My Steampunk Wall Clock

I am so excited about my little wall clock. Like so many things, it all started with an internet search…

I rent the upper floor of a century-old farmhouse, which I love, and although it’s snug I am constantly inspired by its beauty and charm. The kitchen is sort of mother-in-law-ish, but who cares? It works nicely for this mostly-foodie. Different areas of the flat have their own unique feel: some downright cave-like, others intriguing — and in some others I have a full long view from outside wall to outside wall, which is very freeing at times… being somewhat claustrophobic by nature… but it’s really not so bad that way. No worries.

However, the bathroom is, well, tiny. Big enough, but still — tiny. In my first few months of living there, I splurged on a big custom mirror. The frame shop in town that I frequent { www.theshadowbox.ca } sells ready-made frames, and the day I went looking I found a large mahogany piece with a skinny little frame that I had assembled with a piece of mirror glass. I have lots of mirrors in the place, it really helps to open up the space.

For someone who doesn’t often care { give a … } what time or day it is, I sure do love to design clocks. On a whim in the early 2000s I took out magic markers { Crayola, actually }, found some round things for a template and drew this Watermelon Clock that is for sale on my Zazzle storefront. { If you are in Canada, I have another source that produces locally to save on shipping — let me know if you are interested. }

But for the bathroom, as with most of the house, I didn’t really care. “No wall clock” is just fine. In fact the only other wall clock in the place has no markers: Mary’s fantastic Whatever Clock. Anyway, the bathroom is also the last room in the place to be painted — I’ve chosen my grandmother’s teal. Pretty bold for a room, but there’s lots of white and windows, etc., and it’s not that big a space. Over the towel ring I’ve hung a small square frame with my favourite marker fish drawing, but I couldn’t figure out what to put above it. A clock would work, I thought, but it’s such a small space. And the look of the room is more industrial than the rest of the house… Most clocks spoil that vibe…

So I googled “tiny steampunk wall clock.” Words like “tiny” don’t usually yield the desired filter, so it was a rather frustrating search. I saw some quite large wall clocks called “steampunk” and they look fantastic — but I don’t have any kind of space on that wall. Really. Several sellers on Etsy are making bicycle gear clocks that would be the right size, but it didn’t seem to make any sense, to have a bicycle gear clock in my tiny bathroom.


And thus my design was born, inspired mainly by this and this, shown in the previous paragraph in case the links go dead. I looked into laser cutting, but would have had to bulk order more than I could probably move, since 7″ clocks are not in high demand. But on our town’s facebook swap group, one member serendipitously posted a certain kind of metal art product she was looking for, and the owner of a local metal shop saw it and replied. Their technique and artistry are just right, and I love to go to local artists first — problem solved! So my clocks are plasma cut, and as such they don’t have perfectly smooth lines, but in fact I truly love their rough look! It gives them extra character and a rustic feel that juxtaposes the sort of anglo-industrialism. My boss says bicycle wheels, but I am also thinking railroad cars. Anyway I’m totally chuffed.

My own clock of this design is 7″ for the wall space in question. My sister asked for one in plain steel for her place, at that size. I also have a prototype in 8.5″, which is more of a standard clock size, and I am happy to take any custom orders. For a custom metal clock the cost is pleasantly reasonable, so let me know privately and I will quote a ballpark.

Ideally I suppose this design would work best if the face itself spun and the hands were stationary, since the numbers are upside down on the bottom, but I like it this way. It suits my sense of order, even if it is a little hard to read. Isn’t that what steampunk is all about?

An ironic side note: once I had the clock mostly designed, there were a few variables and options to consider, and I wound up with three main versions to choose from. I printed each one out and tried them one by one on the wall — in fact as I write this post they are still held there by tape as the final clock is not yet assembled. There is no way to mistake them for a real clock: a stack of white circles with black toner print. But … every single time I have stepped out of the shower since I put them up, I have reflexively glanced up to see what time it is. Ha, well that joke is on me. We’ll see if I still do that once the real thing is in place and the walls are finally painted.

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