Bobcat Sculpture

Paper Mache Clay

Several years ago I developed a new recipe for a sculptural material I call “paper mache clay.” This material is so easy to use and so easy to make that I now use it exclusively for all my paper mache sculptures. The recipe has now gone “viral” and is being used by artists all over the world.

It might be a bit more accurate to call this material “home-made air-dried cellulose-reinforced polymer clay,” but that’s way too hard to say (or type!), so for now, let’s just call it paper mache clay.

Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache ClayThe first video below shows how to make the paper mache clay, and the second video answers some common questions that I’ve received from readers since I first developed this recipe. Below the videos you’ll find the recipe written out, and a few comments about how it’s used. (This recipe is the basis for my book “Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.”)


I usually make mine fairly thin so it can be spread over an armature like frosting, by using less flour than the recipe calls for – but you can also make it thicker, with more flour, when you want more control over the modeling process. The clay dries extremely hard when applied in a very thin layer (1/8 to 1/4″ thick), and it seems to dry much faster than traditional paper mache pulp. (And it only takes about 5 minutes to make).

Paper Mache Clay on Snow Leopard Sculpture

Paper Mache Clay on Snow Leopard Sculpture

As you can see above, the clay can be modeled into fairly fine details. Using the clay for modeling feels much more intuitive than creating sculptures with paper strips and paste, and once the clay is dry it is a pleasure to paint.

The ingredients are inexpensive, and can be found at your local grocery store and hardware store. You will need:

  • Cheap toilet paper (measure the wet paper pulp, and use 1 1/4 cups – some rolls contain more paper than needed)
  • 1 cup Joint compound from the hardware store (get premixed “regular,” that comes in a plastic tub, not the dry powder form.) (Not sure what Joint compound is, or what it’s called in your country? click here.) Note: buy any brand except DAP. The DAP brand does not work.
  • 3/4 cup Elmer’s Glue-all (PVA glue)
  • 1/2 cup White Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Linseed Oil or Mineral Oil (Linseed oil contains chemicals, so mineral oil is a better choice if you’re working with kids, or if you like to get your hands in the clay)

See the video below for details on making your clay. And if you try this recipe, please let us all know what you think of it–and also please share a photo of your finished work. We’d love to see how it comes out. (Can’t see the video? See the instructions printed below).

[Edit 2/12/2011 –  If you find that your clay seems “rubbery” instead of smooth and creamy, you may need to use a different brand of joint compound. They all make their products using different formulas. Most of them work, but if you find one that doesn’t, please let us know. ]

Making Your Paper Mache Clay


You’ll also need a large bowl, (use one with high sides so you don’t splatter clay on your cupboards), an electric mixer, a measuring cup and a tablespoon measure. To keep t he finished clay from drying out, you’ll need an air-tight container. The recipe makes approximately 1 quart of paper mache clay.

Note about Toilet Paper:

Unfortunately, the people who make toilet paper don’t expect us to turn their product into great works of art, so they see no reason to include the kind of information that would make things a lot easier for us.

I use a brand called “Angel Soft,” in the “regular” 2-ply rolls. I buy it at my local Wal-Mart. Each roll contains approximately 1 1/4 cup of paper, which I measured by wetting the paper, squeezing out the water, and then firmly squishing it into a measuring cup.

Since brands differ so much, the first time you make this recipe you should take a few minutes to find out how much paper is in the first roll. Then adjust the recipe if your brand don’t contain about 1 1/4 cup of paper. Fortunately, this is not a chemistry experiment or rocket science – if your mixture contains a little more paper than mine, or a little less, your sculptures will still be stunning.

Step 1. Fill a high-sided bowl with warm water. Remove the toilet paper from the roll and throw it into the water. Push down on the paper to make sure all of it gets wet.

Step 2. Then pick up the paper and squeeze out as much water as you can. Pour the water out of the bowl and put your paper mass back in.

Step 3. You will want to break the paper into chunks about 1″ across. This will allow your mixer to move around the pieces and break them apart.

Step 4. Add all the ingredients to the bowl and mix, using an electric mixer. The mixer will pull the fibers of the toilet paper apart and turn it into pulp. Continue to mix for at least 3 minutes to make sure all the paper has been mixed in with the other ingredients. If you still see some lumps, use a fork or your fingers (with the mixer turned off!) to break them apart, and then mix some more.

