I love giant old clock faces- the kind that look like they were retired from an ancient clock tower and tossed into the tall grass, in the English hillside or in a lavender field in the French countryside where it sat for the next 20 years.   I imagine the clock face being discovered by a farmer who took it to a flea market and sold it for next to nothing.

Clock Face 1

 If I ever found a retired clock face or bought one “for next to nothing” at a French Flea Market, you know I would be screaming about it on this blog- so I obviously haven’t found one and I can’t afford the ones I have seen at high end antique stores and auction houses with a price tag of $5000 and up.

 DIY Clock face

I don’t have a spare $5000 sitting around to spend on a retired clock face- but I do have a strong sense of creativity and resources at my disposal.  I think being resourceful is an integral part of creativity.  For instance: I don’t have metal cutting tools but I know someone who does…and not just any metal cutting tool, but a whole room dedicated to a single tool that can cut a piece of metal the size of a king sized bed.

If you don’t have a Queen or King of Power Tools at your beckoning, use a round piece of wood from a big, wooden cable spool found on Craig’s List or cut from a piece of ply wood or an old metal topped outdoor table- both are perfect for this kind of project

I approached The Queen of Power Tools, bouncing with excitement, and told her that I wanted to create my own large clock face.  I had to explain what I was talking about and why I was doing it, which spurred Her Majesty of All Awesome Power Tools to take a field trip to the obscenely high priced antique store to look at the clock face I was modeling my project after.


I researched giant clock faces and ornate clock hands, took pictures and measurements and sketched my clock hands out on a large piece of paper.

For the clock face, itself, I decided to start on the smaller side- no Big Ben sized clock face just yet- and went with a 40” in diameter round metal piece.  For the clock hands, I settled on something a bit more ornate than just a straight set of hands.


The Queen of Power Tools  cut the round metal piece and two clock hands for me and presented it to me, neatly wrapped in butcher paper to protect it from the elements that might cause the perfectly silver steel from being adversely affected…silly people.   I couldn’t wait to get home and expose it to every element I could find.

When I got home that evening, I ripped the butcher paper off my big round metal piece and hucked it off into the far corner of my yard like a giant Frisbee.  I giggled with glee at getting to do so until  I had an awful moment when I thought it was going to keep on flying right over the neighbor’s roof, catch a gust of wind, turn sideways and impale a minivan full of nuns.   Instead, it sailed towards the ground like a giant UFO coming in for a crash landing and made an ear splitting clang when it hit the ground.  It came to a rest and I stood stock still waiting for distant police sirens to start up and head my way.   My neighbors must love me…

My big shiny steel piece stayed right in that very spot where I threw it for at least 3 months.  I would wander out, every now and then, to look at the metal to see how my naturally occurring rust was coming along and to give it a turn like a carefully roasted rotisserie chicken.  Another two months and I wandered out again and closely inspected the in progress rust…there was no “in progress” rust.  Several more months went by and I stood over my slightly less shiny steel metal piece and flipped it again.  A few more months went by and I walked out to inspect the progress…rust takes a long time to create naturally and I was hoping, after 9 months, that my big round metal UFO would be covered with a deep dark rusty pitted patina.  No such luck in the Mother Nature Department.

Blank  metal piece

 I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and create my own rust and peeling paint.

I wanted my clock face to look as close to genuine as possible.  I wanted it to look like it was originally painted white but had since taken a beating by way of wind, rain, snow and sun.  I wanted pitted, aged rust and old, peeling white paint.  I wanted worn black roman numerals and to die for rusted clock hands with hints of black paint here and there….and I wanted all of this before I turned 90.

I decided I was going to have to

Fake It.

Stay tuned for the DIY Giant Clock Face Series:

Faking It: Rust

Faking It: Weathered Paint

and the final step to the

Giant Clock Face Project- Adding Numbers

if you’re not interested in the technical side of how to fake it, keep an eye out for

the Big Clock Face Reveal

and a little humor with

The Giant Clock Face Disaster

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