Paper Mache Recipes, Tips, Techniques, and Experiments

New Smoother Air-Dry Clay Recipe

Note: I recently uploaded a video showing a better way to measure your ingredients for the air-dry clay. You can see it here. And I recently published the book that I developed this recipe for – you can see it here. The orangutan didn’t make it into the book – but it shows you how to make lots of other very nice dolls, and it already has some great review on :)
I’ve been working hard this week, developing methods for making the baby animal dolls that will appear in my next book. One thing I worked on was making a new recipe for the dolls that could be made smoother than the original paper mache clay. I tried a number of different versions, and all but one ended up in the trash. This one, though, really does what I wanted it to do.In fact, if you first smooth it with your finger and the glue mix, like I show in the video, let it dry, and then very lightly sand it with a very fine sandpaper, it really is as smooth as porcelain. It’s still really hard, though, like the original paper mache clay, so sanding does take some effort. If you look real closely at the photo here of the muzzle on the baby ‘rang, you can see how smooth it is.I’m really liking this stuff – but I’m not sure what we should call it. It works very much like Activa paperclay (but lots cheaper, if you need more than one small batch). Let me know what you think. (The recipe is posted below the video).

Recipe for the new Air-Dry Clay:

1/2 cup wet toilet paper
1/2 cup Elmer’s glue (or any white PVA glue)
1/2 cup drywall joint compound (any brand except Dap)
1/2 cup corn starch
3 tablespoons mineral oil (baby oil)
1 cup all-purpose white flour, or as needed

Mixing instructions are in the video.

On a completely different note, my chimp has a new home. When I moved, the chimp and a few other large sculptures stayed with Pete and Dianne Havekost, my dad and his wife, so I wouldn’t have to pay to ship them to my new home. They recently found a new favorite restaurant in Bellingham that has a stuffed warthog head that reminded them of my chimp, so they asked if he could live there too. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, and you’re in the mood for some good home-style cooking, go say “hi” to the chimp at the HomeSkillet restaurant, 521 Kentucky Street, in Bellingham, WA.


About the author

Jonni Good

I'm a sculptor, author, gardener, and grandma. When I'm not catering to the needs of my obnoxious cat, I make videos, create stuff, and play around with paper mache. I'm also the author of several highly-rated books on paper mache. You'll find them in the sidebar, and on


  • Hello
    I haven’t tried your clay yet, but it seems exactly what I need. I searched through like hundreds of pages to find it! :)
    I’d really like to make some of your clay, but cornstarch is hard to find where I live. Can I use potato starch instead? If yes, do the measures stay the same?
    And I don’t know much about glues, but do you think I could use CR glue instead of PVA? I have a lot of CR, so I’d prefer to use it, not to buy another kind :)

    • Hi Ania. I’m afraid I haven’t tried potato starch, but it would probably work. And I don’t know what CR glue is. The chemical reaction between the PVA glue and the calcium carbonate in the joint compound is what causes the home-made clay to get so hard when it dries. The only way to see if the same thing happens with your glue is to do some experiments, and see what happens.

  • Hi Jonni,

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. It has been very helpful.

    I’m just having issues with molds growing on some of my finish products. What could have caused it? Any tips on preventing it? I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence but this only happened when I switched to a different brand of joint compound.

    Thanks in advance and God bless!

    • Hi Winter. Your pieces shouldn’t get moldy if they were totally dry before you painted them, and if you sealed them with a good varnish. did those things happen? The change in joint compound brands shouldn’t make any difference – I think I’ve used them all (except the DAP brand, which doesn’t seem to work) and I haven’t seen any mold growing on anything.

      In the future, you can add some salt to the mixture, or add a few drops of oil of clove. Then be sure to dry the piece as fast as possible, in front of a fan, if possible. Use thin layers of clay so there won’t be any moisture hiding way inside the sculpture when the outside feels dry. And seal it really well so moisture can’t get in from the air.

      I hope this helps. If you’re already doing these things and still having problems, let us know and we’ll try to unravel the mystery.

      • Thanks for the quick reply Jonni!

        I actually don’t paint the pieces but only seal them with a Mod Podge waterbase sealer. Is this okay or should I use a different sealer?

