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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Basics Behind My Paperclay Stone Work

I get it all the time, at shows, craft fairs, or in Facebook or Twitter posts, "Can you tell me how you make your stonework?" So I'm writing this BASIC tutorial on how to create the stonework.

Please understand that I am not only a miniaturist but I am an artist too and I am a bit hesitant on giving out all of my artistic secrets but I see no harm done in sharing the basics.

I have been self taught in this and most of my techniques have been learned by mistakes and experimenting. And my biggest suggestion is to take my basics and experiment with it and make your own techniques.

So first things first, and this is for those of you who are not familiar with Creative Paperclay. It is an air dry clay. Because of this I find the conditions of the atmosphere will regulate your drying time. Here in New England we have humidity, and it does prolong the drying time. This can be good and bad. Good is that it gives you more time to work on your piece. Bad is that if your in a hurry to finish you better find another thing to work on to take your mind off the fact that it's not drying. I usually expect 12-24 he drying time. Dry weather will dry the clay quicker than you may want. I always have a spray bottle with water set on mist near by. When it seems the clay is getting a dryed "skin" mist it with the spray bottle.

Creative Paperclay™ will adhere to almost any surface with the help of white glue. I use modge podge, it spreads easily but it does dry quick so you have to work quick. Experiment to see what the best glue for you is.

Laying Down The Clay

Supplies for the claywork:
  • Creative Paperclay™
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Pasta machine
  • White glue
  • Brush to apply glue
  • Clay roller - designated for stonework only
  • Your preferred Clay tools - (I make my stones with a dental tool)
  • Stiff bristled stenciling brush

Step 1:
Take a golf ball size of clay, work it a bit then roll into a log shorter than the width of the pasta machine, flatten the log a bit so it works into the pasta machine easier.

Step 2:
Set up your pasta machine to #6 or 7 and roll the clay through. If you have problems with the clay wrinkling or curling sprinkle a bit of baby powder on both sides of the clay and roll through again. Keep adding the powder until it rolls through smooth.

If you plan on doing a big wall roll all your clay first and store the sheets in a ziplock bag, spray a bit of water in the bag before putting the sheet in and it'll stay fresh for a very long time.

Step 3:
With your paint brush dedicated to glue spread on a thin layer of glue onto your piece. Only work in an area that fits the piece of clay you have since it drys quickly. Lay your piece of clay out. Then paint on some more glue and tile on another piece of clay butted up to the first. Do this until the entire wall or floor is covered.

This is my clay roller designated to
for when I do stone work.
Step 4:
Mist down the whole panel and smooth the lines between the separate pieces of clay together. Then with the roller roll and smooth it all out like cookie dough. Trim off the edges with an exacto blade. Save the scraps, make a ball of them all and put into a ziplock bag to use later.

Insiders tip: Do not clean the roller, let the little pieces of clay build up and dry to make more of a stone like texture the next time you make Paperclay stonework.

Step 5:
Now that you have your blank canvas of clay find a clay tool that works best for you and carve in all of the stones using a pressing motion (not dragging). Mist the clay if it gets dry.
Wet clay that has been "smooshed"

Step 6:
After you covered the whole panel with carved stone, first mist, then take your stencil brush and stipple/pound the whole surface. You want to smoosh the lines of the clay until all the work you just did carving is barely visible. Use photos of stones for visuals to add texture. Sometimes I lightly swipe my hand over the stippling then with a medium stiff brush I swash brush marks all over. It just depends on the type of stone I want it to be.

Step 7:
Let dry over night. 

Painting the Stone

  • Watercolor Paints - Dried paints are preferred. I buy the tubed watercolors and prep them a few days in advance. To prep get a watercolor tray (not an acrylic paint tray) and squirt each color in it's own space on the tray. Let the paints dry (may take many days). The wet (strait from the tube) paints are too concentrated and you will not like the muddy results.
  • Watercolor Paint Brushes - I have found out that the little more expensive Cottman Sable Brushes work the best for holding the paints. 
  • Two Jars of Water - One for dirty water and one for clean

This is my stone work paint try
Primary Colors:
  • Paynes Gray
  • Ivory Black
  • Lamp Black
  • Van Dyke Brown
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt umber.

Optional Colors: For adding different hues in the stone. Around here we have a lot of purple and green granite, along with moss and lichen on stones.
  • Sap Green
  • Violet
  • Ultra Marine
Step 1: "Bleeding" the Stones

Add water to any one of the black paints. Mix well, you want it to be very watery. Use a brush with a thick with a nice point that holds a lot of fluid. Load your brush with the black then dot it onto the lines between stones, usually at intersections, until brush is empty and the black has bled down all of the lines you carved like shown in the photo on the right. Do this on The whole piece.


Tip: If the paint water mix is too thick it will not run right, add water. Too thin, mix the paint a bit more. The lines should turn black, not grey. Don't worry about getting the black on the stones.

Step 2: Painting the Stones

Add a few drops of water to the prepared paints mix each a bit and then paint the stones how ever you like. Those black dots will disappear with the newly added paint. If you find it too dark mist with the spray bottle then with a paper towel dab the paint off. Do not wipe it, your paints will turn to mud, just dab.

Let dry & seal with a matte spay sealer.

Those are the stone work basics. You can do anything from stacked slate, to granite block, cobble stones, and brick with that basic instruction. Don't be afraid to try stamps or glitter, experiment with anything you have laying around. Sometimes mistakes are happy accidents just remember to have fun.

Send us emails of projects you've done using this tutorial!


  1. http://blueblackpurplejalabiyastonework.blogspot.com/2012/10/blue-black-purple-jalabiya-stone-work.html?showComment=1363949788765#c3654550251071901960

  2. granite countertops edmonton
    Thanks, you guys that is a great explanation. keep up the good work.

  3. Great tutorial!!! Thanks!! Is paper stone clay heavy when dry? Can you use it to make miniature porcelain plates??
    Thanks in advance for you answer!!

  4. Paperclay is incredibly light when dry, fantastic for making miniatures and I see no reason why it couldn't be used for 'porcelain' plates.

  5. paper clay is rather pricey is there a cheaper alternative?

  6. beautiful work, thanks for sharing!