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How To Turn An Upcycled Clock Into A Stunning Mantle Piece

Inside: An upcycled mantle clock tutorial and how to decorate it with paint and decoupage.

I haven’t worn a watch since the year 2000. It might be because I now use a mobile phone to tell the time. One thing about not wearing a watch is that I’m much more aware of where the clocks are and glance at them rather than pulling my phone out of my pocket.

We had a clock in the kitchen and home office but not the living room until now. I recently found an old 1950s mantle clock in the bargain bucket of a flea market stall for £3 ($2) and have upcycled it into something that tells the time and is a decorative piece.

It’s easy to pick old broken clocks up for a bargain, as everyone thinks they are too difficult to fix. But you don’t need to fix them! All you need to do is to swap out the old clock mechanism with a cheap new battery-operated one.

I wanted my mantle clock to match the Kaffe Fasset fabric decoupaged vase I made recently. So I again used fabric decoupage for this upcycle.

The Original Mantle Clock

These old wooden mantle clocks are easy to find in flea markets and thrift stores. They were once prevalent in homes when we had many more clocks. Depending on their age, they will either be a wind-up clock or an electrical one.

It doesn’t matter what the clock mechanism is or whether or not it works as it’s so easy to replace it with a cheap modern battery one.

upcycled mantle clock before

This particular upcycled mantle clock had an electric clock mechanism. I didn’t even test to see if it would work as I did not want the inconvenience of having a clock that needed to be plugged in all the time.

Back of the clock electric mechanism

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How To Upcycle And Decorate A Mantle Clock

What you need

New clock mechanism

Dismantling the Clock

One of the beauties of upcycling old mantle clocks as opposed to new ones is that they are easy to take apart. These clocks were made before the days of moulded plastic and were designed to be repaired, so all you need is a screwdriver to dismantle them.

I could unscrew and remove the clock mechanism, face and glass front.

Dismantling the mantle clock

Polish and clean any clock bits you will keep, like the face cover. The battery mechanism will attach to the back of the clock with some sticky foam pads that come with it.

I didn’t buy a new clock mechanism but repurposed one from an old wall clock I no longer wanted.

replacing the clock mechanim

Decoupaging The Upcycled Clock

I used fabric for my decoupage, but you could use paper napkins. Both are good and flexible enough to decoupage curved surfaces. It’s best to use a busy pattern if you can.

Step 1: The fabric decoupage on the wooden parts of the clock was more of a wrap than a haphazard pattern. I covered the wood in sections. First, I measured the top and sides of the clock.

Measuting the top and sides.

Step 2: I cut a piece of fabric to fit the top and sides. If your clock is more irregular, you may want to make a paper pattern that fits first.

Cutting the fabric for the clock

Step 3: Cover the wood in decoupage glue and then stick the fabric down. Use your fingers to smooth the fabric around the curves and eliminate air bubbles. The material is easy to manipulate without tearing.

Applying Mod Podge to the upcycled clock
Applying the fabric decoupage to the upcycled mantle clock

Step 4: Cut and decoupage the fabric to fit the front of the clock, leaving the face clear.

Decoupaging the front of the upcycled mantle clock

Painting the Mantle Clock

Step 1: For the parts of the mantle clock that weren’t decoupaged, I spray painted to match the colours in the fabric. First, I removed the feet and sprayed them an orangey red.

Spray painting the feet of the clock

Step 2: I then sprayed the clock face the same colour. The clock numbers and hand were painted turquoise.

spary painting clock face
spray painting the numbers

Step 4: Once the paint has dried, assemble the clock.

Upcycled mantle clock with paint and decoupage

The Finished Clock

I love how the upcycled mantle clock looks now; it is so colourful, vibrant, and unrecognisable from its original state.

Also, the modern clock mechanism keeps better time, and there is no need to remember to wind it up. The only thing is, I wish I had bought the silent version of the clock mechanism, as the new mantle clock ticks just as loudly as the original one. 🤣

I won’t put it in the bedroom until I change it, as the tick would keep me awake all night. But that’s ok, as it looks perfect on my mantle.

Decoupaged and painted upcycled mantle clock
upcycled clock for the mantle

This is not the only clock I’ve transformed to match the decor in my home. I love to craft and decorate with old maps. I’ve even made a map wall clock, which was an IKEA hack.

You can find over 24 more upcycled clock ideas here.

DIY upcycled Mantle clock


Sunday 16th of June 2024

hat mir alles sehr gut gefallen . Einfach toll. Ich bedanke mich , für die tollen Anregungen . ich sende natte Grüsse aus Hasselt Belgien

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 16th of June 2024

Thank you that is lovely to hear!

Sue at Blu

Saturday 20th of January 2024

Claire, this is fabulous. Those colors used on the vase really are inspirational. I love old clocks so what a great way to repurpose them. I've got some great ideas now. Pinned!

Claire Armstrong

Saturday 20th of January 2024

Thank you so much. I love the patterns and colours of Kaffe Fassett this was a fun project.


Monday 8th of May 2023

My Mom has a clock almost exactly like that one, but you need to wind it with a key. I wonder if she'll let me dolly it up for her. Pinned just in case I can convince her :D

Claire Armstrong

Tuesday 9th of May 2023

Thank you so much; that sounds like a plan. My clock was an electric one before I changed the mechanism to battery one.

Allyson @ Southern Sunflowers

Thursday 4th of May 2023

Wow, what a transformation! I love Kaffe Kassett fabric. My quilted winter bedspread is Kaffe fabric. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty.

Claire Armstrong

Friday 5th of May 2023

Wow I bet your quilt is beautiful. Thank you so much.

Cara ~ Vintage Style Gal

Thursday 4th of May 2023

What a wonderful idea! Not that I need any more reason to pick up more clocks. I kind of have a clock fetish... I do not care if they work or not, I chose them based on what they look like. I had started a small collection of Big Ben clocks, but then I was having a difficult time in finding more. Cuckoo clocks are another favorite. Thank you for sharing!

Claire Armstrong

Friday 5th of May 2023

Thank you. Your clock collection sounds fun. I’d love a cuckoo clock.