        • Hi Winter. I’m not familiar with the Mod Podge products, but I know their regular product is a form of white glue, and is not waterproof. They do have an acrylic sealer, though, that probably would be waterproof.

          I think my suggestion would be to use something other than what you’re using now, since you’re having problems with mold. I don’t live in a particularly humid area (sort of, being in Minnesota, but not as bad as Louisiana…) and I have never had any problems with mold growing on pieces sealed with acrylic varnish. To be honest, I sometimes skip the varnish (I shouldn’t, I know…) but if the piece is painted with acrylic paint, and I don’t forget and leave it down in a musty old basement, it doesn’t get mold.

          The Krylon clear coat spray product is easy to use, and one can seems to go a long way. If you use several coats, it seams to seal a sculpture well enough for indoor display. You can find some at almost any hardware store. Or try using some matte acrylic varnish from the art store. Do one test, and see if it helps.

  • Can this be carved? I am wondering because I want to make a halloween jack-o-lantern that I can carve a face on after it dries. If it’s too hard when dry can holes be carved out while it’s drying?

    • You can drill holes in it, but to carve it you would need to use really thick layers. And I don’t know if it would dry fast enough if used that way – it could get moldy before it dries. It will dry hard, but may chip or crack when you go to make the holes. I think it would be a good idea to make a small batch and play around with it, to see if it will do what you want it to do. If you do that, please let us know the results of your tests!

      • Thanks so much for your response! I found some tutorials regarding paper mache pumpkins on youtube that recommend the paper strip method first, followed by the pm clay for surface texture and details. I’m still going to experiment with carving the clay, just not on this experiment (Halloween is fast approaching!) I’ll let you know what I discover. thanks again.

  • Can this be used for an Essential Oil Diffuser? As in can you add a drop or two of Essential oils to this after it dries! I am wanting to make an Essential Oil Diffuser necklace for myself. Do you think this will work and stay together well?

    Thank you.

  • Just wanted to say thank you for this AMAZING recipe! I saved so much money by using this clay versus buying a life size horse head model to display my horse tack for sale. Looks store bought and I loved how smooth it looked and the amount of detail you can render with it!
    Thank you!

  • Hello! I had just a personal question and wanted some opinions on a project. Concerning paper mache clay, it’s not necessary to always fire the project after making it, right? I want to use rice flour instead of regular flour and I was wondering if you had any experience with rice flour. Would it be alright to just use rice instead of the regular all purpose flour? Also do you think that first layering a project with typical paper mache technique (glue and paper strips) first and then adding a clay top coating is alright or would it affect the quality? Would it be better to just use clay completely? In terms of time to dry, I’ve heard lots of opinions. However, does the clay dry faster than using traditional paper mache techniques?

    Thank you! Your blog is really helpful! Please reply soon if possible. I’m kinda tight on time.

    • I found the answer to my last question- paper mache clay is faster? Well, I also had another question. Do you recommend taking regular used computer paper and boiling it in water in place of the Toliet paper? It doesn’t really make a different how or what you use for the paper part, right?

  • Hello Jonni!

    I was wondering about not using Dap drywall joint compound? Seems all the stores near me only have Dap brands and I don’t want to waste money buying something that won’t work.

    Thank you so much for sharing and love your amazing work!

    • Hi Lisa. My experience with the DAP brand has been uneven – it used to work just fine, then I bought a tub and it turned my pm clay into little rubber balls. I bought a tub recently for a remodeling job (it’s great for what it’s actually made for!) and I tried it with a new batch of pm clay. The clay did stiffen up much faster than usual, and wasn’t as much fun to work with, but the rubbery weirdness didn’t happen. So – I don’t recommend the brand for these recipes. I think they use boron to prevent mold, which is good when using it on a wall. But it reacts with something in the Elmer’s glue. Since it does sometimes work, though, you might be able to get a tiny container of the DAP joint compound and test it. A dab of joint compound that is mixed with a small amount of glue should become slightly more liquid, or softer. If it gets harder or even rubbery, it won’t work.

      Our Walmart has joint compound in their paint department. It’s an off-brand, but it isn’t DAP, and it works just fine.

