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:  The DAP brand does not work. All other brands will work just fine.
  • 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.



  • Hola jonni la verda me parece espectacular tu trabajo y que nos des la oportunida de tener un sitio como estos yaque personas como yo que apenas estamos enpesando en este cuento podemos tomar ideas para nuestros proyectos, de antemano muchas gracias pues te cuento soy de antioquia colombia y me encuentro relizando una escultua (un crucifijo) voy apenas pegando las tiras de papel peridico y pues creo que enpesare a poner la pasta de papel mache pero tengo una lo que pasa es que me enconte con otra receta que en ves de arina blanca utiliza polvo de tiza quisiera saber si es igual, para que es, cambia la concistencia y dureza final de la pasta me gustaria mucho que me acesorarasobre esto ya que soy muy nobato muchisimas gracias luego montare fotos de mi proyecto

    • Dang – according to Google Translate, Jhon’s message says:

      Hello jonni in truth I find your work amazing and give us the opportunity to have a site like this yaque people like me who are just enpesando in this story can get ideas for our projects, in advance thank you very much because I tell you I’m from Colombia Antioquia and I find arisen I deem a sculpture (the crucifix) I just pasting the newspaper strips, and because I think enpesare to make paper mache paste but I have a thing is that you found me with another recipe instead of white flour used chalk dust I wonder if it is equal, that is, change the concistencia and final hardness of the paste I would love it acesorarasobre I am very newbies and many thanks after photos of my project Monter

      Lots of missing English in Google’s attempt, and I don’t speak Spanish. Can someone help me explain that chalk dust (calcium carbonate) may not have the sticking power that a flour paste has, but I haven’t experimented with it so I can’t say for sure? Help is always appreciated.

    • Nikki helped us out with the Spanish for my reply. Thanks Nikki!

      Hola Jhon,
      No creo que el polvo de tiza va a funcionar para unir el papel, pero quisás se puede. Como siempre, la unica manera de saber es tratarlo y ver lo que pasa.

  • I want to use a stencil to get a textured look to one of my pottery/papier mache pieces. What should I use? What mixture works well?

    Thanks!! :)

    • For the stencil or for the texture? For the stencil, I used masking tape (it didn’t for for me cause of the shape of mine, but for these vases i think it would work well) My suggestion for texture would be maybe buying some textured paper from a scrapbook store (or michaels) ? Then you could just leave it and varnish it, or you could paint over it the color you want, but keep the texture. Or you could use crackle medium probably. I don’t have a lot of experience with texture so i’m sure Jonni will have some better ideas x)

      • No, I’m afraid Jonni doesn’t have any ideas, either. I texture the clay itself with objects I find around the house. For painting textures, I’m a total amateur. Is that what you meant, Debbie?

        • Hi Jonni,
          I was thinking of using a stencil to get a raised, textured design and then painting it. I don’t want to use a stencil to paint the design on… I want to get the raised texture from the stencil. But… I’m afraid that the clay won’t work with stencils. Other than using a cookie press… I can’t think of a way to pipe a design on. Any thoughts?

          Just thought I’d see if anyone has an idea that will work. :)


          • I just had an idea!! What if I drag a string through the paste mixture and use it to make a design? I can don’t need to cover the string completely with clay… do I? Can I just press it slightly into the clay?

            What do you think?


          • That should make an interesting texture. There’s only one way to find out if you like it, and that’s to give it a try. Experimenting is fun.

            To see how you can make a very deep texture with string, scroll down this page to the third photo – I wrapped string around the wet clay on the oryx’s horn (the one closest to the owl.) I still haven’t finished that thing and didn’t even complete the second horn. But I do think there’s a use for that texture on something or other. I just haven’t figured out what that something is yet.

          • That reminds me of an article I saw online quite some time ago. I don’t know if we could find it again. A lady used stencils made out of heavy plastic, and instead of using paint she spread joint compound with a very wide drywall knife. When the stencil was removed she had a very subtle raised design on her walls. I wonder if something like that would work with the paper mache clay? You’d need to let one layer dry first, and then do the stencil thing as a second layer. Hmmm… If you try it, please let us know how it turns out.

  • Jonni, We made paper clay in my middle school art class. The only change I made was in using glycerin instead of linseed oil. Some of the bags of paper clay and also the student work that was wrapped in plastic became moldy over the weekend and others were just fine. ( this batch was about 4 days old). I have read that oil of cloves prevents mold from forming in paper mache. Could this also help in paper clay. Any suggestions? I have to be careful about ingredients with middle school students. Thanks, Carol

    • Hi Carol – the oil of cloves should work to prevent mold. You can also put the paper mache clay in the fridge, which will also help. That isn’t a problem that I run into myself, because I live in a dry climate. But people who have used the clove oil have said it helps.

  • Hi Jonni
    I read somewhere on here, someone asking if you can carve the PM clay, just been working on a horse I am doing, and had to carve around and eye I had done wrong, and it carved quite well. Of course this was not like carving a block into a shape, but had to take a fair bit off, and it carved out really well, just in case anyone was interested

  • I’m lazy lol and just use pre-made stuff. I’m still in school and because we stretch our own canvases there, we have lots of gesso, so I just use some of that. However I did wipe up some of the home-made gesso you guys were talking about earlier to reinforce a crack that had occurred in my critter (sad face) and it seemed to work quite well, so im sure you could use either and it wouldn’t matter in the slightest, like what Jonni was saying.

    This is a mask I made last week using plaster impregnated gauze, and then layer upon layer of gesso (12-16 I think in total) but it doesn’t have the pache clay in it, so dunno if that’s helpful at all. I love masks =)
    plaster cloth mask

    Aha, it’s alright I have a smoothness fetish or something, I can’t stand having a “not-smooth” piece, i’ve been sanding away at this current critter for the last day and a half x) I figure every artist has to have at least one thing they have to incorporate into their work for it to be acceptable to them 😀

    What i’ve been doing for this critter is, I was very um messy and uncaring about smoothness when I put on the pache layer (big mistake I am not paying for with time) so all if been doing is putting the joint compound into the bigger holes with a toothpick, then just gently scraping off the stuff that’s not in the hole. Because the spots of joint compound are sooooo small I just put my critter under my desk lamp and leave it for about an hour or so, then I put the glue all over it. My thought process is that it will work hopefully like Jonni’s recommendation of mixing the two together to make the filler dry hard, but this way I can have more control with the joint compound.

    it seems to work ok for me, and once the glue layer I just put on is dry, i’ll be adding several layers of gesso to just smooth out and lock everything into place. I haven’t come into any trouble yet with it. The only problem i’ve have through the entire project is that I might not have let the pache dry at some point all the way through, so i’ve been dealing with a crack in one of the legs (fixing with layers upon layers of glue) but that’s just one of those learning curves I suppose x)

    Today should be my last day of work and then it should be totally done, at that time I’ll definitely post pictures =) I’ve been taking a few of the process so far too, so that might be helpful.

    • Hi Sebastian!
      Your mask looks amazing!! I can’t wait to see more of your projects!!

      I am going to try Jonni’s joint compound and glue mixture. You mentioned that you use a paint brush to apply it. Do you find that to be the easiest way to get a nice, thin layer? Do you sand in-between layers? How many layers of the “gesso” would you suggest? I’ve done three layers of the paper strips and paste mixture. I’ve read differing opinions as to how many layers to do. I’m ready to move onto the gesso layer and then the clay layer… but I don’t want to jeopardize the sturdiness of the piece.

      Everyone can jump in here with advice and suggestions… I’m all ears!! :)


      • I’ll jump in :)

        If you intend to use the paper mache clay, use it before you use the gesso. The clay can be applied with a knife, and it will cover a lot of irregularities in your piece. Then, if there are any minor dips or roughness, go for the gesso. The gesso also creates a really nice painting surface. Sebastian needed so many layers of gesso because he was smoothing out a mask made with plaster cloth. When you use the clay, you won’t need nearly as many layers of gesso to get a porcelain finish, if that’s what you’re after. Or you can use burlap or rope or some other material to press into the clay and create an “organic” texture. Lots of options.

        • Thanks for jumping in, Jonni!! I don’t know what I was thinking… but I was going to use the gesso under the clay!! UGH!! A lot of good it would have done!! LOL!!

