“Make one, easy enough.” How to make a book clock.

This is the clock I’m going to show you being made.  I’ll explain each stage I go through and try and offer suggestions for things you can use if you don’t have the same equipment available.

The Secret Garden book clock

In 2017 one of the images of a book clock I had made ended up on social media with a reply to a comment by a potential customer that read “Make one, easy enough.”   On a business page this can have some unfortunate consequences and isn’t the same as conversations people who want to replicate what you make have in front of a craft stall or when they privately message each other.

The comment sat there making anyone who was thinking of buying the item feel they were being judged for paying for something they could easily make themselves.  If I’m honest this sort of comment isn’t the best thing to read if you are someone who easily doubts themself either.  Fortunately I have lots of happy customers and sold many clocks this year so I can keep believing in what I make.

Instead of leaving it as a bit of a negative experience I decided to create a how to post so that people who want to (and have the spare time) can make their own book clock.  As it was getting towards the end of the year I was very busy both at my day job and with The Forgotten Library so I never quite got round to it.  Now I finally have a day I don’t have to be somewhere else and thought people might enjoy this as a new year project; so if you want to make a book clock here’s how.

Of course it’s ‘easy enough’ so you might want to do things a different way but this is my method 😉  It usually takes up to 3 hours of working time and you will need to allow 24 hours for setting the book too.  Sorry the photos aren’t the best as I took them hurriedly, often in poor light, of the next clock I made after that comment appeared.


Select a suitable book.  It needs to be a hardback and no more than an inch thick.  As you cut the pages to make space to put the clock movement in, the square you are cutting will start to shift.  You can keep compensating for this but it becomes more complicated if the book is too thick.  I’ve used a Folio Society edition of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett here which I was lucky enough to buy for £5 from a shelf of books being sold to raise funds for a church I visited when on holiday in 2016.

Mark where you want the clock hands to be set on the front cover using an awl. Turn this so that it goes through the front cover and makes a clear mark on the first endpaper of the book.

Use the hole you have marked as the centre point to draw a square large enough to house the clock movement you are using with extra space around it.  For example the movements I use are 5.5cm square and I cut a hole that is 7cm square.  I think you can still buy a parallel rule at a stationers or art shop, this is an Air Ministry issue rule that I bought from an antique shop.

Cut the square using a metal ruler to guide the knife so that you don’t cut into a wooden or plastic ruler.  My metal ruler came from a car boot and the knife from a craft shop.

After cutting through a few millimetres of pages keep redrawing the square ensuring it stays central.  You will find as you turn the pages and work on the next group the square you are cutting can start to slope on the left and right hand sides so you need to counter this as you go.

Cutting the back cover

Eventually you’ll reach the back of the book.  Make sure you have a cutting mat in place as you get towards the end as you don’t want to scratch the surface you are working on.  The cover is usually harder to cut through so take care (the point of the blade has snapped off on me at this stage a few times).

PVA glue to set book

Once you’ve completed the cut you need to apply pva glue and let that set so that you have a solid book to work with.

Glue endpaper to covers

I apply glue to the endpapers front and back first.

Glue the top of the book block

Next I’ll brush the glue along the page block edges.

glue inside the cut for the movement

Finally I’ll put glue all around the pages exposed in the cut out section of the book.

Book press

To hold the book tight whilst the glue dries and sets everything in place I use a Victorian book press.  There were two at my local auction house when I bid for this and bidding was fierce.  When I first made a clock I used two pieces of mount board and two C clamps to hold it all together, the weight isn’t as evenly distributed but it still worked and makes a cost effective alternative if you don’t already have a form of press around the house.

Wrap to protect the book in the press Book in the book press

I wrap the book in greaseproof backed foil to stop the glue sticking but ensure the book is covered as the book press is over a century old and sometimes a flake of paint or rust might come free.

Book clamped to drill

After 24 hours the book should be set so you can remove it from the press or whatever method of holding it together you have gone for.  You’ll drill the hole to put the clock movement through from the back of the book so lay it front cover face down on a piece of wood on your work bench.  Place a piece of thick card or mount board on top so that you can hold the book in place with an F clamp without marking the book.

Top view of clamped book to drill

This is how it looks from the top.  Note the vacuum cleaner on the floor – you will need one for the paper dust created when you drill.  I use a lightweight cordless drill that I can  easily control so I can adjust the speed and stop quickly if the card/paper starts to smoke. This isn’t usually an issue here as you are drilling the cover only.  Sometimes I drill narrow books all the way through and it’s never easy to anticipate how combustible the different paper types might be.

Drilling and hoover dust

I use a drill bit designed for use with wood.  I’ve tried multipurpose and personally find it doesn’t create as clean a cut.


You can use sharp scissors to trim the hole as drilling often creates burred board or leaves parts of the cover design attached, especially if it is fabric or laminated.

Fitting the hanger

Before you fit the clock movement you need to attach a sawtooth style hanger to the back so that the clock can be hung from a wall.  You should be able to buy these items at a local hardware shop.  Mark the points to nail using a piercing tool first and it will be easier to ensure the nails go in straight and exactly where you want them to be.

