‘Bleak to Chic’ DIY Clock Project

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Fritter and Loaf clock

With our impending move to Germany, food has – unfortunately – taken a bit of a backseat. Instead, just about every minute of our lives has been consumed with thoughts about passports, plane tickets and plans for our future apartment. The last one especially.

As a designer, I’m adamant that my first home WILL be awesome. The problem? Awesome things are often expensive, and we don’t really have much of a budget to work with. Which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about DIY and how we can achieve a rad apartment without bankrupting ourselves.

So, the plan is to start doing lots of inspiring, shortcut-taking home projects that I can share with all of you. As a quick and easy first project, I decided to refurbish a cheap and very generic wall-clock from Clicks and transform it into something a bit more edgy and memorable. And here’s how I did it:

First things first, I needed to find a style I liked. This step is not to be overlooked. It’s really important to have a clear idea of what look you’re trying to go for, otherwise your final piece ends up being a bit of everything or nothing at all. I did a lot of window shopping, and found great (but expensive) inspiration at Country Road, which you can take a look at here. Pinterest was also a great help. At the end of this stage, I knew I wanted something very minimal with a white face, narrow matte black frame and an accent of colour on the seconds hand. So off to Clicks we went.

When you’re looking at cheap and ugly clocks, it’s hard to imagine much potential in them. But just look at the key elements. You can easily change the face and colour. So if either of those things bother you, don’t worry. Shape is very important though. I was looking for a very narrow, deep frame, and plain hands. Which is when I spotted this one for only R55.00. SOLD!

Fritter and Loaf clock

This is what I used to transform it:

  • A screwdriver
  • Pot scourer/ fine grit sand paper
  • Newspaper, for spray-painting cleanliness
  • Matte black spray-paint
  • Matte white spray-paint
  • Matte lacquer spray-paint
  • Neon orange spray-paint
  • Scrap sheets of A3 paper and one nice A3 card
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive spray glue
  • A battery for the clock

Fritter and Loaf clock

Luckily, I had all of these things lying around at home, except for the battery, lacquer and neon spray-paint which cost R178 in total. And now the fun begins.

  • Using your screwdriver, disassemble the clock. Keep the glass to one side, and separate the face from the frame. Remove the hands too.
  • Peel off the crappy paper face and throw it away! Now!
  • Using your pot scourer or sandpaper, gently scrub the frame and individual hands. This clears the surface of any residue and helps the spray-paint adhere.

Fritter and loaf clock

  • Lay down some newspaper, and apply four light coats of black spray-paint to the outer frame. Allow to dry for 15 minutes in between each coat.
  • Remember to shake the spray-paint can well before use, and ensure that the paint is ‘warm’. You can do this by placing the can under your arm for a minute or so. Both of these points ensure that the paint comes out as a fine mist – and not a mottled, gloopy spatter.

Fritter and loaf clock

  • Luckily for me, the ‘inner frame’ was actually a part of the face of the clock, so I was able to paint it separately. If yours doesn’t, don’t forget to mask it off with masking tape when painting your outer frame black and vice versa.
  • Apply four light coats of white spray paint to the inner frame. 15 minutes in between each coat.
  • Apply four coats of black spray-paint to the hours and minutes hands. Mine were a glossy black originally, but I just wanted them to be matte. Don’t worry too much about the underside.
  • My neon seconds hand was a bit more work. Firstly, I had to paint it white as the neon spray is slightly translucent. Two coats should be fine.
  • Then I applied three coats of the neon spray.

Fritter and loaf clockFritter and loaf clock

  • After everything had dried nicely, I applied the clear lacquer to seal the colour. Two light coats on everything was good enough for me.
  • Then I needed a new face. First I measured everything (be precise) and recreated the face and hands using Adobe Illustrator. Then I just played around. It wasn’t too complicated, as I wanted my face to be nice ‘n simple. I made sure the hands lined up with the seconds markings on the face, but you might have other plans for yours. You can download a PDF of my design here.
  • Then, I printed it out on scrap A3 paper, to make sure I got the sizing exactly right. The face kept coming out slightly too big, so I just scaled it to 99% on my printing settings. When I was happy with the result, I printed my final version of the face on a nice sheet of A3 card.
  • Cut out the face ever so slowly and carefully with scissors. Try not to crease or dirty the card with your fingers.
  • Flip the card upside down and spray the back with a nice coat of adhesive. I really recommend spray glue, as it applies nice and evenly and means you don’t have to physically touch the paper. It looks much neater.
  • Carefully glue the paper onto the face. Make sure it fits perfectly before you glue it on. Obviously.
  • Wipe down your glass face. They’re always dusty.
  • Reassemble the clock and insert your battery.

Fritter and loaf clockFritter and loaf clock

There’s it! Not too bad for a new piece of paper and a few coats of paint, right? I’m so chuffed with how it turned out, and everyone I ask said they thought it cost me about R500. Winning! If you don’t have the spray paint, it can be quite costly. But, on the plus side, I still have plenty left over for future projects.


Have any other cool DIY ideas up your sleeve? Let me know in the comments below, and yours could be my next project!



    • faultrsa says

      Thanks Soph! We have a some more DIY things on the way. Mirrors and picture frames, to light fittings and side tables.


    • duplessisah says

      Naaaaw shucks, thanks Soph! Loads of house decorating yet to be done, so there definitely will be 😛 xxx


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