If In Doubt, Do A Test Piece

When I’m unsure how to do something I make a small test piece to try different techniques. I want to make the paving in the yard of Thomas and Sons from clay… but I haven’t used clay since I was at school (!) A test piece seemed a good idea….

The test piece was made from scrap pieces of plywood and track. The sleepers and area under the track were painted black and the rails painted rust colour.

The clay needs to be about the same height as the tops of the rails. A length of metal tube was used to roll out the clay. I made the clay the right thickness by resting the tube on two pieces of track.

To bond the clay to the plywood I used a layer of PVA glue (white glue).

The clay was applied on top and pressed into place.

To allow the track to be cleaned the clay next to the track should be below the height of the rails. I used a steel ruler to press down on the clay until it was at the right level.

The sett cutting tool I made on the 3D printer was used to create the pattern in the clay. It was quite easy to do, the tool was pushed into the clay with a gentle pressure. To create a neat effect it’s important to push evenly along the whole length of the tool, and the spacing between the rows needs to be consistent. I didn’t always get this right, but I think it’s pretty good for a first attempt.

One thing that did surprise me was how quickly the clay dried, a few hours later it had set hard.

I’m very encouraged with this first attempt and I’ve learnt a lot from making this small test piece.

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