      • I have a couple of boxes of leftover plaster of Paris. Could one use that instead of flour in the mâché? I want to make platters worth the mix. Thank you. So enjoy your videos and art. Sherri

        • I don’t actually know that answer to your question, Sherri. It sounds like it might work, but I’ve never tried it. Your clay may harden sooner than you wanted it to – but maybe it won’t. Try a small test batch, to see what happens. And I’d really like to know what you learn, so keep us posted.

  • Hey There!
    Love your site, and your youtube channel!
    I to try the air dry clay with this current project I have, and I wanted to know if I should do a coat of the classic newspaper strip mache first. Or with the air dry clay stick directly to the masking tape with the glue “slip” mix?

    I want the end result to be super smooth so I can do a shiny powder coat on them.

    Thank you for all the inspiration!

    • Hi Derek. The air dry clay will probably stick to the masking tape – but for some reason I can’t remember ever trying it. Do a small test spot first, and see what happens. The air dry clay should keep OK in the refrigerator for several days while you experiment, if you keep it really well covered.

  • Hello, Johnny! Long has it been since you never dropped. Your recipe is made, but with other components. Push 1/2 cup wet toilet paper 1/2 cup Elmer”s glue (or any white PVA glue) 1/2 glue Bustilat (thick like pudding), 1/2 Cup of potato starch, 1 Cup of chalk (calcium carbonate). This mass is very small shrinkage, is not deformed and does not grow mouldy. Smooth out the bumps may water. If that is not clear, I can make a video. Pictures of glue and mass here

  • Thank you for this recipe!! It worked perfectly to make cat skulls for our zombie cat costumes! I used foam for the base and built up the clay from there. I even used it to make bone tails.

  • Hi Jonni,

    Your models are amazing and i love your site.
    I am from India and i consider myself lucky to have found your clay recipe online while doing my research on clay. Your air-dry clay recipe is an ultimate one. Easy to make, cheap and it hardens up rock solid. I loved the recipe so much that i started creating small models with them and am very soon going to sell them online. Thanks to you in a big way.
    I made a few models( small jewelry, fridge magnets ,paper weights,etc.) using your recipe. But i am facing a slight problem. Some of the models crack while they dry and loose the smooth finished look. Can you please suggest how to prevent that from happening. Also i want to know how to avoid the clay from smelling ( if it is kept for more than 2 days).
    I usually paint the dried project with acrylic colors. Is it fine if i apply varnish on these products to get a glossy look?
    Please suggest as to how i can make my finished product look more smoother and shiny.


    • Hi Lidwin. There are several reasons for cracking with the new air-dry clay. This can happen if a new piece of clay is added to a piece without firmly mixing it with an adjoining piece. When the two pieces dry, they may pull away from each other, creating a crack. Using the glue and water mixture where they meet can help a lot. The other problem comes with the shrinking of the clay as it dries. If the clay is too thick, the outside dries while the inside is still wet, and this causes a crack in the surface. Both issues can be corrected after the first layer dries by brushing with glue and water, and then pressing a very thin layer of the air dry clay over it.

      The mold issue is more difficult. Some people have very good luck with oil of clove. You can also soak the paper in water that contains a teaspoon of household bleach. The air-dry clay does go bad more quickly than the original paper mache clay recipe, probably because it contains more organic ingredients (flour and cornstarch) that mold likes to eat.

      Yes, you can certainly apply a gloss varnish when your paint is dry. I recommend that a varnish always be used to protect the paint finish.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I want to make clay for a classroom of 26 students who range from 4th-9th grade. I want to teach them some simple sculpting. Possibly some small animal sculptures or maybe some small vessels (vases or bowls). I have some questions. First, how much clay per student would you suggest? I am trying to determine how many students could make something from one batch of your recipe. And also, could the quantity needed be kept for a few days? I realize it will take me a while to make this amount and I am wondering what my time investment for preparing the clay might be? Also, from what I have read on your site, I am thinking the silky smooth air dry clay would be good, but wondered if you had another suggestion for this application?

    From other posts, it looks like you are really good at responding, so thanks in advance for the help!

    • Angie, I have always used this recipe, and the original paper mache clay recipe, as a thin layer over an armature. It sounds like you want to use the air-dry clay as a substitute for wet clay (pottery clay, modeling clay). I don’t know if it will work for that purpose. It may take a very long time to dry, and might crack. I would strongly recommend that you make up a small batch first and try it out at home to see if it will do what you want it to do.

