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My husband and I wanted to create high-quality (and budget-friendly) DIY gifts for our extended family this year, so I decided to attempt a DIY photo-to-wood wax paper transfer clock. It worked! That’s pretty amazing considering I’m somewhat impatient and totally artistically unskilled.
This clock is the perfect personalized gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, or Christmas. I’m actually making three more this week with newborn photos of each of my children, but the clocks will be stopped at the hour and minute of their birth. Cool, right?
Just follow the directions below to create your own!
DIY Photo-to-Wood Wax Paper Transfer Clock
You can buy this one (recommended) or build your own. Just be sure that the wood isn’t too thick or you won’t be able to install the clock kit. (We learned this the hard way. My husband had to spend hours carefully thinning out the back of the panel we built for the first clock we made.)
You really only need the 1,2,3,6 and 9.
I purchased the “aged wheat” colored stain from Walmart, but I can’t find it online. Use whatever color you like, just make sure it will contrast well with silver.
Don’t be scared away from this project if you don’t have a printer. They’re are surprisingly inexpensive and you can use them to print your own photos.
You really only need one sheet (fingers crossed), but you will probably a little extra on hand.
Spray Paint Everything
That’s right. You don’t have to worry about the color of the clock kit, numbers, and tacks because you’re just going to paint it. Lay it all out on some cardboard, give it a good coat, and let it dry for a few hours.
Find Your Photo
While you’re watching paint dry (literally!), carefully select a photo. Don’t forget you’ll be drilling a hole in the center, so we don’t want that to end up weird, if you know what I mean. Crop it, filter it, and save it to your computer. Keep in mind wax paper transfers result in a worn, vintage look, so don’t use a photo that needs to be perfectly crisp to look nice. (A close-up of someone’s face is probably a bad idea for this project.)
Print and Transfer Your Photo
I’m sure there are some pretty fancy ways to do this, but I’m a slacker so it did it the easy way using Microsoft Word.
- Open a new Word document
- Follow the instructions in this video from United Computers (don’t worry, it’s short), but select the rounded rectangle shape instead of the explosion shape
- Go to Drawing Tools–>Format tab and adjust the size on the far right to 6 x 6 inches (if you’re using a 10 x 10 wood panel)
- If your photo looks distorted, tinker with the size a bit until it looks normal
- You can soften the edges of the photo by navigating to Picture Tool–>Format Tab–>Picture Effects–>Soft Edges
- Print a test page on regular printer paper to make sure you like the size
Now it’s time to transfer! I never get my pictures perfectly straight or perfectly centered, but the clocks still turn out great. I use the stain to blur the edges and even things out if the image is a little crooked. If you really mess it up you can always sand it off or paint over it and try again.
Ta-da! (This is my dad taking my twins on their first wilderness hike. So sweet.)
Stain Around the Photo
Use fancy brushes if you have them, but I used an old washcloth and everything came out just fine. Just make sure you don’t use too much! A little goes a long way. Also, this is where you can use stain to blend the edges of the image and even out any crookedness.
Drill the Hole and Install the Motor
If you’re like me, your image might be slightly off center, so make sure you drill the hole in the center of the image, not the panel. I used the 3/8 drill bit. If you buy a different clock kit you may need a different size. The wood panel is really thin, so if you don’t have a power drill you could probably get by hammering a large nail or screw the the center. Now you can install the clock motor as directed on the clock kit packaging. Exciting!
Place the Numbers, Tacks and Clock Hands
Start with the numbers. Use a ruler or measuring tape to make sure the 12, 3, 6, and 9 are all evenly placed. Use a good amount of super glue to attach the numbers. EASY.
I just eyeball it with the tacks (I know, I’m a rebel), but, if you want the clock to keep good time, you can install the clock hands and use them to guide you to where each tack should be placed. Set the clock to each hour and put the tack where the hand points. How do you install the tacks? Well, you just push them in! You might need to use a hammer if you’re using a thicker wood panel. (Again, this is why I recommend you get this specific panel.)
Tip: The spray paint plugs up the holes in the clock hands a little, so do your best to clear those holes out before installing the clock hands.
Test it Out
Pop that battery in and set the time! You might have to fidget with the hands a bit to make sure they don’t get hooked up on each other at first. Also, use a Q-tip to touch up the paint if some came off while you were installing the clock hands.
Done! Easy enough, right? Please post a photo if you try this! I would love to see what someone with some patience and artistic talent can do with this idea.