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New Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Better Measurements


I wanted to standardize the new air-dry clay recipe, so it will come out exactly the same every time. To do that, I measured the ingredients, and took special care to weigh the toilet paper after the water was squeezed out.

The toilet paper can be squeezed too dry, and if that happens you end up with lumps in your clay. The only way to know for sure that you’re squeezing it exactly the same amount every single time is to use a scale. I know that most people in Europe use a scale in their kitchen, but you may not have one if you live in the States – unless you’re into baking great bread. If you don’t have a scale, you might still want to watch the video to see how the paper looks before it’s mixed in with the other ingredients.

Note: This clay is intended to be used as a thin layer over an armature, like regular paper mache. It won’t dry all the way through if you use it as a solid mass, like ‘real’ clay. Also, there are some tricks to using it. Be sure to watch this video to see how it’s done.

The air-dry clay recipe, with both cups and gram measurements:

First, mix together –
1/2 cup toilet paper (24 grams dry, 110 grams wet)
1/2 cup Joint Compound (200 grams)
1/2 cup Elmer’s glue (130 grams)
1/2 cup corn starch (70 grams)
3 tablespoons mineral oil (baby oil)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (70 grams) to start

Then, add up to 3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour and mix.

829 comments

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  • Jonni! sugar!!!! you are an angel! tnks for all your hard work and kindness! I have made your paper clay recipe and fall in love with it! here in mexico is a little hard to finde some of the more fancy art clays and supplies… but your paper clay works fantastic!!!! I hope i can share some pics when i’m finish!!!! đŸ˜‰

    All my love from Mexico city

    Mae

  • Hi! Thank you for this tutorial, this is great. I’m looking to start building a sculpture out of chicken wire that’s about 24″ x 36″ – do you recommend covering it with masking tape or another material before I apply your recipe above? I want to make sure the piece is as sturdy and smooth as possible. Thank you for your help! Sarah

    • Hi Sarah. You will need to cover the wire with something, because the air dry clay will just fall through the holes, otherwise. The strongest way to use the air dry clay is to cover the wire with two or three layers of plaster cloth, and then add a thin layer of the air dry clay to smooth it out and add your fine details. You can use it over masking tape, too, but with your hollow sculpture, there won’t be any support on the inside, so it could be more prone to cracking when the sculpture is moved.

  • Thank you for the recipe for paper mache. I am a pottery artist and so many times my grandchildren want to make sculptures in clay…..rather then the steps they have to take for clay ones they can now have paper mache pieces that eliminates firing the pieces.

    I’m enjoying your site and will pass it on to others with like interests.
    Have you tried the faster drying compounds….I think it’s 60 minutes and joint compounds do come in smaller buckets for touch up repairs.

    • Hi Carrie. I have not tried the fast-setting joint compounds, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t work. They contain some plaster of Paris, I think, and I often use a paste made with the plaster mixed with Elmer’s glue. It dries really hard, but it does set up quickly. Have you tried using the powdered joint compound? If you have, I’d really like to know what you think of it.

  • Hello Jonni !
    Thank you for your answer ! But how can I dry the past when the air is wet ? when it’s rain for exemple ?
    I would like to reproduce the mouldings of an old framework. is what I must roast it ?

    • The fastest way to dry the air dry clay is to put it in front of a fan. It’s not intended to be used alone, but should be used as a thin layer over an armature.

  • Hello Jonni !
    I’m french, so, i’m sorry for mistakes !
    Thank you very much for your explications to make the paper clay !
    Can you tell me if it possible that the paper clay become mouldy ?
    have a good day !
    Delphine

    • Hi Delphine. Yes, the paper mache clay and the air dry clay can attract mold while it’s still wet. If you make more than you can use in one day, keep it tightly covered, and stick it in the refrigerator. Once you’ve applied it to your armature, make sure it dries quickly, all the way through. The key to preventing mold is to dry the clay fast, and then seal it so moisture can’t be absorbed from the air.
      Enjoy!

  • Hello Jonni,
    first of all, a great thanks to you for all your passion, your personal investment and sharing.
    I’ve just ried this recipe and it worked very well, btw in France the name for joint compound is “ENDUIT DE LISSAGE, en pĂ¢te”.

    –May you can help me with another problem, I try to do a plinth (a base) for my armature in wire, I wanted to do it myself, so I thought using plaster (this way I can chose the form and the thickness) but the wire in contact with plaster starts to rust in the first hours.
    –Another solution may be using some air dry clay like fimo (I did not try it yet) and if so, will it be strong enought to support the aramture (35 cm)
    –Or pieces of wood, but I have to buy them,

    What do you think?

    Thank you for reading me, and once again “BRAVO”!!!!

    • Hi Yasmina. Thanks for the tip on the name for drywall joint compound in France. That will be really helpful.