      I can’t make a recommendation about the quantity of clay required, since I don’t know exactly how you intend to use it. You should be able to make that determination when you make your practice piece.

      The clay will last for a few days if it’s kept well covered. However, mold will eventually move in. I recommend using the bleach in the paper soaking water, or a few drops of oil of clove, to make it last longer.

      If you’ll be making bowls by using plastic bowls as a form, you might actually get better results with traditional paper strips and paste. The clay will shrink a bit when it dries, since it contains water, and that could cause cracking if you put it over a solid form. Be sure and test it to make sure it will work for you. I’d hate to have you try this out the very first time in front of 26 kids!

      Good luck with it!

      • Thank you, this is very helpful. I think I might try the old paper strips method over a bowl. I am thinking I need plastic wrap between the bowl and the paper mache in order to separate them. Maybe I will buy modeling clay for the animal shapes, do you have a recommendation of a brand to buy? I hear that some brands crack easily once dry.

    • try using foam insulation board, as thick as you can find, and using Elmer’s glue and tooth picks, to create animal bodies and legs. I have done this with kids many times. you can even use sticks forced into the foam for legs, and use plastic foam packing for bodies. this will serve as a strong and sturdy armature for paper mâché. I’ve found jonie’s blue shop paper towels with the plaster of Paris/ Elmer’s glue, makes a really great layer, which can be painted on. You don’t even need to make paper clay.

  • Jonni,
    I substituted white firing clay, no grog, for the flour called for in the air dry clay. After working with it, and it worked fine, I can tell you that it makes a strong finished project. It does however take a lot of glue/water mixture to help it bond onto itself. Once dry it is very tough to sand . I have to enlist the help of my Dremel to help me polish and sand down. I want to try marble dust next. If I can figure a way to lower the MB resolution I will post my finished little feet. Thank you again.

  • this may be a silly question, but several years ago i made a paper mache “thing” and after it sat on my shelf for a while, it got infested with weevils! so, i’ve been hesitant to use flour in my “recipe.” have you ever experienced that and is there something i can put in the mix to keep the weevils away?

    thank you,

    • Hi Ann. That is a new one. I’ve heard of mold, and mice, but never weevils. Does anyone have any ideas for Ann? (Someone did mention that you could substitute talk for the flour, but I haven’t tried it yet.)

      • Hi Jonni – re: the issue with weevils. I would think the addition at the mixing stage of Clove Essential Oil (just a few drops) would stop weevil infestation down the line. Bay leaves are used to discourage weevils in flour etc. so even Bay Leaf oil would work too, though I personally prefer the aroma of Clove oil. The Clove oil also discourages mould growth and is anti-bacterial. In fact, most essential oils are anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial, so conceivably one could use Lavender essential oil, or Eucalyptus, during the mixing stages if Clove oil wasn’t easily available. A few drops of essential aromatherapy oil in the gesso mix would be useful as well, and ensure the finished article remains relatively mould and insect free and smells great as well. The brands differ around the world, but when I say “aromatherapy essential oil” I’m talking about essential oils which are 100% strength, not the diluted in vegetable oil massage mixes (you’d need to use double amounts to get the same effect of the undiluted oils, but I’m still talking only drops, maybe 8-10 drops of the massage type oils into the mix rather than 4-6 drops of the 100% strength essential oils). As far as the amount to use goes, I’d go by smell rather than counting drops per se; if you can smell the Clove oil while kneading the mix, that’s how much to use next time. If you can’t smell it (and your nose works normally!) then add a few drops more next time; if you can’t smell it, its possible the weevils won’t be deterred either. But as with anything, don’t go overboard. :-) From experience as an aromatherapist, I’d reckon 6 drops per batch would be sufficient.