          I love the burlap idea!! I don’t really know what I want any of these vases to look like!! LOL!! This is my first attempt and I’m juggling five pieces right now!! Am I over ambitious… or what??!!! LOL!!

          I’m going to hit a brick wall when it’s time to paint these!! I have NO clue as to what kind of paint to use or how to finish them!! I have a folder full of ideas for shapes, sizes, designs and colors. But… I don’t know where to begin to get the looks I want!!

          I know there are lots of options out there… but I don’t know any of them!! LOL!! Help!!

          Here are a couple of pictures to give you an idea of what they look like so far:
          paper mache vases

          I love your website, Jonni!! Everyone is SO helpful!! :)


          • Debbie, they’re looking great! Aren’t you excited about how well they’re turning out?

            I lost your second image somehow – a technical glitch on my end. Could you resend it?

          • Thanks, Jonni!! I am SO excited with how they are coming along!!

            Here is the second image:
            paper vase

          • Love the shapes and variety of your vases Debbie.

            We talked a little about this before but thought it was worth mentioning again.

            Leonardo da Vinci said, “Art is never finished; merely abandoned.” This was true before he said it, it was true when he said and it is true today and a very common reaction among artists, professional or amateur and I am no professional artist. Having just stretched my capabilities making my wife a plant stand for Christmas that had many flat and smooth surfaces. Wanting to get “just so” for her I spent what seemed like endless hours alternating between adding layers of homemade gesso and sanding them smooth and flat. It seemed never ending because it wasn’t exactly as I wanted. I then remember what good ol’ Leonado said and just “abandoned it”.

            See the process and the abandoned “finished” piece below.

            paper mache planter

          • Thanks, Bob!! The vase pictured above is 30″ tall. The image makes it look a little ‘squatty’. LOL!!

            Thank you for your inspiration. I just might take a piece of poster board and write “ABANDON IT” on it and tape it to the wall above my work table!! LOL!! This is one lesson that I really want to learn now… rather than later!! You and Leonardo are absolutely right!!

            I will try to be less critical of myself and my art. Perfectionism is good in some areas… but it definitely doesn’t belong in art.

            I am going to make a plant stand for our dining room. I’ll let you know how it goes and post pictures as I go along.

            Thanks again, Bob!! :)

          • Oh! Such a majestic and BIG piece Debbie, very impressive.

            I think what happens (to me at least) is I have grown more comfortable with my creations as I make more of them using the same or similar techniques so I often get to a point where it is “good enough” and not so much “abandoned”. My recent plant stand effort was very much abandoned, however.

            I was happy with the load bearing design using the thick walled tube carrying most of the weight of a potted plant filled with dirt and well watered. The top surface presses directly on the top of the thick walled tube which, in turn , is in intimate contact with the bottom. That allows the weight to be transferred through the tube to the floor with very little load being carried by the surrounding paper mache and plastic construction. A major consideration for me.

            I hope you will post more pictures of your efforts please.

          • Thanks, Bob!!
            I will definitely post pictures as I progress. I just constructed my plant stand last night but I need to find a tube (like the one you used) for inner support. Mine is going to be simple and somewhat similar to this shape:

            I am having so much fun designing pieces!!

            This is my favorite site and I’ve learned so much from everyone here!! I’ll stay in touch!! :)

          • Hi Debbie, There was a major discussion here about these tubes perhaps Jonni can point you directly to that location. I remember a couple of places mentioned to get tubes:
            1. Large DIY stores have Concrete Forming Tubes made by QUIKRETE and Sonotubes
            2. Stores that sell carpets and linoleum should have these heavy duty tubes like the one I used and have them as trash and so maybe free for the asking.

            The one I have was in the garage when I bought our home, and I saved it “just in case”! Whew!

            I agree, this is a GREAT site.

  • Hi Jonni!
    Thanks!! I’ll give it a try!! I have two 30″ vases and three smaller vases in the works all at the same time!! For a first-timer… I probably bit off more than I could chew… but I am having SO much fun!! :)

    I tried using the joint compound alone, to fill in some gaps… but I agree with you… it’s too soft. I am so glad that I read the post about using gesso!! I will be giving that a try.

    I’m still struggling with symmetry. I came up with an idea for making the vases using foam board. Although I think it’s an awesome idea and it is working beautifully… I’m working on trying to keep the roundness of the vases symmetrical. It’s a learning curve, I’m sure!!

    Thanks again for your help!!

    • I gave this a try last night for the horns of my critter and it worked really well in my opinion;
      I used a paint brush to first paint on the joint compound, waited for two hours (it wasn’t a very thick layer) and then I put gesso on it and left it for around three hours. It’s pretty firm, and im sure it will firm up with more layers of gesso. I don’t if this will work for you, but it did me so I thought i’d share =)
      You can still sand down the gesso and joint compound, but my piece in nature is allowed to be slightly more fragile because it’s decorative, whereas with your vases you might chose to simply layer up the gesso.
      Also, I find the lack of symmetry makes things more interesting 😉 but that’s just my opinion.

      • Hi Sabastian!
        Thank you for your suggestion!! Do you buy the already made gesso or do you make your own? Have you posted any of your projects? I would love to see them!!

        I really need to learn how to let myself have things be less “perfect”… with flaws and all. I’m one of those people who needs symmetry and I waste a lot of time trying to make everything perfect. It’s pretty odd because I love antiques and old pottery. How imperfect can you get??!!! LOL!!

        Do you use a layer of joint compound and gesso on all of your projects? Should it be used under the clay layer? Do you put it all over or do you just use it to smooth out the piece?

        I really appreciate your suggestions and advice. I’m also going to try to be less perfect and let things be less symmetrical!! :)

        • Hi Debbie,
          Nikki here. (the cement sculptor) Just read your comments about trying to let go of the perfection, etc. I, too struggled with that when I first started, and still do from time to time depending on the project. But I kept getting discouraged, and when I finally did give in, and just get into the sculpting and creating, things really started flowing, and I was amazed at all that came out! Worst case scenario is that you might not like what you come up with, but you will have learned a lot in the process about technique, what works, didn’t, and you might just surprise yourself with what actually emerges. Something new and amazing! Ya never know! Have fun with your sculpting and laugh. I originally started taking photos of each step of my work because I wanted to see where I was going wrong. That’s how I had so many photos of how I built armatures, and the stages of the sculptures. Going back and looking at these photos really was helpful, too, but not because of any errors. Just because I could actually see the character emerge. Kind of like what stone sculptors say about the rock speaking to them. Not sure if this helps of not.

          • Hi Nikki!
            I am trying REALLY hard to let go of my issue with perfectionism!! I agree… I need to give in and just get into creating the project without worrying about every little imperfection!! It’s hard!! LOL!!

            I’m one of those organized, methodical people. Since I really want to lose this attitude and let my projects “just happen”… I believe that it will happen sooner… rather than later.

            I am having SO much fun but sometimes my desire for perfectionism gets in the way… and the fun… turns into stress!! Not good!!

            Thank you for your suggestions. I will try harder to let go!! :)


  • Hi! Thank you for your lovely recipe, it’s working quite nicely. I’m having a problem getting it really really smooth though. I’m not sure if it’s the clay or I’m not smoothing it enough when the clay is dry, but I get these odd holes. Oddly enough, some parts are fine!


    What’s the best way to fill these bumps? Do I need to put another layer of clay over it? Or would gesso work?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jen. Yes, gesso will help you smooth the surface. You can also try using the flat side of a damp knife to smooth the wet clay, or place a piece of plastic wrap over the clay and then press it lightly with your fingers. If you’re getting bumps in some spots and not others, you might need to mix the recipe longer to break up the paper, or leave the paper soaking in water longer before adding it to the mix.,

      I hope his helps.

      • Just felt like adding, gesso would work well, layer it a couple of times if needed, but once it’s dry you can actually sand it down and get a very smooth finish. I’ve had to do this a few times on plaster impregnated gauze masks i’ve made and the results are quite pleasant.

          • Joint compound can be used to make the piece smooth, but it stays rather soft. I try to not use joint compound as the last layer, although it’s used on walls and it lasts for years. However, gesso does dry a lot harder. I make mine just by adding some white glue to some joint compound – it goes on a bit thinner, but dries harder. However, either one will work well. Experiment and see which one you like best.

          • How much glue would you use in 1 cup of joint compound? Can you use the already made “gesso” or would it not dry as hard as the mixture of joint compound and glue?