Your paper mache clay is now ready to use. It will look a bit like cookie dough – but don’t eat it!

If you don’t plan to use your clay right away, place it in an airtight container to keep it from drying out. The clay should stay usable for 5 days or more, if you keep it covered. The recipe makes about 1 quart.



  • Dear Jonny: I thank you for the wonderful recepi and for the tutorials,God bless you,I use mostli recicle materials in the followin proyects,it was a great medium to created whit.Thank you again. Morena

  • Wow! Thanks for the recipe for your paper mache clay. Just what I was looking for. Now, how am I going to sleep with all these sculpting projects swirling around inside my head? lol
    Stay inspired!

  • Hello Jonni!

    Thank you so much for this Paper Mache Clay. I love it! While a dream to work with, my first batch was a little lumpier than I liked. I wanted to share with you the simple solution I used to fix my problem.

    I simply added a step while wetting the toilet paper. Instead of submerging it all at once and instantly wringing it out, I added it slowly to a bucket of warm water. I had separated the toilet paper into many strips about two arms length each. In the bucket I had about 3/4 of a gallon of warm water. With my left hand I operated my hand-held (wand) blender, moving it with an up and down motion. With my right hand I added each strip of toilet paper. Never adding a new strip until the first was suitably eviscerated. This created a slurry of … well … paper water.

    I strained the slurrey into my colander which I lined with a few layers of cheese cloth. Using a similarly sized bowl I pressed out a majority of the water and ripped the pulp into tiny bits.

    I mixed the Wall Compound, Glue, and flour first with the mixer and slowly added the paper bits one at a time. It came out PERFECTLY!

    Not a lump to be found. Mind you, my way takes about a hundred times as long as your method. I suppose it’s a good thing I like spending my time this way.

    All I have to do now is buy a bucket, stick blender, mixer, collander, and mixing bowl for my kitchen. I lose so many Kitchen Appliances this way!

    Oh, and a note for anybody new at this … NEVER rinse off any of this mixture into a sink with a Garbage Disposal. I’m not the smartest man. And now I’m a stupid artist with one strange sounding garbage disposal.

    Thank you for being!



  • Hello Jonni,

    First off, I’d like to thank you for a great tutorial on making paper mache clay. It truly beats the classic ‘paper and glue’ especially when durability becomes an added advantage to sculpting.

    I’d like you to know that I’d be implementing your method in making a life-sized prop for a cosplay (costume play) event which I’ll be participating this December. I’ve included a picture of the character and his weapon for better visual.

    My plan is to make the base/foundation out of polystyrene foam then cover it up with the classic paper mache before adding clay to make it sturdier. But I do have a few questions with regards to your clay recipe:-

    1) For the joint compound, you mentioned to get “regular” instead of “fast set” or “light”. Where I come from, joint compound is generally known as putty sealer and it only comes in two forms i.e. powder or paste. There’re no specifications as to whether it’s regular, fast set or light. Which would you recommend me getting?

    2) I’ve read in various sites that homemade clay (especially those made with flour) have really short shelf life and are prone to mould built-up. When I read through your comments, I noted that using wallpaper paste or chalk (calcium carbonate) instead of flour could expand the shelf life of the paper mache clay while clove oil, Borax (sodium borate) and bleach (sodium hypochlorite) could eliminate mould build-up. Where I live, getting a hand at wallpaper paste or chalk is pretty costly and I’d like to keep this project within my budget. So that would leave me to eliminating the build-up of mould since the process of making the prop would take a while. What I’d like to know is, if I were to use clove oil, Borax or bleach, what amount would be sufficient for your paper mache clay recipe? When should I add the anti-fungal agents, is it while I’m mixing all the ingredients or after I’m done mixing the ingredients? By the way, salt (sodium chloride) acts as a preservative and it could prevent growth of fungi. Have you ever experiment your clay with salt before? For your info, I live in a tropically humid country so it helps to gather enough details before I start on my project.

    3) I noted that you mentioned it’s not necessary to use linseed oil in this recipe if we haven’t any. May I know what the function of the linseed oil is?

