Introduction: Miniature Clay Roof Tiles (Spanish Tiles) - Scale 1:12

About: Miniature artisan member of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans and member/teacher at the Mexican Miniatures Association. I have plenty of experience handmaking arts and crafts in miniature and life …

This tutorial explains how the traditional spanish roof tiles in a scale 1:12 are created. I've listed the materials required and a few examples of where and how these tiles are used. Just to be clear, this tutorial will help you create spanish roof tiles that can be used on a miniature doll house with a scale 1:12. (We won't be creating real life size roof tiles!)

Step 1: List of Materials Needed

You can find the pictures of the materials used in this step, but I'll list them below as a checklist to help you guys out:

1. Sandpaper 220 grit

2. Cutter and X-acto knife

3. 12" metal ruler

4. 2 wooden sheets (12" x 6")

5. Plastic sheet (sheet protectors used in binders will work. Kitchen plastic wrapper is too soft, so it won't work)

6. Plastic or wood rolling pin, found in any crafts store

7. Modeling terracotta clay (air-hardened, not oven-hardened)

8. 4 or 5 Smoothie straw or thick silicon bars (these will be glued to the wooden sheets, so the amount of sticks or straws depend on the size of the wooden sheets)

9. UHU glue, or similar (don't use water based glue)

10. Small ziplock bag (keeps the unused clay from drying out)

11. Optional: Wooden stick used to roll sand paper

Step 2: Building the Drying Rack

Glue the sticks or straws to one of the wooden sheets leaving about 3/8" of an inch between each stick or straw, depending on the size of the tiles you'd like to make. This size of wooden sheet fits about 4 sticks, and each stick helps you make about 6 or 7 tiles. This type of tool is known as a drying rack.

We began with this step, because you need to let the glue dry up, before using the rack.

Step 3: Kneading the Clay

Place the plastic sheet over the remaining wooden sheet to prevent the clay from sticking on the wood.

Now cut a piece of clay and, using the rolling pin, knead the clay until the thickness is about 1/16" of an inch (approx. 2mm). Place the remaining terracotta block inside a ziplock bag to keep the clay moist.

*If you are using a sheet protector, cut the side that fits the binder so that you end up with two plastic sheets (sort of like an open book).

Pro tip: Always cover the clay with a plastic sheet to keep it from drying up!

Step 4: Making the Tile Mold

You'll need to create a tile mold out of cardboard using the measurements of a life size tile divided by 12 (since this is the scale we are using). You can refer to the chart attached.

Life size tile measurements:

- Height: 17.5" (44.5cm)

- Narrow part of the tile (TOP): 6.5" (16.5cm)

- Wide part of the tile (BOTTOM): 8" (20cm)

Miniature tile mold measurements:

- Height: 1.46" (3.71cm)

- Top: 0.54" (1.38cm)

- Bottom: 0.66" (1.67cm)

Step 5: Cutting the Tiles

Using the ruler and the x-acto knife, cut the excess clay on the borders to even out the flattened clay.

Place the tile mold horizontally on the clay and cut the first strip. Proceed to cut additional strips out of the remaining clay.

*If the last strip of clay turns out to be a bit shorter, don't worry! We'll use it to create shorter tiles that are usually used at the top of the roof.

Once the strips are made, place the mold on the first strip and mark its borders on the clay. To avoid waisting material, flip over the mold to match the border of the initial tile and continue marking and flipping to create a series of flattened tiles. Repeat this step on the other strips.

Step 6: Giving Shape

Now we'll go ahead and give the tiles their usual curvy shape.

Separate the clay strips and since we'll be working with one strip, cover up the remaing strips to keep the moisture.

Separate each clay tile and give it the initial form using your finger. Then place each preformed tile over a stick on the drying rack.

Repeat until you've used up all the clay tiles.

Leave them to dry for about 24 hours, or under the sun for about 12 hours.

Step 7: Sanding

We'll begin by making a sanding block and the sanding stick.

The sanding block is any wooden piece, regardless of its measurement, that will be used to support the sandpaper. To make it, simply cut a piece of sandpaper that matches the size of the block and glue it to the wooden surface.

The sanding stick is made by cutting another piece of sandpaper and rolling it over the cocktail wooden stick. To keep the sandpaper from moving, place a small amount of glue on one end before rolling it over the stick.

Now that the tiles are completely dry, use the sanding block to even out all the edges of the tile. Use the sanding stick on the inner side of the tile to remove any rough patches or thin up the tile.

Step 8: Arranging Tiles

The usual way to build a spanish tile roof is to first place a layer of tiles bottom side up starting from top to bottom. First begin by gluing a row of tiles to cover up the upper most part of any surface you are working on (preferably a roof). Now slightly overlap the next row to get approximately 3/8 of this row over the previous row of tiles. Do this over and over until you've covered the entire roof's surface.

*You might need to sand a little bit each tile to fit the overlapping tile (use the sanding stick).

Now that we've completed the lower layer, we'll proceed to build the upper layer, starting from bottom to top.

Begin with the lower row of tiles and glue a new tile over the joint formed between each column of tiles. Repeat this process to cover the whole lower section of the roof. Now proceed to glue a new layer slightly overlapping it on the previous layer, similar to what was done with the bottom side up tiles.

Once this upper layer is finished, the roof is now ready. We'll use any remaining tiles (preferably shorter ones) to cover up the top row.

*Please consult the image for this step, as it might be quite confusing to only read the instructions.

Pro tip: This is how real roof tiles are built to prevent humidity and moisture from damaging the roof base. When building miniatures, we can go ahead and just build the upper layer, since no rain will be falling on our houses. :)

Step 9: Quick Recap

Review the image to check a quick step-by-step on how to make the roof tiles.

On future tutorials, we'll learn how to make more terracotta pieces such as flooring, wall tiles, flower pots and bases for miniature application. On the final tutorial we will learn how to age all these pieces and give them a weathered appearance.