Introduction: DIY Paint Palette Clock | Simple & Fun Art Themed Project

About: Multi-crafter, jewellery maker, card designer and frequent procrastinator.

I've always liked clock projects that repurpose already-existing items, such as tins, bottles or vinyl records. I got a wooden artist palette 'free' with an art magazine years ago and knew it was destined for a clock project - but it's just taken me until now to do it (oops)!

I hope you like this project, and give it a go yourself :)


- An artist palette: a thin wooden palette is best if you want to paint it.

- Paints & Gesso: I used white gesso as the primer, and a variety of acrylic paints for the design.

- Paintbrushes

- Drill &a piece of scrap wood: with a drill bit that is approximately the right diameter for the clock spindle.

- A clock mechanism/movement: I think I rescued mine from a different clock years ago, but it's a standard, inexpensive clock mechanism with 3 hands. The spindle was only just long enough to go through the thin palette, but there are mechanisms available with longer spindles if required.

- Scissors

- Ruler(s)

- Protractor

- Pencil

- Sturdy wire, wire cutters & pliers (or a plate holder): this is to hold the palette for display purposes. You could instead wall mount it if you wish. I used 1.6 mm galvanised wire.

- Felt (optional) & a fabric marker: if you want to add a felt backing.

- Strong glue

- Sandpaper (optional):can be useful for smoothing - if you are using a wooden palette - or for removing excess dried paint if needed.

Step 1: Drill the Palette

You first need to decide where you would like the clock mechanism to be attached, and mark the preferred position of the spindle on the front of the palette. I placed mine an equal distance away from 3 of the sides.

Place the palette on a piece of scrap wood and drill through this mark.

The size of drill bityou use should be just a tiny bit bigger in diameter than the clock spindle. My spindle was just over 5mm in diameter, and I used a 7 mm drill bit.

Sand any rough edges or areas on the palette to prepare it for painting.

Step 2: Paint the Palette White

I tried a couple of coats of white acrylic paint first, but the paint is pretty cheap and just didn't cover the wood well at all.

So instead I recommend painting 2-3 coats of white gesso. Try to have all of the brushstrokes going in the same direction to make it neater.

If you happen to have white spray paint, prime the wood first and then spray it white to give a smoother brushstroke-free finish.

Step 3: Measure the Angles

Place the palette against a long ruler to decide what angle you want the palette to be displayed at (the ruler represents a level surface).

Place another ruler at 90 degrees to this ruler, making sure it also lines up with the hole you drilled.

Make very faint pencil marks along the edge of this ruler - one at the top and one at the bottom. These marks need to line up with the drilled hole and will represent '12' and '6' on the clock.

Use a protractor to mark the positions of as many other numbers as you want to represent on the clock. Each number is 30 degrees apart. I just missed out the '2' and '3' positions on my clock.

Note that as the palette becomes elongated towards the right-hand-side, the edge gets further away from the spindle, so the pencil marks get further apart. How many numbers you represent and where you position them in relation to the edge of the palette is up to you.

Step 4: Paint the Design

Mix up a small amount of as many paint colours as you would like to display on the palette. One colour represents one number on the clock. You'll need a different colour for each pencil mark you've made.

I used a brush that turned out to be too bulky, which made it difficult to make the paint as neat as I would have liked. If you have one, use a fairly fine & flat brush for doing the edges of the paint circles.

After the paint dried, I wasn't happy with the black circle, so I painted over the edge of it with white gesso (3 coats) and then re-painted it much more neatly :) I also used the gesso to tidy up a couple of stray paint marks.

I then added another coat of all of the colours, as the acrylic paint still allowed some white to show through. I made the second layer of paint thicker with more texture.

Leave to dry.

Step 5: Cut Out the Felt Backing

If you would like to add a felt backing to the clock, now is the best time to cut out the shape, as it will be too difficult once the clock mechanism is in place.

Place the palette onto the felt, draw around it with a fabric marker, and then cut out the shape. Make the felt shape as identical to the palette shape as possible, and then leave it to one side.

The reason I added a felt backing was to make the back look neater & more finished, and also to add a slight black border to the palette. It's totally optional though.

Note: If you preferred, you could add a different backing instead, like paper decoupage.

Step 6: Make a Wire Stand

I wanted to display this clock on a shelf, so I decided to make a wire stand for it. There are other ways to make a stand instead of using wire - such as the wooden type you see on the back of picture frames - so feel free to use your own idea. You can also make it wall mounted instead if you wish.

For my stand, I cut a length of my 1.6 mm galvanised wire and - via trial and error - bent it into shape. Just make sure the wire you use is sturdy enough to hold its shape.

- I first made a 90 degree bend 40 cm* from the end of the wire, then another after about 2/3 the width of the palette, then cut the wire after another 40 cm.

* 40 cm is 2 x the height of the palette.

- From here, I made 2 little hooks on the ends of the wire in order to stop the palette sliding off the front of the stand. I then bend each side of the wire shape to form the area that the palette would rest against.

- Make sure that the wire doesn't show from the front of the clock (at the top), and also think about the angle you want the clock to be held at.

- Then the excess wire is bent backwards on both sides to form the back of the stand that rests on the table/shelf.

Step 7: Attach the Mechanism

I then glued the mechanisn to the back of the clock using UHU all purpose adhesive. I ideally wanted to attach it with double-sided tape, but my mechanism has tiny plastic protrusions which are a little thicker than my tape so that didn't end up working.

Test that the mechanism works before you glue it in place though!

Then test that the hands go round as they should. My second hand got stuck on one of the wire stand hooks at the front, so I cut off some excess wire and made the hooks much smaller to rectify this problem.

And finally, I cut a square out of the felt backing to make room for the clock mechanism, and then glued the felt in place.

Step 8: Finished!

And the clock is finished!

I realised after taking these photos that the clock wasn't positioned perfectly upright - it's a bit wonky - so I'll re-do the photos shortly :D

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable!

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