          • Debbie, you can certainly use gesso already made, if you have some. I just make up my own to keep from having to run to the store to buy some ready made. I use about one tablespoon of joint compound with about a teaspoon of glue. So I guess that would be around 1/3 cup of glue for a cup of joint compound – the recipe isn’t written in stone, obviously.

  • Hi Jonni! I’ve just mixed up a lovely batch of this great stuff, and began apply it to my armature, I have a few questions though;
    Because of the shape of my critter, I am unable to cover the entire thing in one go, is it ok to do the clay layer in two parts?
    How long should one wait for a thin layer of the clay to be completely dry?
    Whats the best way to do little paper ears? (like the ones you did on your dragon on the youtube tutorial) Im not sure how to apply the clay to such a small, flimsy area, some tips would be awesome =)

    Answers are greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us, I’m just loving it!

    • Hi Sebastian. I would leave the clay to dry at least three days. More would be better. That way you’ll know that it’s dry all the way through, and not just on the outside. For really thin items, like ears and butterfly wings, I use a knife and spread the clay as thin as the paper fibers allow. They will dry quite hard – but they’ll be more fragile than a thicker layer.

      And yes, you can put the clay on in stages. That’s often required, since there needs to be a dry place for the sculpture to sit on. When you come to the edge where you think you’ll need to stop, spread the clay quite thin. When that layer is solid enough to hold safely, go ahead and finish the rest of the piece. Be sure to feather the new wet clay over the old dry clay, so there’s a lot of area where the two sections meet. This will create a good bond, and there won’t be a visible line when the clay dries.

      I hope this helps. Have fun. And please let us see your critter when it’s done.

        • So im just about done, got all the layers of paper clay put on, now I just gotta wait for it to dry. I was wondering if it can be baked at all in the oven to help speed along the drying process? Or if it’s just best to leave it for the three days?

          • You can dry the piece in a very low oven, I don’t advise leaving it in an oven over 200F. This will speed up the drying, but not nearly as well as putting it over a heating vent where warm air is moving.

            Do we get to see it when it’s done?

          • Oh i never thought of placing it over a vent! I’m going to do that. And Most definitely, once it’s done i’ll post up the pictures, i’m really excited to share it with you guys because I’m pretty proud of how well it’s turning out =)
            Oh for anyone who had the same trouble I did with little ears, what i’ve ended up doing is taking a thicker paper, cupping out the ears and then layering gesso onto it, to make it rigid. This seems to have worked a lot better then applying the pache clay directly too such a small area.


    • Unfortunately, we haven’t heard from anyone in India who has found products that work well with this recipe. You can leave out the linseed oil, but if your construction industry doesn’t use plasterboard to build walls, there might not be any joint compound available. I’ve also been told that the brand of glue that’s easiest to obtain might not work very well. Perhaps another reader from India will post some good alternatives for us.

  • I tried the paper mache clay recipe with my middle school students. They complained about the smell of the linseed oil. I must admit it was pretty strong. Could I leave it out? Or substitute something else? Thanks

  • I’m loving the clay recipe! So much easier to use than the traditional paste. I am working on a sculpture that will be covered in ABC gum. :) Do you think I will need to put a coating over the clay to protect it from the wetness of the gum when it is applied? Comments? Tips? Thanks!

    • Hmm – this is certainly a question I’ve never seen before!

      I don’t think you’ll need to worry about the wetness of the gum, since the paper mache clay does dry really hard. If it’s soaked in water it might get soggy, but I don’t think it would be a problem in this case. Is the gum itself going to provide the “glue” that makes it stick, or will you be using something else, like a hot glue gun?

      You have to let us see this when it’s done.

  • Hi Jonni, I am looking for a inexpensive medium that my middle school art students can us to create maquette for a larger sculpture project. Can I use paperclay to create these small sculptures, about 5 or 6 inches high without using an armature?

    • Hi Carol. Unfortunately, the answer is no. The paper mache clay recipe was developed as an alternative to the messier paper strips and paste, so it still needs an armature. However, paper clay – the kind that’s actually clay with paper in it, should work OK.

  • Hullo.

    Iv been looking at your site for donkeys years and im just wondering if there are anymore simpler recipies for the clay?

    I would love to try this at school (im makeing a something to do with fantasy art) since no one else has done anything like it, i think it could help me get more marks towards my grade. The only problem is that i have very limited resorces to make the clay. I dont have acces to elmers glue or wood glue and i was wondering if i could do this without the glue?

    • Hi Nikki. I did a lot of experiments, and I couldn’t find a way to leave out the glue. However, I’m sure there are more experiments that could be done. One that I didn’t try is to replace the glue with boiled wheat paste. I have no idea if this would work, but it might be worth trying.

      If you leave out the glue and don’t replace it with anything, you’ll just be using joint compound that has paper in it. Joint compound tends to crack if it’s applied in anything more than a paper-thin layer. It wasn’t created for use in thicker applications. The glue avoids that problem, and makes the clay get hard. Joint compound alone will soften if water is added, and needs to be protected. All that said, you might want to play with it and see what happens. Be sure to let us know so we can all learn from your experiments.

  • Well, I did it! My first ever video on YouTube! And the first one I created so it’s pretty basic, but hopefully it will still be useful to others. Here is the URL.
    Jonni, please feel free to preview it before posting this on your blog. If you don’t think it will be of help, you won’t hurt my feelings if you decide not to post it.

    Looks like it’s not active, so I’ll try to send it to you via email.

  • I’m a trained Milliner currently working in the area of alternative and recycled materials/fabrics. I started a few years back on searching for alternatives to the hatblocks used, as they’re very expensive! On your website you have mentioned that when dried, the clay is quite strong, would it be suitable to use as ‘hatblock’?

    • Hi Jozephine. The clay is strong, so it should hold it’s shape quite well. If spread on a flat surface it may warp while it dries, so you may need to do some experimenting. It’s also a fairly hard surface, so if you need it to be softer, you might need to glue on some felt. If you do experiment with it, I hope you’ll let us see how they turn out. And we’d also love to see your hats!

  • Hi Jonni, (and anyone else out there with an answer for this!)
    I just finished creating a video/slideshow showing some of the armature techniques that I found successful with my cement sculpture. The thought is that these same ideas should work with paper mache, as well.

    First time ever using Windows Movie Maker, so it’s not so creative, just the basics. I’m sure that I could work forever tweaking it, but I’m sure that most people won’t really care. My question is how do I post it? I have an account on YouTube that I can post the link to, if I am able to upload it. (first time for that, as well!) Rather than just doing really short ones, I decided to put it all on one, so it’s about 9 minutes long, broken up into 5 parts. Any ideas? I know there are other sites, just not sure what ones are best.

    • Nikki, after you get your video onto YouTube, send put the URL of the YouTube page where it’s located (no html) in a comment. It WordPress erases it, send it to me in an email, and I’ll post your video from this end. I know we would all love to see it. It sounds really useful.

  • Hi, Jonni, I have been using a recipe for several years like this one except for the linseed oil. I made up a batch and it feels nice. I would like to know though, if the linseed oil would be volatile even though its mixed into other mediums. I need to oven dry a mask on low (195 degrees) overnight.

    • I sometimes dry my pieces in a very low oven, and I’ve had no problems. However, I’ve never left them unattended. They actually dry faster in a warm place with moving air, like over a heat register.

      • Thank you so much for responding so quickly. The air register is a really good tip too. I can see why moving warm air would wick the moisture away faster. I don’t have floor registers but have a shelf that sits below an upper wall grate. So far, so good!

  • Hello Jonni,

    I’m about to try your recipe and would like to know if the linseed oil has any special property or it can be substituted by ordinary cooking oil.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Juliana. Linseed oil is a drying oil, and most oils are not. I don’t think your cooking oil will work – but we have found that glycerin can be substituted for the oil with good results. Also, if you’re concerned about the chemicals in the boiled linseed oil you could try using flax seed oil from the health food store – the same stuff but without the weird things added and more expensive. Or, you could just leave it out – the clay will still work without it.

  • Jonni,

    Thank you for being such a valuable resource. I am having fun “playing” with the clay. Is there a way to speed up the drying process?

    I’ll do my best to post pictures of some of my projects soon.


  • Jonni, thanks for the info. on the hooves. Glad I’m not the only one who struggles with them being too big.

