I guess to most non-Germans, brown wooden cuckoo clocks represent an example of what should be in a typical German home along with carved wood furniture and beer mugs. White cuckoo clocks, not so much, right?
As a German citizen and growing up in Germany I hated cuckoo clocks. They reminded me of old people’s traditional style or (yes, I said it) American tourists.
So a couple of years ago, my parents thought it would be very funny to send me a cuckoo clock to the US and guilt me into hanging it up. I was less than thrilled to display my brown carved clock in the living room. Especially since I hate being guilted and forced into any design decisions. But since I really miss my family and I have to admit that it reminds me of Germany, I hung it up. My kids loved it and so did my cats. One day I returned home to find the clock lying on the floor. One of my cats had jumped at the cuckoo bird at the 2 o’clock chirp (I know that because it was stopped at 2). I figured it was broken…but haha no such luck.
DIY painted white cuckoo clock
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Then I started researching cuckoo clocks and some more modern cuckoo clock design options.
Here are some that I came across:
The German artist Stefan Strumbel and his colorful, graffiti influenced cuckoo clocks. I think they are very cool but too expensive and most are a little too crazy for my house.
And certainly Pascal Tarabay’s white cuckoo clock:
Don’t be scared, I didn’t paint this beautiful high quality wooden cuckoo clock that my parents bought fo me.
I told my father that I was itching to spray paint the clock white. He lost it. He told me that I had no clue how expensive that clock was and that he would be really mad at me if I would ruin it with paint.
Materials needed to paint a white cuckoo clock
- old cuckoo clock
- TSP cleaner
- painter’s tape
- spray primer
- white spray paint (I used semi-gloss)
- ziplock bag
- small brush
- painter’s tarp
How to paint the white cuckoo clock
But the seed was planted in my design brain and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I all of a sudden was obsessed with finding a cheap cuckoo clock that I could paint. I finally found one small vintage mechanical clock ($40) made in Germany and one very large electrical clock ($25) on craigslist. The electrical one had a light sensor on it and, get this, was made in Korea. I ended up painting both of them white.
I took them both apart. Lay out the top leaves, swinging pendulum and pinecones on your clean tarp. Then I cleaned them very good with TSP cleaner since you can’t really sand the intricate pieces. But that’s ok nobody really touches the clock so that is ok.
Let the cuckoo clocks dry completely after cleaning.
Then I taped/covered all the areas that I didn’t want to paint. This was the most time consuming part but also the most important part. You can see below how the clock dial and swinging door are covered with tape and primed.
I love using Kilz spray primer but you have to make sure you shake it really well for a long period of time.
Lay everything out on a painters tarp or large plastic bag. I covered the chains with the ziplock bag.
The old clock case had a strange yellow glue on it that kept showing when I tried water based primer, so the oil-based spray primer really helped with covering the yellow tint. I primed two layers to cover it all and actually had to use a brush in some areas. The brush worked very well to get into the carvings.
When the primer dried I spray painted both cuckoo clocks with white semi-gloss spray paint. Finally I spray painted the other clock parts with the same white semi-gloss spray paint.
The large electrical clock had some plastic parts to it which I spray painted with plastic spray paint.
When the parts were dry, I put them all back together and made sure that the clocks still worked.
Finished white cuckoo clocks
Some of the photos are oddly sized since this was originally a pretty old blog post.
I am IN LOVE with the white cuckoo clocks.
The gigantic white cuckooing and dancing clock is now hanging in my living room instead. Yes, it has little angels dancing in a circle. Strange? I know but I don’t care. It makes me smile every time I look at it.
Oh and by the way, I transformed that black and white Ikea cabinet with some peel and stick grasscloth wallpaper and love it so much better now. It’s the perfect update for our living room.
The wooden clock looks awesome in our son’s room, don’t you think so? It also has a switch to turn it off completely so it won’t bother him.
My mom loved them so much that she wanted one too. Last year, the small clock went on a trip back to Germany, the place it was made in and resides in my parents’ sweet home. That makes me smile. My father and brother still think it’s stupid! And I totally know that this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it certainly has become mine.
I like having some silly things around the house that are conversation pieces.
After all I have been called the crazy German and not in a good way. But you know what? I take it as a compliment even if it wasn’t meant that way. It is what it is, that’s exactly what I am.
Another cool “German” project of mine is where I replicated my great-grandmother’s portrait. I love having old things of my family now and if I can’t bring them with me from my childhood home then I’ll try to make them!
Guten Tag fellow webbers and thanks for stopping by!