Saturday, 15 August 2009

In reply to previous post and how to.

I've had quite a few emails asking how i did the surface for the walls and floors of the potion room room box.
This is an explanation to one of the people and thought it would be easier to post here rather than lots of emails.

I used paperclay on the walls but not a lot.What i did was make the room box out of mdf. I then covered the whole box with papier mache and just used toilet tissue for this because it is cheap. I did a thicker layer of this papier mache on the corners of the outside. Once that was dry i just broke up little bits of paperclay and smeared them on the walls here and there leaving lots of little gaps. I then used a stippling brush and stippled to get a rough texture and smoothed down some bits with my fingers. I then did the same again on the outside of the box and tried to make the edgesot too sharp so it looked rustic.
Once it was dry i painted a creamy colour. I didn't have a suitable paint to mix with the white to get the cream so i mixed coffee into the white paint. In a cup i put three teaspoons of coffee and a tiny bit of hot water to make a really thick coffee. I then spooned it into the white until i was happy with the cream colour.
While i was painting the entire room box i used my stippling brush and stippled here and there while the paint was still wet. This was so i didnt lose too much of the texture. You can use a regular household paint brush if you dont have a stippling brush (large stencil brush), and just cut the bristles a bit shorter.
One it was dry i used coffee again and brushed it over the walls and dabbed here and there with baby wipes to remove quite a lot and leave the dirt in the cracks and crevices. Once this was dry i then used the coffee again and focussed on the corners and the wall where it meets the floor and again dabbed off with baby wipes what was not needed.
But if you want green damp walls around the base, before you do the tea and coffee brush here and there with a green acrylic paint and dab off whats not needed with a wipe. Then do the coffee.
You can use acrylic paints instead of coffee or tea which i sometimes do, but i really like what coffee and tea does.
Because all of this is not waterproof and the coffee stains could be wiped off by accident i sprayed the entire room box with a matt sealent spray. DO IT OUTSIDE AND SPRAY FROM FAR AWAY SO ITS JUST A VERY LIGHT LAYER. You just need to seal the coffee and tea.
For the floor i used paperclay and cut out lots of little floor tiles. While they were still damp i stuck them on the floor with pva glue (white glue)working at around 3 tiles at a time and used a small brush to stipple and get a rough texture. I left the little gaps for grouting.
Once these were dry i used pva (white glue) and brushed it into the grouting lines and dabbed off any glue that got onto the floor tiles. I did this because in my opinion it makes it look more realistic. You can use grout mixes suitable for this purpose, but because i will paint it later it doesnt matter that its not the right thing to use.
Once it was dry i then painted the whole floor a light grey. Once that was dry i then dabbed here and there with a draker grey but the brush was almost dry. Just rub most off onto tissue. I then dabbed here and there with a darker grey again but added a little bit of brown to the final mix.
Once it was dry i painted in the grout line with a dark grey acrylic paint mix and dark brown (equal parts). I used a baby wipe to dab off the paint if it went onto any of the tiles.
Once it was dry i used my coffee again and dabbed here and there and especially into the edges and corner and again dabbed off what was not needed. Then sprayed again with a matt sealent but just a fine mist.
If you dont have a spray you can use a brush on matt sealent/varnish. Rather than brushing and sweeping i would dab on a minimal amount over the entire surface with a brush or fibre fee cloth
I know many perfectionists out there will be in shock at the way i go about building.
But i always like to make good use of the materials i have. Quite often i can't wait for a certain material to arrive in the post and so just experiment.

You can also use polyfila instead of paperclay. A lot of people tell me it cracks, but i find it doesn't as long as you mix pva (white glue) into it. You would apply it in much the same way as the paperclay and then paint and stain exactly the same.
You can also use other types of airdrying clay but i can't advise which makes will crack. But if you do get cracks you can just fill them easily enough for this type of rough wall surface.


  1. Isn't mdf great? Doesn't warp, no sanding required, takes glue and paint really well. My Dad used it for a lot of projects. An what an innovative use for toilet paper and coffee! :-) Nikki, you always make me laugh! What a clever and talented young lady you are!


