~ Clock Dial Restoration ~~ Jacqueline Grice ~
~ Clock Dial Restoration ~~ Jacqueline Grice ~

Jacqueline's Restoration Services

Although the term "restoration" is used here for ease of reference, I do aim for a balance with conservation in my work. My first aim is to keep as much of the original work - the dial's history - as possible. A dial's original artwork is often of a very high standard as befits quality casework and complicated movements, and the misconception of painted dials being a poor relation to brass dials is beginning to fade.

~ Jacqueline working on a dial ~

My four years training for the National Diploma in Design (NDD) in Graphic Design and Illustration is put to good use, with dial restoration calling for both fine artwork and hand drawn lettering. The horological aspect is there in good measure since my husband has been restoring clocks for many years and we are actively involved with the BHI and AHS. We frequently work jointly on dial and movement projects.

Clients often request research into the clock maker's name and are also interested when I can furnish them with details of who made the dial, and when.

A Brief History of the Painted Dial

The history of dial making is itself a fascinating story. The main centre of the dial making industry was Birmingham, and, surprisingly, spans only 100 years from 1770 to 1870, after which brass dials became fashionable again. Apart from the number of businesses involved in dial manufacture, a number of artists were involved in the various aspects of illustration, lettering, number work, gilding etc., with standards ranging from naive country style to very fine work. The main producers of quality dials were Wilson, Walker & Hughes, and Finnemore.

The Restoration Process

After researching a dial, I photograph it to provide a reference to work from. Tracings are also taken with colour references. When required, I can also provide a complete design service from scratch.

~ Jacqueline working on a dial ~

The dial is then carefully cleaned; rusting must be treated, loose flaking paint removed, and holes filled. Retouching the paintwork takes considerable time as each layer must dry thoroughly to obtain a perfect match.

When quite dry the missing circles and numerals are redrawn. As far as possible all products used are sympathetic to the original. Restoring corner decoration often involves replacing lost gesso work and gilding. Missing hemispheres can be completely redrawn, with reference to historical sources for accuracy. Existing artwork to breakarch, moon-dial and calendar is retouched sympathetically.

When completely dry the dial is carefully varnished, and the winding hole grommets are cleaned or replaced. Brass dials are also resilvered.

This is just a brief résumé of the work involved in a dial restoration project, but I hope it is of sufficient interest to you to entrust the restoration and/or conservation of your clock dials to me.

Jacqueline Grice