Friday, 4 March 2011

Potter Birthday Project.....Part 2

I have been working on the shadow box for my eldest son's birthday this week with mixed success. This is the first time I have attempted a project like this so I decided to use it as a practice for using paperclay because the area was small enough to hide any boo boos.
 I started with the basic idea of the back wall and four sides. The back wall was to represent a stone wall in Hogwarts with six floating shelves for my mini Potter dolls. I marked out the frame inset on the shadow box back and rolled out the paperclay in batches fitting it into the square.
The clay was very easy to manipulate and joined together well with a little pressing and moulding by hand. You have to use glue to adhere the clay to a clean surface, it will not simply stick on its own. 
To get a brickwork effect I used a very useful tool from Malcolm's Miniatures which gave me the basic structure without too much effort. To give the clay a slightly rougher look I used a stencil brush on each brick, just gently pressing into the clay.
I had already prepared the shelves and cut out a strip of clay and glued them into the clay.
So far so good, now I knew I had to wait for it to dry......
In the meantime I prepared the four walls. Two I covered in wallpaper I had left over from The Leaky cauldron. One I covered with left over ceiling paper and the fourth I painted grey and then used some roofing tiles to create a cobble-stoned effect for the floor.
......and I continued to wait for the clay to dry. I must admit this drying time was a complete surprise, it takes ages!! I knew I had to wait for the clay to dry completely cos everyone states do not attempt anything at all until the clay is dry.
And as it dried, it cracked, lots! 
 The biggest problems occurred where I had placed the shelves. Huge great cracks. The others didn't worry me too much because they would improve the weathered look. I also had to weigh down the edges as the backing began to bow as the clay dried.
All in all it has taken about three days to dry completely.
 I filled in the really bad cracks with ordinary polyfilla, which smoothed out most of the problem but if this had happened on one of my houses I would use a more creative repair method. 
I have painted the grout marks in so far. I have made these quite dark as they may become paler as I add additional colour washes. 
 Here the texture of the brickwork can be seen a little better. including a rather large crack before filling!
I removed a lot of the grey paint with a baby wipe as I went along which somehow transferred itself onto the clay and has accidentally provided me with a very effective start off wash!
All in all its not come out too badly. I now have to fit it all together, finish the colouring of the bricks, add some slime and greenery, make some aged labels, fix any more cracks...... 


  1. I could see the problems you were gonna have before you mentioned them. They ARE all fixable. Pop over to my last post but one and see my method of filling cracks. No sure how compatible filler is with paperclay...but you'll find out! ;o))

    As for warping it often occurs when paperclay is applied to a thin/flexible surface. You could have weighted it down as it was drying with a heavy book over the top with anything heavy on top of that (the shelves would have protected the paperclay).

    Tell me about drying times...ARRRGHHH! This is my constant nightmare and niggle! I try and get on with other bits now. I don't know what is worse, hot weather or cool..the clay has a will of its own and whether it will decide to warp and crack.

    It's a great idea though Janice and I can imagine it finished already and what wonderful straight and even bricks you have sculpted too!!! ;o)))

    Will reply to your email tomorrow...and THANK YOU!
    Michelle xxx

  2. Looks Great Janice! I can't wait to see the little dolls on the shelves.

    Victoria ♥

  3. I think those are super-looking stone bricks! A little bit of paperclay, kneaded with a bit of water if you wish to make it easier to smear, can be maneuvered into any undesirable cracks. I remember reading how each morning when Rik Pierce went back to work on Hogwarts, he spent at least an hour filling in cracks on the previous day's work! :)
    This is going to be a really fun project!

  4. You've done an amazing job with the paper clay! And I love the floating shelves!

  5. What a neat idea - it's looking great, Janice!!

    Paperclay's good stuff but has a definite character of its own, especially with the cracking. I don't know if it cracks due to thickness, or thickness of the glue, or the way it has been rolled and stressed, or what. I'd do samples, but I only have a little left and I don't want to waste it! :)

    Looking forward to seeing the shadow box finished :)

  6. Its looking good so far Janice. It is all fixable like our Michelle says. Looking forward to seeing it finished.


    Debie xxxxxxxxxx

  7. Thanks ladies. Glad it wasn't just me! It does seem very easy to use but I don't know if I have the patience for the drying times plus it seems very expensive for large areas but I do like the finish.

    Am eager to try Michelle and Jenn's 'mud' next which seems a very reasonable way to gain a good stucco covering and maybe the art mache????

    So many ideas so little time!

  8. Hi Debie, I have checked the filla this morning and so far no more cracks have appeared.
    I wouldn't use normal filla on a 'proper' project though because it has a different texture and will obviously take the paint in a different way.
    Did you read Cate's comment? And he is the master!!

  9. Have never worked with paperclay and just the thought fills me with dread so your very brave, you that do! I just know at the end of the day it will look fab, cant wait to see !!! xxx

  10. Janice, han valido la pena las tres horas de secado, las grietas que se han producido las has sabido arreglar genial.
    Ademas las que han quedado solo hacen que se vea mas real, enhorabuena.
    Me encantan como te esta quedando el trabajo.
    Es un placer visitar tu blog y aprender contigo.
    besitos ascension

  11. Un buen trabajo. Me gusta esta pared y los estantes incrustrados. Ya falta poco para llenarlos con todas tus ideas.
    Besos Clara


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