      As for your plinth, is the shape made with the chicken wire, and then you’re adding the plaster directly to the wire? If so, could you cover the wire shape you’ve made with masking tape to separate it from the plaster, and then reinforce the plaster itself with a plastic mesh? Here in the US we can find rolls of deer or bird fencing at the hardware store. And some onion bags are also made with plastic mesh. I’ve read that this is what some people in Mexico use for reinforcing for small concrete items, so it should work for plaster, too.

      An alternative would be to cover the wire with the masking tape and then add a layer of your paper mache clay. It’s very strong, and should easily hold up a small sculpture.

      Another alternative would be to choose a mold for your plinth, perhaps a box or carton that has an interesting shape, and pour the plaster into it. If your sculpture is only 35 cm high, and the plaster is solid, it shouldn’t need to be reinforced.

      I don’t have any experience with the Fimo, so I can’t say how strong it is, or how well it would work for this project.

  • Been lurking here for a while, reading and learning. Have you heard of anyone using your recipe to make beads? Do you think the air dry clay or the original clay recipe would work better for that. I’ve done lots of different types of paper beads and got to thinking that paper mache might work with an Amaco bead roller – one that you use to roll out polymer clay beads. (picture attached) What do you think?

    • Hi Bev. I’ve never tried it, but it looks possible. The air dry clay recipe is the smoothest, and would probably make the best beads if it doesn’t stick to the roller. If you try it, please let us know if it works or not.

  • Hello Jonni,

    for years I have wanted to make a manger like my great aunt had when I was a little girl. I am sure she must have made it herself, because there was nothing like anywhere.
    I am going to make it so that it looks like a cave or half moon shape if you will. Nothing’s g fancy. I am going to use chicken wire for the base. Do you think a homemade plaster recipe will work for the medium? Or should I paper mache it? I am sure my aunt had a heavy plaster one though. What would you use? I am a amateur artist and very limited in skills, but determined. Please share any thoughts you might have for me.

    Love your work Jonnie!
    Thanks so much,
    Mary

  • Hi Jonni,
    Just Subscribed, your pieces are Amazing! I’ve really enjoyed checking out some of your videos on Pinterest. So I’ve decided I’d like to try my hand at paper mache & I’ve noticed that you have several recipes for your clay, is the one above 4/27/13 your latest & your favorite recipe to use now? Also can you tell me if the proform premixed all purpose joint compound is available any where in a size thats not so Gigantic? Seems like everywhere I’ve checked online (Home Depot, Lowes…) only carry it in like a 50 lb. I was hoping to get it in something much smaller. Any thoughts from you or any one would be very appreciated.
    Sincerely
    Lynn

    • Hi Lynn. The recipe on this page is great for some projects, although it’s slower to apply than the original recipe, and I’m not sure if it’s as strong. I’ve never actually tested it, though, so it might be. My rhino was made 3 years ago, and there’s not a chip on it. I use the smoother air-dry clay when I want finer details and a smoother surface. It takes longer because it isn’t as sticky, and you can spread it on with a knife, like the original paper mache clay. You can watch me applying the air dry clay to a sculpture for the first time on my rhino. I love the texture I was able to get on that one – it’s still one of my favorites.

      • Jonni,
        Thank you so much for your response, so if I’m understanding you correctly I would use your Paper Mache Clay Update Recipe for anything that doesn’t have too much detail work & your DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with better measurements for pieces that are more detailed? Did I understand you correctly?

        Thanks again Jonni, Love your work!!! =)

        BTW, I’ve really been enjoying checking out all the Daily Sculptor pages, going back through them all, little by little. There’s just so many talented & creative people here with you, its all so Inspiring!

        • Yes, almost. The original paper mache clay for fast thin skins, the air dry clay for fine details. I have experimented with possible changes to the original paper mache clay, but after playing with them I never really thought they were great improvements. I always go back to the original recipe.

          And I agree – the work people have shared with us on the Daily Sculptors page (and on lots of other posts on the site) are a constant inspiration.

          • Jonni,
            Again Thank You so much for all of your help, its much appreciated! I think I’m going to try to make a Grinch for my mother for Christmas this year for up in her Grinch tree, her tree looked amazing last year & especially with the electric rotating tree stand I gave her, now you can see her whole tree as it slowly goes around. =) Shes very talented in everything she does, she has a knack for creating beautiful works of art.

            Just wondering if you’ve ever thought about adding a Like button like on Pinterest so people can quickly let others know that they like what they’ve created, also as a way that like on Pinterest people can re look at the things that they’ve clicked on the like button?

            • Hi Lynn. You have an interesting suggestion, and I like the idea of a ‘like’ button – but I’m not sure how to make it work. I do have the share buttons at the top of the pages, and the little Pinterest share thingy that pops up over every image. And once people save an image, the like button shows up above the image on the Pinterest site. But I think you’re talking about a button that would do something slightly different, or do the same thing but here on this site. I admit to being technically challenged when it comes to social media. Have you seen a site other than Pinterest with a like button? If you know of one, could you share a link to it so I can go see what programs they’re using to make it work?

