"The Night Circus" by Jane G. (librarian)
“The Night Circus”


Instructions for clocks made from recycled books; these are the clocks we made at the Steampunk Gifts and the Clocks and Cookies programs.


Tools & supplies

All of these supplies can be purchased from Michaels.

  • old hardcover books
  • acrylic paints
  • paint brushes
  • cups (with water for the paints)
  • pallets, pallet paper, or just paper plates (for individual pallets)
  • scissors
  • wax paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Martha Stewart Screw Punch
  • pencils
  • clock kits (gears and clock hands)
  • batteries
  • Podgeable papers (optional)
  • stickers (optional)
  • metallic Sharpies (optional)






1.  Prepare the book.  First, measure out a rectangle slightly larger than the clock kit.



2.  Cut out the rectangle.  Tips:  cut from the edge in, using scissors, and a few pages at a time; redraw the square, and continue until the depth is deeper than the clock kit.  There’s no need to cut directly into the rectangle since the pages will be glued later.  Also, be sure to continue folding the pages back to see if the rectangle is not being cut diagonally.



3.  Punch a hole through the cover.  Using the washer from the clock kit, pencil in the estimate size.

The clock kits came with the clock parts (black square), second hand, minute hand, hour hand, screw, and hand washer.



4.  Using the Screw Punch, punch a hole slightly larger than the penciled in measurement (you may need to do this several times and it will not be a perfect circle).  This can be done either from the front side of the book or the inside the cover side (inside the cover side tends to be easier for marking where the punch should go).

Remember that the punch will mark up the surface, so use several sheets of paper/cardboard for padding or a self healing cutting mat.



5.  Make sure that the clock kit fits into the space.  This picture shows the inside of the book.

(Just for fun, since the clock kit fit perfectly into half of this book and it stopped on a full page illustration, I added the face of the figure back into the rectangle.)



6.  Hold the front side of the pages together and glue the edges with Mod Podge.  The front cover should be glued to the front part of the pages (the part with the rectangle cut into it).  Before starting, place wax paper between the front side and the back side–so that you do not accidentally glue everything together.  The back side of the rectangle needs to be accessible to plop in the clock kit and the battery.

Lay flat to dry.  This will take about an hour or two.  You may want to stack heavy objects on top of the book so that the pages do not curl when drying.



7.  Paint the book.  You can use paint, markers, stickers, podgeable papers, or leave plain.  See examples created in our Steampunk Gifts and our Clocks and Cookies programs.

Allow paint/glue to dry.



8.  Add the clock kit.  Place the clock kit into the book, battery side on the bottom.  Make sure that the tip edges and the gold part edges easily through the cover.



9.  Add in the following order: the (1) washer, (2) screw, (3) hour hand, (4) minute hand, and (5) second hand.  Watch this video if you are unclear how this works.



10.  Add the battery.  If the second hand moves, your clock is working!



11.  Lastly, adjust the hands to the appropriate time.



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