My economy version of the Lucien Pellat-Finet/Jacob Arabo skull watch, using rhinestones instead of diamonds.

This project was inspired by this post on boingboing in July of 2006. It describes what might be called the "gentrification" of the skull as cultural icon; the death's head--once a decidedly kitschy, lower-class, and marginalized symbol--has gone uppercrust, or so they say. Striking evidence is presented in this pavé diamond watch face by Lucien Pellat-Finet/Jacob Arabo, the price of which is left tastefully to our imagination.

The expensive original on which my kitschy kopy is based.

Being generally opposed to the gentrification of, well...anything, I undertook to reclaim this design in more accessible, familiar, and kitschy materials, viz. rhinestones. Copying the paving pattern from the photo was easy enough with the aid of some hex-graph paper from Some fancy footwork with Illustrator and Photoshop produced the following image, which was printed to scale on 65lb card stock and used as a pattern.

The scale pattern used in Deathblinger construction.

To prevent the printed pattern from being visible in the finished mosaic, rhinestones were attached to the reverse side of the page on which it was printed. The pattern was taped, printed side down, onto the improvised light-box shown below.

The improvised light box consists of a lamp, a milk crate, and a piece of quarter-inch plexiglas.

Size 20ss Swarovski flat-back rhinestones in "Crystal" and "Jet" colors were purchased from Dreamtime Creations. They were fixed to the transilluminated pattern with Devcon 30-minute 2-part epoxy applied to their backsides with a toothpick.

Pattern affixed to improvised light-box midway through the paving operation.

The clock itself is an inexpensive black plastic model from Target's "room essentials" line, as pictured. It cost less than $5US new in the store. If I were to do it again, I would spend a bit more money and get a clock with a slightly nicer aluminum or stainless steel facing, so long as the face diameter was the same. Note that the face diameter (6.5") is a critical dimension, fixed by the size of the rhinestones used.

Cheap plastic clock from Target modified to make the deathblinger.

If you want to make a smaller or larger clock, and hence to use different-sized rhinestones, I've included the following table which gives various standard rhinestone sizes and the resulting face diameters using my pattern. Whichever size you decide on, you will need 1111 stones total, 351 in black and 760 in white or clear.

Rhinestone Diameter

Swarovski Equivalent

Resulting Image Size

1.8 mm

5 ss

63 mm = 6.3 cm = 2.48 in

2.1 mm

6 ss

73.5 mm = 7.35 cm = 2.89 in

2.2 mm

7 ss

77 mm = 7.7 cm = 3.03 in

2.6 mm

9 ss

91 mm = 9.1 cm = 3.58 in

2.8 mm

10 ss

98 mm = 9.8 cm = 3.85 in

3.1 mm

12 ss

108.5 mm = 10.85 cm = 4.27 in

3.9 mm

16 ss

136.5 mm = 13.65 cm = 5.37 in

4.7 mm

20 ss

164.5 mm = 16.45 cm = 6.47 in

5.3 mm

24 ss

185.5 mm = 18.55 cm = 7.30 in

7.1 mm

34 ss

248.5 mm = 24.85 cm = 9.78 in

8.5 mm

40 ss

297.5 mm = 29.75 cm = 11.71 in

9.1 mm

42 ss

318.5 mm = 31.85 cm = 12.53 in

10.5 mm

48 ss

367.5 mm = 36.75 cm = 14.46 in