  • Thanks for all your feed back and experience . Have you ever used this air
    dry clay over porcelain ( fired ) heads . I’m also concerned with the danger
    of mineral oils now…. How can the sell these products , especially baby oil ?
    Could there be a correlation between this and autisms , or other cancers ?
    It’s bad enough all our foods have added dangers …… help ! We need to start
    giant small development gardens , three to four lots , that have never been used
    for cotton , or other crops sprayed for years with poison , or next to herds of
    animal waste ….scarry

  • Hello, Jonni. I have been follower of your videos on YouTube. My favorite was the cat paper mache you made. I plan to make a dragon paper mache. Thing is, our local hardware doesn’t sell joint compound. Would you suggest a replacement for that?

    Thank you.

    • I don’t know of any product that would replace the joint compound in this recipe, although you might find a paper pulp recipe on Google that would work for you. What country do you live in? Drywall joint compound is called different things in different countries, so your hardware store might sell it, but under a different name.

      • I am from the Philippines. I read from one of your posts on the names of drywall joint compound and found out that in India, it was called wall putty. I saw one at Ace Hardware near my place and decided to purchase a small container. Will try to use it this weekend. Hopefully, it will work. :)

  • Hi Jonni, thanks so much for all that advice and help. I’m going to make a huge pumpkin (at least 24 inches wide) to make a Cinderella Coach for my dog to pull in parades.

    Frustratingly, the video on mixing Air Dry Clay seems to have gone AWOL again. Is it on Youtube? If you would like I will send you a picture of Cinderella’s Coach when it’s finished. Photo of the current dog cart with my grand-daughter and oldest dog is attached.

    • I put a direct link to the video under the Paper Mache Recipes tab. With so many posts on this blog, it’s a bit difficult to figure out how to make it easy to find stuff. Here’s the link. And yes – of course I’d like to see the coach when it’s finished. Please post it so we can all see how it comes out.

      That’s a big cart, for a big dog. Does he like pulling it?

      • She loves to pull it Jonni, every time we take it out to put in our car, her feet and eyes start dancing in anticipation. She will go all day for children, then come home and play with our puppy. A very fit but not very big girl (for a Rottweiler) at “only” 85 pounds.

  • I Planning to make a new sculpture with more details in it. So I want the clay not drying for maximum time while working and I want smooth finishing also. Which clay recipe is best for this .Pls. advise.

    • The original paper mache clay recipe stays soft and workable longer than the new air dry clay, although you can keep the sculpture covered to keep it fresh longer. If you want the maximum time, though, I’d stick with the original.

  • Hi Jonni,
    I wanted to ask you a simple question about Paper Mache. I’ve been trying my hand in pepakura modeling and was wondering if paper mache would be a good coating to make EVA foam hard or sturdy? What do you think? Thanks.


  • Thank you for the recipe. I was looking for a paper mache recipe to make gum drops for my granddaugher’s candyland party. This sounds like I can do so much more. I will post my pics when I complete them.

  • Hi Jonni,
    I mentioned a few weeks back that I would try your new air dry clay recipe with calcium carbonate in place of the flour. The batch was very successful, and using wet fingers did result in a little slip, rather than a little glue which is what the flour gives you. Both batches behaved fairly similar but the most important difference in my mind, however, is how well it keeps. The batch with the flour went moldy within 4 days, and it’s been around 3 weeks and the batch with calcium carbonate has no mold growth.

    • Excellent experiment, Morgan. Have you made anything with your new clay yet? And did you find a good source for the calcium carbonate?

      • I am making a snowman with the adjusted recipe, I will post pics of it when it is finished. For all intents and purposes it behaves almost identically to your recipe, except if you wet it a little rather than becoming gummy because of the flour, it has a little more slip to it. Here, in Australia, calcium carbonate (sold as “whiting”) is often used for marking the white lines on sports fields so it’s pretty inexpensive. A 25kg bag costs about $30 and is easily obtainable.

        • Now I have to go through my boxes and find my bag of powdered marble – I know I have some around here somewhere. And now that I’ve moved to a sports-oriented town, maybe I can get some whiting at the local sports shop. Thanks for doing these experiments – I look forward to seeing your snowman when it’s done.