    Thanking you in advance and sorry for the lengthy post.


    • Hi Clarissa. You have some interesting questions. The mold issue is something that I would love to experiment with, but I can’t, simply because I’ve never seen mold grow on my clay, either when it sits in a covered container for several weeks, or as it dries on the sculpture. Some people have reported problems with it, which could either mean that the joint compound brand I buy already has a mold inhibitor in it, or their climate is very different from mine. I live on the dry side of Oregon, but it has been very wet this spring – still no mold.

      Since I can’t get mold to grow in my paper mache clay, I obviously can’t test ways to prevent mold. Some anti-fungal agents might affect the texture of the clay by reacting with the other ingredients, so if you do some experiments be sure to make up a small batch first, to see what happens. And then let us know what you discovered, and if your experiment worked or not. If you live in a very humid climate where mold is a big issue, I would definitely suggest leaving out the flour in the clay recipe – you can make the clay firmer by adding more paper than the recipe calls for.

      You didn’t mention which country you live in. Where I live, “putty sealer” is a very different thing than joint compound. The product we use for this recipe is based on calcium carbonate or gypsum, along with ingredients that make the product easy to spread smoothly. Is that what your putty sealer is made from? I use joint compound that has been pre-mixed, so it’s ready to spread on a wall (if we happened to be using it for the purpose for which it was intended).

      The linseed oil gives the clay a slightly smoother texture, but as I’ve mentioned, the clay still works without it.

      Since products in different countries are made with different ingredients, there is no way for me to know if this home-made recipe will work with the products available everywhere. Please do some testing, and make sure that the clay you end up with works properly before investing hundreds of hours making your props.

      • Hi Jonni,

        Many thanks for your quick response.

        I’m from an Asian continent – Malaysia to be precise. I’ve checked with our local hardware stores yesterday and apparently, they have no idea what joint compound is. Fortunately, I’ve done enough research online to know what it is and I’ve seen my dad work on fixing minor blemishes and damages to the walls around my house so I could pretty much describe in detail what I was looking for. And surprisingly, they call it putty sealer here. But I wouldn’t know for sure whether the product contains calcium carbonate or gypsum till I get it. So, I’d probably drop by to the store tomorrow and have another look-see.

        From what you have described, I’m guessing that the joint compound you used is sort of like paste? Since you mentioned it’s ready to spread on a wall. I just want to be sure.

        If I were to make the clay according to your method, I might store it in an airtight container and put it in a cooler. Would this be recommendable? I’ve also thought about whether the quality would have any side effect if I added anti-fungal agents. So of course, I’d experiment on smaller batches first before I get over my head and create bucket loads.

        Since linseed oil is a little hard to find, I’d just go ahead with the batch without it for this project. But I’d still keep an eye out for the oil for future projects since you said it gives the clay a slightly smooth texture. Or perhaps I could experiment further on other types of oil.

        When I’m done experimenting, I’ll post my findings here. Wish me luck~

        Thanks again.


        • The joint compound we use has the consistency of thick plaster after it’s been mixed with water – I suppose you could describe it as a paste. Good luck with your project – we definitely want to hear from you again to see how your experiments come out!

  • Hi! I really enjoyed your site a lot. I have been searching the web for about 3 hours now looking for a good clay recipe. I found yours and loved it. I have a question though. Is the joint compound really necessary? I live in like the middle of no-where and town is far away. So do I need it to make good clay? I plan on making a bead pendant for my mom on her birthday. So please answer when you get the chance. Thank you in advance. =)

    • Hi James. Yes, if you use the clay recipe on this site you do need the joint compound. Although you could just make traditional paper mache-type pulp using just paper and glue. It would dry hard, but it wouldn’t be the same, and personally, I wouldn’t enjoy using it. But if you don’t have a hardware store nearby and no joint compound in the garage, go ahead and experiment. Be sure to let us know how your project turns out!

      • I can make clay out of paper pulp and glue? I think I found something like that but it called for Construction paper. Please give me some insight to this situation.

