Clock Tablets, Part 1
us feel that we are not particularly "artistic". We can rebuild a
complex movement, refinish a case or craft a missing piece from
scratch, but when it comes to tasks such as restoring or creating a
painted tablet, we tend to shy away and outsource the project to an
Fortunately, there are a number of techniques that can be employed
by the "artistically challenged" to accurately restore a tablet or
create a high quality replacement.
presentation is the first in a four-part series that will begin with
creating the needed tablet artwork then using this artwork to get
the image onto the glass then finally, adding color and completing
professional quality clock tablets is well within the abilities of
any clock restorer with average shop skills
other restoration tasks, it's all a matter of finding the right
tools for the job.
Clock Tablets, Part 2
Traditionally, a clock
tablet is created by applying various colors to create the main
image. A background of white, black or some other color is then
applied over both the image and unpainted glass areas. Creating a
tablet using this approach requires a significant amount of training
and artistic ability. While there are those who specialize in
restoring and recreating clock tablets, it is a skill that most of
us simply do not have the time or patience to master.
Fortunately, for us
"non-artist" there are techniques that can be employed to produce
professional quality tablets. The process described here is based on
the traditional approach, but does it in reverse order.
In part one of this
series a procedure was presented for creating very accurate artwork
for a clock tablet. Now that artwork will be used to begin to create
a high quality finished tablet using a relatively simple technique.
Clock Tablets, Part 3
This presentation shows
a second technique for getting the image created in Part-One onto
glass. This technique uses the artwork to create a very accurate
"Silk Screen" which is used to apply the paint to create the
background and detail lines as was done in Part-Two.
Making a silk screen
using traditional methods is a relatively complex process.
Fortunately, today there are high-tech silk screen materials that
are much easier to use but every bit as accurate as traditional silk
stretching the screen material over a frame then treating it with a
special emulsion to make it light sensitive. It is then exposed to
light then cleared of unneeded emulsion to create areas where paint
can penetrate and areas where it is blocked. Obviously, for the
occasional user, this is both a complex and fairly expensive
This technique, while
more complex than the method presented in Part-Two, produces a
finished tablet that is very close to original in terms of
production method and materials
Clock Tablets, Part 4
Parts One through
Three of this presentation covered creating the necessary artwork
and getting the background and fine-line detail onto the glass. To
complete the tablet, color must be applied to the clear cells and a
protective backing material applied.
The use of both liquid
metallic paints and dry metallic powders are presented in this short
The techniques and
materials detailed in this final presentation show how to complete a
professional looking tablet with all the quality and durability of
the original even if you are a "non-artist"...........
Getting Started with Hide Glue
produced from animal hides, bones and connective tissue
has been the adhesive
of choice in furniture assembly for over 3,500 years.
There are many
"modern" glues available today but they just can't
working advantages of original hide
Much has been
written about the advantages of using original hide glue
but some restorers are still
concerned about the cost and difficulty of
setting up a
traditional "hot" hide glue system. Well.......
Put your concerns
aside. It's a lot simpler than you might think and
actually quite inexpensive. You can put together a good hot hide
system for less than $30 including your first order of glue.
To get you
started, this short how-to
presentation was developed. It provides all the information necessary to
quickly get set up to use this fantastic product.
Repairing Screw Holes
Wood screws do an
excellent job of holding a clock movement to its backboard.
Unfortunately, each time the screws are removed so the movement can
be adjusted or cleaned, the holes in the backboard are worn ever so
Over the short
term, this is nothing to worry about, but a clock that is 150~200
years old may have had the movement removed dozens of times over the
years. The holes can become so worn that the original screw no
longer hold the movement firmly.
There are a number
of techniques for restoring worn screw holes in wood. Some are
effective, some are not.
This short how-to
presentation shows a technique for making strong, long lasting and
virtually invisible repairs to worn wood screw holes.
is necessary to create a new case part to replace a damaged or
missing original. Creating the piece is usually not difficult, but
making the piece fit in with the rest of the case takes some extra
New wood simply doesn't
look like old, oxidized wood. No matter what type of finish or stain
is used, it still just looks new.........
There are products
on the market for aging wood and they all work to one degree or
another. As an alternative to commercial products, I have found that
some common household products can be used to very effectively
oxidize and age wood.
There is a lot of
difference between a new mirror that you pick up at the mall and the
mirror originally installed in an antique American clock. Comparing a
modern mirror to one from an early 1800's wooden works clock will
quickly reveal the difference. Mirrors from this era possessed a
soft patina and reflected light much more subtly than modern mirrors.
difference is the first step in creating a replacement mirror that
looks and functions like the original. This brief how-to shows a
technique that can be used by the average restorer to "silver" a
piece of antique glass or re-silver an original mirror that has
become unusable. The results look very much like the early
"tin/mercury" mirrors seen on many wooden works clocks.
Faux Tortoise Shell
A Faux Tortoise shell finish became very popular on the columns of
shelf clocks from around 1830. All manufacturers used paint and
paint-glazes to produce the effect, but every clock maker seemed to
have a slightly different technique.
The tortoise shell
pattern on some columns is very random while the pattern on others
is very directional. Some are very dark brown while others are a
much lighter caramel color.
In every case,
it is possible to produce very authentic looking tortoise shell
columns using only basic materials such as acrylic paints and
shellac as a top finish. The technique is easily mastered by most
Faux Wood Grain
Faux wood grain
was far more common on antique clocks than often realized. As the
demand for low cost clocks rose rapidly from the mid-1800's,
manufactures were constantly looking for ways to reduce production
time and costs.
became common practice on many shelf clocks to use a plain wood
veneer that had been painted to look like rose wood
or other exotic veneers. This is seen most often on the sides of the
case with real rosewood on the front faces. The combination of real
and faux woods created a very realistic effect.
recreating realistic looking faux wood grain is not difficult if
careful preparation is undertaken. It's a skill that every restorer
Bright gold leaf
work was often used to enhance the richness of clock cases.
Gold was used
on wooden moldings around glass tablets and dial glass.
Gilding was also used on the upper and lower end caps of columns
with tortoise shell in the center section.
The most striking use of gilding was to fully gild a clock column
then create matte accent rings around the circumference of the
column. There were many different patterns used on these columns and
matching the original pattern usually requires some research.
Gilding is a
skill that can be mastered by any restorer. Practice is needed to
perfect technique, but the basics are not difficult. Duplicating the
matte rings requires creation of some special tools, but they are
simple and inexpensive.
Faking is a term used to
describe the art of carefully camouflaging minor flaws in wood
finishes such as the joint line where two pieces of veneer meet or
an area that has been previously filled or repaired.
Similar to faux
wood graining, faking is usually performed on a much smaller scale.
Properly done, a faked joint will become totally invisible on the
When taking on a
tough restoration project, it is not unusual to find that
one or more pieces of the clock case are missing.
Often, the missing
piece is a complex shaped molding.
Having a custom
cut molding can become quite expensive, but there is
Using a table
saw and basic tools, very accurate replacement moldings
can be produced.
how-to shows the basics.