How to Make a Miniature Bridge with Pal Tiya

A few weeks ago I asked Kim Beaton, the sculptor who invented the Pal Tiya sculpting product, if she would show us how to make a small sculpture with the 8 pound package of her product, and also tell us what makes her Pal Tiya product so special, and why it’s worth the cost. She’s been extremely busy lately with all the work involved with bringing the product to the US, but she took the time from her busy schedule to write a guest post for the blog. The miniature bridge she made for us would look lovely in any garden, and it only weighs 3 pounds. Thanks, Kim!

©2017 Kim Beaton

What Makes Pal Tiya a Great Sculpting Material?

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk about Pal Tiya. Pal Tiya is more than just another cement based product.  It was designed as an elegant sculpting material that also uses Portland cement. The other ingredients, in combination, give it all the other properties that sculptors need:

  • Strength and shatter resistance.
  • Particularly smooth clay like consistency.
  • Proof against weather and freeze/thaw.
  • Ease of use when it comes to mixing.
  • A proper working time was “dialed” into the mix to both sculpt and begin curing. Neither too soon or too long.
  • The ability for thin fabric like sheets. Pal Tiya can be sculpted 1/4 of an inch thick, cure and support a person standing on it. A life sized figure can be made without the need for chicken wire.

Pal Tiya does more across-the-board sculpting gymnastics than any ordinary mortar can. It took 14 months to come up with a material that could do all that and still be a pleasure to work with.

As for expense, comparing us to ordinary mortar is like comparing your college dorm room to a three bedroom house. They both get the job done, but one is designed to be so much more. Pal Tiya is similar in cost to Plasticine clay, but with the added benefit our material is permanent outdoors. Plasticine can’t. The analogy here is the difference between a three bedroom house and a pup tent.

Pal Tiya also shares something in common with the Papermache industry, in fact, it was your industry that invented it. The use of a foil core. This revolutionary concept needs special applause. It is simple, easy, cheap, non-toxic and capable of genuine elegance. Pal Tiya was designed to work together with this remarkable method to make permanent pieces.

How to Make a Miniature Bridge with Pal Tiya

Here is a lovely simple sculpture for those beginners out there, a small magical bridge for your garden. We’ll be using cardboard, hot glue, tinfoil and the sculpting material Pal Tiya to make something permanent for the outdoors.  Our sculpting tools are a chip brush and a small dental tool.

Step 1) To begin, find some photographic inspiration and print it out. Google is your friend!!

Photo Inspiration for Miniature Bridge
Photo Inspiration for Miniature Bridge

Step 2) Make a mock up of a small bridge using cardboard fitted together with hot glue. We chose a design with an interesting flared entry for fun. Once we had a strong, stiff cardboard bridge, we hot glued crumpled foil sheets onto the entire surface. This protects the cardboard from the moisture in the Pal Tiya, and gives the sculpting material something to grip to on vertical surfaces.

Cardboard and Foil Armature for the Miniature Bridge
Cardboard and Foil Armature for the Miniature Bridge

Step 3) Mix a handful sized amount of Pal Tiya with water to a dough like consistency. It takes a minute or so to get a creamy clay like feel. (Note, always use gloves!) For an instructional video of this process check out this Youtube video.

Mixing Pal Tiya
Mixing Pal Tiya

Step 4) Apply the Pal Tiya over the foil to a thickness of 3/16 to 1/4 inch. Cover about two hand spans of area at first. It is easy to start and finish an area of this size within the two hour working time.

Applying Pal Tiya to the armature.
Applying Pal Tiya to the armature.

Step 5) Smooth the surface with your hands. Then begin drawing the placement of stones. Keep it irregular and refer back to your photographic inspiration often.

Sketching Details in Pal Tiya
Sketching Details in Pal Tiya

Step 6) Continue to draw in and fill the entire soft area with stones. Yes, the fibers will blur a bit at this stage. You can see the small dental tool we used to draw with.

Step 7) Take the time to deepen these drawn lines. It may take going over them several times to get the right depth between the stones. The Pal Tiya will be firming up slowly. Pouncing occasionally with a cheap chip brush will push the fibers down.

Step 8) Keep going. The pouncing of the fibers will also round out your stones. Re-etch the details as needed.

Pal Tiya Fibers Pounced Down
Pal Tiya Fibers Pounced Down

Step 9) Repeat on the other side of the bridge as the first side cures. Both sides will bond together easily if done on the same day.

If you run out of time, the second half can be done the following day. Just make sure that you rough up the seam area to give a good key for the next day’s batch to stick to.

Finish all the surfaces that can been seen with stones. Let this cure at least overnight before going onto painting.

Step 10) Not pictured:  When your sculpture is finished (or when not working on the piece) wrap in plastic with a damp cloth for a few days to cure hard.

Step 11) Wait at least a day to begin painting. Use acrylic paints directly on the surface, there is no need to prime first. Treat the surface as if you were using water colors by applying many thin washes. Layer up several different color stones, in our case, yellow, green and grey. Here is a good Youtube tutorial on how to make similar beautiful stone coloring.

Beginning to Paint the Pal Tiya Bridge

Step 12) Add some final touches of moss with a yellow/green and a blue/green brush. Dab on with a small brush.

Adding Moss to Bridge Sculpture

Step 13) Take your sculpture outside and admire your sculpture in your garden! Pal Tiya can be sealed after it has cured for a month, but it can go outdoors until then. Just make sure it dries for a day indoors before sealing. We use the same sealants that are applied on concrete driveways.

The Pal Tiya Bridge, Finished
The Pal Tiya Bridge, Finished

Kim Beaton


4 thoughts on “How to Make a Miniature Bridge with Pal Tiya”

  1. I, too, would love to try this product. I live in Italy, so I hope that sooner or later I will be able to order it. I hope shipping costs won’t make it prohibitive….

  2. I cant wait to try Pal Tiya! You have altered your ship date to sometime in April, does that still stand true? Thanks for your tutorial on the bridge.

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