  • Hi Jonni….I’ve finished applying 3 layers of paper mache over a chicken wired giraffe sculpture which has dried completely before each application. Do I apply some type of primer before adding clay to it for the facial features or will the clay stick to the dried paper mache? And also……do we need to wet the surface before applying the clay so that it will stick together nicely as we do with paper clay? I’m loving the way he’s turning out so far. :o)

    • Hi Judy. I haven’t actually tried this, but I think the clay will stick to the dried paper mache just fine. The two basic ingredients, glue and joint compound, both stick to dry paper on their own. You might want to do a small patch first, though, just to make sure.

  • Hi Jonni, I’m really enjoying your site. Your really onto something with the clay, perhaps if you play with the recipe so it lasts longer you could actually patent this stuff, it seems cheaper than clay. I was wondering what is the purpose of the linseed oil, and if anyone had suggested alternatives since I am embarrassingly too broke to get the linseed oil at the moment.

    • Hi Sara. People have suggested that I manufacture the clay, but I’m really not into it. I prefer to have the recipe out in the world so anyone can make it if they want to. I have kept mixed clay in a covered container for more than two months without any deterioration or mold, but some people say their clay starts to grow mold in a few days. I think the joint compound I use must have a mold inhibitor. If you have trouble with mold growing before you get a chance to use the clay, you can add just a small amount of Borax or clove oil.

      You can leave out the linseed oil, and the clay works just fine without it.

  • Thanks so much for your reply. The wood is perfectly natural with nothing on it at all so I think this will work. However, I think your suggestion to try a small one first is a good one. Thanks again!

  • AMAZING i’m going to try this out on a hen and golden retriever sized cow for the musical Into The Woods originally i was going to use fabric or paper mache for the cow… we are going to make the frame of the it with chicken wire so it could be hallow and easy to move around do you think it would work with the Paper Mache Clay? i would probably have to cover the chicken wire with a layer of masking tape or something so the clay doesn’t go through huh? maybe we could do a layer of fabric then use the clay to give it better texture… hm well i’ll book mark this page so i can let you know how it works out in the end!

    • Hi Becky. My dad is working on a chicken wire chicken, and he did it just as you describe – he created the shape with the wire and then enclosed it with masking tape so the clay would stick. The clay hardened just fine, and the sculpture is very light. It should work great for your cow. If you want, you can give your cow a first layer of clay so you have a nice solid surface to play with, and then add another layer over the first one after it dries, for the hair texture and eyes and mouth, etc. Just make sure everything is dry all the way through before painting it, so it won’t mold.

      Send us a photo of the cow when it’s done. It would be great to see it in the play.

  • Hi. I am interested in taking unpainted, unfinished wooden picture frames from the craft store and sculpting paper mache things like starfish, etc and attaching them to the wood. I could cover the wood with a layer of the paper mache clay then mold the starfish directly into/onto the layer but am wondering if any of this will actually stick to the wood. I would then paint the whole piece. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much! (The surface area of the wood where the paper mache would go is about 1 3/4″ wide and perfectly flat)

    • Hi Celia. It sounds like your idea would work just fine, as long as you don’t use frames that have a waterproof finish that would keep the paper mache from sticking to it. However, I’ve never done anything like that, so you’d probably want to do a small experiment first. Good luck with it.

  • Dear Jonni, i am in high school in Australia and m doing a sculpture using you paper mache clay. I would like to know if there is an austrailian product like Elmers all glue… i have never heard of it before so i presume it is only american… is it like a PVA glue or is it a wood glue?
    and also what is the joint compound supposed to be used for, so that i could find some
    sorry if you have to repeat yourself, Alex

    • Hi Alex. The Elmers glue is a PVA glue. I have not tried the brands available in Australia, so you might want to buy a small bottle of the local PVA glue and see if it works. I’m betting that it will work just fine. The joint compound is used to fill in the cracks between sheets of plaster board on new walls. Another reader told us that it’s called joint filler in Australia. Good luck with your project.

  • I love your site! You have done a great job here.
    I stumbled onto your site a few weeks ago and got inspired to give it a try. This was our first project using your Paper Mache Clay Recipe.

  • Thanks for the great site and this recipe. It got me back into experimenting with paper mache techniques and I’m having a ball.

    I make the clay using a bucket and mud mixer attachment for my drill. (The mud mixer attachment was ~$5 at Home Depot which was cheaper than buying a studio-only kitchen mixer.) Also, I start with just the dry toilet paper and then add water as I need (which eliminates my needing to squeeze it out later.)