    Tubes – you can get the long sturdy tubes from upholstery shops – those that sell fabric and also those that upholster chairs ect.

    • Good idea – and the tubes at the fabric store are sometimes rectangular, so they’d work for different shapes. What great ideas you are all coming up with lately!

  • Hi Jonni,

    First off thanks for such a fantastic resource. The information is abundant and so helpful.

    A quick question on pinatas. I wrote recently and asked you about using your PM clay recipe – and wondered if it would be hard enough for a long-lasting pinata. You assured me that it would.

    As I think about ‘advanced’ and ‘creative’ designs for a pinata, I am wondering about an idea and would like your thoughts / input / advice on how to excute.

    Do you think that I could create a sculpture – any kind of scultpure – then cut it in half to remove the armature – then reassemble it as hollow- ? It could take my pinatas to new places!!! :) I guess I may lose some of the structural integrity and strength – but if I make the seam and then build the whole sculpture up to disguise the seam – do you think it would work? Also, is there a certain treatment of the armature that I should consider to make it easier to remove? Cover it in foil or some other medium?

    I really appreciate your help. I am excited about the possibilities —


    • Yes, Justin – you can definitely cut open your sculpture and remove the innards. It could make very large sculptures unstable, so you might want to create long valleys in your armature. Once those are filled in you would have internal ribs that could support the sculpture while it’s moving. However, it might also make it impossible to break. Did you try using the clay for a pinata? If so, were you able to break it? Be sure to experiment with how thick the walls need to be to hold up without a support and still allow the piece to break after enough whacks. And be sure to let us know what you find out!

      The Yahoo Papier Mache Art group has been sending URLs of paper mache sites, and one of the sites was a company that makes large (and very expensive) pinatas. You have to check it out:

  • Again, this is something that really helped me and even ‘tho I worked with cement, I think it will work for the PM Clay, as well. I often made my armature out of styrofoam. I got it in the insulation dept of Home Depot. It comes in a variety of thicknesses; is easy to cut; is easy to shape with a file; and it’s lightweight. You can join pieces together for thickness or to add another dimension. I made a huge mountain, which I think is in one of the photos I uploaded earlier, it also has mountain lions on it. The armature for everything is from styrofoam. I also made a tiny newborn foal using the styrofoam as an armature. I think that I have some photos that I took of the works in progress, as well as the final sculptures. I will look for them and try to post them, Jonni, if you think this might be useful to you and others. Let me know.

    • Yes, Nikki – we’d love to see one of your works in progress. The Styrofoam probably adds quite a lot of support to your concrete sculptures, without adding weight.

    • Hi Deborah. I’m glad the book has been helpful. The hoof issue is something I struggled with, too. That’s why I ended up using the tin foil – it’s easier to squish it smaller. With paper mache added over the armature, all the narrow shapes, like legs and hooves, will get slightly bigger. If you can, remove some of the material around the armature in that area, and try again. Also, do a google image search for horse’s hooves, so you can see how the shapes come together – that helped me a lot. Here’s a really nice one I just found.

      Do please show us your horse when she’s done – the instructions for adding photos to your comments can be found here.

  • Jonni, I just received your animal paper mache book and it really helped me with my horse. I love the book – it is just what I have been searching for. finding good books on paper mache , until now, has been impossible! Tomorrow I will make the paper mache clay and cover her. I am making this for a friend who lost her mare two months ago to a tendon injury. I will take a picture and hope to get it on here and will let you know how she likes it.
    by the way, my armature is made of wire stuffed with paper, but the aluminum foil was very helpful. I hope to make another horse and will try out your cardboard armature.

  • Glad I decided to let you all know about the tubes! I have a couple of photos of my columns, but not quite sure how to post them now.

  • Hi!
    I have been recruited to create a paper dress for a paper fashion show. I have almost no experience in clothing construction (I am in graphic design), but am considering making the top part of the dress (the bustier) out of paper mache. Is this a good idea? If it cracked and split during the show, it would be a little inconvenient for the person wearing the piece (me :S), so it needs to be pretty strong. Is this a possibility, or a bad idea? Any suggestions for the type of paper mache or clay? Any and all advice and suggestions are welcome!


      • What if you did the bustier part in at least two pieces, say back + one front 1/2 + the other front 1/2, hinged together by something more flexible (non-mache paper?) That way, you’d have the effect, with some flex, and it might be easier to construct, too.
        You could even do some pm ornaments on the skirt area (or wherever). What a fun idea! Hope we get to see what you come up with.

    • Hi Rebecca. Your idea should work. You can get some ideas about making the bustier fit on this dress form tutorial. There’s also a link on that page for instructions for making a paper mache dress form. I would suggest using the strips and paste method or the paper mache clay recipe on this page, because it would be slightly lighter and much stronger than traditional paper mache pulp.

      Getting the thing on and off will be the tricky part. Some sort of cloth hinge, with ties? Hmm – interesting problem. Does anyone else have ideas for Rebecca?

      • Hey there Rebecca,

        I live in New Zealand and we have a thing here called the World of Wearable Arts. Amazing. I entered in 2006 and the top of my garment was made of paper mache. If you go to and check out the website you can see that it’s a crazy, artistic fashion show with amazing choreography. So so cool! Talk about inspiring! The bustier idea can definitely be done! Easy peasy. I’d post pictures of my garment, but am a bit of a dope when it comes to this. If you’d like…you can sure email me privately and I can help you through it. I’m at I lined the hardened paper mache form with super soft cloth (polar fleece) and just glued it right to the form and then actually bought a multiple hook bra hook/closure at the fabric store to hook it up. You might even think of paper maching a front and then a separate back. You could then punch holes or easily put in grommets (the metal holes or “eyelets”) down either side of each side (if that makes sense) of the “mached” pieces, lace up one side like a corset (or like lacing a shoe), put the bustier on and then lace up the other side. If you can get a hold of a female mannequin torso, (cheap as chips for a beat up one on ebay) you can then just paper mache directly on top of the form. That way it would have time to dry properly. Then you can carefully pop it off of each side. Even if you don’t sew or know garment construction…you can make this bustier without a bit of garment experience. Again, if I can help…email me and I’ll get pictures of the process sent to you and fill you full of more of my words of wisdom! Ha! :)

        Cheers! Beth
        – Show quoted text –

        • Beth, we’d all love to see those photos. Check the instructions here, to see how to upload your images, if you feel like sharing. It’s not terribly hard. A little, but not too much :)

          • Hey Jonni,

            Well I tried the IMGUR link so we’ll see if you can see it, eh? :) Hope you enjoy the images. This wearable piece is called “Time on Earth” with Father Time floating in with his hand resting on Mother Earth’s shoulder. I hadn’t found your site when I did this in 2006 so the pregnant belly bodice and Father Time’s head are made from traditional paper mache strip technique. I’ll cross my fingers I did it right! Ha! :)

            Let me know Jonni…will ya? Cheers! Beth

          • Just me again, Jonni…

            I checked to see if the link worked and it did! (from what I see here anyway!) I did upload 3 pictures but only see one of them (the close up) with imgur??? Oh well…so If you don’t see the pics of Father Time with this upload, I can sure try to get another one posted of just him if you’re interested. See Ya!

          • Hi Beth, only one image came through. Since your images are quite large, try to go back to the Imgur page where you uploaded the images, and click on “other sizes.” That should give you an option for a small thumbnail. When you click on it, nothing seems to happen, but the links on the left-hand column will change. If you copy the one for emails, the one that ends in .jpg – and also send me the link at the very top of your browser window to get the URL from the address bar, I can link the small images to your large one on the imgur site. That’s what I did with the one image that came through.

            I do wish we had an easier way to do this, but I haven’t found one yet. Please try again – the one image we got is wonderful, and we want to see more.

          • Wow – very nice. Can you tell us how the bodice was made? (and see your other comment to find out how to get the other images uploaded. We do want to see them.)

  • Brilliant suggestion to use the tube forms! I can see them as being great for building life-size animals! Elephant legs, and even bodies!

    So many great ideas here! Love the synergy!

