Make Cobblestone Fan Paving For Your Model Streets or Patios

  • 01 of 14

    Cobblestone Fan Paving For Miniature Scenes

    Trimming a layer of fan paving at the front of a dollhouse scale shop
    With all the cobblestones marked in the fan layout, the excess air dry clay on the front and sides of the paving area is trimmed back to the edges. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Paving patterns can add a lot of texture and interest to the surface of any scale of model scene. I set up a traditional fan pattern of paving to lay out in air dry clay (I used Creative Paperclay) for the front of my miniature shop. Fans are the most difficult pattern to lay out, but there is an easy wan to make these old world surfaces quickly.  If you prefer the same method can be used to make all kinds of cobble patterns.   Cobblestone fans add an old world look to the surface which is in keeping with the shop style. To make this type of paving, the fastest method is to use your favorite brand of air dry clay and a custom made 'cutter' in the appropriate size. If you wish you can color your clay with acrylic paint to the shade you want for the filler beneath the pavers, or you can paint the pavers and the spaces between them with a faux finish once the air dry clay is dry.

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  • 02 of 14

    Drawing a Fan Paving Pattern to Scale

    Drawing method for laying out a fan pattern for cobblestones in dollhouse miniature scale.
    Pattern for drawing up a fan cobblestone pattern for dollhouse miniature scales. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    The fan paving pattern is fairly easy to draw out to fit the area you want to pave.  I set my fans up for 1:12 dollhouse scale, using 1/4 inch (6mm) pavers (sized to represent 3 inch (7.5cm) squares in full size) You will need a drawing compass, or one basic circle drawn to the right size that you can use as a template for the other circles.

    You can find a full sized printable for the 1:12 scale fan pattern here in pdf (acrobat reader required) format.


    First Circle and Base Lines
    To draw the fan pattern start with a circle whose radius equals the depth you want for your fan. (I used a circle 5 inches (12.5 cm) in diameter.)  Divide the length of the radius in 1/2, and mark that line between the center of your circle and the outside rim of your circle as shown.

    Second Line of Circles

    The half radius mark is the line on which you will place the center of your next two circles (the two green circles in the photo) , drawn so that they meet at their edge, along the vertical line through the center of the first circle (dark blue).

    Continuing Lines of Circles for the Fans

    The next line of circles is drawn with their centers running along a horizontal line that touches the outer edge of the first (dark blue) circle, so that their edges meet the first circle center line. The first of this line of circles is directly under the first circle.

    The fan pattern is made up of the lines where the circles intersect (see photo).  Once you get the basic fan pattern established in the size you want, you can easily use it as a template to enlarge the pattern for your paved area.

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  • 03 of 14

    Making a Template for a Miniature Cobblestone Paving

    Working out a fan paver design for a dollhouse shop front.
    A section of paper is fitted to the area of the dollhouse scene you want to pave, then the fan pattern is tested on the template using a stamp made from a piece of an eraser. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Draw Out Your Fan Pattern On Your Template

    Once you have your fan pattern worked out take a piece of paper and make an accurate template of the area you want to pave with cobblestones or 'setts'. Set your fan template beneath it or on top, and transfer the fan outlines onto the template, setting the fans so that they are centered on any major features (my pattern centers on the door of my shop).

    Practise Filling Your Fans Using a Stamp Made From an Eraser

    Now practise setting the cobble shapes using a simple stamp made from a scrap of an eraser, cut to the size you want your cobbles.  I used a roughly 1/4 inch square (6mm square) paver shape cut from an eraser to test out my pattern. The stamps should go across the top of the fan, then up each side, then in ranked rows across the fan from the top down in order to make the best fan shapes. Turn the stamp to keep one edge along the curved line to make the most well balanced fan.  Don't skip this practise!  It will make it much easier to get finished fans when you are working with your air dry clay.

    Once you know how to fill the fan with cobbles, you will have an idea of whether you need a larger or smaller cobble shape to correctly line up in your fans.  You should have space at the base of each fan outline to put two cobbles roughly side by side. If your stamp is too big for your pattern, reduce it in size using a craft knife or polymer clay blade.

    Now Make a "Custom Cutter" For Your Final Cobbles

    When you have worked out a good size for your cobble shape proceed to making a custom cutter for your final cobbles. You only need one, roughly square cobble shape, unless you want North American "Modern" Fan patterns which also use rounded triangles.  Use the instructions for making custom cookie cutters from scraps of aluminum pie plate foil and waste polymer clay to make a roughly square cutter. Bend the doubled strip of foil at right angles using a straight edge, needle nose pliers, or the ends of a pair of bent nose tweezers to get a tight square shape. Open one folded end and insert the other end of the foil to finish the shape (see the cutter instructions).  Once you have the cutter shape made, carefully insert it into a small ball of waste polymer clay  so that at least 1/4 inch (6mm) sticks out of the clay, and bake the clay handle onto the cutter at the oven temperature suggested for your clay.

    Now you are ready to proceed with preparing the air dry clay paver layer!

