorable. I want to make one too. I love how hubs got all crafty for mother’s day – such a sweet gift.

  8. I love the clock, although it would’ve been funny if the birds chirped before you turned it off. I’m totally impressed by your husband. What a great gift. I think I’m going to send this link to my hubby 🙂

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