Quick and Cute ‘Bath’ Wall Clock Update

I am all about the thrifty re-vamp.  As a general rule, these projects combine what I consider to be two of my greater skills– thrift shopping and crafting.  Yeah, baby!  And in a way, I feel like I’m being a bit of an environmentalist…  I’m making something worn, outdated, or broken useable and enjoyable again.  It could be that I’m saving it from a sad life under resin figurines and stale fruitcake at the dump.  I may be overstating my own value on that one, but hey, its my little delusion and it makes me happy.

ReVamped Vintage Plastic ‘Bath’ Clock

Two Bucks!

I scored this vintage lilac “Bath” clock recently at a local Goodwill for two dollars.  Happiness!  It had some issues, but I love the color of the plastic, and a clock in the bathroom is a must-have.  It keeps me on task for hair dye, and curler set times, and bath/bedtimes– very necessary.  At the old house, we only had the one bathroom, and in it hung a small lightweight Dr. Seuss clock that I broke when taking it off the wall, trying to pack it for the move.  Like broke-in-a-way-I-can’t-fix-with-an-upcycle broke.  So, I suddenly find myself in the need for three battery-operated wall clocks for the baths, and then I see this bargain while out thrifting, *of course* I’m going to get it!

Now I’d love to be able to blame this “losing” on the move– like I can my can opener and my address book– but I could SWEAR that I took ‘before’ pics of my clock.  I have looked in every file on my desktop, and either I’m looking so hard for it that I’m overlooking it, or I accidentally deleted it.  Maybe naughty Christmas elves have tiptoed into my laptop’s files and stealthily hidden it… I dunno.   The best I can do is link you to some similar clocks and list mine’s issues so you get the idea.  You’re smart people, you’ll work it out.

These are some general images of “vintage plastic bath clock,” and oddly, when I did the search, NONE of the ones shown were the color of mine.  www.google.com/search?q=vintage+plastic+bath+clock&tbm=isch  The plastic of this clock is a soft lavender shade, and mine is simply the word “Bath.”  Some shown have bubbles, or two-tone effects, and one (swanky!) one had a tiny claw-foot bathtub.  Wild.  Mine is just the word, simple.  The purple plastic had some black and white scuffs on the high points, and the the clear dome over the clock face was so worn it was frosty.  Um… not really good for reading the time, especially when you add a layer of steamy condensation and a lack of eyeglasses.   The creamy circle of cardstock that showed the face of the clock was water-damaged and bubbly, it looked icky.  You know, if you strained to see it through the frosty plastic, anyway.  Also, the battery pack/ clock mechanism on the back was loose, so you could spin it around and around if you wanted to.  I managed to deduce that the dial part on the face of the clock was unaffected by this *before* I bought it, so I felt pretty sure that I had fixes for a most, if not all of these problems.  For two bucks, I figured it was worth a shot.

My Supplies For the Project

My first steps in working on the clock were making the call that I would be removing the plastic dome and tearing off the existing, damaged paper face.  The frosty plastic and warped paper were the two things I wanted to tackle the most.  The dome was SUPER easy to remove (I’ve done similar projects with other clocks, and I do not recall it ever being so easy).  I simply flipped it over to the backside, and used a ball-point ink pen in the bottom groove to pry and pop it out.  There was no adhesive or anything holding it in, just the tension.

At that point, I used a little Dawn dish soap on a magic eraser to remove the scuffs on the lilac plastic ‘Bath.’  Be careful to not get water into the clock mechanism itself, that gets into more complicated work that you don’t wanna do.  Or I don’t don’t wanna do it, I don’t presume to know what you want to do.  Anyway, the magic eraser works ahmahzingly here, and all the marks on my clock came right off.  I just wiped the soapy residue off with a damp towel as I went along, it was really quick.  I was actually disappointed that it happened so quickly.  (Yes, I know that there is a high potential that I may be crazy, being sad that *cleaning* happened too fast.)

For fixing the frost on the supposed-to-be-clear plastic dome of the clock (on watches I believe that part is called the “crystal” which is a real har-de-har-har here) I used a common household item.  I had already popped dome off of the clock itself, so it made this step much more easily executed.  I took a soft cotton rag, and put a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste on the cloth, and with a circular scrubbing motion, I buffed the plastic, on both sides.  This isn’t really a ‘use water’ situation, you kind of want to do it like silver polish, where you wipe it on until it does its thing, and then you wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.  Getting the inside as well will really help clear it up.  Mine isn’t 100% minty-new afterward, but it is like, a bazillion times better.  (Well it IS “minty” fresh, as in that it should smell nice and minty, but its not like, *mint* from-the-box.  You knew what I meant, right?)  Now on mine, you can easily read the time, and you aren’t distracted by any ick in the way.  (Man, I wish I could find those before pics!)  Problem two, DONE.

