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Recycled Plastic Milk Bottle Floating Clock

Step by step instructions showing how to make your own beautiful recycled clock by recycling HDPE plastic Douglasdale milk bottles, presented by Crafty Corner

For any questions contact us via email

complete recycled plastic milk bottle clock

We tried to use up as much of an HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic milk bottle as possible with this recycling craft. Nothing was spared, and we even used the plastic bottle caps!

We find Douglasdale milk bottles the easiest to recycle. Many milk bottles have ridges up the sides, and for most of our crafts, we need a bottle that has a large flat section we can use. Quite a few brands have suitably shaped milk bottles, but the labels are usually very hard to remove. Douglasdale milk bottles are the right shape and have labels that are easy to remove with just the snip of a scissors.

Recycling and making new and interesting upcycled products from so-called "junk" is easy with some creativity and a little effort, and helps relieve the enormous pressure on landfill sites and our planet.

With just a few materials we were able to make something practical and new from nothing. Follow our easy step by step instructions and see how to make your own recycled plastic milk bottle clock!

What you will need:

  • Clean work surface
  • Hardboard (colour of your choice), 180mm X 150mm
  • A4 sized hardboard (in a colour to match your bottle lids)
  • 9x 2 litre Douglasdale milk bottles, washed and ready to be recycled
  • 12x milk bottle lids
  • Clock mechanism & hands
  • 20x skewer sticks
  • White acrylic paint & roller, OR white spray paint
  • Metal ruler
  • Compass (for drawing circles)
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue gun
  • Drill
  • 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. Save all your plastic offcuts for future upcycling projects. We will also be using the base section from one bottle in this project.

recycled plastic

Step 2

Once you have cut all nine plastic milk bottles to acquire your 9 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 nine strips of recycled plastic, as opposed to nine ovals.

strips of recycled palstic

Step 3

Set one strip aside, and cut shapes from the remaining eight strips. We cut out cloud shapes, but you can do what ever you like. They don't need to be exact so we just cut them out freehand.
Hint: If your plastic shapes are bending or curling, you can iron them under a cloth for a few minutes. Leave to cool laying flat before working with them again.

cut plastic shapes from plastic milk bottle

Step 4

Now we need to cut the last strip into disks. Place a bottle cap from a milk bottle and trace a disk onto the plastic. Now find the centre of the plastic disk, and use a compass (or just freehand if you are able to) to draw another disc about 1 -2 cm wider than the first disc. You will need to make five discs like this.

trace plastic bottle cap onto milk bottle

Step 5

Using a scissors, cut around the outer circle until you have cut out all five disks.

cut plastic circles

Step 6

Take one disk and set it aside - we will use it later. On the remaining four disks, use a scissors and cut from the outside to the traced line, creating a fringe going right around the circle.

cut plastic fringe

Step 7

Once you have cut the fringe, use your scissors to remove every second leaf of the fringe. Don't worry if every leaf isn't the same size - this will add a personal and handmade touch to your clock and the variety will make it more interesting.

By now, your materials are hardly recognisable as old Douglasdale milk bottles, and you are well on your way to creating something new and beautiful from them!

recycled douglasdale milk bottle disks

Step 8

Lay your skewer sticks next to each other on a flat surface. Now use either white acrylic paint & roller or white spraypaint, and paint the one side of the skewer sticks white. Once dry, turn them over and paint the other side.

paint skewer sticks with acrylic paint and roller paint skewer using roller

Step 9

While the skewer sticks are drying, let's prepare the central circle. Place your clock mechanism onto the centre and back of your A4 hardboard and use your pencil to trace the outline. Remove the mechanism and now using your metal ruler, measure at least 3cm away from the tracing on one side and then use your compass to create a perfect circle around the mechanism.