  • It was never a problem. I would either apply the mixture (sand and white portland cement) either with a trowel, knife, or my hands; press it into place in small sections. The mixture wasn’t wet enough to make anything soggy, ‘tho the cardboard tubes are pretty sturdy. Also, just as you do with the PM Clay, I did thin layers at a time, which allowed it to dry quickly. Since I live in the desert area of Arizona, I sometimes needed to put a wet towel over it to keep it from drying too fast! That would cause cracking. But if it did crack, I simply would go back to that area and fill it in with the cement. In this case, I would think that you could use the PM Clay in the same way. Finding these forms was such a huge help to me.
    I meant to add in the first post, that I think you could use braces, both small ones, “l-shaped” and larged shelf brackets for more strength. I used the “l-shaped” ones often when joining sections.
    I think that if you experienced some slipping, you could put on some paper mache strips to roughen the surface a bit. But I don’t see it as a problem. Also possibly laying it flat on a surface and working horizontally across, or bottom up, etc.

  • Hi everyone,
    I’ve been reading everyone’s great comments to help each other. This is so wonderful!
    Haven’t seen this mentioned before, so thought I’d throw it in now in case it’s helpful. If you need an armature for something that is tubular, you can find cardboard tubes in a variety of circumferences at building supply stores or cement supply sources. I have used them very successfully as an armature for my cement sculptures and just put the cement layer on the outside, much like the way I’ve seen described for the paper mache strips, or the PM Clay. The tubes can be cut to the size needed. and also you can add shapes on to the sides with screws, supports, etc. I also put on a wooden base and top for some of mine with a round piece of wood and then sculpted over that as I needed it to be strong enough to hold another sculpture on top of it. They are now over 10 years old, and doing just fine. The forms we have locally are “Quik Tubes” building forms. I find them in the cement section of Home Depot. They are extremely strong, and by using them the finished figure would already be hollow. I’m thinking that you could probably create an amazing variety of shapes. Hope this helps. The tubes are created for builders to pour the cement mixtures into and create columns of solid concrete, thus the variety of sizes.

    • Good idea, Nikki. I’m wondering how you apply the concrete to the outside of the tubes without the wet concrete slumping towards the ground. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Nikki…
      THANK YOU for your suggestion about where to buy cardboard tubes, “Quik Tubes”!! I never would have thought to look in the cement section at Home Depot!! I was going to go and just walk around the store looking for “inspiration”… but I haven’t had a chance to do that yet.

      I can use one big tube in the center and then build it up with paper towel and toilet paper tubes to create a rough shape. At that point, I can use newspaper and masking tape to fine tune the shape. What do you think?

      I would love to see pictures of the projects you’ve done. Will you post them here?

      Thanks, Nikki!! :)

      • I found the Quikrete cement tubes at Lowe’s and Home Depot!! They have multiple sizes…. but I’ll probably get the 8″ x 48″.

        THANK YOU, NIKKI!! :)

        • In case anyone is looking for big round tubes, I just got a few when my mother hand her floors done, vinyl floors ,(and sometimes carpet) comes on big cardboard rolls, if you ask at flooring places, you maybe able to find some, cheap skate me is always on the look out for free useful stuff :))

          • Hi Chris. Good idea – a flooring place probably has to pay to have the tubes hauled away. I’m starting to imagine all sorts of things to use them for. A totem pole is the first thing that comes to mind. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?

  • This is probably a really stupid question… but is the Paper Mache Clay recipe used in lieu of the Paper Mache Paste recipe? I was under the impression that you use the strips of paper and the paste recipe for the first few coats… and then you use the clap recipe as a “top coat”.

    As I ready through some of these posts… it sounds like people are using the clay recipe instead of the paste recipe. Am I reading this wrong? Will a thin layer of just the clay be enough?

    I am SO confused right now!! Help!! LOL!!

    • Actually, you can do several different things with the clay recipe. I use the paper mache clay instead of paper strips and paste. One layer is often all you need, because it’s quite strong. In some cases you might want to use one or two layers of paper strips and paste, and then use the paper mache clay over it. The only time I can think of that I would do that is if I was using a chicken wire frame. The clay would fall through the holes in the wire, so it would need some kind of backing. Otherwise I use the clay by itself. It is a bit more expensive than paper strips and flour paste, though. Also, if you make your vase with the clay and then cut it apart to get the inside armature out, you’ll need to stick the pieces back together. The strips and paste would work for that, and then a thin top-coat of clay could cover the strips after they dry, and hide them.

      If you look at the post about my Joker mask, you can scroll down a bit and see the mask after the armature was taken out. You can see how thin the wall of the mask was. I’m pretty sure I could throw the thing on concrete and it wouldn’t break. The combination of Elmer’s glue and joint compound seems to create a product that is much more like plastic than paper – it is rather amazing stuff. You might want to make up a batch and play with it – make something, let it dry, and then see if you think it’s what you’d like to use for your project.

      • Thanks, Jonni!! You just saved me hours and hours… actually… days and days of work!! LOL!! I love it!!

    • Hi Debbie, The nomenclature can be a bit confusing indeed.

      Torn paper strips and GLUE can and are used in layers to make PM shapes. The glue used commonly is white PVA glue and I often use Elmer’s Glue-All brand.

      Torn paper strips and PASTE can and are used in layers to make PM shapes. The PASTE I use has regular general purpose white flour, PVA glue and Liquid Starch with some water mixed in as well. There are many, many variations of paste used.

      Paper Mache Clay (generally) is made of mushed up paper ( toilet paper or newspaper or “other”) that is then mixed with the above mentioned GLUE or PASTE and Drywall Compound (I also add acrylic paint) of course there are many, many variations of that as well.

      I often use “paper mache clay” on top of a few layers of torn paper strips and PASTE for my creations depending on the goal and location. For example no flour used for my yard art to keep hungry critters from snacking on my efforts.

      The combination of paper and paste (or glue) makes a surprisingly strong “composite” material because paper is made of fibers that binds with the Glue or PASTE and that applies to both the strip and clay mache types.

      Remember at the top of this very post (topic) is Jonni’s now famous recipe of her “paper mache clay” with another nicely produced How To video about it.

      • Hi Bob…
        Thank you for the clarification. This is my first attempt and I am extremely frustrated right now!! I want to make a 36″ floor vase and I haven’t had much luck so far. I started by using the garbage bag method, filling it with crumbled newspapers. I even made a cardboard base and used twine to help with the shape. Long story short… and after mutilating 5 garbage bags and using a whole roll of 2″ masking tape… I gave up!!

        I actually posted a message to Jonni earlier asking for help!! I’m just not sure what to use to shape the armature. I saw the plant stand that you made… and the floor vase that I want to make is similar in size.

        I am on my way out to Lowe’s to walk up and down the aisles in hopes of finding things to use!! Where did you get the 4″ cardboard tube? Was it expensive? If I use a tube like that… what would I use to build up the vase shape around it? Maybe I should have started with a 3″ lizard!! LOL!!

        Thank you for any advice you can offer!! :)

        • Hi Debbie. I’ve been lurking on this discussion, and an idea occurred to me that might work for you. Jonni uses flat forms to give the general silhouette of her final form. What if you used that idea for your vase? Like, cut out of cardboard a vase shape, make another just like it and notch them together so they cross. You could then put that inside a plastic bag (or wrap in plastic wrap?) to make it easier to remove later. You could make your vase have flat sides, or fill it out between the vanes of cardboard. You could add a smooth twist to the cardboard, which would give the final vase a neat spiral effect! Just brain-storming here… Good luck! :)

          • Hi Xan…
            Thank you so much for the great idea!! I was ready to put the bag and papers in the fireplace and call it a day!! The vase definitely needs support… like your cardboard suggestion!! I’ll give it a shot and keep you posted!!

            Thank you!!

