George Nelson Starburst Clock


When we moved into our house 3 years ago I immediately started keeping my eye out for a great deal on a mid-century starburst clock for our dining room. Problems: the cool ones are super expensive, usually electric and many are brass with traditional roman numerals … we prefer something more modern.

Here’s a beautiful example of Westclok brand Sputnik-style atomic wall clock that’s available through Etsy. LOVE the teak and the spokes. It’s $110 and if you have that much money sitting around you should definitely buy this.

Anyhow, last summer at a yard sale Jason and I found a retro modern starburst clock. We haggled with the stingy seller and finally walked away with this plastic time keeper. It was silver-plastic faced with navy blue spokes so we decided to paint it black and white. I’m very happy with the result. We used appliance spray paint on the spokes (because we had some sitting around) giving them a really glossy finish. (I’ve blogged about it before.)

Also, we changed out the hands to some simple chrome pieces from a free clock I got from work.

Recently, I saw a blog post somewhere about this clock available from MoMA. I can’t believe it! I think our plastic garage sale find must be a replica of  George Nelson’s 1949 Starburst Clock. The aluminum and wood version from MoMA is also a replica. And those clock hands? Yeah, that’s what ours looked like, only navy.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I like ours the best! Sorry George. And now that I know it’s a George Nelson replica, what was intended to be a temporary place holder for a vintage atomic clock will be sticking around.

One of the owners of Wonders on Woodland – our neighborhood MCM antique store – gave Jason and I a valuable piece of advice last year. If a piece fits with your decor and looks vintage who cares if it’s just a replication or modern interpretation of mid-century. It’s your home – fill it with things you love!

Retro Starburst Clock


I’ve been looking for an authentic mid-century modern starburst clock for the dining room since we moved into our house 2 and a half years ago. Oh, I can find ’em … on eBay for $70-200. But I’m looking for the ≤$20 version— the kind you find at yard sales or thrift stores or in your grandma’s basement. Speaking of yard sales, we got this modern, plastic, imitation retro clock for $3 (talked down from $5 … we’re such cheapskates).


Jase surprised me the other day (I LOVE surprises!) by spray painting the clock face and spokes, installing new hands (the originals looked really cheap) and putting the whole thing back together. I really love how it looks now.


But, of course, this is just temporary until we find an authentic “atomic” clock. (Like that alliteration?) And in typical Jason-and-Martina-fashion, we’ll most likely find a steal on the antique real deal and sell the modern imitation for 3-4x more money on craigslist or eBay. Cuz that’s how we roll.


We decided to go with the white chairs in the dining room rather than the blue ones.