  • I made your clay several months ago and don’t remember putting any cornstarch in it…it is QUITE sticky! I am using it to cover lightbulbs to make ornaments. I used a small palette knife dipped in water (to keep the clay from sticking to the knife) to smooth it…as you can see, I didn’t get it very smooth…after it dried, I sanded the heck out of it with 80 grit sandpaper and still couldn’t get the smooth finish I wanted…ended up adding a skim coat of plain drywall spackle to get it smooth enough. Is it too late to add any cornstarch to my mix to make it less sticky so I can get a smoother finish? If it is too late, what can you suggest.
    Thanks
    Carolivy

    • Hi Carol. It sounds like you used the original paper mache clay recipe, which has more paper and no corn starch. If you have some of your pm clay left, you can certainly add more of any ingredient, including the corn starch, to keep it from being sticky. The original pm clay is sticky on purpose – it makes the pm clay hold on to the armatures better. However, for your purposes, the air dry clay on this page might be a better choice. Just remember that it may crack when it dries, because it’s water-based, and it will shrink a little.

      I’d start by adding a few spoonfulls of the drywall joint compound and a spoonful of the glue to your remaining pm clay, and then start mixing in corn starch until you get the consistency you want. You might need to brush some watered-down glue over your dried paper mache to get the new air dry clay to stick to it.

      Good luck with it!

      • Thanks for confirming that! After reading your post, I went ahead and took a small portion of the clay I had left and added some cornstarch. Once I got it all worked it, it was much easier to work with! Got some drying right now on another lightbulb. So far, no shrinkage cracks….I’m not putting a very thick layer on, just enough to cover the lightbulb and give the paint something to cling to. I took a small portion of the stuff I already added cornstarch to and added a bit more to make something almost as stiff as modeling clay….gonna try working a beard and mustache out of it for the new lightbulb. Thanks for letting me know I might have to use glue on the dried portion to give the clay something to stick to. Might have got there in the end, but now I know to start there.

  • Thank you for the awesome recipe! The clay is a huge jump from flour paste and paper strips, and it’s actually fun to work with. It doesn’t make nearly as much mess either. One question though, do you think it would be possible to make the recipe without the cornstarch?

    • Yes, the original paper mache clay recipe doesn’t include corn starch, so this one will probably work without it, too. It will probably be stickier, but that should be OK – it would stick to your armature better. Give it a try, and let us know if you like it without the corn starch.

  • HI Jonni, I love your work and I just ordered your book from amazon uk. I work with adults with learning disabilities and in a few weeks time I will be supporting them to make paper mache animals using your recipes and techniques. I just am not sure if joint compound is toxic in any way, that is should we wear gloves whem mixing it up, or maybe I should mix it up. None of them put stuff in their mouths and my guys are quite good at following instructions, I just need to ensure I work safely with them.

    • Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for buying my book – I hope you get a lot of good out of it.

      The joint compound isn’t allowed in some school districts in the States, but I think it’s because you can’t sand it without wearing a mask. I normally use a mixer to mix it up, and apply it in thin layers with a knife, so I don’t bother to wear gloves. However, if your students want to apply the PM clay with their hands, like some of my other readers, you’ll want them to wear gloves. The calcium content of the joint compound can dry out the skin. You really don’t want anyone eating joint compound (or the glue or toilet paper either, for that matter), but I do caution parents of young children that the mixed up batch looks a lot like cookie dough, and they might sneak a taste while parents aren’t looking. I don’t think it would taste very good, and it doesn’t sound like that would be a problem with your class, anyway.

      If you check with your school administrator and they say you can’t use the joint compound, you can always go back to the paper strips and paste over armatures that were built with a pattern. It takes a little longer, but the patterns will still ensure that the sculptures come out nice, no matter what material you use for the skin.

      Have fun! And if your students would like to share their work when the pieces are finished, you’re more than welcome to post images in the comment area on my blog.

      • Yes, prolonged skin contact can dry out your hands. That’s also true when working with wet clay or Portland cement products. If you have sensitive hands, gloves are a good idea.

  • I have a paper mache dog I am making and it is
    covered with the masking tape. Can I use the smooth
    air dry clay recipe to cover the masking tape?
    I was going the use the paper clay recipe but
    I wanted to use the air dry clay recipe to get
    a smoother surface.

    • Hi Maggie. Yes, you can use the air dry clay recipe over your paper mache dog. You might want to watch this video to see the clay being applied to a sculpture. It isn’t as sticky as the original paper mache clay recipe, so there are a few tricks to making it work the way you want it to.

      Enjoy!

  • Hi Jonni, I have a question for you, I don’t know what Joint Compound is. I’m from Portugal, and I don’t know what is Joint Compound called in my country. Can you tell me if there is another thing that I can use instead?
    Sorry for any mistakes!
    Thanks a lot, love your work.

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