  • Hi Jonni,
    thank you so much for this site, it is a wonderful resource!
    I’ve been using this recipe on a couple sculpture projects to wonderfully satisfying effect.

    i’m attaching a progress photo – the face has been cast over a positive mold plastilina sculpt, the hand was directly modeled over a wire/foil/tape armature. i’ve also had great success casting into a negative silicone mold (with very thin rolled out sheets of clay)
    i’ve been especially excited about the translucency that can be achieved when casting in very thin sheets, and the wrinkle texture that comes from playing with the surface after the initial “skin” layer has started to set. (it’s wonderful for this grandmother piece)

    i have a couple questions for you: have you tried this recipe with different paper? i would like to make a brown-colored version and was thinking of using recycled brown paper towels – do you think it would break down enough to be smooth?
    secondly, i am looking to use this clay in a live-sculpting performance and was wondering if a heat gun would work to rapidly expedite the drying process. have you tried that?

    thanks again, i’ll send more photos as the project progresses


    • What a wise and happy Grandmother. First, for your questions – then I have some of my own. :)

      I have not tried any other kind of paper, but many people used recycled paper with the original paper mache clay recipe, which has a much larger percentage of paper than this one. And they say it worked just fine. I think it helps if you can soak the paper for a long time, or run it, with a lot of water, through a blender. I don’t know how the weights would work out for anything other than toilet paper, but if you figure it out, please let us know.

      With such a small percentage of paper, I don’t know if it would color the clay. It might become a bit spotty. There’s only one way to find out, though, so let us know how it works out if you try it.

      I’ve noticed a slight puffing of the clay when a thick layer is dried quickly in the oven, or even over a heating vent. There isn’t enough expansion to make any real difference, and I don’t know if the clay settles back into its original shape when it cools. I haven’t really studied it carefully enough, because it hasn’t seemed to really hurt anything. However, with a heat gun hitting just one side of a sculpture, it’s possible that you could get a reaction as one part of the sculpture expands and others don’t. Perhaps cracking? I’m just not sure. I would try it at home before doing a public demonstration – it might work just fine, and, then again, it might not.

      Now, for my questions – when you used the air-dry clay over the positive form, how thickly did you apply it? When it dries, do you feel that it’s strong enough to hold up to handling, without an armature or other form under it for support? Especially when you make it thin enough to be translucent? For instance, would you feel comfortable shipping Grandma, if someone bought it and needed it to be sent UPS?

  • Hi there! My kids and I made some large costume heads with your (wonderful) new paper clay recipe. I went to Lowe’s for more joint compound, and the ONLY brand they had was Dap. So, in a pinch, I bought it. Wanted to tell you that it worked PERFECTLY! (I’ve used your recipe before, with the Sheetrock brand of joint compound, as suggested) This time, using Dap, I had no problem whatsoever. The Ox and the Fox heads are terrific fun, I’ll share photos soon, but thought I’d let you (& wary readers) know that the Dap brand doesn’t always fail. Thank you for everything you’ve given to us, Jonni!

    • Excellent! I tried Dap a month or so ago myself, and although the paper mache clay did seem a bit thicker than usual, no rubber balls. Maybe I just got a bad batch one time when I lived in Oregon? It’s good to know, though, because our Lowe’s doesn’t sell any other brand, either.

  • Am really inspired by your work, Jonni. Imade a batch of your paper mâché clay today and started on a small project. The clay came out a bit lumpy and dry and I’ve found the answer by reading your replies to others’ questions. I did soak the paper until it fell apart! But I think I’m using the wrong joint compound because it seems to be setting in the airtight container before I’ve had a chance to use it. I thought I’d read somewhere in the comments which brand to use in Australia but can’t find it now . Do you keep a note if that sort of thing? If you do please could you tell me? Thank you for sharing so much information. You are very generous. All the best, Carol McGill, Queensland, Australia.

    • Hi Carol. According to some of our readers, joint compound is called “joint finish” in Australia. It sounds like you may have purchased something that contains Portland cement. Was it pre-mixed “mud” in a plastic tub, or did you buy a powdered product? If it was powdered, it would be the “fast setting” stuff that will thicken after it’s mixed with water. The pre-mixed joint finish won’t do that.

      Here in the States, the brand to watch out for is “Dap,” which doesn’t work. If they have the Sheetrock brand in Australia, try that.