Spanner for fixing the movement

Insert the clock movement into the back of the book and secure the nut with a spanner.  Most movements will include a rubber washer to put between the movement and the book cover at the back and a brass washer to fit the nut against on the front.  I bought my first clock movement from a local craft store but you can easily search online to find a supplier.

Clock hands

Depending on where you purchase it from you may have a choice of hand designs and colours.  The hands usually have a plastic covering you peel off before you fit them.  With the type I use I fit the hour, minute and then second hand.  You will be able to tell which order they should go in by the size of the hole and the instructions that came with the movement you have purchased.

I hope you enjoy your finished clock.  One of the first clocks I made was this from Books In The House.


It is still going strong in the living room 5 years later.  I’ve only had to replace the battery a few times.

The clock shown in this how to guide was sold from a stall at an artisan market in November 2017 .




Romeo & Juliet for St Valentines Day

Today’s long overdue blog post is the first image of hundreds of postcards from a recently acquired album which contains postcards sent to Miss Mildred Harrington from Paul between 1902 and 1904.  Although the album does not contain any cards sent on the 14th of February I felt that this one from a month earlier captures the romance of St Valentines Day – romantics may like the characters with the initials M & P written above.

14th January 1903
14th January 1903

Berrington Hall Jane Austen film & television costumes in regency surroundings

As part of my last holiday I was lucky to visit the beautiful National Trust property Berrington Hall.  On display in the beautiful rooms were a number of costumes used in various film & television productions of Jane Austen novels.  Here are a few of those I was lucky to see.

Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson)
Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant)
Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson)

Berrington Hall hosting an exhibition of Jane Austen costumes

Costumes as worn by Billie Piper in Mansfield Park & Anne Hathaway in Becoming Jane.
Costumes as worn by Billie Piper in Mansfield Park & Anne Hathaway in Becoming Jane.
Costume worn by David Morrisey as Colonel Brandon
Costume worn by David Morrisey as Colonel Brandon
Sense & Sensibility Willoughby costume (Dominic Cooper)
Sense & Sensibility Willoughby costume (Dominic Cooper)
Sense & Sensibility costume Marianne Dashwood (Charity Wakefiled)
Sense & Sensibility costume Marianne Dashwood (Charity Wakefiled)

1940 Derby emergency rest shelter details & Bronte newspaper articles.

Sorting through some books this afternoon I found a couple of interesting page markers. Emergency Rest Shelters 1940 The Penguin paperback The House of Exile Nora Waln contained a postcard with Christmas and New Year greetings together with a folded sheet of paper. This turned out to be a “Schedule of emergency rest shelters established in the county borough area” listing 26 locations around Derby.  Dated December 1940 and produced by the Public Assistance Department.  There are pencil names alongside and I wonder if these were the people who worked at the shelters or people who had gone to them. For interested locals the buildings were King Street Wesleyan Chapel School, Queen’s Hall Schools, Central Church Schools, Normanton Road Congregational Schools, Public Assistance Offices, The Merchant Hall, The Jubilee Hall, Derby Co-operative Society Guild Room, St. Anne’s School, St. Barnabas’ School, St. Luke’s Church House, Christ Church Mission Hall, St. mark’s Church, TheRoe Farm School Clinic, Mansfield Street P.M. Schools, Salvation Army Citadel, St. Joseph’s Schools, St. Thomas’ Institute, St. Augustine’s Schools, St. Alkmund’s Schools, Carlton Road Congregational Church Schools, Allenton Senior Boys’ School, Brighton Road Senior Boys’ School, Nottingham Road Junior School and Ashbourne Road Junior School.

In The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Mrs Gaskell there were two newspaper clippings from July 30th 1913 regarding letters Charlotte Bronte sent to Professor Heger that has been donated to the British Museum. The Professor Charlotte Bronte letters newspaper article

Etsy Craft Party June 6th 2014

Today I rushed from work to join some very creative fellow Etsy sellers for craft and chat.  The lovely organiers had set out five different tables with activities to have a go at.  Arriving late I only managed two and a half makes but had a wonderful time.

Going to fill out a name badge I found myself at a table with three ladies I’d already met before through an Etsy meet a creative venture and being stallholders at the same event.  I love the way crafters are so friendly even if you’ve only smiled and waved over a table you feel welcome and part of a group immediately.  First up Emma Blue (www.emmablue.co.uk) was giving tuition on paper folding to create a little box. The idea was to put photos inside on a fold out but after needing three goes to make the box lid big enough to fit (two abandoned green lids are no doubt on the way to the recycle bin as I type) I thought I’d leave further box work for later.

Next Rhea Clements (www.rheaclements.co.uk) was demonstrating how to make a clutch bag from a magazine.  I love the way all these different creative projects for using photos had been devised.  Miraculously the sticky back plastic didn’t wrinkle and I was especially pleased I learned to create a cord using a latchook.  I found that so theraputic I think I may have to dig in the family sewing box for tools so I could make cord to relax.