        • Hi Debbie, I was reading your posts and wondering how you were going to make that round vase with a gargage bag and tape. Here’s a suggestion using Jonni’s paper clay. Use a VERY large salad bowl to make the bottom half. I would use some plastic wrap stretched over the outside of the bowl for easy release.(I don’t know if it will stick to the bowl, maybe not.)Let dry. Then use the bowl to make the top half leaving an opening for a cardbord tube to be inserted for the neck.. When dry, put the two parts together with a strips of paper and pm glue or clay all around. Let dry. Put some paper clay in the bottom of the bowl to anchor the tube and push it all the way down. Be sure to anchor it to the bottom for stability. You might later want to put some pebbles or sand in there to stabilize the vase and it would be easier to get in or out. Use paper clay to fill in the spaces around the neck and build it up like the vase in the picture. Keep turning the vase at eye level as you are working on it to make sure the neck stays straight. You might find an inexpensive large plastic bowl at a used merchandise store. If that’s not big enough for the vase you want, try a plastic beach ball. However the bowl does have a flat bottom and would be easier to get the two sections alike. If you can’t find a cardbord tube, get some poster board. Find a bottle the size you want the tube to be and roll the poster board around and tape it.
          To get the texture like the vase in the picture, I would wrap string or cord around it. The easy way to do that is to make a thin water/glue(or flour/water) mixture in a coffee can. Feed as much string as you think you need in to the mixture making sure not to tangle it so it will pull out easily. Make an X in the plastic can cover and insert the string. This will pull most of the mixture out of the string as it goes through.
          Put the vase on a lazy susan and turn it as you glue on the string, starting at the bottom edge and wind upwards. If you want the string underneath, it’s easier to make the swirl on a paper plate. When dry, trim off the paper plate and glue it on to the bottom of the vase. Ready to paint and antique like the picture.
          I hope this helps you debbie. I haven’t done this for a long time. I just discovered this web site really like it. Thanks to Jonni, I have learned a lot. Love the new paper clay recipie.
          Happy New Year,

          • Hi Jay…
            Yes… I was wondering MYSELF how I was going to make a vase with a garbage bag and tape!! Needless to say… I didn’t!! LOL!!

            Thank you for your salad bowl idea!! I love it!! So… when are you going to come over to show me how to do it? LOL!! I will give it a try and let you know how it goes!!

            I stumbled across this site last week and I am so thankful that I did!! You guys are awesome!!

            Thanks again, Jay!! :)

        • Hi Debbie, Starting off small is how I began. I made an egg shape 6″ long x ~3.5″ thick (not exactly a 3″ lizard but close to it) and used it to test materials and techniques. I was able to get a feel for just making the PM clay and paste, test what it was like to dry it in an oven vs a fan, compare textures of the PM paper strip and paste method vs PM Clay and see how paint looked on both etc. I still use that now but it has very little original surface area remaining to be used. This may set you back a few days from your main floor vase objective but the information and technique I learned starting this way gave me a major advantage in time, materials and confidence.

          Making a large PM Spherical shape is a real challenge, (at least for me) as does getting a smooth nicely curved PM surface. I made a life size skull using the plastic bag and tape technique and it was a real learning experience because “sculpting” with a thin plastic bag filled with crumpled newspaper was a foreign concept. Another way people have made this shape is with a large (in your case) balloon or an inexpensive child’s beach ball as an armature. I have no experience with this kind of armature …yet!

          I made a frog using two techniques: crumpled paper with masking tape and a frog shaped armature made by using narrow strips of cereal box cardboard hot glued to each other and to carefully designed cardboard frog like shapes.

          The crumpled paper with masking tape went quickly and is more “free flowing’ while the hot glue cardboard strip approach is much more precise and takes longer. You can see an example of each on my web page called “ Frog Paper Mache”. I think Xan’s nice idea is a combination of both and could work well.

          I learn much about these techniques from Scott A. Stoll seen here:

          Pumpkins V 2.0

          Looks like Scott has a new video showing the hot glue and cardboard strip approach too.

          • Hi Bob…
            The last thing I wanted to hear was… “start out small.” LOL!! I know that you’re right… I just didn’t want to hear it!! I am usually a very methodical and organized person… but I honestly wanted to just jump into this project with both feel and no parachute!! LOL!!

            I love Scott’s site too!! He does an amazing job!!

            Don’t go too far… I may need your help, as I attempt this project once again!!

            Thanks, Bob!!

          • Hi Debbie, Everyone who posts here with their name in blue has listed a web page ( nice dog painting Xan!) and a left click should take you there but just in case my paper mache activity starts here:

            I forgot to mention the source of my tube, sorry. It is a “found” item in my garage when I bought the house. After poking around online a bit it appears a rug was wrapped around it so that may be another way to get them but Nikki’s suggestions looks great!

  • Hi Debbie,

    I would like to 2nd Jonni’s words about definitely making a large vase. Your question had perfect timing because I was about to post my similar project here.

    I just made my wife a 20“ tall working plant stand for Christmas that can easily hold a waterlogged plant and have attached a picture of it and the bits I used to make it.

    It is made of parts from three 1 gallon milk jugs, a 4“ diameter cardboard tube that has a 1/4“ thick wall (very strong), masking tape, hot glue, paper and paste strips and a variation of Jonni’s PM Clay. It is finished with Jonni’s recipe of home made tinted gesso. Oh, also lots and lots and lots of sanding! Whew!

    The decorations you see are photographs I took of various pot and plant holders she has around the house that have the theme she likes. I wanted to make “3D” decorations and paint them too but I ran out of time. The photos were cut out and carefully glued to the gesso and then the entire plant holder was give 3 coats of Krylon’s “Moisture-resistant, UV-Resistant, Clear Acrylic Coating”. I successfully used MinWax Spar Urethane on outdoor PM Toadstools it but it would have yellowed the subtle blue “porcelain” finish so I used the Krylon spray.

    I hope you will post pictures of your protect.

    paper mache plant stand

    • Wow – Bob, I knew you intended to make a plant stand, but I had no idea it would turn out so well. It really does look like porcelain. Did you leave the plastic milk jug in the bottom to help with the moisture that might soak through from the plants?

      And look at that Christmas cactus, blooming right on time.

      • Thanks Jonni, This great web page, your kind and generous openness in sharing your skill and knowledge was and continues to be an inspiration!

        The plastic milk jugs were used as an armature to help make the shape I wanted but if water ever got that deep into this piece it would be mush I’m sure. I did test the Krylon product against the MinWax Helmsmen Spar Urethane and both made water bead and not wet the surface.

        Unlike the toadstools that have endured two summers outdoors this will not see the hot sun or drenching rain. So I suspect it will survive and a small clear plastic “dish” is on list to be placed between the plant stand and the pot.

        Yes the Christmas cactus flowers were spectacular this year!

    • Hi Bob!
      Your plant stand looks awesome!! You did a GREAT job!! Is this your first project? If not, what else have you made? Do you have pictures?

      This is my first attempt and I could hardly sleep last night because I was SO excited to get my supplies and get started!! I feel overwhelmed because I have so many ideas and I want to make so many things!! LOL!!

      I would love to see more pictures of your projects. I would like to make a cow, like the elephant that Jonni made. My friend collects cows and I would love to make one for her collection. Maybe not as big as Jonni’s elephant… that thing weighs 30 lbs!! LOL!! But it is amazing and I hope to be that creative… and good… one day!!

      Again… GREAT plant stand!!

      • I’m not Bob, but I can help with this one. :) Use the search thingy at the top of the page and type in Bob C. You should get a list of all his comments – and many of them have photos. When you find a comment of his with his name in blue, you can click on it to see his web page. In fact, everyone should do this, because Bob shares a lot of ideas and the results of many of his experiments. His comments are a wonderful resource. (Thanks, Bob…)

        • Hi Jonni, I had no idea the search function could be used that way, that is so helpful. There are so many good things you and others have shared on this site and that makes it much easier to find and explore. Random search words should be a blast! Thanks for explaining that.

      • Hi Debbie, thanks for your kind remarks. This is not my 1st project but I’m still a relative newbie to PM and the plant stand was the biggest piece I’ve made thus far. It was a departure from my other efforts and I must say all that sanding to get it smooth and bump free did get a bit “old” but I did learned lessons about armature prep etc.

        As Jonni mentioned my web page has more pictures and info and is my attempt to “give back” a little to the PM community. It is a very old site and I’m considering an update but as you said, so many ideas and so little time. I plan on putting the plant stand project there…..real soon! Sigh!

        You mentioned Jonni’s elephant, truly an amazing big work of art, not to mention a well produced, edited, narrated and filmed project all on its on. Wow! I watched it several times! Just another inspiring example of Jonni’s talent and skills.

        I wish you well on you new adventure, be bold, experiment a lot, try new stuff and share the joy!

  • I am going to try and make a tall floor vase, approximately 36″ tall. They are so expensive to buy… and I thought that I could make one by using paper mache and then using joint compound for the outer layer.

    I thought about using chicken wire to mold the shape before covering with paper mache. Do you have another suggestion for making a mold that large? What would you suggest using for the base?

