Repurposed - Clock Into Kinetic Wall Art




About: Working my dream job in the Telecom industry, so chances are, i'll never have time to respond to comments or messages, nothing personal.
In this instructable we'll convert an inexpensive clock into wall art with a subtly changing moire effect. I'm expecting the MoMA to call any second.

In this video the effect has been sped up for clarity, however the same effect could be had with a high torque clockworks using the minute and second hand. I enjoy the subtle effect of using the hour and minute hands myself. Not sure what youtube did to the color in my video.

A moire pattern is caused by interference, more information is available here moire at wikipedia

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You will need

A clock movement
Photo paper
printer transparencies
thin cardboard
super glue
spray adhesive
assorted odds and ends

Start by removing your clock movement from a clock. Place your thumb against the time setting knob and gently twist off the hands, then unscrew the nut around the shaft, the movement should now be free. be sure to save the hands.

Step 2: Creating the Moire Pattern

There is a great deal of math available on the net about moire patterns, however, since it is spring break, we will forgo it. A moire pattern can be any pattern that causes an interference effect, for instance here's a moire pattern caused by the office walls where I work. Using a graphics program make any pattern you like, circles, grids, radial lines. I used radial wedges. Contrasting colors are nice too.

Step 3: Making the Dials

In this step we take our two patterns and print them out. One needs to be printed on photopaper and the other onto a transparency.

Once printed the photo paper dial will need to be reinforced by gluing, with aerosol glue, to a piece of thin cardboard.

Step 4: Mounting the Dials

At this point we'll trim the dials down to circles, the only other change we need make to the transparent dial is the addition of the minute hand, with the hand removed, to the center, attach it with super glue. Do NOT use a super glue accelerator on the transparency, the ink will run.

The photo paper dial is slightly different. For a proper moire effect we need not just rotation, but translation, so the hole will be off center. The easiest way to locate the hole is to overlay the transparency until you get the effect you like, the center of the transparency is now located where you will make the hole in the photo paper.

Once you have the hole in the photo paper dial, super glue on the hour hand and balance the dial, our little clock does not have enough torque to lift the off-balance dial. Here I used a pair of bottle caps with double sided tape. Balancing was accomplished by spinning on a pencil tip and balancing until it showed no preference in stopping.

Step 5: Final Assembly

Simply push the dials back onto the clock movement, make sure they're square and neither dial binds. Hang on the wall, and enjoy.

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    49 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I made one using an Room Essentials Style clock from target that cost $3.99, and just glued the one to the backboard over the clock, and had the transparency on the second hand. I was able to keep the frame and didn't need counter weights. HOWEVER, the small motor was unable to move the transparency attached to the second hand.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Jizzed in my pants when I understood how simple mechanically is that. Love it. How big are your circles? wondering how big I might get.

    4 replies

    How big can you print? but really you're limited by the torque of the clock motor, those are about 6 inch circles.

    PS go change your pants.

    myriadeyesTool Using Animal

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    I'm having a lot of trouble doing the same in Gimp. Could you please(!) upload the original GIMP files you used? When I print these they are all pixelated, plus I'm afraid its going to print both the blue and white radial segments onto the transparency paper.


    Tool Using Animalmyriadeyes

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    Those are the original files, click on the little boxed i in the upper left hand corner, DL the large 3200 x 3200 originals.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    They did something similar to this in Star Trek TOS, using clockwork motors and whatnot to make moire patterns on computer displays and even the little disc on the communicators... :)

    Pretty cool work... :)


    12 years ago

    Wow, great idea! I just dropped a cheap (actually it came as a free kit with something my wife bought) clock and I lost one of the hands. The little black clock-box is sitting in front of me right now looking for something exciting to do...I think we've found it right here! Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    hahaha... yeah, i'm in a similar position. i was cleaning out my pantry today and found some free clock that came from some insurance company. so, i was one step from tossing it until i thought "hmmm... maybe i can do something with this. talk about kismet.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Sweetness! You are no longer on my annoying list. Just kidding, you've always been awesome. Keep up the great work! +5/5 stars.