    In my last batch, I used chalk (calcium carbonate) instead of flour. I ended up using twice as much chalk, trying to get the texture right … but the cool thing, and what I wanted I wanted to share … is that the mix hasn’t gone ‘bad’ yet.

    I made this batch on 4/16, and normally my batches lasted less than a week. This batch, however, is still going strong, with no signs of spoilage (no mold, no growth, no stink.)

    Yay … and thought you’d want to know.

    Have you played with adding things other than flour?

    – b

  • Hiya Jonni

    I am thinking on using paper mache clay for my toad puppet’s head – for creating those lovely warts and defined eyebrow ridges :D.
    I was just wondering how long it takes for the paper mache clay to dry. Do I need to put it in a kiln?

    Thank you


    • Hi Hanna. You don’t need a kiln – this isn’t real clay, after all. The amount of time it will take to dry depends on the thickness that the paper mache clay has been applied to your puppet’s head, the temperature and humidity in the room, etc. Be sure to give it plenty of time to dry all the way through – it will dry on the outside first.

  • thanks Jonni…….This is going to be my first grandchild, so I want to make his jungle theme room look it’s best. :o) I’m visiting my daughter so I still have a month before I head back home. Hope I get it completed in time. Will show pics when I’m done. :o)

  • Hi…..Stumbled across this site and love what you do with your paperclay recipe! I am currently working on creating a 6 ft tall giraffe for my first grandchild’s room. I’ve created the sculpture out of chicken wire…..almost done. :o) I thought I’d cover it with paper mache using newspaper and using the clay to fill in gaps and facial features. Hope this works out for me. I think it’ll be some time before I get it completed but hope to finish within a month! :o) Thanks so much for the clay recipe…..can’t wait to try it.


    • Hi Judy. Your plan, using paper mache strips for the large areas and the paper mache clay for details will work very well. I sure hope you show us your giraffe when it’s done.

  • jonni
    hi again! i am using your clay and teaching it to a class of 6-12 year olds. and i am so excited for them to enjoy it as well!! thanks for sharing this once again i can’t thank you enough.
    on a side note we have finally got into our house and am starting to get in to the art community here by teaching community art classes as there are no art classes provided through the school, in reference to your earlier postings. i will be teaching an after school program for highschoolers as well …
    just had to share.
    take care.. and i will post some pictures of the kids in action!!

  • My project is to make an almost street wide “Flying Eagle using 3 poles to hold it it up and as light as possible.
    The Eagle head that is 3ft wide with it’s mouth open showing the tongue. This my first Eagle and I would like to know the simplest way to craft the head shape before I use the “clay”.

    • Wow – an eagle head three feet wide – I assume you’re going to make the wings outspread, and I’m glad you didn’t ask me for advice on that, since it would need an engineering degree.

      I would suggest that you make a form, using whatever things you can find, in the shape of your bird’s head, and cover it with chicken wire. (An exercise ball might be the right size). I’d use at least three layers of traditional paper mache strips and paste over the wire to give yourself a solid base before adding any clay. Then, when your paper mache is all dry and hard, remove the supporting form, so you end up with a hollow head. If the paper mache is well supported by the wire, it should work just fine.

      For the open mouth issue, see Dan Reeder’s monster book.

  • have you tried mixing Durham’s rock hard water putty in your clay mixture? I have used this material just with water but I am looking for structural strength and this might be a replacement for the joint compound…?
    Could the rock hard putty be used as a paper mache agent instead of the water, paper and flower mix? added just one of the pics of my costume- head is paper mache!!

    • Wow – nice costume. Kind of scary…

      I have not used the water putty. Doesn’t it harden rather quickly? If you do an experiment, please let us know how it turns out.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I have a question. I was trying to make some pendants with the clay doing one side, letting it dry and flipping over to cover the other side. The problem is the sides aren’t melding together because one side being dry before the other. The pendants were probably about as thick as your butterfly project, but you don’t seem to have that problem. What am I doing wrong? I believe I will try and string them and just cover them in one go unless you have a better idea?