    Would you suggest using a typical paper mache recipe or your paper mache clay recipe for the outer layer? My goal is to sand it smooth and use paint for the outer layer to create an “old world” look.

    I really appreciate any suggestions that you have to offer. Your work is beautiful and I am looking forward to trying your clay recipe! If not for this project… for another project down the road!

    Thank you!!

    • Hi Debbie. I think the chicken wire would work Ok. The paper mache clay would fall through it, but if you added one layer of paper strips and paste, or even if you covered the wire with masking tape, you could then use the paper mache clay. It’s easier to get a smooth surface with the clay, although the joint compound over paper strips and paste works well too. In fact, the joint compound is a little easier to sand.

      Of course, if you make a vase out of any kind of paper it won’t be waterproof – but I’m sure you knew that. You could use a round piece of plywood to make a nice flat base.

      • Hi Jonni!
        After reading through your website… I almost think that I can just crumble up newspaper and use duct tape to create the shape. Here is a sample of the type of floor vase I am trying to make:

        Since it’s so big… would you use the joint compound mixture or the clay mixture? I plan on sanding it down and doing some sort of decorative finish. I may even embellish it with raised joint compound to give it texture before painting it.

        These are purely decorative and I won’t be using them with any real plants!! LOL!!

        So what do you think? Am I being overzealous? Do you think that I can create a tall, floor vase using paper mache?

        Thank you for responding so quickly!! I really appreciate it!! I can’t wait to get up in the morning to get started!! LOL!! But… I don’t mind your advice and opinions!! I am reaching out for constructive criticism… so criticize away!! :)

        Thank you!!

        • Debbie, you can definitely make a large vase with paper mache. Someone who watched my baby elephant video on YouTube used the ideas and built a life-sized adult Indian elephant. If they can make something that large, you can definitely make a vase.

          You could use newspaper and masking tape. After the paper mache dries completely you can cut the vase in half, remove the paper armature, and then put the vase back together with more paper mache. If you use at least 8 layers of paper it will probably be strong enough to hold up the weight of joint compound applied to the outside, but be sure to test this first. I think I’d go ahead and use the clay recipe, because a 1/8″ layer is plenty strong, and you can use the clay itself to add decorative textures. But the traditional strips and paste will work, too. Be sure to let us see the vase when it’s done. Even better, take a few photos during the process, and let us see how it all goes together. I know I’d like to see it.

          • I saw the life-size elephants and a life-size giraffe!! They are amazing!! My little 36″ vase sounds silly next to the awesome projects!! LOL!!

            I bought all of my supplies this morning and I can’t wait to get started!! I am going to fill a garbage bag with the crumbled newspaper and use masking tape to create the shape. I’ll use the strips of paste first. It’s funny that you suggested cutting the vase in half… because I was wondering how to get the paper out!! LOL!! I guess it really won’t matter if I cut it in half because I can patch it back together again and use the clay as the top layer. Excellent!!

            I will definitely take pictures as I go along. You and your website have been such an inspiration and I am SO excited to start making projects!!

            THANK YOU!!

          • Great. We can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but be sure to let your vase dry absolutely bone dry before cutting it apart. Otherwise, the shape will get distorted and you’ll have a hard time getting it back together again. (I had that problem with my giraffe head, when I cut it apart to get the clay out.)

          • Thanks, Jonni!! I will painstakingly wait for it to completely dry before I cut it apart. LOL!!

          • Hi Holly!
            I plan on taking pictures as I make my projects… at least I hope I remember to!! LOL!! I will definitely use the clay as the top coat. I love the smooth finish.

            Do you have any projects that you can share? I would love to see pictures!!

  • I am working on a paper mache horse.
    I just made my wire armature. I will crumble paper and put it onto the armature with masking tape.
    Will I then apply the clay recipe with a knife to the armature ? (no layers of traditional paper mache)?

  • Three questions:
    Is it carveable when set or is it much like a hard plaster or clay? I understand it is pliable before drying.
    The linseed oil; is there a particular reason for that type of oil? In wood working I have found that linseed oil never quite dries as a finish. Is that part of the magic? Could a less toxic oil be used like walnut oil?
    Can you freeze the clay for long term storage?
    I am not a sculptor but I have a creative side and I love this idea, thanks

    • Hi Mike. I think the linseed oil makes the clay dry harder than it would without it. However, the recipe still works if you leave it out. I haven’t tried it with any other type of oil, but we have tried substituting glycerin, and that works really well. And it’s non-toxic. You can also find edible linseed oil at the natural food store, labeled as flax seed oil, but that would be a bit excessively expensive.

      The clay does dry hard, I would say almost more like plastic than plaster. You can drill and sand, but I have not tried carving it. Freezing it should be OK – I use mine up fast because I mess around with it all the time, so I haven’t actually tried it.


  • Thank you for the recipe! Someone from my hand papermaking discussion group just posted a link to your website and I must say, your recipe looks intriguing and I’ll try it out soon. One question: do you know if recycled paper passed through the blender would do the same as the toilet paper? If I use the same amount of recycled pulp, wouldn’t it do the trick?

    • Yes, people have used recycled paper, and it works just fine. Make sure you use plenty of water in the blender, so you don’t burn out the motor.

  • Hi Jonni! Thanks for the recipe for the clay – it was so fun to make! I don’t think that I have done anything with paper mache’ for around 35 years so this was a treat to have a go at! Also, I have never thought that I had the skills to be able to do anything in clay and sculpting but I am wanting to have a try.Just a couple of questions that I hope you can answer. I think in your video you said that to make the clay thicker to add more flour? Would that then make in like air drying clay? Also is it possible to make the clay ‘stick’ to fabric? I have been making cloth dolls and thought that to make a body (pancake style doll) and to then cover with the paper mache clay. Not the complete doll, but just the head and down to the shoulders? Might sound a bit strage, but I guess you may understand how ideas can dance around your head! Love to know what you think!

    • Hi Anne Maree. The flour does make the PM clay a bit less “juicy,” but it doesn’t give it the quality of air dried clay. However, if you want to put it over a fabric doll (interesting idea!) I think you’d want to use the recipe as-is, at least to start with. It should stick to fabric, and you’d want it to sink in just a little so it got a firm hold. Once you see how that works, then start adjusting the recipe a bit to see what happens.

      I would love to see how this turns out for you – it’s a really nice idea, and I think there’s a very good chance that you’ll have very good results.

  • hi,
    I am making mask for a center piece and was wondering how long would this product take to dry before i start making them because i have several to make. another question is it durable or is the finale product like plaster very easy to break once it dries. Thanks :-))

    • Hi Cassandra. The PM clay will take about the same amount of time to dry as regular paper mache. The actual time will depend on how thickly you apply the clay, and the temperature in the room where they dry. Give them at least three days, and possibly more. The clay dries extremely hard – more like plastic than plaster.

      Be sure to let us see how they turn out. The idea of using masks as a centerpiece is really interesting.

  • Jonni,

    For my school project in drama we are to make a mask from scratch. I’m making a chinese dragon mask and I’ve made the base of it with Model Magic so that its ok on my face for long periods of time. I’m planning on covering that with paper mache so that it is stronger and I can build up my face and snout. I’m then going to put another layer of Model Magic on top to create scales, and so I can paint it. I was wondering if this clay would stick well to Model Magic (it’s the old formula by Crayola) and if it cracks at all? I’ve heard people having a problem with drywall compound like stuff cracking and breaking when dropped. Do you think I should use this clay for my mask, in combination with normal paper mache? And will it crack at all?

    And the other thing is how heavy is it when it dries? I need my mask to be light, and I know normal paper mache is fairly light, but how is this in comparison?

    – Thanks, Amanda.

    • Hi Amanda. I don’t know if the clay would stick to the Model Magic, because I’ve never tried it. However, since you will be using the Model Magic anyway on the outside of the mask to make the details like scales, I don’t really see any need for the PM clay, too. The traditional paper strips and paste are very strong and light, and you’ll get good details with the commercial product, so I think you’ve got all your bases covered.

      I hope you’ll let us see your mask when it’s done.

      • Amanda,
        I think Jonni’s right; if you’re using the Model Magic, you don’t need the PM clay. Should you try to put it over the Model Magic, keep in mind that it will take much longer to dry than it would over cardboard or paper because there won’t be any air flow. If you don’t use PM clay this time, DO try it sometime. You can sand it, drill it and paint it. It’s light, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Good luck. I hope we get to see your mask.

