Monday, November 22, 2010

Floor test update

The floor test I did in a previous post had interesting results.

Because the tile sheet was dried unattached to anything, it bent slightly, but held together. The gaps between the tiles widened as it dried - hopefully this would eliminate any cracking. You can now see a little daylight through some of the gaps, and the whole thing is slightly flexible and forgiving.
The problem is that the underside is not flat, as you can see in the second photo, with ridges where the gaps are - difficult to glue down :(
The extra separated tiles, however, each warped as they dried - again, difficult to glue down! :( My advice is, don't go there!!

So I did another test, using Jovi (as in the first test) and Paperclay. This time I glued them onto a board while wet, and tried three methods of marking the lines.
The top third is marked with a piece of veneer (less than 1mm thick).

The centre third is marked with veneer, but with a (loose but flat) layer of cling film on top of the clay. This smooths and rounds off the edges of the clay, and gives a type of bevelled effect. This also enlarges the gap a little more.

The lower third is marked with a piece of extremely fine brass sheet. I was hoping to give the effect of flagstones, where no mortar is needed (oh please, yes!!). The gaps still widened a bit, but are very crisp.

I have also tried painting the Jovi - it has a smooth surface, more like polymer clay, and shows every brush mark, and would not take a wash very well at all. If anyone can tell me what DAS is like, I'd be grateful :)
For painting I prefer Paperclay because of its absorbency - takes a light wash beautifully :)

For this technique I'd advise that you tidy all the intersections with a pin or fine toothpick at the leather-hard stage of drying. The more careful you are in the marking process, the less you'll have to tidy later. And make very sure that the marker is exactly the right length between the pinholes.

I'd also advise placing a flat layer of clingfilm between the wet clay and the paper pattern, and pricking the holes through both. The paper pattern buckles on the damp clay.

The gaps made with the veneer would need to be grouted - not my favourite activity!!
The gaps made with the brass sheet could pass for flagstones, not needing grout. I say this hopefully! :)

The Paperclay shrank more than the Jovi - the gaps were wider after drying.

So there it is so far. I hope it may help - sorry I get too pedantic in my explanations, it's a bad habit that I can't throw off . . .



  1. Hi Glenda, Paperclay always shrinks as it is just the nature of the product. The trick is to make that property work for you. If you glue it down, it shrinks more uniformly and usually without warping or "bowing" as your flat of tile did. I like the cling film results alot, though. I am not familiar with Jovi. I have purchase a package of DAS for the outside of my Ruins but I haven't yet tried it so I have no idea how it wil work out. Until now, I have always used Paperclay brand air-dry clay so I am comfortable working with it.

    I know there is a blogger who has used the terra cotta DAS for a project and was pleased with the performance, though it did shrink just as Paperclay does. I must look back to see who that was.

  2. Karin Corbin had a whole tutorial ("Brickology") about a year ago on using air dried clay for brick work. It's is quite interesting.

    Here a link to the part where she talks about the clays. You may want to scroll back or ahead for more information.

    But it seems to me there was someone else... I'll keep looking..

  3. Here's one more from the Dangerous Mezzo..

    She used a terra cotta clay also. Not DAS, though.

  4. Glenda I use DAS for mushrooms and eggs. I chinked a log cabin with it, it worked well just adds more weight than paperclay. It does shrink a bit but not much. Wish I was more help, never tried it in a sheet. I like how DAS takes paint, I always paint and seal it. I used to prime it first with gesso but don't think it necessary.

    Victoria ♥

  5. Das is not a good clay for this project. Not that it is a bad clay but the paper fibers are too long and don't make for a good result where you will be cutting shapes from it. Hairy edges!

    I have found the best of the terracotta colored clays for this kind of project to be Activa Plus. The price is about the same as for Das Clay.

    The color when it dries is more pink than terracotta red. I have had excellent results with overcoating it with acrylic paint thinned to the consistency of watercolor. The paint aborbs and you don't get the brush marks from a thick coat of paint. The acrylic paint does leave a slight shine but that is acceptable for floor tiles. It also creates a water resistant coating on the clay which makes for easier grouting.

  6. Thank you for the advice and all the detiles, Glenda. I tried this clay only to make very small miniatures and was pleased with the results(but they were my first trials;)) and I am happy to know how this clay works on bigger surfaces :)

  7. Hi, Here's my 2 cents on the subject!
    Since I build castles in all scales, I use a variety of clays! I have pretty much chucked the old standard Paperclay! I use Activa plus for almost everything! It doesn't shrink and crack as much as PC! Das works on large projects and takes paint okay.
    For small, 1/2 and 1/48 scale projects I only use 2 part Apoxy products like Apoxy Sculpt and my favorite, Magic Sculpt!
    One trick you might try to keep the PC from warping is to put a book or heavy object on it!

  8. Ladies - thanks so much for all the extra information and clay experiences!! A lot to think on, and try out :)

  9. This post and all the comments that followed have been really helpful. Thank you, Glenda !

  10. Gracias Glenda por este post, siempre que vengo a tu blog aprendo cosas nuevas.
    besitos ascension

  11. Very technical post the look of the bricks though Glenda.