Etsy Craft Party makes June 2014Just before the venue needed to reclaim the space I moved to a table full of pretty coloured threads to have a go at embroidering one of the old photos I’d brought along but only had time for a few roughly attempted plant stalks ad one very basic flower.  It’s been something I’ve thought about doing for a long while so I am at least inspired enough to make a plan to learn embroidery stitches and try this in depth (as soon as I get a little time that is).

There was even a raffle with some lovely prizes and I was lucky to win a selection of cards by Debbie Greenaway (www.debbiegrenaway.com) and an Etsy t-shirt.


Lovely afternoon. Thank you to all the organisers and I’m sorry I didn’t get time to chat to more people.



J. O. M. Ashley diary entry February 15th – 18th 1919

Saturday 15th February 1919

Lydd – Earls Court

Catch 9.17am from Lydd which gets me home to Teddington just after lunch.  Pick up my Blues, proceed to Redcliffe Square and enjoy another very good evening at the Empress Rooms.

Sunday 16th February 1919

Earls Court

A pleasant placid day, including going to a concert at the Albert Hall.

Monday 17th February 1919

Earls Court – Lydd

Return home to get rid of my blues and go again to the Empress Rooms at 4pm for another couple of hours dancing before leaving with a great rush for Lydd by the 7.15pm.

Wet of course.

Tuesday 18th February 1919



Am delighted to be asked to exercise Col. Phillips new charger – which turns out a jolly good mount.  Take him down to the sea to-day; but he seems to have exercised me more than I him!

Portraits from the scrapbooks. 1945.

Last year I acquired three scrapbooks.  One was filled with photographs and two were filled with sketches, paintings and pastel drawings like this.

Scrapbooks PilotThe photos showed family and friends on holidays and the pictures were a vast array of different subjects and styles by an amateur who I think must be one of the people in the photos.  Amongst the drawings there were two whom I think bear a resemblance to women in this photograph.

Scrapbooks four friends.Scrapbooks MuffScrapbooks portraitWhat do you think?

Hopes & Dreams

The blog may have been untouched for 6 months (oops) but The Forgotten Library has been busy with December seeing every weekend on the top floor of Waterstones as part of the Craft in the City event.  This was my stall and welcome refuge on a Saturday from my retail sun-fri day job.

Craft In The City 2013During December I reached one of those big birthday milestones and a very dear friend sent me this gorgeous painting by Ritchie Collins.

40thPaintingI can’t do it justice in a photo, the detail is so incredible.  There is something so magical about the night time cityscape that my imagination has been filled with what The Forgotten Library at this building might be like inside.

40thPaintingright 40thPaintingleftWhilst I fall over the crates of stock on the landing and try to rearrange my work bench to create amongst all the tools and materials piled there I dream of a studio with plenty of space in this amazing building full of historical character and dreams.

Find more of the artists work at http://www.ritchiecollinsgallery.co.uk/


The Secret Garden Craft Fair

Sherwood Art Week brings together talented artists to exhibit their work in shop windows throughout Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.  I am looking forward to following the yarn bombing trail I’ve been hearing about to go and look at the displays this week. There are also some great workshops (unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to subscribe to the one I hoped to do) so take a look at www.sherwoodartweek.co.uk for full details.

Starting things off yesterday was The Secret Garden Craft Fair.  My experience of this started on Friday night as a group of lovely people gathered together to prepare the gardens of the United Reform Church.  I can now play my part in constructing metal market stall frames and with luck (or a broom for assistance) put on the covers.  In humid evening temperatures the orange squash and biscuits a kind lady was offering was very welcome.  Having started work in my day job at 7am and gone straight to help set up in the afternoon/evening getting my own things together late Friday night was a challenge and I was glad of the 8.15am start the next day so I had time to rearrange the unplanned bits of display that went a bit awry.

Still by 11am I was set up to go……..

SAW2013d You are probably wondering why there is a wall behind for the secret ‘garden’ fair, well I was lucky to have an indoor stall as my paper based crafts don’t do well outdoors once they’ve stopped being trees.  I should have taken photos of the gorgeous displays outside but this turned into the busiest event I’ve ever done and I never quite got round to it.

Here are some of my fabulous neighbours in the hall ovrobin and modflowers


Thank you to all the lovely people who came along. I had such a nice day.  Everyone was so supportive and I had some wonderful conversations.

Here are a few more images of the stall

SAW2013b SAW2013a SAW2013e SAW2013f SAW2013g

It was the first time I’d had my newly designed pencil pots on sale and I was pleased to find new homes for many of them.

Any crafter will know that every craft fair brings the huge temptation of wanting to buy gorgeous goods from the other sellers.  As soon as I’d had my first customer I knew I could treat myself to this fab bag from ovrobin

OV Robin bag

Their website will be up and running soon, in the meantime take a look on Facebook for the latest news www.facebook.com/ovrobin (and if you are looking for a graphic designer check out Ali’s work Gifted Scribble).

Later on I was able to take a quick look round the garden with my umbrella thanks to the British weather and picked up these treasures

Foto Ceramic pedant

Can’t wait to wear this. Take a look at all the beautiful work at Foto Ceramica

Corrina Rothwell card

This card is so me I had to snap one up when I spotted them on Corrina Rothwell’s stand.

Now I had better start making some more stock!