Paper Mache Recipes, Tips, Techniques, and Experiments

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.

You may also like:

How I painted the Unicorn.Unicorn Pattern
Hyena Mask PatternHyena Mask Pattern
Life Sized Paper Mache Baby ElephantLife-Sized Baby Elephant


  • Hi Jonni, I just discovered your website, it’s awesome. 🙂
    I have a questione : if the clay can be used only as a thin layer over an armature, how about subject that requires “no armature” (as flower petals for example?)

    Thank you so much

    • Here in the USA the drywall joint compound is a gypsum product that comes in a plastic tub, and it’s used to seal up the seam between two sheets of plaster board (drywall) that cover the wood studs on a wall. This product is not available everywhere, because houses are built with other materials in different countries. You can usually find a gallon container in a paint store or DIY center, if it’s available.

  • Hi! Has it got to be cornstarch? Does potato starch function as well? I haven’t found any corn starch in my local shop, but potato starch I have at home…

    • I can’t buy potato starch at my local store so I can’t test it. However, I can’t see why it wouldn’t work, as long as the potato starch is really fine and powdery, not flakes. It may not be as absorbent, but it could even work better. Since you already have some on hand, give it a try.

      • Hi, thank you for your quick reply! I will try, and if it works I’ll post it here. I love your works and your sharing of expertise.

  • Hi Jonni,
    first of all you really do amazing stuff, congratulations! I just bought your book on masks because I will need to do several masks inspired to the Greek tragedy. The masks will be used as decoration for a benefit event inspired to Greece and my idea would be to do two masks (tragedy and comedy) and one others inspired to satires, gods and the like. I am planning on using some plastic molds as an armature for the mask. I wanted to ask you if you believe your paper mache recipe or the air clay one would be best for this project. I saw that in your book you seem to never use the air clay for the masks but I am afraid the paper mach would not be easy to use in order to make details like curls for the hair and/or grapes on their head like I am planning to. What do you advise to do? Thanks and, again, amazing job!

    • Hi Monica. I don’t normally use the pm clay for the main body of a mask that’s intended to be worn, because it dries so hard and isn’t very comfortable. But for a display mask, it would work just fine. The air dry clay recipe on this page is smoother than the original recipe, but it has less paper so it’s not quite as strong. Some people use this recipe as a second layer, over the original recipe, so they can have the best qualities of both versions. Others like to make the main shapes with paper strips and paste, just so they have a base, and then they add the air dry clay for details.

      Just to complicate things by giving you another option, you can use a few layers of plaster cloth for that basic shape, (in place of the paper strips and paste), and use your pm clay on top of that. The plaster cloth hardens really fast, and you can start applying your details even before the plaster cloth is fully dry. This would make a heavier mask, and it wouldn’t be a great idea for one you wear, but it does speed up the making of a display mask.

      I hope you’ll let us see your masks when they’re done. This sounds like a really fun project.

    • Hi Monica, if I could step in for a second, I made similar masks that you are describing, not to be worn but to be displayed. I used the plastic form twice with regular paper mache first (the newspaper strips and flour and water combo.) Then I could cut the masks so that one would smile and the other would frown. After that was done, I used Jonni’s smooth air dry clay over the initial layer, added detail, etc. It worked really well.
      By the way, I entered it into an art show and it did sell for $375. I had finished it with a metallic coating- iron coating with a patina. It looked kind of rusty iron when finished. a fun project. I wish you much luck with yours. When you are done, please make sure you post a picture on the daily sculptors page. We love seeing other’s work.

      • Eileen,
        Do you have any picture of your finished product by any chance? I just made a first attempt using only a plastic mask as a base, before reading both Jonni’s and your expert advice to have a papier mache mold underneath, and learned quickly why I should have followed that step. Oh well! I attach a picture of my first try; trial and error!

        • oops – I’ll jump in here, Monica, because the image you tried to upload didn’t come through. I hope you’ll edit the image to make it smaller, and try again. I know Eileen (and the rest of the crowd) would love to see your mask.

            • As you can see from the image above I still have a lot to learn and wanted to thank you for all the input and advice; it’s such a fun project that I would spend all day long working at it and making it better if such an annoying detail like having to work for a living did not get in the way of it!

            • It does work. The character in your mask’s face is quite compelling – it almost begs me to start telling a story that would explain how he feels.

        • I am sorry, I did not get an email that you had responded and just saw your response. I do have a pic and I think I did post it a while back but I will post it again. I like your mask, you can be as critical as you like but I think it is fun and definitely worth finishing…he needs his partner done as well!

          • Actually, I just noticed that this is not the one I sold at the art show but it was very similar, though I placed it on a wood background to hang on the wall. You get the idea though.

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