    Cynthia Devening

    • Hi Cynthia. I’m not quite sure what you mean. Is the second (back) layer not bonding with the cardboard? Or are you skipping the cardboard, in which case the second layer is not bonding with the first layer of clay? You might want to reduce or eliminate the flour in your clay to make it a little stickier. Other than that, I can’t imagine why it isn’t working.

      • Opps, I kept checking back at the wrong comment area! The clay is going over the edge of the cardboard on the sides so yes the second layer isn’t bonding with the first layer. I will try eliminating the flour ( I shouldn’t be using it anyway because of a gluten intolerance). I made a couple more pendants and covered everything in one layer which was kind of tricky but worked. Thanks for the response! I will post a picture when they are all finished.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I wanted to thank you for this simple and affordable recipe. I am a middle school art teacher and I am trying this out with my basic2 class. We are working on alebrijes. I knew we wouldn’t be able to do traditional wood carving but I didn’t want to use strip and paste because most inexperienced young artists tend to have limited success with creating smooth surfaces with it.

    So far the kids have just gotten their armatures started but I have a few that will be ready for clay tomorrow. I think I’m as excited as they are! If you’d like I would be glad to send pictures and the lesson plan for other teachers who stumble upon your site in their research.

    • Yes, we definitely want to see how the project turns out, and I know many teachers would be grateful for the lesson plan you used, if you’re willing to share it. You can send me an email if you have more than one image you’d like to show off. Good luck with the sculptures – I hope they all come out great.

  • Hi Jonni

    Am enjoying your website. Did a papier mache years ago and am anxious to try it out again. My question to you is will flour possibly mold? I live in a very humid environment, so I thought maybe I should use wallpaper paste instead? or is my concern unfounded? Thanks.

    • Hi Donna. The anti-fungal agents in wallpaper paste might be a good idea in your area. I live in a semi-arid region of the country, so the flour isn’t a problem here as long as the sculptures are fully dry before they’re finished.

      Good luck with your project.

  • Hi
    Great site. Your paper mache recipe is similar to my own so I thought I’d chime in & say that I’ve used several different kinds of paper shredded junk mail, newspaper etc. and it works out fine.
    I also use clove oil to avoid any mold problems.

  • Hey Jonnie,

    I just wanted to say that you have a wonderful website and that I will definitely use the paper mache clay for any future projects. However, I have a question. Do you have to use joint compound or is it optional? Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Jeffrey. Thanks for the nice comments. For your question, there are no “rules” in paper mache. However, if you make the clay without the joint compound, it will just be a mixture of toilet paper and Elmer’s glue. That would dry very hard, but I can’t imagine that it would be much fun to work with. However, I’ve done a lot of home remodeling, and I like working with joint compound, so maybe I’m prejudiced. My suggestion is that you try it both ways and find out if your version works as well as mine. Then be sure to come back and tell us what you find out!

  • Hello
    just wanted to compliment you- your blog is one of the best artist resources I have come across in a long time! I am a painter, but was researching for my mother, who has never sculpted but wants to create a large scale giraffe. Your blog is fabulous, filled with good information and suggestions to try, and your art is beautiful as well. You are now definitely a “Favorite”!
    Thanks for all you’re doing,

  • hi jonni, my 6 year old is making a sculpture of a maryland blue crab. i found your recipe for paper mache- it sounds fun to work with. will you please suggest the material, if any, he should use for the inside of his sculpture. he is a beginner and very excited about this project. thank you. amber

    • Hi Amber. A crab is a fairly complicated shape, and I would consider it an advanced project. I don’t suppose your son could be talked into doing an easier project, just for practice?

      If I were to make something like this, I’d draw the crab on a piece of heavy cardboard, including the legs. Then perhaps you could cut three pieces of light wire for him, long enough to go from the end of one claw, over the body, and to the end of the opposite claw. Tape these wires onto the cardboard to reinforce the thin legs. Then just add a bit of crumpled paper to the top of the crab and his legs, taping it on firmly with masking tape. Once the shape is nicely rounded out, it can be covered with the clay. You’d want to do just the top first, let it dry, and then do the bottom. After all the clay is dry, it can be painted with acrylic craft paint.

      I assume your son is old enough to know he shouldn’t eat the clay. Good luck with it.