  2. Thanks for sharing all your tips Nikki. xxx

  3. Thank you for sharing your how-to. Paperclay is yet another medium I am trying (with many failures) to master! I doubt I will live long enough to get it right!


  4. It looks wonderful Nikki, thanks for all the tips! Did you make the window and furniture yourself? Cant wait to see this in all its glory, potions and all! Kate and John xx

  5. Yesterday evening I started also a little scene to try with paperclay. I started with making a corner with tempex? But with the paperclay it went wrong, I could not get it properly on the wall, it crumbled and fall apart. So I tried darwi (classic) and it went well. The first floor is almost finished, its not perfect but it looks good to me.
    Thank you for the tips and trics, verry usefull!
    * marlies

  6. Hi Susan. Yes, mdf is great. I found and old room box which was massive and made from mdf, then cut it into three less deep boxes and then put new backs in.
    Lol at toilet paper and coffee. You have to be inventive whith all art... lol.
    As for young, i'll be 40 in 3 years and 2 weeks.
    Wish i was young again!

    Hi Debbie. Its good to share tip isn't it. I probably do it all wrong but its still good to share.

    Hi Jody. I havnt really used the paperclay in the right way here and could have used polyfila instead but didnt have any so paperclay it was. I just mix and match where needed.
    Hope your paperclay trials go well.

  7. Hi Kate and John. I didn't make the window and used one i had lying around.
    I made all the furniture though, and have even made some floor standing shelves to go in this now. The touble is i dont really have any tools and making furniture isn't to easy with a rusty saw and a blunt blade... lol. I also have a jigsaw with a bent blade and a drill where the drill bit always falls out.
    Quite lucky these turned out ok.

  8. Hi Sans. Its a pleasure to share the little bit i know.

    Hi Marlies. I don't know what tempex is. Did you stick the paperclay on with pva (white glue)?
    Sounds great what you are making and will look forward to pictures.

    Nikki x

  9. Thank you Nikki for posting how you did it ;-)
    Now, what is Paperclay? Is it something we have here is US, maybe we call it something else?

  10. Hi Nikki, we say tempex and you call it foam board. I had to scroll a while back on your blog to find it, you build the witch house with it. I let me inspire by your potting corner, its not a great project to try with clay. I try to take pictures tomorrow, my daughter has to bring me my camera back. I'm still working on it.
    * marlies

  11. Hi Rudoo. Paperclay is called the same in the states from what i can tell. If you go back to my previous paperclay post you can find out more info and follow the links for even more info.

    Nikki x

  12. Hi Marlies. I didn't have any problems applying the paperclay to the foamboard (tempex).
    Did you aply pva (white glue) first?
    Most of the foam board i covered had mod roc on below the clay but on some parts i just applied it straight to the board and it stayed on firm.
    I will look forward to your pictures when you have the camera back.

    Nikki x

  13. This is absolutely gorgeous!
    I love the way you have made that Potion room!
    I had a class with Rik Pierce when he came here to Australia a few years ago,I learnt so much! you have added some interesting ways to finish the room! Luv it Luv it!

  14. muchas gracias por compartir tus experiencias ,es maravilloso

  15. hola¡¡ soy española y mirando en la web hé llegado hasta aquí. Te felicito me gusta mucho tu blog.
    Un saludo desde España.

  16. Oi....gostei muito dos seus trabalhos e do seu site.

    Muito legal você compartilhar as suas dicas elas são muito valiosas para quem é iniciante nessa arte.

    Visite nosso site

    bjus da Susy do Brasiiiiiiilllllllllll

  17. Maravilloso blog y sorpresa tenemos muchos seguidores en comun que fuerte, yo me quedo te invito al mío se llama Los cuentos de Nati... si te gustan las brujas, las hadas, lod duendes, los seres fantasticos... allí podras soñar y si te gusta lo que ves, lo que escuchas y lo que lees sería muy importante que te quedaras.
    Hasta pronto un beso Nati.

  18. Gracias por todos tus consejos y ese paso a paso ,perfecto
    xxx cabezuela


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