      Also, I’ve discovered that batches of air-dry clay can be very different, even when I think I’m measuring everything the same way. It seems to have to do with how hard I squeeze the paper to get the water out. Too much squeezing bonds the paper bits back together, and they become impossible to break apart again when mixing. I’ll do some experiments today to see if I can weigh the ingredients to get a more accurate formula, including how much water to leave in the wet paper. If I can figure it out, I’ll put up another video.

      • Thank you so much for your reply. Yes, I did use powdered joint compound! Last night I did another search and found your very detailed explanation on what it’s called in Australia and that I should have used the pre-mixed kind. I’m racing off to find some pre-mixed ‘joint finish’ this morning. As for the paper, well I just wet mine and squeezed it out. Do you think it would work if I put the paper into the blender with water and then drained it through a sieve as is done for paper making, or would that be too fine?

        • You can use the blender – a lot of people do. If you are careful to not squeeze the wet paper too tightly, you might not need the blender.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I’m looking to create costume armor out of Paper Mache, and came accross your wonderful site!

    I was thinking that the paper mache clay may be much more durable than standard paper mache. Do you think that it would be wearable and less prone to wear-damage?

    Thanks :)

    • Many people have made costumes out of the paper mache clay. This latest version is so new, I don’t think anyone’s had a chance to try it for that purpose yet. I think the original recipe is stronger and less prone to breaking. You might consider using the original for the main pieces, and then use a batch of the new smoother clay for details or as a final layer to give the costume a smooth finish. Use very thin layers for both, though, or your costume will get heavy. And use mineral oil in both, since the linseed oil has a slight odor that could be annoying if you’re wearing it.

      • Okay that’s great news! And thank you for the wonderful recipe and advice :)

        Another quick question I had, was that I’m planning to make myself a breastplate piece this weekend, and was going to form the shape using chicken wire. Will the paper mache clay be able to go straigh onto the chicken wire shape, or will I need to create a layer between? Also, if you have any suggestions of another material other than chicken wire that I could use for the base, that would be great :)

        Thanks so much!

        • I make a lot of concrete pieces with chicken wire armatures. I use a dry wall mess over the wire. It works will. I’ve also used this mess ( it comes in rolls) over topiaries which I use as armatures for mosaic pieces.

    • Liezyl,
      I recently found Jonni’s site and made a very durable (kid tested) Lego head and two Lego hands for a costume using her shop towel paste recipe. First, I used a styrofoam base, which I carved, glued together and sanded into the shape I wanted before pasting the shop towels on top. The shop towels act as a skin that can be stretched and smoothed over the entire styrofoam surface to make are hard outer shell. It worked great because it smoothed out the crater-like texture of the styrofoam. As Jonni said, apply thin layers (I only used two shop towel layers) or else it will get too heavy and it does not dry well with thick paste layers. I put on 1 layer of shop towel/paste, let it dry, then did the second layer of shop towel/paste because I wanted it perfectly smooth and dry in between the layers. I had a problem with feathering the shop towel pieces together, but that requires practice and patience. Take your time and it will turn out great. The towels did leave a texture from the absorbant print of the towels, so I finished it with her “Plaster Based Gesso” and wet sanded it, then applied her “Smooth Gesso” recipe, which dries like porcelain. Once dry, I spray painted it with Krylon gloss spraypaint and then a clearcoat spraypaint. Since this was my first time making anything like this, there were a few imperfections from my learning curve, but I was very pleased with how this turned out and so were others! The finished costume with styrofoam, and layers of shop towel skin, plaster based gesso, smooth gesso, gloss spraypaint and clearcoat spraypaint is very hard and durable, yet not too heavy. To my dismay, friends of my sons, amazed at how real the costume looked, tested its durability by literally “knocking” on the surface of the costume with their fists and “banging it on the table” to see how hard it was. NO damage occured! Jonni has several books for sale with great tips; and buying her books is a nice way to say “thank you” for her blog.