You can determine how large your clock circle (centre piece) can be we suggest no less than above and no more than 17cm in diameter. We have used an approximate 11cm in diameter. Once complete, cut this circle from your hard board, using your craft knife on the working surface. Measure to find the centre of your circle and mark this with a pencil. Use the drill to create a hole in the centre, which will be used for your clock mechanism later.

cut clock centre piece from hardboard

Step 10

If your hardboard is larger than 150X180, you can trim it down using your metal ruler and craft knife. You need to mark out the centre of the hardboard by measuring horizontally and making a pencil mark at 75mm, and then vertically at 90mm. You will need to drill a hole at this centre marking for your clock mechanism (which will be placed last).

mark centre of hardboard drill hole at centre point

Step 11

Now, take the base of one milk bottle and use your craft knife to neaten any rough edges. At each corner, cut into the plastic about 10mm down, and make a hole in the centre.

Turn your hardboard over, and using a hot glue gun, stick the base of the milk bottle onto the back of the hardboard. Try to get the centre of the milk bottle roughly in the centre of your board. Once you have stuck it down, use the hole in your hardboard as a guide and drill a hole through the plastic milk bottle base.

glue milk bottle base onto hardboard

Step 12

Now we can start decorating the board with our cloud cut-outs. Lay the shapes out first and play around a bit to see what you like. If you are really stuck, simply follow what we have done. Use the glue gun to stick the shapes down. We have stuck some of them almost off the board to create a floating on the clouds feel.

We have stuck some shapes onto the top of the board and some from behind. To add depth, you can also stick smaller shapes onto the larger ones for an interesting effect. Try not to stick any shapes over the centre hole.

glue cloud shapes onto board fill board with plastic cut outs

Step 13

To add further depth to this 'floating' three dimensional clock, we are going to use skewers to hold shapes coming out from behind the face. Place a blob of glue from the glue gun onto the centre of your plastic shape, and then hold the end of a skewer in the glue and wait until dry. Repeat a few times.

glue plastic shape onto skewer

Step 14

Push the other end of some of the skewers through the milk bottom base, and secure with a blob of glue. It is up to you to decide how far you want the skewers to protrude.

push skewer through plastic milk bottle base

Step 15

You can also glue some of your skewers directly onto the hardboard itself.

glued on skewer sticks

Step 16

Your Douglasdale milk bottles and hardboard should now resemble something like the image below. This also makes a stunning clock, and if you are happy with your upcycled clock looking like this, simply add hands to complete the clock.

If you are feeling adventurous, read on...

recycled plastic clock

Step 17

Get your bottle caps ready. Place a blob of glue on the side of a bottle cap and press a skewer into the glue until dry.

glue skewer onto bottle cap glue skewer onto bottle lid

Step 18

Repeat this process until all 12 bottle lids have a skewer.

glue bottle caps and skewers together

Step 19

Place glue around the circle on the flower shapes and press onto a skewered bottle cap.

place glue on plastic milk bottle cutout glue plastic flower shape onto plastic bottlecap

Step 20

Keep going, until you have glued all your disks onto the lids. You should now have four milk bottle lid lolly-pops with flowers!

milk bottle lid lolly-pop flowers

Step 21

Take your hardboard centre disk and lay it face down. Glue a milk bottle lid lolly-pop flower at the 12, 3, 6 & 9 o'clock positions (in other words: top, bottom, left & right). Make sure that the top of the lids face down and that the skewer sticks don't go into the traced outline for the clock mechanism.

glue skewer onto clock centre piece glue skewers in place for clock

Step 22

Repeat the process, and glue the other milk bottle lid lolly-pops (without flowers) at the 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 & 11 o'clock positions, making sure not to stick the skewers too far in that they go into the clock mechanism outline. For an added effect, you could also trim some of the skewers so that they are shorter in length.

glue bottle lids for clock numbers in place

Step 23

Once all the glue is properly dry, turn the item over to reveal the front of your clock-to-be. Now use a small amount of glue to stick the last remaining disk in the centre of your hardboard centre piece. If you need to, you can poke a hole in it using a skewer or a craft knife.

glue centre piece of clock into place

Step 24

Hold the milk bottle lid lolly-pop board on top of the cloud board, making sure the holes are aligned. Push the clock mechanism through the holes from the back of the cloud board using a screwing motion, the rod of the clock mechanism should go through both holes and emerge at the front of the clock.

Secure first the hour, minute and then the second hands, insert batteries, set the time and there you go... Hang your functional, recycled clock somewhere handy where it will always be a reminder to recycle!

complete recycled plastic milk bottle clock