Thursday, September 22, 2011

copycraft: shadow box clock

Holy Pinterest gods, I've done it again. We actually managed to complete another Pinterest project, and it's a doozie. This one even involved injuries, if you can believe it. And not by this clumsy gal (surprisingly), but I'm jumping ahead.

I'll start here: One of the very first things I found on Pinterest was this photo of an awesome wall clock made out of shadow boxes.

Link to my original pin
I just loved it. I loved the imperfection of it and the drama, and I also loved how modern it looked. And when I saw it I thought, this could be something Jas would want to help me with. (Despite his ever-supportive disposition, there are some crafts for which he simply must put his foot down. Among them are wreaths, which secretly hurts my soul because now that Fall is upon us I want desperately to decorate our front door with a cute yarn wreath. Ugh. Pick your battles, right?)

Anyway, once Jas was on board, I knew it was on. He's a take action kind of home-improver (as you might recall.) I'll even credit him with the idea of where exactly to put this ambitious craft project of ours. I originally wanted it on a smaller wall next to our front door, but after taking a look at the size of our clock hands, he made the astute observation that it would end up looking cluttered when it was all said and done (did I mention he's brilliant?)

So then what did we decide upon? Apparently it had never occurred to me that we have a completely humongous blank wall in our house that happens to be directly above the TV in plain sight from our living room couch which is, you know, just the most popular angle that one might be gazing toward if they were a guest in our home. Seriously... I had never even realized said blank wall, but once Jason pointed it out to me, the gaping emptiness just seemed to get bigger and bigger.

Ahhhh! It's huge! And it's empty! Make it go away!
So the project began. First we had to purchase the clock hands for a cool $40. (A good set of clock hands is actually harder to come by than one might think.) At our local Hobby Lobby we were able to find exactly 10 shadow boxes (not 12 of course because that would make our lives far too easy and lord knows it's not a good craft project unless you have to go to multiple stores to get supplies.) Anyway, we found the final two at Michael's and told ourselves that the hodge-podgey-ness of all the mismatched frames actually added to the great personal quality that the final product would have (instead of realizing that we really didn't have any other choice than to buy the motliest crew of shadow boxes you've ever seen.)

Supplies in hand, we headed home to get our crafty pants on. Little did we know that the glass in all the shadow boxes was actually fixed in the frames, so the first step was getting Jas to hammer out all the glass. For the record, I wouldn't recommend going about it the way we did...

Look at this highly sophisticated glass breaking apparatus. What's that? It looks a lot like a cardboard box? No...
Somebody cut themselves. I'm not really sure where he gets his dramatic flare from... 
Now that we had the frames, our next step was to decide exactly where we wanted the clock on the wall. Now I'm not really sure what my plan would have been if Jason wasn't around, but before I even had a chance to hurt my brain with the math involved in centering this massive "art piece" on our diagonal wall (difficulty level: high), Jas told me to go get a tape measure and I could tell he was doing some sort of math in his head. We measured the same height from the top of the stairs up the wall (can't remember now, but let's say it was five feet) and marked it with a pencil. Then we measured the same height from the bottom of the stairs (five feet again) and marked that with a pencil. Holding a tape measure against the two dots, we made one final mark exactly equidistant between both spots, and that's where we mounted the clock hands. HOLY MOTHER OF MATH, ARE YOU STILL WITH ME? Yeah, picture my blank expression as Jas is just telling me where to hold the tape measure (it was very late at this point, as all our projects inevitably end up taking well into the night.) So there, now it's starting to resemble a clock!

Who you callin' a blank wall?
Now on to the less mathematical portion of our program. From here we decided we'd mark a light circle around the clock hands so we'd know about how far to hang the shadow boxes, but after that we were on our own. We would eyeball each shadow box from there and mount them based on where we thought they looked best. Jas's nifty solution to that? Just a shoestring with a pencil tied to the end of it to draw a perfect circle. It was starting to feel like we were working on an eighth grade geometry project. 

Pencil and a shoestring? He's like my own personal McGuyver
Once we had our circle, we decided to lay out our shadow boxes. Disclaimer: honestly this was one of the most time-consuming parts to this project because we had to agree on where we thought they looked best and they're different shapes so you want to give them some sort of balance. Anyway, this is the configuration we decided on. 

Perfectly imperfect. 
And so we began the hanging. 

First, the main four as you might expect. 

And then we filled in from there. 

(I'd like to take a moment to point out that it is Jason in all of these "installation" photos and that is for a few very good reasons. 1) SOMEONE had to be taking photos for the blog. Duh. 2) I was the ever-important A little to the left, a little to the right girl making sure all the frames were level, and I took my job very seriously. 3) Nick and Vanessa's wedding special was airing on TLC and I'm a sucker for wedding-themed celebrity television. Our TV is directly below the stairs so I managed to pull this off fairly well, until of course I stopped answering Jason and started getting all weepy eyed during the vows.)

So this is what it ended up looking like on the wall. 

We were so proud of ourselves. However, there was just one problem. The more we started looking at it, we really didn't like all the different colors/finishes on the frames. The original inspiration could rock that look because the color in the shadow boxes could balance it out, but we had our hearts set on black and white photography in these frames. So of course, mid-project, we made the decision to take them all down, spray-paint them a semi-gloss black, and rehang them. 

Ahhh yes. Much better. Now the only thing left to do was actually put something in the frames. We had talked about a ton of different options for what we wanted the photos to be of, but in the end we decided to go with pictures we already had. I have been begging Jason for months to sit down with me and pick out some of his photos to put up in the house. He's an incredibly talented photographer. I swear he just has an eye for things that amazes me. He's taken pictures in every place we've been together or by himself, so he picked out his favorite 20 or so and we sat down and narrowed it down to the final 12. It's like our own personal gallery of art and memories all at the same time. (I also love that as one of his favorites he actually chose a picture that I had taken. It sits at number 6. Pretty sweet.) And here is our final clock! (Forgive the grainy photos... this is before I got my new camera!)

I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out and it's one of the things in our home now that I'm the most in love with. It feels like the most "us" if that makes sense. I'm a little proud of us for taking on such a dramatic statement of a project in the house and I'm proud of Jason for tackling it head on. It's definitely a fun conversation piece when people come to the house! Hopefully this will help inspire any of you out there toying with your own big wall art projects that you've been wanting to try! 

As a follow-up, we also recently bit the bullet and painted our banister black because I loathed the terrible light wood finish. I think it really makes the whole clock pop even more! 

I keep telling the banister she looks at least 10 years younger!


  1. LOVE this! You're so funny, Caroline. :) (And I agree, the black bannister was a terrific final touch.)

  2. Another great article and love what you are doing!!! they make my day when you post!!!

  3. love this! and most likely stealing. 

  4. Steal away! Heck, I stole it from whoever did that first one!

  5. Haha and we were so exhausted from painting the moldings in the house that we didn't put any plastic down or anything. Absolutely terrifying handing ME a cup full of black latex paint and saying, Here, go paint the rail directly over our expensive television! Eeep.. but I managed to keep it pretty clean!

  6. I LOVE this clock. You did a fantastic job!

  7. Thank you so much! We did it over a year ago and it still gets compliments from people coming over to the house!