      • hi jonni, my son has his heart set on a blue crab. this project is for a first grade “research project”. your suggestions are awesome. thank you. I will let you know how it turns out. amber

  • Hi,

    Well, that is good to know, but my box actually had a plastic bag of already mixed, so I didn’t have to worry so much. But good to know I could have mixed it. I just didn’t know since I hadnt bought it before,

    Thanks so much,

  • I bought the boiled this time, but I bought a box of ready mix of the joint compound, was that right or should I have bought the tub that looks like it is already mixed up? I just didn’t think about it at first.

      • Hi Carmen. The product you bought will work just fine – you don’t need to make another trip to the hardware store. Just mix it with water according to the directions on the package, so you have a cup full of mixed joint compound. Then go ahead and use it just like the pre-mixed product I used in the video.

  • I was wondering about the Linseed oil. There are things about raw and “boiled” linseed oil. From what I gather it seems that the “boiled” linseed oil would be the one desired for this? Just making sure before I try it.

    • Hi Carmen,

      The boiled linseed oil is the one I use, but that’s because it’s much cheaper to buy it at the hardware store instead of the art store. I have not experimented with raw linseed oil. If you decide to try it, please let us know how it turns out.

  • I have a question for you since Thurston James’s excellent book, The Prop Builder’s Molding and Casting Handbook, doesn’t talk about Joint compound:
    How well does it do in molds? (Latex and Silicone?)
    Will it stick to the mold? Does the Linseed Oil have a chance of eating away at a mold from multiple uses? Will I need to use soap, petroleum jelly, or wax (as in the case of a plaster mold with paper mache) to make it not stick?

    I’m interested because I’ve been on a paper mache mask making kick and I’m planning on making molds to make copies of some of the masks. That way I won’t have to re-build the structure over again with newspaper and tape or clay over a plaster face. Yep, water-based clay works as a blank just like wood for making masks. Just let it dry all the way through like paper mache. Once dry, you have to dig out the clay from the shell. You can’t do very detailed shapes or marks on the clay since the strips and layers cover it up. But it does get the basic shape needed (snouts, noses, brows).

    • I have tried the clay in latex molds, and it doesn’t stick. However, I think I’d use a very light application of release, just in case.

      The linseed oil’s acids should be neutralized by the calcium in the joint compound – but I’m not a chemist, so don’t take my word for it. You’re doing something that is far more advanced than anything I’ve done with the clay to date. I’m afraid that means you’re the “volunteer” who does some experimenting for the rest of us.

      Be sure to let us see one of your masks when it’s done.

      • would like to know is window screens are a surface to work on or a surface for paper mache and if other papers are usable in the recipe such as rice paper or tissue paper. Also, if you want to thick and have texture will it sturdy enough. Are you using regular artist linseed oil or linseed oil brought in a hardware store.
        thanks alot

        • Hi Deb. I’m not quite sure what you mean about the window screens. I have not tried any other type of paper in the recipe, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out. I use boiled linseed oil from the hardware store.

          The clay will dry very hard and strong, and you can add textures if you want.

  • Is there another oil besides linseed that can be substituted? I realize you said it would dry without it, but I want to do it right the first time I try it.

    • Several people have suggested other oils, but they were making their suggestions without actually doing any experiments to find out if they work. If you’re concerned about the oil for any reason, or if you just can’t find it, just leave it out. You will notice very little difference.

  • Hi I have just found your site by accident and I would love to havea go Jonni but I live in the Uk and I was wondering what joint compound actually is please?

    Thank you so much.

    Debie x

    • I’ve been told that the product is called “joint filler” in the UK. The clerk at the hardware store should be able to help you if you tell him that you need the pre-mixed product that’s used to cover the joints between pieces of plaster board or wall board, when new walls are made. Don’t get anything that’s labeled “fast setting” or your clay will harden while it’s still in the bowl.

  • Is the linseed oil necessary, I am helping my six year old make a jackrabbit for school we stuffed plastic bags and used masking tape to shape the body, than I thought we could cover it with the clay, although I have all the ingredients but the linseed oil. Will it still work?
    Thanks for your help

    • Hi Julie. No, you don’t need the linseed oil. You don’t need the flour, either. The clay will still harden successfully without either ingredient.

