A-Z of miniatures crafts: P for paperclay


Learn how to create a selection of miniature internal and external flooring styles – tiles, concrete, cobbles and flagstones – for dolls houses using paperclay in this tutorial by Ann Sutcliffe.

There are a variety of different types of modelling clay when it comes to dolls house and miniature projects – one of these is paperclay. Learn more about paperclay, followed by an easy-to-follow tutorial showing you how to make four simple yet effective flooring styles for your dolls house or miniature scene. Once you’ve mastered the technique you can adapt to create styles for dolls houses of all eras!

What is paperclay?

Paperclay is a smooth white paste made from paper which once shaped dries hard, and makes a great medium for miniature modelling as an alternative for papier mâché and other varieties of air drying clay. 

Why is it good for modelling miniatures?

Paperclay is light and easy to work. Once dry it’s hard and holds its shape well, but can be drilled, cut, carved, sanded and painted to resemble almost any finish you want for your dolls house project. 

Paperclay does shrink when drying, and can crack. The excess left around the edges is left to deal with possible shrinkage. Cracks can be filled in with more wet clay, or left if a more rustic finish is what you’re hoping to achieve. A moist finger will smooth out any rough bits, or sand when dry.

DIY dolls house paperclay flooring 

By Ann Sutcliffe.

You will need

  • Mount card
  • Craft knife, cutting mat & ruler
  • PVA glue
  • Paperclay
  • Rolling pin, cling film & board
  • Moulds as required
  • Sandpaper 
  • Paint & varnish

Paperclay packets

Instructions

1. Cut a piece of card or mount board the size of the room or area you’re covering. Give the card a coat of PVA on both sides and allow to dry.

PVA coated card

2. Place a lump of clay between cling film and roll out on a board to a depth of about 1/8th of an inch.

Rolled out clay

3. Apply more PVA to the floor surface, peel off the top cling film, and press the gluey card down onto the clay. Cut around the card leaving a small amount overhanging on each edge to allow for shrinkage.

Card laid on paperclay

Explore the fascinating and absorbing world of miniatures with Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine – packed with step-by-step projects, inspiration from across the eras, expert advice, top tips and lots more! Explore the print & digital subscription offers today.

4. Peel off the rest of the film and press or roll the design or moulds into the damp clay.

To create the four different dolls house flooring styles in this tutorial:

  • Tiles – metal ruler for the grids, plus little stamps for the medieval style encaustic detail
  • Concrete – coarse sandpaper 
  • Cobbles – homemade split pea mould 
  • Flagstones – flagstone stencil from Bromley Craft Products

miniature flooring styles on paperclay

5. Leave the clay to dry. It may take up to three days depending on the thickness – 15-30 minutes in a cool oven will speed up the drying process. If it warps, flatten under heavy books. Carefully trim any excess dry clay back to the cardboard template with a sharp craft knife. Neaten the edges with sandpaper if required.

Dried paperclay miniature flooring

6. Paint the clay to resemble the finish required. Allow to dry, flattening under books if it threatens to warp again. Finally paint or spray on matt or satin acrylic varnish to protect the finish.

Finished miniature flooring styles


Next, swap paperclay for polymer clay and art clay in our series of miniature garden tutorials.