Tips and Tutorials:
How to make Ed's pocket watch from Full Metal Alchemist
1 plain silver-coloured pocket watch (I usually buy mine off Ebay or a market)
Silver polymer clay - it doesn't actually need to be silver since you're going to paint it anyway, but in case the paint ever gets scratched...
Some seriously strong glue - epoxy of some kind if possible.
Silver acrylic paint (make sure it's acrylic!)
And you'll need these tools/glue etc:
A scalpel or other sharp, fine blade
A pair of fine scissors
A small sheet of baking paper
A fine pen or pencil
A small piece of Blu-Tak or plasticine
Cocktail sticks (optional, I find them useful for fine work)
Now this one's a bit finicky and there's no way around it. Don't be surprised if any one or all of the steps take several tries before you get them right!
Before you start you're going to need a plain silver pocket watch - I usually find a cheap one on Ebay or in a local market for about £10-12 GBP. You're going to make the crest out of polymer clay, bake it on a mould, and then glue it to the watch. You're NOT GOING TO PUT A WORKING POCKET WATCH IN THE OVEN. Let's just make that perfectly clear before someone has a disaster. ^_^;;;
First you need a mould. This is because the lid of the pocket watch is curved - so the crest you make also has to be curved, otherwise it won't fit correctly after it's been baked. I made my mould out of polymer clay, which has the big advantage that once it's baked you can re-bake it again and again - after a while it'll go black and smelly and strange, but it won't melt or change shape. I managed to get about ten pocket watches off my mould before it bit the dust.
I made the mould the old-fashioned way: First I covered my pocket watch with kitchen clingfilm to protect it, then I pressed it into a block of clay to make a reverse indentation of the lid. I baked the reverse mould hard, then pressed more soft clay into that to produce a clay 'dome' which was the same shape as the pocket watch lid. Once that was baked I had my two-piece mould - a clay 'dome' and a matching 'lid'.
Cover the dome half of the mould in baking paper - the easiest way I found is to cut out a circle that's larger than the mould, then cut slits in from the edges so that you can fit it exactly to the domed shape of the mould Fold it underneath the mould and fix it on the back (a blob of clay works well - you don't want to use glue or sticky tape because this is going in the oven).
Tip: now you have your mould, take the actual pocket watch and keep it FAR AWAY from all the messy work you're about to do. Don't pick it up again until you've cleaned up all soft clay and paint, or guaranteed you'll get a nasty mark on it that you'll never be able to get off.
Now you need a template for the crest. Because I'm such a generous soul, you can click here for the pic I use. You need to print it out at exactly the right size for your pocket watch. I suggest printing it out a few times and experimenting; remember that the watch is curved so the best way is simply to press a paper template onto the watch to see if it's the right size. Tip: you almost certainly need a smaller crest than you think.
Once you've got the size exactly right, print yourself a few copies so that you can mess up. This is where it starts to get finicky. Using the scalpel, scissors or whatever you're most comfortable with, cut out the paper crest so that you have a paper template that exactly matches the clay crest you want to make. If you're neat enough, try to cut on the inside of the printed line rather than the outside.
Note: I usually find that I only need a paper template for the 'lion', so I'd suggest just cutting that out of the paper. The hexagon lines and the leaf design underneath you should be able to do freehand.
And here's where it really gets tricky. Take your silver clay and roll out (on some more baking paper) a very thin, smooth sheet of it that's big enough for the crest. Make the sheet as thin as you can - just short of the point where it gets too thin to hold together and shreds on the roller.
Now take your paper lion template and lay it on the clay. Using your fine-tipped pen or pencil, very lightly draw around it so that you leave a 'scratched' outline of the lion on the clay. When you're done, use a blade to gently lift the paper away.
With your scalpel, very carefully cut away everything outside the outline, so that you're left with the clay lion on the baking paper.
Next are the hexagon lines - in many ways the most difficult bit of this operation. Take some small pieces of the silver clay and roll them out into very, very thin cylinders. Again, as thin as you can get without them breaking every time you pick them up.
