before and afterDIYdiy projects

before & after: lucy’s clock mirror + how-to

by Grace Bonney

every week i pour through our before & after submissions and get excited about the scores of upholstery and paint projects people have done. but when i see something like this in my inbox, my excitement meter goes off the charts. inspired by bddw’s captain’s mirror, d*s reader lucy gunawan decided to get crafty and convert an inexpensive clock into her own do-it-yourself captain’s mirror. the concept alone is clever, but the fact that she busted out a reversible leather trim, grommets, and a gorgeous hanging peg takes the project to a whole new level. i am in awe of the finished products- they are gorgeous.

as if this project wasn’t inspiring enough, lucy was kind enough to share her detailed project steps for creating the look in your home. so let me be the first to say “thank you!” to lucy for sharing this gorgeous project and the steps for recreating the look in your own home. thank you, lucy!

*stay tuned for a new we like it wild post at 2pm (studio choo is teaching us how to knit plant cozies!)

CLICK HERE for many more images and the full how-to after the jump!



A round wooden frame (in this case it was a clock)
Leather straps in three sizes: full width, half width, and thin
• Full-width: the same width as the wooden frame and length at least the circumference of the frame
• Half-width: half the width of the wooden frame and length depends on personal taste
• Thin strap (optional): this is just for decoration
Strong thread
Mirror cut to the size of the frame
Four button studs
A piece of MDF smaller than the frame area
Wood glue
Double-sided tape


Iron ruler
Hole punch for leather
Two needles


Disassembling the clock

First, the clock needs to be disassembled so that the wooden frame and the clock dial can be reused. In this case, the frame is used in reverse where the back of the clock became the front of the mirror and vice versa.

Making the leather frame

The full-width leather strap needs to be cut a bit less than the circumference of the frame, so that there is a gap (around 1 cm). This way, the leather frame will fit tightly on the wooden frame. To join the two ends of the strap, some holes need to be punched with an awl. In order to have even distance holes, marking can be done first. With two needles in one thread, double cross stitch is used to join the strap.

Installing the leather hanger

The half-width leather hanger connected to the leather frame with two button studs in each end. Some holes need to be punched first before installing the studs.

Attaching the mirror

The clock dial will be glued to the frame, followed by MDF piece, then the mirror will be attached to the MDF using double tape. This way, the mirror will be in the middle of the frame and well balanced.

Finishing touch

The doorstopper, is used as a puck, can be decorated by the thin leather straps. The mirror is ready to be hung.


The choice of using double-sided straps and button studs was made so that the leather frame can be reversed to have different color.

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  • this is WONDERFUL. i have been wanting a mirror like that for a while but did not want to pony up the cash. can’t wait to try this! thank you so much for sharing

  • Great post! I can’t wait to make my own. Where are some places that we can get some of those materials?

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you Lucy! I have longed for BDDWs Captain’s Mirror, but unfortunately it is a bit out of my reach. How excited I am to follow Lucy’s guide to creating my own. I hope it turns out as lovely as hers – and thanks to BDDW for the design inspiration!

  • I just wanted to add a great source for all different kinds of leather (by mail) that will sell you any amount for any project; large or small (since Ashlee S. asked). It is a small family run leather place in Maine called Brettuns Village Leather:
    They are really helpful, and they don’t charge for shipping!

  • OMG! I was looking at those mirrors and really really wanted one. This is fantastic. I’m saving this one as a rainy day project!

  • awesome! I’ve been longing for these and they are waaaaaay too expensive for me- it’s so great to see a DIY option!

    • ga

      it’s pretty easy- just go to a mirror or glass shop and they’ll do it for you. you can bring in one of those inexpensive mirrors that’s meant for the back of doors and they’ll cut from that, too.


  • beautiful..and it looks really expensive…

    if i was better at crafting and had all the right tools, i would attempt to do this craft….it is really beautiful…what if the leather was silver leafed and you had about 5 of them hanging on a bathroom wall? gorgeous!

  • hi everyone!
    thanks for your kind words :) i’m happy that you like it.

    thanks to findermaker, since i don’t know where to get leather in the usa. if you happen to be in the netherlands, i bought mine in leerlooier: http://www.leerlooier.nl/

    as grace also pointed it out, i let a company cut and polish the mirror for me. it was inexpensive and can be done while you are waiting.

    if you have any other questions, please let me know.

  • Absolutely loved your idea. I was trying to think of things to do with broken clocks for a post on my website but did not come up with anything like that. Kudos!!

  • I am soooo glad I found this place. All of the designs are just great and so many great ideas to think about.

    Thank you!

  • I never knew I wanted one of those either, but I might have to make one. Dare I say that I prefer Lucy’s version to the bddw’s captain’s mirror!

  • Have to agree with Debra above — didn’t know I wanted this, but now I’m pretty sure I can’t live without it! Absolutely brilliant, Lucy!

  • I love this idea – well done :)

    I’m also curious about the clothes line of pictures in the reflection – could you post some images of them, or elaborate on what it is :)



  • Hi Cornor,

    The clothes line is just a hemp rope, the photos aren’t real polaroid photos. I made the photo squared in photoshop and let local photo studio develop them. I hang the photos by wooden clothes pins.


  • Hi Lucy,

    Great idea with the mirror!

    Thanks to Cornor for asking about the clothes line, that grabbed my interest too. :)

    Lucy, did you have to mount the photos on cardboard or foam core to stop them curling? Or are they just normal photo paper?


  • Hi Kate,

    Thanks :)
    They are just normal photo papers. They don’t curl. I think it’s because they are shorter than the original photo format, and I put two pins for each photo.


  • i can’t figure out how to add the leather strap that sits on the knob to the studs. do u just punch a hole and push the stud through the leather? i just don’t want the hole to be too large once it gets over the head of the stud. doesn’t even look like yours shows at all.

  • Hi Lucy!
    This was really an impressive diy, that I would love to attempt :-) Would you please tell us where you found the clock? I haven’t been able to find anything similar, and would much appreciate a link or the name of the store?

  • Absolutely love this! Question: Where did you find the door stopper and how did you affix it to the wall?

  • I love your style, I bought my captain’s mirror at target and a piece was missing . Who sells the door stopper like the one you have ?