At this point, I rounded up my supplies.  I fetched a roll of the lilac gingham wallpaper that I will be using in the downstairs bath (one of the 99 cent scores from the fab Knox Rail Salvage), knowing that I have plenty to cover the walls.  I also retrieved some stickers that tie in to the themes that I want to use in there– sort of funky colorful woodland, so I grabbed owls and flowers.  I got scissors, a lilac Bic permanent marker, and a Scotch permanent glue stick.  This is important, the permanent part.  I’m using mine in a space that will be regularly steamy, so I need the glue to really last.  Scotch knows their business.  I also have a tool that is a ‘stretch,’ an extended hole punch.  (Oh God, I just punned.  My husband is wearing off on me.)  I’m expecting that practically no one to have one of these, and it should not stop you from doing this project.  You don’t NEED it, but I included it, just in case you happened to have one as I do.  It could happen!

Tear the old paper away if you haven’t already.  Use a razor or box cutter if you need to get close to the dial/hands and cut any paper away.  Mine just tore off, another reason this project was easy.

It’s a benefit to me that my chosen wallpaper has a linear element to it, and it is certainly suggested that you choose a piece of scrapbook paper or scrap wallpaper based on the pattern having a continuous line somewhere.  You want to place your clear piece of the clock dome-side up on your paper, with one of the lines running directly through the center of it, this will help you later.  (You can match them with the notches at the top and bottom of the dome.)  With a marker as closely matching your paper or clock as possible, trace around the circular dome, trying to minimize how much ink transfers on the plastic by angling the marker slightly. You’re aiming for an exact circle, on paper with a line running through the center, and as little ink on the clock part as possible.  A tiny amount won’t really show, but matching the color to your project will really help minimize what’s there.  Carefully clip out your circle, trying to stick to the *inside* of the marker line.  Sometimes those things can be as wide as 2 MM, so trimming to the inside keeps it looking neat.  My Bic marker matched my paper *so exactly* that it actually became kind of a challenge to trim my circle!  Ah, good times.  Check the fit of your new face by loosely fitting it into the ‘Bath’ plastic, trimming more if you need to.

Once you have that as a nice fit, you want to sort of *press* the center of the paper to the center circle of the dial, making an impression of exactly where and the size it is (but not hard enough to warp or bend your clock’s hands).  Now carefully lift your face/circle out, and using the line that you aligned through the pattern’s center and a steady hand, clip along that line to the center circle impression you made.  At this point I was able to just ‘punch out’ my clocks’ center with my extended punch, but on the likely chance that you don’t have a fancy doomawhacky, you can simply cut carefully around that center impression you made on the paper face.  You should be left with a piece that looks vaguely like the silhouette of Pac-Man with his mouth closed.  A circle with a radial cut and a small circle at the center.  The patterned line through the paper’s paper will help disguise that you cut to the center if you carefully glue it all in place, so that’s the next step.  Completely coat the back of your paper with your glue stick, and working as quickly as you can, gently fit the paper around the center dial.  You will want to smooth out all bubbles on the face, matching the cut lines as perfectly as you can.  I did this with my cut line at the 12:00 mark, but really if you match them up correctly, it shouldn’t matter.  Quickly wipe away any excess glue with a paper towel or cloth.  (This is probably easier if you’re using scrap scrubbable wallpaper rather than scrapbook paper.)  My cut line just went away at this point, you cannot see it.  Yay!

Close-Up of the Revamped Face

So, at this stage I get to do what is by far the easiest and best part– I put stickers on it.  You could easily embellish your clock with an image from the same era that has been cut from a magazine; vintage paper dolls; cancelled and reclaimed postage stamps; anything flat and glued-down will work here.  You could use numerical stickers intended for scrapbooking and easily do the classic number business so common to old-school ticking clocks.  When you get your face the way you like it, check to make sure that your metal hands are floating freely of each other, and pop your clear dome back on.  Like wowza, mine makes me so happy!

To resolve my last issue of the revolving battery box on the back, I positioned the mechanism so that it was upright and added hot glue globs between it and the plastic base on all four sides.  Anchored, and that was all it needed. I’m thinking that it is unlikely that your ‘Bath’ clock would have the exact same issue, but just in case, that’s how I fixed it on mine.

I set the time and popped in a AA, and my project was totally and completely done, in less than an hour.  It looks fairly great to me now, and my choice of groovy owl stickers seem appropriate with the age of the clock.  And it really is a very easy and fulfilling project!  I kinda cannot wait to tackle that whole bathroom situation now, just so I can hang it up….

If you revamp your own clock face, log on via facebook to the blog and tell me about it!  And have fun!


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