Looking very carefully at the template to see where the lines pass under or over the lion, construct the hexagon. Where the lines pass over, press the clay rolls gently onto your clay lion. Where they pass under, don't try to lift the lion off the baking paper but cut shorter lengths and press them into the sides of the clay lion so they look like they're going underneath. NB. Do as much of this as possible with scalpel and cocktail sticks! Try not to do it with your fingers, they're just too big.
Finally, make a tiny clay ball for the lion's eye and press it on. Make sure that the crest is stuck together, especially at the points where the hexagon lines meet the lion.
You should now have (minus the leaf design at the bottom) a complete crest in clay on a piece of baking paper. DON'T TRY TO TAKE IT OFF THE PAPER. Instead, carefully cut around the crest so that your template is backed by a circle of paper with a few millimetres of clearance.
Take your clay crest on its paper backing and lay it gently onto your (also paper-covered) mould, so that it bends naturally to fit the dome. Cut another circle of baking paper to go on top of the crest. and on top of that lay the 'lid' half of the mould. DON'T PRESS IT DOWN! You don't want to squish your crest, you just want to gently hold it to the curve of the mould while it's baking.
Carefully transfer the whole setup to the oven and get it baking. Breathe sigh of relief.
Once it's baked, gently extricate it from all the various bits and pieces. Be extremely careful taking it off its backing piece of paper as the hexagon lines are fragile. Don't panic if one or two get detached though, just add a touch of glue to fix them up.
Now the leaf design - this is pretty easy and you can do it freehand. Roll out little fat cylinders of clay in your fingers, and use your fingernail or a blade to fold each one into a 'V' shape. Fit them together to make a line of 'leaves' like the one on the crest. Make two of those, plus the little diamond in the middle.
Take the 'dome' half of your mould, and lay the leaf design on it in exactly the position it will sit on the pocket watch. You don't need anything on top for this one. Bake it. (don't worry if the leaf design comes apart once it's baked, again, just glue it back together)
So now you should have a complete baked clay crest in four pieces - the main crest with the lion and hexagon, and the three sections of the leaf design underneath. Next you need to paint it. This isn't strictly necessary, since you're using silver clay, but I find a smooth metallic paint gives a much better finish than just the clay.
Don't paint the back of the crest if you can help it! What I usually do is use a piece of Blu-Tak (do you have that in the US? A bit like Plasticine, but less messy, so you can use it to stick posters to your wall or similar). Stick the Blu-Tak to the back of the crest and use it to hold the crest with - so now you've got a good grip on it without having to touch the wet paint. Paint the front of the crest silver, making sure you get the sides and all the nooks and crannies covered.
When you're done, gently lay the crest down to dry. If you've got enough Blu-Tak on the back you can use it like a stand to hold the crest in the air while it dries.
Nearly there! The last step is to glue the finished crest to the actual watch. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING about this step is not to make a gluey mess on your pocket watch, because on a shiny surface it will be *really* obvious no matter what you do. Therefore, use as little glue as possible and be very careful how you place the crest because you DO NOT want to have to move it once it's on the watch.
Practice as many times as you need without glue before you're ready to go. Find yourself a fine tool to spread the glue with - a cocktail stick is good. You don't want glue to splurge out from the sides when you press the crest onto the watch.
Using a pair of scissors, scratch the surface of the watch underneath where the main body of the lion will go (this is to give the glue a better grip on the watch). Carefully spread a very thin layer of glue onto the back of the crest pieces and press them onto the watch. Make sure you glue the underside of the hexagon lines, because if these aren't attached to the watch they'll break off.
And that's it!
Leave the watch to dry at least overnight before you touch it. If you find you've left fingerprints on the watch around the crest, use a dry paintbrush to gently polish them off.
Click on the thumbnail below to see what I ended up with.
Content and graphics © Jongleur 2004
If you're not in frames, please click here