Recently, I saw a video (on Youtube, I assume, but forget) of some folks using sand, cement and templates to create a false impression of a stone driveway. About the same time I saw someone using a similar technique to create a false brick wall. So I experimented along those lines. I cut myself some test templates, mixed up some filler, and daubed it on some scrap bits of foamcard. Then I carefully secured the templates on the filler, and gently sprinkled sand on them. It fell only in between the plastic bars of the grating, so when I removed the template, I was left with something quite attractive.
However, it was imperfect. Despite trying to secure the sand with a PVA-water coating, it would not stick securely enough to resist even nominal handling. Then earlier on I was thinking of making some more sandbag barricades, and drew out my terracotta Das clay. A lightbulb went on in my head. I used a bit of plastic pipe as a rolling pin, applied the template as before, and bam! I scrunched up some tinfoil to apply a bit of texture to the "bricks", and carefully removed the template. Then I gently pressed away the sharpest raised areas created when the template was removed. I did this over the course of less than a minute, and the "wall" did try to come away. It would probably be fine to leave it to set for a few minutes somewhere warm before removing the template again.
In my test piece I applied quite a thick piece of clay. So in future I shall either roll it thinner or do what I mean to do as part two of my test. I am going to mix up some thin thinner and some paint, and apply it between the "bricks" to duplicate the appearance of mortar. Keep your eyes open for that in a future blog.