      From Jonni:
      “Plaster-Based Gesso Mix:
      1 tablespoon (15 ml) white glue
      2 teaspoons (10 ml) water
      2 tablespoon (30 ml) plaster of Paris
      ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) vinegar to slow down the hardening of the mix
      Small dab of white craft paint (optional)

      This mixture can be sanded when it’s dry, or you can use a slightly damp sponge to smooth it, which is much easier and less messy. The second recipe can go on over the first and leaves no brush marks, so you can get a porcelain finish if that’s what you’re after:

      Really Smooth Gesso Mix
      1 tablespoon (15 ml) white glue
      ½ teaspoon (2 ml) cold water
      ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) vinegar
      ½ tablespoon (7.5 ml) plaster of Paris”

  • Hello! I have known the paper clay recipe for a long time but wasn’t able to fing any Joint Compound in Italy, now that I moved back to Colombia I have found it here, yei! I was wondering if you could mix both the cornclay and the paperclay, as to do the rough general layer with paperclay and then adding the details with cornclay, do you think it would stick? Thank you so much for your generosity and sharing your recipes, I can’t wait to begin sculping with it!


    • Hi Amalia. Yes, you can combine the two recipes, but the air-dry clay with cornstarch is not nearly as sticky as the original paper mache clay. Make sure your layer of cornstarch clay comes in tight contact with the dried paper mache clay, and if it doesn’t seem to be sticking, use a wash of glue mixed half and half with water. And do let us see how it turns out!

  • I was dismayed to see that your new recipe for the Air-Dry Clay contains mineral oil.

    The WHO classifies untreated or mildly treated mineral oil (from petroleum) as Group 1 carcinogens; highly refined oils are classified as Group 3, meaning they are not suspected to be carcinogenic but available information is not sufficient to classify them as harmless. There is food-grade mineral oil, but I doubt that is what baby oil is.

    Mineral oil is absorbed into the body through the skin, and is known to impede the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A (and precursors), D, E, K and essential fatty acids. The lower grades appear to contain neurotoxins which can damage the nervous system, and it mimics estrogen.

    The only similar (but safe) type of oil that are safe for for using with eggs is Jojoba oil. It is more expensive than mineral oil, but so is cancer.

    If people still want to continue using mineral oil (it’s easy to find, and cheap), please advise them to use latex or nitrile gloves so their skin doesn’t absorb the stuff.

    We are exposed to so many chemicals these days that we have to pay attention. The average newborn baby already has over 200 foreign chemicals in it’s body.

    Your work is WONDERFUL! Beautiful and innovative, creative, and thanks a big bunch for being so generous with your recipes.


    • Interesting info, Sue. But if the oil is really that dangerous, even in such small quantities, wouldn’t it be unlawful to make baby oil out of it? I just did a fast google search, and it looks like most of the concern about mineral oil is from small children inhaling it and getting it into their lungs. This recipe is not intended for use by small children, since the joint compound is also an industrial product, and not tested for safety when used by children. However, anyone who is concerned about it could just use olive oil, instead.

    • I guess the massage oil was a good choice for me to use, then, lol. I thought I had seen glycerin as an option. I like that you can adjust it to be able to use it as you want or need to. We are faced with many chemicals and hazards. I know the last time I went to home depot or lowe’s for some bolts and screws, I didn’t know until I bought them that on the package it said they were known to have something in them that is hazardous to your health? I needed them for my kitchen table to put the legs on, I had lost the originals while the table has been stored broken down. I would never have thought I would see such a label on a package of bolts and screws. But I didn’t put them in my mouth and only had contact with them for the time it took to put four legs on, and washed right after, so I hope I am ok.
      I hope within reason, these recipes can be worked with and enjoyed. I tried to find out more info on this subject and I do see of course pros and cons. If one is constantly using it, I would think you would need to take some precautions. I see that a lot of the concern is taking it in to your body in foods. It is good to be careful on things as I know our skin absorbs a lot. I will keep it in mind and try to be safe as I will when I use certain paints and varnishes and such for the finishes on these pieces.
      Thanks again for all you do and for this site where we can share information and those concerns along with such great creativity.

  • I have not read all the comments, maybe you someone already gave you this suggestion, why not call this clay, “Corn clay” or maybe “PM corn clay”!

    I am about to try it now. And thanks alot for being so generous with your ideas!

  • Hi Jonni,
    I’ve never sculpted anything before. My son has to built the sphinx for a school project. So far I built up the base with boxes. I was thinking about paper mâché ‘g it but the head of the sphinx is like an ‘A’ frame barn house. How do you suggest I attach the ‘wings’ of his head to the actual head??? (Does that make sense?)

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