diy project: ornithology clock

i don’t know why, but i have clocks on the brain. i like the idea of having a clock in every room, not because i always want to be aware of the time, but because i find the rhythm of clock movements is quite soothing. if you have the depressing image of me sitting in my living room, in silence, literally watching time go by, don’t worry. i only do this in moderation :) but seriously, the beauty of an unusual or well crafted clock can really add to a room, or make a very thoughtful hostess gift. i am making may ‘diy clock month‘ so hopefully one of these will inspire you to get to tinkering. have fun! kate

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1. linen or canvas fabric scrap (at least 12″ square)
2. 10″ wood embroidery hoop
3. iron-on fabric transfer paper (available at craft or art supply stores)
4. iron
5. scissors
6. clock movement kit (you can get these at craft stores or online)
7. feathers
8. superglue and elmer’s glue (or spray adhesive)
9. hot glue
10. foam core or cardboard
11. EGGS TEMPLATE (download here)


embroidery hoop: $2
clock kit: $6
transfer paper: $10 (you get a lot more than you need for this project)

2 hours


1. lightly trace your embroidery hoop circle on the back of your linen with a pencil to give yourself guidelines for the clock face. hold your fabric up to a window or back light the fabric and trace the circle on the back of the linen in the exact same location.

2. print out your egg shapes on your inkjet transfer paper and let the transfers dry for 30 minutes.

3. while your transfer sheet is drying, trace the embroidery hoop on the foam core/cardboard and cut out the circle.

4. cut out your eggs shapes from the transfer paper with scissors. lay them image side down on the linen, in the formation of the clock numbers. i used four slightly larger eggs for the 12,3,6, and 9 on the clock face, and used various smaller eggs for the other numbers. you can eyeball the location or you can use a ruler to measure them.

5. when you have your eggs transfer shapes in place, iron over them with the iron on the no-steam setting. follow the instructions of your transfer paper for how to iron the transfers and peel the backing off. you now have your clock face with its “numbers” printed.

6. pick out three feathers that you like for the clock hands. they should be roughly the same size as the clock hands that came with the kit. they should also be lightweight, flat, and straight (not curving at all) to make good hands. if you need to cut or shape them at all, you can snip the bases of the feathers with scissors and pull off the barbs of the feather to shape how you wish.

7. glue the feather to the clock hands by applying a little superglue to the clock hand surface and lay the feather on top. let them sit to dry. the base of the feather should be glued about 1/8″ from the base of the clock hand shaft. this allows the hands to move freely.

8. while the hands are drying, glue the linen to the cardboard with the spray adhesive or elmer’s glue. fold over the loose edges of the linen around to the back of the foam core and glue in place.

9. take the inside circle of the embroidery hoop (the one without the hinge) and slide around the clock face to check the fit. the clock face should slide snugly into the hoop and fit without any gaps. take the clock face out, paint a thin line of glue on the inside of the embroidery hoop, and slide the clock face back in. wipe away any visible glue and allow the clock to dry.

10. now create a small hole in the center of the clock face with the scissors (cut a small slit with your scissors and then poke your pencil through to create the right sized hole). push the shaft of the clock movement through from behind the clock face. tighten with the washer and nut to secure. you can use pliers to secure the nut, or just your hands.

11. now slide the hands onto the movement and fasten according to the instructions that come with your kit (or you can use this diagram for help). add a battery to the clock movement and set the time by moving the feather hands into place. you can hang the clock from the hook on the clock movement.


  1. Sharinaz says:

    this is soooo beautiful!!! very creative and special. love it!!

  2. C.Alicia says:

    This is ridiculously cute…and now on my DIY list.

  3. Whoa! Clever clever clever and so easy. Love it. :)

  4. Linsi says:

    This is beautiful! Craziest thing, I’m doing my weekend project blog post on embroidery hoop clocks this Friday! Mine are with embroidered initials and simple line objects but, if you don’t mind, I’d like to mention this project too. Too funny. I really love this clock though, I think I’ll give it a shot.

  5. Mamatink says:

    Ooh, isn’t that interesting! So cute!

  6. MayDae says:

    I don’t usually like feathers very much, but this I like! :)

  7. Perfect timing! I am planning out the decorations and color scheme for my new studio apartment and wanted to use aqua, turquoise, brown, and ivory – I was going to base it off of a peacock feather. I’m definitely going to consider making this – it even fits into my tiny budget!

  8. Alyssa says:

    This is so cool! I want to make it for my mom for mother’s day.

  9. amy says:

    This would be perfect for a nursery, I think!

  10. Janine says:

    oh my god, that is so gorgeous

  11. Nice work Kate!!! Beautiful clock, I really want to make this!

  12. Amalia says:

    WOW! This is the perfect DIY for me, and would match my apartment well. I love it!

  13. The feather idea as the clock hands is freaking cool!

  14. amelia says:

    I have always wanted to try making a clock. now you’ve made it look so easy… I can’t wait to really do it.

  15. Tricia Rose says:

    Beautiful, beautiful – I even have some embroidery hoops! -and I was getting tired of my Ikea clocks too, though I love the sound.

    (I think I’m getting too excited, better get back to work.)

  16. Okay, here’s another idea: how about nuts around the outside and a nut cracker for the clock arms. Could be cute. Or completely corny!

  17. EmilyKate says:

    This is so gorgeous! I love linen to embroider on, I never thought of using transferred images. The pdf of the eggie shapes however, is not working for me?

  18. That is actually amazing. I have always ALWAYS wanted to make my own clock. No excuses now. I love it!

  19. Issa says:

    this idea is wonderful! It’s cheap and super creative.

  20. laura says:

    Oh wow i love this!

  21. Very sweet. It would be so easy to change out the look seasonally using all the same parts. I might have to give this one a try myself!

  22. Stacey says:

    How did you get the hook off the top of the embroidery hoop? You know the one you turn to tighten it..

  23. Hrhkat says:

    i now want to glue stuff to the hands of clocks……..It will now be my mission to find things that will be glued onto clock hands….

  24. Louise says:

    I’m with Stacey – how did you get the screw part off the embroidery hoop? I have had a look at an old one of mine and 1. I can’t get it off and 2. Even if I could, it would leave holes etc. Any help would be great as I am loving this!

  25. Christina says:

    neat! this gave me an idea for a project. i’ll send in a photo once it’s done!

  26. SusanO says:

    Oooo…I have hens – I could use feathers (they drop them) and photos of their many-coloured eggs…

  27. Georgie says:

    My 6 Year old son LOVES this and is currently pleading with me to make it for him… thanks for the great tutorial :-)

  28. Edu says:

    My gf is into rocks and feathers, and she is currently remodeling her room so I think I’ll make her a version this clock with the hour slots filled with colorful rocks and probably on a wooden frame since I’m more used to handling that than canvas.

    The feathers look beautiful on this clock! Love the concept. Thanks for sharing :D

  29. Halley says:

    This is gorgeous- I love the feathers! It gives it such a luxurious feel.
    I made a clock out of an old vinyl record and posted it up… I wonder how I could fancify the hands?
    Thanks for sharing!


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