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  • 04 of 14

    Preparing a Thickness Guide for Rolling Air Dry Clay

    Setting up roller guides for making a uniformly thick sheet of air dry clay for dollhouse paving.
    The template for the paved area is set up between two sticks of craft wood, the same thickness as you want your pavers, in order to prepare the base for the fan paver section for a miniature shop. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    To set a uniform layer of paving on a base it is important to have a clay sheet which is a uniform thickness.  For the store frontage I am modelling, the paving layer needs to be level with the bottom door sill. To make my air dry clay sheet roughly that thickness, (it will shrink slightly as it dries) I used two strips of craft wood the same thickness as my door sill as spacers for rolling my clay.  To keep them from becoming coated with the clay, I wrapped them in scraps of plastic wrap before I began. You will need lengths of material the same length as the strip of paving you require.

    With the strips wrapped in plastic, set  a piece of waxed paper / freezer paper or plastic bag under the wood strips.  Use your template to set the strips apart the width you need for your paving. Tape or clamp the guide strips in place on your work surface. Masking tape/ painters tape usually works fine for this.

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  • 05 of 14

    Rolling A Uniform Model Pavement From Air Dry Clay

    Rolling a uniform thickness of air dry clay for dollhouse scale cobblestone paving.
    Air dry clay is set between the thickness guides and rolled to make it a uniform thickness for a section of dollhouse cobblestone paving. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Now that you have your spacers set up, remove your paper template and press some of your air dry clay between the spacers. Use your hands to roughly set it flat.

    Take a glass bottle or polymer clay roller and run it along the spacers to hold the roller above the polymer clay at the correct height.  Roll your clay flat between the spacers, removing and adding clay as needed until you have rolled a sheet of clay the right size for your cobbleston paving template.

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  • 06 of 14

    Trim the Air Dry Clay Pavement Layer to Shape

    Trimming an even thickness of air dry clay to a paper template for dollhouse paving.
    After marking the paving area template pattern UPSIDE DOWN on the appropriate thickness of air dry clay, the clay is trimmed along the template lines and left sitting on the paper base. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    To trim your pavement layer to the shape of your template, set your UPSIDE DOWN template over the layer of clay and trim around it with a craft knife or clay blade.  The template needs to be upside down on the top of your clay as you will be picking up the clay on the plastic or paper you rolled it out on, then flipping it upside down so the paper/plastic is on top of the clay and peeling the paper/ plastic away. This is the same way many people flip pie crust from rolling clothes into a pie plate.

    Try to avoid pressing down on the even surface of the clay while you are cutting around the template.

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  • 07 of 14

    Air Dry Clay Layer For a Miniature Pavement Pattern

    Air dry clay ready to be applied to a dollhouse shop base as a layer of paving.
    The reversed template is removed from the air dry clay and the trimmed clay pavement is now ready to set in position on the shop base over the layer of glue. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd
    When you have finished trimming your air dry clay it should be fairly uniform with neat edges, especially on the sides where it will meet up with structures.  Don't worry if the surface isn't perfectly flat. The top surface as it sits on your worktable is the surface which will be glued down to your pavement base.
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  • 08 of 14

    Marking Your Model Base To Cover It With Air Dry Clay

    Marking a paver template on the frontage of a dollhouse miniature shop.
    The template edge for the miniature paving is marked on the dollhouse shop frontage base and a test fit of the shop front is used to make sure the template position is correct before proceeding with applying glue for air dry clay. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    To prepare your base to hold the air dry clay layer that will form your cobblestone pavement, start by marking the template edges on the base.  To make firm pavement layers the base of your model should be made of wood (preferably plywood or mdf), high density insulation board or gatorboard / gator foam

    When you have finished tracing the template edges, check the face any structures that meet against the pavement to make sure your template is correct. In the case of the miniature storefront the front is attached to the back of the box with magnets, so the fit of this against the pavement template was checked before proceeding to the next step.

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  • 09 of 14

    Applying a Glue Layer to Hold Air Dry Clay

    Applying a layer of glue to a dollhouse shop frontage which will be 'paved' with air dry clay.
    A thin layer of white (pva) glue is spread over the wooden base where the air dry clay cobblestones will be positioned. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd
    To hold air dry clay pavements securely to the structure of your model base you need to spread a thin layer of carpenters glue or PVA glue (white glue) to the base. Use your glue applicator / bottle to make a snaking line of glue across the area which will have cobblestone pavers, and then spread the glue to the edges of your template markings using a glue spreader or a scrap of plastic. You will need to work fairly quickly in order to get to the step of applying the air dry clay to the base before the glue sets.
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  • 10 of 14

    Fit the Air Dry Clay to the Model Base

    Flipping a reversed section of air dry clay onto a dollhouse shop frontage for cobblestone paving
    With the air dry clay cut out to the reversed template pattern for the cobblestone paving, the sheet of clay can be picked up on the paper, reversed, and set down paper side up to line up with the template markings for the dollhouse shop front paving. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Once your base has glue applied to match your template, pick up your air dry clay on its paper or plastic and carefully flip it over onto the glued area, lining up the edges of the clay piece with the template markings. The clay will cling to the base plastic or paper while it is wet helping to give you some control while you place it beginning at the edge which will be up against a building wall, then gently rolling it off onto the glued area of your model base.

