Monday, June 8, 2015

Mirror Clock Project Part 6 - Painting the Dial

Unfortunately I didn't take many photos of the dial-painting process. For the most part few clockmakers seem to have the talent nor the desire to paint their own dials, which is a shame. The process is not overly complicated. Start with a drawing (you can cheat and print a stock image to actual size), transfer the drawing (you can use carbon paper, or simply rub pencil graphite on the back of the drawing), then ink it in with your choice of drawing tools. You can use ink pens, a fine drafting set and India ink, thinned black paint, or whatever combination suits your fancy.

The dial painting process started with deciding on the size, style, and layout of the numerals. Depending on the age and style of the clock, different numerals were used. Some 1850s clock dials had incredibly thin and tall Roman numerals, while others had small thicker ones. Others used Arabic numerals.

I started with life sized drawings to get a good preview of how each dial design might look. These are two of the designs I didn't use (I used the third).

For my dial, I simply used an inking pen, and painted the numerals with gloss black enamel. It's important to use a CORK BACKED RULER.

The design is transferred to the dial surface with graphite on the back as described above.

The dial in progress above (painted at the same time) was for this Gilbert clock:

Once everything is dry (and if you're using a waterproof ink and paint) the excess pencil can be washed off. You can NOT do this with India Ink. Water instantly dissolves India Ink (which is also why it needs a topcoat).

While the dial is now painted, it's not finished yet. It needs a clear coat, and possibly some antiquing (I'll experiment and see what I can do).

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