Introduction: Memento Mori Clock

About: Hands-on DIY lover and borderline crazy crafter. I love Halloween and creepy food.

They say there are two constants in this world, death and taxes. I say, when it comes to true love, there are three constants...

This clock is my own little way to say that no matter what, true love never dies and will outlast even the endless march of time.

I love Halloween and spooky things and have been looking for a good clock to add to my collection for ages. While there are plenty out there that are mass produced you can buy, they look sorta cheap...and the true Momento Mori clocks are breathtakingly beautiful but WAAYYY out of my price range.

This meant if I wanted one...I was going to have to make one myself.



Okay, let's make this thing!

Step 1: Time's a Wasting! Let's Get Our Stuff!

Here is the full list of supplies and tools you will need for a built similar to mine:

1 old clock you don't mind cutting up

1 battery powered pendulum kit (you can get them here if you want)

1 plastic skeleton garland (also available here)

Black gloss spray paint

Gold rub and buff wax (you can also use gold acrylic paint if you want)

E6000 glue

Heat gun


Dremel with a cutting blade and a sanding disc

Access to a scanner and a printer

Printer paper


Instant powdered tea

Clear spray sealer

Thin cardboard (an old cereal box is perfect)

Spray glue

Modge podge



Metal snips



Tissue paper

Decorative drawer knob (for top of clock)

Decorative wooden scroll pieces (available at craft stores)

Resin skulls in 2 sizes (small and large) that I poured myself. I have a few tutorials on casting you can check out for how to make these yourself on my main Instructables page.

The first thing you need is a clock. I grabbed this guy at our local thrift shop for $9.99. While the form was cool, it lacked an actual pendulum (which I really liked), so I picked up a new kit at my local craft store. You can pick them up online as well (link in list of supplies and tools).

The clock had been well used in its past life and had a few nicks and dings in it (the frame around the face has a chunk missing but I think that just adds to the character!). Either way, it was the right size for what I wanted and couldn't wait to get started taking it apart!

Step 2: Dismantling the Very Fabric of Time

Once you've got a suitable clock, you want to carefully take it apart. I got really lucky with mine in that the face of the clock was simply held in place using some metal clips. I gently pushed those in and popped the whole face off and removed the old clock mechanism (it still worked, so I'm saving it for later!).

I used my screwdriver to remove the decorative but non-functioning pendulum decoration from the front of the clock as well, leaving me with just the wooden body.

I then fit my new clock mechanism into place and noticed that there was a spot where it dipped down a bit that wasn't present in the first mechanism. I marked that spot with my pencil, removed the mechanism, and gently ground down that spot using my Dremel sanding tool until it fit perfectly.

Because I wanted the pendulum to be seen, it meant I had to cut open the front of my clock body. Rather than draw all over my clock and leave marks on it, I put the whole clock onto my scanner, copied it, cut it out, and then used the photocopy to figure out exactly how and where I wanted to cut my window.

I carefully sketched out the size of the opening I wanted, created a template using the photocopy and then traced around that onto the body of the clock.

Using my Dremel with my cutting blade, I removed the front section of my clock and then sanded down all the rough edges until it was smooth.

Step 3: Twist Up Your Bones

Once I was happy with the front of my clock, it was time to start adding decorations!

Using a heat gun, I carefully warmed up two of my plastic garland skeletons until their bones were soft enough to twist and manipulate as I wanted (don't get them too hot, they'll melt!). I turned their feet sideways so they were flush with the clock bottom, pulled their arms out so they could reach each other and turned their heads so they were looking at each other.

A little E6000 glue, a little tape, and they were secured to the front of the clock.

I also started adding on my decorative wood scroll pieces and a few decorative skulls I had cast in resin at this point as well...again using E6000 glue to keep them in place.

I also glued a larger resin skull I had cast and painted a matching gold color to the bottom of my pendulum.

A few strips of blue painters tape kept them from moving as I worked.

Once I was happy with the whole layout and all the glue was dry, I painted the whole thing a rich, glossy black.

Step 4: Face Time

While all that black spray paint was drying, I figured I'd tackle the face of my clock.

I used my scanner to scan in the original face and then played around in Photoshop, creating a new face that I thought would compliment the overall look of the Momento Mori clock.

I printed this out on white paper and then used spray glue to attach to a large piece of thin cardboard I'd gotten from an old cereal box. Using my scissors, I carefully cut out the new face.

To give the clock an even older, more time-worn look, I aged my new clock face using tissue paper and instant tea. I printed a skull out on my tissue paper and then used Modge Podge to attach it to the front of my clock face. Using water thinned down Modge Podge, I painted my clock with tea and then sprinkled more instant tea crystals onto the wet surface. Blotting it with a wadded up paper towel helped soak up the moisture and set the tea in place.

Once it was dry and I was happy with the look, I hit the whole thing with a coat of clear spray sealer.

Step 5: Time's UP!

Once that was all done, it was time to add the finishing touches!

I went over the entire piece using my gold buff and rub, carefully highlighting certain spots and then rubbing them down to give the whole thing an antiqued look. You can also achieve the same result using a dry brush technique and some gold acrylic paint.

My pendulum was just a little bit too long, so I did end up snipping about 1/2 an inch from the top of it and using my snips to roll the edge to create a new hook for it. Once that was done, it was the perfect length.

I then reassembled the entire clock, added a decorative drawer pull knob to the top just for fun, popped in a battery, set the time, and held my breath! Time (no pun intended) to see if this thing would actually work.

Slowly the pendulum began to swing. Because the skull adds weight, it did take a bit for it to start really swinging properly, but once it hit the right rhythm, it's been going strong ever since!

It's been over 2 weeks now and the clock keeps perfect time (I waited to publish this Instructable to make sure it actually worked the way it was supposed to, and it does!)! The pendulum swings beneath the clasped hands of my little skeleton couple and is a beautiful and fun addition to my usual year-round decor.

I had such a good time making this that I've been eagerly keeping my eyes open for other possible clock candidates to make over.

I hope this little Instructable inspires others to make their own clocks!

For even more fun DIY projects and a ton of disgustingly delicious recipes, you can check out my main Instructables page here or my website, the Necro NomNomNomicon.

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