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Recycled Milk Bottle Quilled Clock

Step by step instructions showing how to make your own beautiful quilled clock by upcycling milk bottles.

For any questions contact: Winnie

With this project we collected plastic milk bottles which would have otherwise ended up in the trash and eventually on a landfill site.
Some brands of milk use bottles that have very sticky labels that are hard to remove, and others have bottles that have ridges up the sides. Look for the milk bottles have labels that are very easy to remove and a large flat central section in the bottle, which is what we primarily use in our upcycling crafts.

recycled plastic milk bottle clock

Recycling and making new and interesting upcycled products from waste materials is quite easy to do with just a little effort and creativity and helps relieve the enormous pressure on our landfill sites, and ultimately, our planet.

We reduced our carbon footprint by recycling used plastic milk bottles, turning them into this beautiful, upcycled clock - a great handmade recycled gift that makes a difference! follow our easy step by step instructions and see just how easy it is to make your own!

What you will need:

  • Sturdy table or work surface
  • Clock mechanism and hands
  • 8x 2 litre used milk bottles, washed and ready to be recycled
  • Acrylic paint & roller, or spraypaint (we used black)
  • Round hardboard clockface
  • Metal ruler
  • Craft knife
  • Pencil
  • Acetone (for cleaning)
  • Old rag (for cleaning

Step 1

Use your craft knife to cut the milk bottles: You will need to cut each milk bottle twice, going right around the bottle.

The first cut should go around the bottom (approx. 3cm from the base) and the second cut just lower than the handle. You should be left with a very thick centre piece of the plastic milk bottle, which should be approx. 10cm in width.

recycled plastic

Step 2

Once you have cut all eight plastic milk bottles to acquire your 8 centre pieces, cut these once across the width in a straight line, so that you will have one long piece of plastic. You will now have eight strips of recycled plastic, as opposed to eight ovals.

strips of recycled palstic

Step 3

Now we just need to straighten our strips, this is quite important so that our clock has a nice finish. Place the large strip flat on your working surface and use your metal ruler to trim the strip to get a nice, straight edge.

cut strips to get a straight edge

Step 4

Now use your ruler to hold the plastic bottle strip in place and guide your craft knife to cut each strip. You should be cutting thin strips, approximately 0.5mm in width. We are not measuring each strip (although you could, if you wish). The final look, if strips are of different widths, is much more visually interesting.

Step 5

To add contrast to the final product, we suggest that you paint or spray paint your hardboard clock face. You can choose any colour that will allow the white of your milk bottle plastic to stand out. A darker colour is ideal because it will contrast nicely against the white plastic, so we have used black. If you are painting, use a roller to obtain a smooth even finish. If spray painting, give two or three even coats and allow each coat to dry before the next. Make sure to also coat the front and sides.

paint recycled clock

Step 6

Once the hardboard is dry, turn it over and measure to find the centre of the board. You will do this using your metal ruler and measuring the greatest distance horizontally. Half the total number and make a pencil mark there. Repeat this again, horizontally. This will give you the centre. You need to drill a hole at this centre point so that you can fit you clock mechanisim & hands later.

Step 7

Now the fun begins! We need to start decorating the face of the clock, so make sure your glue gun is nice and hot. The technique you will use is called quilling. Take a single strip of recycled milk bottle plastic, and roll it up to form a tight spiral. This is the basic technique from here, you can allow the spiral to unravel or tighten it to create different patterns. You can pinch on side to create a point, giving each spiral a 'direction'.

Step 8

We have used a very simple form of quilling and have a spiral at each hour of time (1, 2, 3, 4, 5...through to 12). We have a tight spiral in the centre, and have stretched each spiral from there, working our way out. The entire surface of the clock face should be covered in this method. It is a good idea to glue each spiral as you work to prevent the recycled plastic strips from unravelling.

start quilling recycled plastic keep quilling

Step 9

Keep going, until you have managed to cover the entire face of the clock with your quilled plastic strips.

fill clock with quilling quilling complete

Step 10

With the entire face decorated by your plastic strips, your board is ready to become a clock! Place the clock mechanism onto the back of the board so that the centre of the mechanism protrudes through the board. Place your clock hands onto this protrusion and secure.

insert clock mechanism and attach hands

Step 11

Insert batteries, stand back and marvel at your creation - your very own upcycled plastic milk bottle clock made by recycling milk bottles!

completed clock