I had to make this DIY concrete clock because the shopping gods only like me occasionally.
I have this large wall clock in my living room, it’s a giant pocket watch and everyone comments on it when they visit. It’s rustic, industrial, and works with my interior design perfectly. It was one of those rare “I found it!” moments.
So when the time came to find a second large wall clock I thought I would be just as lucky.
Nope – apparently you only get one magical clock find in your life.
Cue the DIY project music …
A DIY concrete clock made with a vintage crocheted doily
So how did I come up with this idea? Well, it was a combination of having a vintage doily kicking around on the same day I was playing with cement. I thought the doily would make a beautiful clock if I could figure out how to pair it with the concrete I was using.
I come up with ALL kinds of crazy ideas, just ask my husband.
How the clock actually came into creation was purely through trial and failure.
What does that mean? It means I screwed it up more times than I can count and what I ended up was a product of those mistakes.
I figured out the 27 different ways this flipping project wouldn’t work so you wouldn’t have to.
Supplies & Tools
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- ShapeCrete Concrete Mix
- Ikea RIBBA Picture Frame
- Large fabric doily.
- 1 (2×2) If you want to add the rustic wood to the outside of the picture frame.
- Quartz Movement Clock Hands
- Minwax Stain, Special Walnut
- Dust Mask
- A bucket and stir stick that you do not care about. You will likely not use them again.
Step 1: Setting up Your DIY Concrete Clock Mold
I had added a few 2x2s on the outside of my IKEA frames to make them look a bit less modern and a whole lot more rustic. You do not need to do this.
If you want to to make this addition it is pretty simple. I cut the 2x2s to fit the frame and used construction adhesive to hold them in place. I used clamps to keep them together but didn’t tighten them, I just put them on the outside of the frames to keep them in place while they dried.
To use the frame as your mold, all you need to do is remove the back and the matting.
For this project, you will only use the glass front, the outside frame and the inside square piece that fits inside the frame.
We didn’t need to seal or tape anything. The frame worked as a perfect mold and we didn’t have much bleed through. Any cement that did bleed through was very easy to remove.
I centered the doily simply by eyeballing it. My husband came behind me and centered it again. I find that it is a tiny bit off center (notice how he slyly got the blame for that). If you want to ensure that it is perfect you can go ahead and make measurements and mark your center.
Step 2. Mixing the Clay Cement to the Perfect Consistency
Wear an air filter mask when you do this. Also, wear eye protection and gloves.
Once the clay is mixed you do not have to wear the air mask or eye protection.
We mixed our clay at 2-1 and added a bit more water to create a cement clay that held up well.
The clay could easily form a ball, but it would also flatten out if you gave it a gentle shake.
It is better to start out with less water and work in more as you need. Too much water and it is tough to go back unless you have more concrete cement, which we didn’t have, so we took our time and worked slowly building it up to the consistency that we wanted.
ShapeCrete states that the working time is about 30 minutes. We took about 10 full minutes to work our cement up to the right texture and had no issues with it setting early, or firming up, or drying out in that time frame.
For a 3/4 inch clock, molded in the IKEA picture frame we used half a bucket of ShapeCrete.
Step 3: Placing your Cement Clay into the Clock Mold
Not the greatest or prettiest of pictures here but you can see what we did.
We just plopped balls of clay down on top of the doily without pressing or moving it around. We really wanted the doily to stay in place.
This method worked well. It was not perfect, but it did keep the doily centered (mostly) and it did keep the doily at the bottom of the mold.
If you pour your cement instead of using it like clay, you will have a floating doily. Ask me how I know.
This method of plopping down cement balls was not my first try. I failed this project about 4 times before I figured out how to work it out.
Keep adding balls of clay, and just fill in the whole area. Once everything is almost full you can gently move the top layer of ShapeCrete around to get it to fill in spots.
Try not to move the doily. Any pressure that you put on the clay could move the doily below, but if you are careful and gentle you shouldn’t have any problems.
Step 4: Removing the Doily from your DIY Concrete Clock
So this is what the front of the DIY cement clock looked like after we removed it from the frame. We waited a full 48 hours before unmolding to make sure everything was perfectly set.
The clock pulled away from the sides without issue and the glass slipped right off. The glass is not required for the clock, but you can clean it up and put it away for another project.
Notice how the cement did bleed through. When I saw this, I was super disappointed. I figured it was yet another fail in a long list of fails to try to get this fricken DIY concrete clock made.
I decided to pull the doily away anyway to see. A gentle pull was all it needed to come free.
The layer of cement that bled through was so thin that it just pulled off with the doily and I was left with a very clear, very distinct doily pattern.
I couldn’t believe my luck. It actually worked.
Step 5: Drilling the Hole for The Clock Mechanism
So now came the big event. We had to drill the hole through the cement in order to add the clock mechanism.
I swear, I thought this was going to crack. I didn’t think there would be any way to drill a hole without the whole thing splitting in half. Apparently, I don’t understand how concrete works (so says my husband) because he had all the confidence in the world drilling the hole and no fear at all that it would crack.
We used a 1/4 inch masonry bit and work perfectly.
Step 6: Adding the Clock Hands
We added the clock hands and fitted the whole thing back into the Ikea frame.
The frame is deep and gave us the clearance that we needed in order for the clock to fit flush against the wall with the clock mechanism inside.
The frame also adds a nice touch to the DIY concrete clock, since it gives it a finished edge.
You don’t have to use the frame, but it will be difficult to mount the DIY concrete clock to the wall without the frame.
I just love how it turned out. I mean it was a major headache because I failed this DIY concrete clock a few times before I finally got it right.
In the midst of all of this clock failure, I fell off our deck, broke a rib, tore the ligaments in my left hand, and was benched from the blogging game for about two weeks. In case you were wondering where I have been, I’ve been nursing my pride for being such a dumbass to fall off our deck in the first place.
Oh, and our deck is only 18 inches off the ground – I know, I know.
But I think I needed those few weeks to rethink this project and come back to it with fresh eyes to finally figure out how to make it work. I mean, I don’t recommend breaking a rib to work through a DIY project but for some reason, that’s what I finally had to do to get this project finished.
I also made these cute little concrete planters from ShapeCrete, you may want to check out this post as well: How To Make Concrete Pots For All Your Indoor Herbs