    When you have the clay in place, press it down gently into the glue using your roller to brayer the clay onto the glue. Try not to thin out your clay layer as you roll it.

    Don't worry if your clay layer overlaps your edges slightly they will be trimmed off later.

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  • 11 of 14

    Testing the Fit of The Air Dry Clay Model Pavement Layer

    Dollhouse shop with a layer of air dry clay glued in place, ready to be turned into cobblestones
    The layer of air dry clay it test fitted against the removable dollhouse shop front in preparation for shaping it into a fan pattern of cobblestone pavers. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Test any edges that fit against moveable walls by inserting the wall, trimming the clay layer if necessary. Make sure that doors will open against the thickness of the clay layer. It will shrink slightly as it dries and can be sanded if necessary, but large errors in thickness are easier to repair while the clay is damp and pliable.

    If you must leave your work at this stage don't despair. You can place a layer of damp paper towel or a wet rag over your air dry clay and cover it with a layer of plastic or cling film to prevent the clay from drying out until you can shape it. Air dry clay will stay damp for several days if you check on the dampness of your paper towels occasionally.  Avoid this as possible as you may also inadvertently dampen your support layer which can cause problems if it is unsealed mdf. 

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  • 12 of 14

    Transfer the Pavement Template Markings

    Transferring the paver fan markings from a dollhouse template to a uniform layer of air dry clay.
    The fan template is laid over the air dry clay and the fan outlines traced to set the main lines of the dollhouse paving setts. Once the template is removed, the pattern lines for the fans are in place. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Set your pavement template showing the paver layout on top of the air dry clay layer you have gently glued down. While the air dry clay is still pliable, use an embossing tool or ballpoint pen / rounded toothpick or skewer stick to trace over the outlines of your main pavement pattern, in this case the fan lines on the template.

    Make sure you trace every main pattern outline for your layout without pressing too hard on the clay.

    Remove your paper template from the clay and use your embossing tool to gently remark the lines so they are clear. Do not press the lines down as far as the base layer. Only make the marks deep enough to see clearly.

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  • 13 of 14

    Begin Stamping the Miniature Cobblestone Pattern Into the Air Dry Clay

    Stamping fan patterns of cobblestones into air dry clay at the front of a dollhouse scale shop.
    The cobblestone fan patterns for the dollhouse shop are stamped into a layer of air dry clay with a custom 'cutter' made in the shape of a quarter inch square. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    To start stamping the cobblestone pattern into your air dry clay layer begin with the fan edge which will be against a building and work back.  Each fan should be stamped across the top first, rolling the stamp slightly between markings to angle the blocks evenly across the top fo the fan as shown. Don't panic if your spacing is off. Use your roller or fingers to brush out the cobble marks and start again, adjusting your spacing closer or further apart if necessary. As all your fans should be the same size (and you did practise with a stamp didn't you?) you should easily get the spacing down pat.

    Once you have the top line of cobbles set, do the sides of each fan, then work lines across the fan from side to side matching the side cobble lines to the line across the fan. Don't worry if there is the odd gap. Real pavements are not perfectly regular. 

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  • 14 of 14

    Trim The Edges of the Cobblestone Pavements

    Trimming a layer of fan paving at the front of a dollhouse scale shop
    With all the cobblestones marked in the fan layout, the excess air dry clay on the front and sides of the paving area is trimmed back to the edges. Photo © 2014 Lesley Shepherd

    Once you have all your fan patterns stamped into your clay you may want to re outline the outer edges of the fans with an embossing tool to accent the shape.

    Check that the clay still meets the established edges of the template, especially against any building walls.

    Use a polymer clay blade or craft knife to trim the clay layer along the outside edges of the base.  Check the door swings and the fit of the clay against any walls pressing it gently if necessary to make a tight fit.

    Set the pavement aside to dry.  When the pavement is thoroughly dry, fill any cracks which occurred, or fill any areas where the air dry clay layer has shrunk away from the edges of your base. Sand the edges of the dry pavement layer if necessary in preparation for any finished wood edges or trim you may wish to use to finish the model.

    To Color the Finished Pavements

    Finish your dried air dry clay with fine sandpaper or by 'burnishing' the clay with a damp sponge or cloth. Allow it to dry completely.  If you did not add color to your air dry clay to make the 'grout' color, apply a wash of the color you choose to have between your pavers taking care to work the color down to the base of all the lines between the pavers.  Allow to dry. Traditional cobblestone pavers can have light or dark sand between them so choose the color that works best with your display.

    Apply washes of your chosen paving stone color to the entire pavement using a dry brush technique to avoid adding color into the "grout" lines between pavers.   See the tutorial on making miniature "stone" steps to view this painting process. Pavers come in a wide range of colors so work out a scheme that will suit your model.  Finally run a light wash of your "grout" color over the area between your pavers to define the spaces.  Leave to dry

    Sealing Your Miniature Pavement Against Moisture

    The acrylic paint covering is usually enough to seal the air dry clay against moisture, but if you wish, use a clear acrylic spray or brush on matte varnish to seal the cobbled pavement against moisture.