  • Hi just a quick question, what is joint compound that you use in your paper mache clay? I’m from Australia so I wonder if it might be under a different name here, what is it used for?


    • Hi Gabby. Another reader from Australia told us the product is called joint finish. When you go to the hardware store, tell the clerk you need the product that comes in a plastic tub, and it’s used to cover the space between plaster wallboard when walls are made. The clerk should be able to figure out what you’re talking about. Get the pre-mixed product, not the dry powder or the “fast-setting” product, because they won’t work.

  • Hi Jonni,

    Here is a photo of my Paper clay object. I call “Lean on me” and is 16 inches tall. After sanding it; I primed it and spray painted it in a granite look. I love it!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  • Dear Jonni,
    When I came upon your clay, my roommate was so happy (I had left old smelly rotten paper mache mix in the room for days & I hadn’t noticed). I too, was also happy- so much that I created a heart (after a few butterfly lessons)!

    Also, I didn’t have linseed oil when making it- does it make a big difference to the clay?

    • Wow. Excellent job on the heart, and wonderful photos of the process all along the way. Just in case other readers may be expecting a simple Valentine’s day heart, like I was, Roxanne actually created an anatomically correct human heart with paper mache clay. Definitely go see how she did it on her site.

  • Thanks for the recipe. I tried it out tonight. Mixed by hand because don’t have a hand mixer, but it worked out okay I think. Waiting for it to dry now. Great instructions!

  • Now that I’ve read a bit more here, I am remembering all the art projects I did in highschool that involved paper mache. I made a larger than life bird-man that the principal wanted in his office window(for a while). I named my bird-man Leroy. He was purple and yellow. After a while he moved home. If family stayed in the bedroom where he was ‘living’ -he scared the daylights outta them! He had a nice chicken wire armature, so I guess it was only natural he’d be a bird-man….
    You’ve inspired me so much here that I’m heading for my studio to get my hands in some clay. Then-off to make the toilet paper clay!! Yipee!! Thanks!!

    • You’re certainly welcome. I hope you’ll let us see what you come up with. (And I’m totally jealous. Studio? I take over my whole house when I work, including the kitchen table. Maybe I’ll fix up the garage this year so I can say the words “my studio” with a straight face.)

  • You rock for doing this dude!!!! I got a project in 3 weeks and this is great to use!!!!! Thanks a mill!!!!

  • hey i found your web pg @ recommendation from my art teacher about papier mache recipes. I really like the papier mache clay but was wondering how strong is it bc i wanted to make a pinata that my fellow high schoolers can enjoy trying to break (and the regular papier mache didn’t stand a chance against my 12 yr old brother).
    would the clay be ok to use on my pinata or would it beat the high schoolers?

    • Hi Liz. I thought pinatas are supposed to break?

      Actually, I don’t know the answer to your question. I do sometimes drop my sculptures on the floor, but they have solid armatures inside so they don’t break. I once tested the clay to see how strong it is by putting it over a ball-shaped armature of crumpled paper and masking tape. I used about 1/8″ of clay over the paper and let it dry. Then I threw it fairly hard onto the concrete sidewalk in front of my house, and it didn’t crack.

      However, I think a hollow pinata would break. You might want to watch out for flying fragments, though. If you try it, tell us how your experiment turned out!

  • Joanni, Thank you so very much for letting me copy your paper mache clay recipe. I will let you know how my project, a dress form, comes out. Best to you! Tome

  • Hi,
    I found your site a month ago.
    You asked for a picture of what I made with your paper mache clay.
    Well here she is.
    Thank you!

      • Hi,
        No, I didn’t use a mold for the head.
        The doll body, arms, legs and the head are made from cloth. The face, hair and upper bust are from the clay. The funny part is that I made the hair from a bad batch of clay. It was my first attempt and it was flakey like tuna. I used a cheap glue. But the result on the hair was great. You can see the process here:

        • Lovely. I put your website on my blogroll–I hope everyone takes a minute or two to go check it out. I hope the doll show was worthwhile for you. You have a very nice display. I sometimes miss going to arts and craft fairs myself. Maybe I should make up a few smaller, transportable sculptures and get back into it, just for fun.

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