Sunday, 13 November 2011

The PaperClay Experiment.....

The last few days I have been working on the roof of The Cauldron Shop. This time instead of opting for the usual shop bought tiles I have always used in the past I decided to play with PaperClay.
I looked carefully at various sites showing the work of the Paperclay King Rik Pierce and set to work.
Firstly I rolled out the clay to the thickness I wanted on a glass tile. 
 Then using a nail brush I stippled the clay, cut off the ragged edges with a fimo cutter and then marked out the rows of tiles. I then separated a row at a time and cut off each individual tile. 
 You can see on the bottom row where I started laying individual tile, unlike Art Mache you have to glue Paperclay to make it stick. I then had another look at Rik's models and worked out that he seems to attach the tiles in rows.
I started to mark out the tiles with the edge of my plastic protractor without cutting right through. This was much easier and quicker.
After I had laid a couple of rows I shaped the edges to make the tiles stand up a little. This was quite fiddly as my clay tools are a bit basic and clay is definitely not my forte!
I kept going a row at a time and eventually......... 
........I finished off one whole side. I was quite pleased at the end. It wasn't perfect by any means but it actually looked pretty promising.
 The next morning, however, I was a little less happy. One of the problems with Paperclay is that as it dries it shrinks, this can lead to cracking or, as in the case of my roof tiles, gaps.
 I think these have also occurred because I did not blend the separate rows together. I am also a little concerned by how fragile the clay appears and I am a little worried that it will chip very easily.
So the question is do I seal with a PVA solution to toughen it up? Before or after painting?
Hmmmm, a bit more research is required I feel.
In order to deal with all the gaps I have decided to add extra wonky tiles which I hope will make the roof look patched and not simply bodged!


  1. That is looking great! Much braver than I am...maybe some day I will give it a try!

  2. Interesting Janice. I like the tiles and it looked easy. I wonder if paint would fix it. I am sure someone with experience will comment, I have never had luck with paper clay but have no patience LOL.


  3. Great work! You have a lot of patience.
    Bye Faby

  4. Pues a mi me gusta como está, saludos.

  5. The other way I've seen is a stripe of paperclay with lines cut 3/4's up (for the tiles) and then overlaid on top of the row in front. So as it dries there are no unrealistic gaps. My prime concern is shrinkage...paperclay shrinks like no other clay and the gaps become wider and then they'd have to be filled.

    Everything crossed they keep their size. Well done for a great look, must have taken you ages! :o)))

    Michelle xx

  6. Thanks for sharing Janice. I will now remember the shrinking tendency of paperclay. But I still think your roof will look convincing.

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  8. 1 Word......MOSS!! Fill all the gaps with mossy bits Janice he he, hides a multitude of sins lol! Very brave, i love the look paperclay gives but have never, and will never be brave enough to try it! xxx

  9. Paperclay is a wonderful medium...once you figure how to work with it :-). Actually, I think you roof is looking quite authentic with the separations and all...just like an aged and weathered roof should!

    Seriously though, once you've painted everything up, those gaps are going to be much less noticable. I usually paint the substrate roughly the color I want the roof to be prior to applying the PC, so there is less contrast as shrinkage occurs.

    Paperclay is stronger than it looks (when fully cured) and the paint only makes it more so. You can seal it if you want but do that after you've achieved the paint effect you after. I have so many layers of paint over mine that I never feel it is necessary.

    If you want to minimize those big gaps in the future, lay on strips of clay (rather than individual tiles) and form the tiles with a very thin sculpting tool or knife. Do not cut all the way down to the substrate. THen lay the next layer over. To prevent deep cracks, allow it to dry slowly. I sometimes just lay a dampish paper towel over it. Drying too fast seems to promote cracking but small pieces crack much less than larger ones.

    I think your roof will be splendid once it is painted and aged! Congrats for trying something new and different!


  10. Janice, para que se quede derecha la arcilla le tienes que poner peso encima....como por ejemplo libros.
    La arcilla suele encoger cuando se seca por lo tanto hay que hacer las piezas un poquito mas grandes.
    A mi me gusta el resultado, pero puedes probar para otra ocasion.
    besitos ascension


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