        • It just occurred to me that there might be another problem – the PM clay will shrink slightly. That doesn’t matter at all when it’s placed over a crumpled paper armature, because the paper moves as the clay shrinks. However, the Model Magic probably won’t do that, so you could end up with some cracks.

          And I, too, hope we get to see the mask. I’m really starting to like masks, and I hope to learn more about how they’ve been used in traditional cultures.

          • I am making masks. My partner is from Puerto Rico and we have a small collection of authentic vejigante masks we have purchased when on the island. Colorful and filled with personality, they have been an inspiration to me — and that is how I found your site, researching recipes for creating our own interpretation of the vejigante.

          • So I apoligize for this being such a late reply, but after the mask shows finished, I got busy with other work. My mask turned out great and everyone loved it! I didn’t end up using this clay, but mainly traditional paper mache, and it worked quite well. I’m just back on this site again because my friend is in drama this semester and she is having to make a mask as well, so I’m recommending this site to her for ideas and recipes. But this is my mask, and how it turned out, (there are 5 photos from different angles):


          • What a wonderful mask. Can you give us some details about how it was worn? In other words, how did you keep it on your head?

          • The mask was glued to a painters cap, and also had a chin strap. This worked quite well because it didn’t move around too much when on stage :) And the material in the photo was used to cover the back of my head and hair, and it pinned around at the front, adding extra support.

          • Yes, if I made the elephant again I’d use the clay instead of paper strips and paste. My snow leopard is almost as big as the baby elephant, and it was made with the paper mache clay.

  • Hello Jonni,
    I m Jaya from India,all your tutorials on this website are really amazing,and the clay recipe is fantastic,i ‘ll surely make a try. I made a Jharoka using readymade clay available in market,i think it is papermache clay,but not sure about it,i ‘llpost the picture of clay,let me know is that papermache clay,let me know how to post the pictures of clay and Jharoka in your website.
    Jonni,please help me with the ingredients,what is joint compound?Is it available in India?Tell me other names of joint cmpnd so that i can try here,nd let me know for what purpose it is used outside.
    what is elmers glue? Instead of it may i use fevicol or bulbond?
    What is white flour?Some of my friends tried with maida,cornflour,ceramicpowder,chalkpowder,but they are eaten by bugs.
    please rectify my doubts,Jonni plzzzzzzzzz help me so that i can make perfect nd wonderful sculptures with your clay recipe.
    THANKS in advance.

    • Hello Jaya. Unfortunately, nobody from India has told us yet what joint compound is called there. It’s used to fill the cracks between pieces of plasterboard, which is used to make walls. I don’t know if your houses are made this way, or if joint compound is available there. A recent comment from another person in India indicated that the recipe didn’t work well with the materials she thought were comparable to the ones available here in the United States. The Elmer’s glue is a PVA glue, but I couldn’t find out if the fevicol glue she used has that particular type of plastic in it.

      The white flour is made from wheat, with all the germ and bran taken away. I believe that cornstarch or very fine corn flour would also work, but I haven’t tried it.

      I’m sorry I’m not being very helpful. If you do find the products that work in this recipe, please let us know what brands you used. Be sure to buy small containers, of course, just in case they don’t work.

      • dear jaya ad johny
        for paper mache clay india we could use toilet roll…..fevicol….salt …….and paster of paris i do so…..and no jaya that clay we find in market is not paper mache(atleast not exactly)its more like made of mitti and some glue…….btw acccording to jonni we should be using that white plaster that is used to treat wall ki papdi …….it comes in the ad but i forgot the name…….but u can use these things i mentioned above….
        GOSH!!!i dont noe if im of any help….but being in an army life i gaurantee it works evrywher from j and k to rajastan!!!!

  • Hi Jonni,

    I love the looks of your recipe! I was wondering if it could be thinned enough to be “piped” through the corner of a zip lock bag, for raised elements? Would the base material have to dry first? And for my own experiments, would you recommend adding more glue to make it softer, or leave the paper wetter? Thank you!

    • Hi Anna. You have an interesting idea – and I’m quite sure it will work. You might get a bit more control if you let the first layer dry first, but you should try both methods to see which one you like best. I would either use less flour in the recipe to make it thinner, or add a little bit of water. Be sure to let us know how your experiments turn out!

      • Thank you so much for your reply! I will begin my experiments and let you know how it turns out. I want it to be as smooth as possible, so I am going to try Scott 1 ply paper due to the fact that it is highly recommended for septic tanks because it breaks up very easily. I’ll measure it per your instructions and let you know how much is in a roll and how smooth I can get it.

  • Hello, I was going to try this to make my son a Roman Helment for a history project. Can it be put on a ballon like the strips or will I need a different base? Do you have any sujestions?
    Thank you

    • Hi Brenda. You can use a balloon, but I usually make a form using crumpled paper and masking tape. That way, you have a lot more control over the shape. The clay can be removed from the paper and masking tape form after it dries. To make it even easier to remove the form, use plastic tape instead of masking tape. Or go ahead and use your balloon.

      I hope we can see the helmet when you finish it.

  • Pinatas!


    I have been making pinatas for 15 years for my large extended family. The issue when I started was the pinatas never lasted long enough! So after much looking around, I have been making my pinatas out of plaster cloth. It comes in rolls and you dip it in water and place it on your form – just like paper mache. It is ROCK HARD when it is done – and lasts for many, many whacks.

    The problem is that it gets very dusty when it gets close to breaking, to the point that plaster dust fills the air and covers the floor and candy. The dust gets the kids clothes dirty and last night – got on the DJ’s sound equipment (which he was not happy about!)

    I have never used any other medium for my pinatas – but I would like to try one – if it can be made HARD ENOUGH. The plaster cloth is just soo dusty. Is the PM clay hard? Do you have a particular recipe to make a HARD finished product? Thanks so much for your help –


    • Hi Justin. Yes, the clay is very hard when it dries. It might be a little too strong – do some small tests to see how thin you’ll need to apply the clay in order to create an object that will actually break, eventually.

      And please let us know what you find out! If you have any photos of your pinatas, we’d love to see them.

  • Is it possable to just use the PMC recipes without the TP? I find I must of not broke up the TP good enough. It came out lumpy and it dose stick to the fingers bad. How can a person get a more smoother surface with out too much work.I use the pro sculpt clay and am not used to getting my hans so stuck with plaster and glue. Is there a better way? Could you use it without the paper and add more flour? Help!!

    • Hi Julie. I think that if you leave out the paper the clay will shrink or crack, and it’s won’t be as strong. You can certainly try it, but I don’t think you’ll be happy with the results.

      The trick to making a nice smooth clay is to be sure you’re only using about 1 1/2 cups of wet paper (lots of rolls have more than this, so you need to measure). Let the paper soak for a minute in warm water so it has time to fall apart on it’s own. After squishing out the water and adding the other ingredients (and do use joint compound, not plaster) mix with your electric mixer for at least 3 minutes. This should result in a nice smooth mix. However, it will stick to your fingers – I use a knife to spread the PM clay onto an armature. If you must use your hands instead of a knife (not recommended) you might try wearing a pair of surgical gloves.

      I hope this helps. Enjoy.

      • Julie,
        The TP is actually a key part of the success of this clay. When I started, I too found that the mixture was lumpy, BUT Jonni’s advise to let the paper soak, was exactly what I needed to do to get the consistancy right. Notice in her tutorial video how “pulpy” the clay is- that’s what I was going for. The clay is somewhat sticky, but latex gloves and a knife worked great. By the way, I use a cake spreading spatula- about 1 1/2 inches wide- they’re wider and more flexible than a standard dinner knife. I hope it works for you. I’ve had a blast with this medium!

          • Okay, I tried to upload a pic on here of what I did but no luck. Holly, I did figure out that the TP needed to soak. I also got a tall slinder hand mixer that would fit in a glass sort of! I plan to use that to beat the mass to a pulp! LOL I also ordered a manufactured paper clay to test the difference. Have’nt yet but when I do I will let ya’ll know. I wanted for my own reasons, to test what really works best for me. But, from what I can tell (just through the bag) they look really close in comparison. Because I have the rest of my mix that I havent used in a zip lock sandwitch bag with all the air out! Very easy to knife it into the bag with out getting it all over the bag. Witch I think would be a great compliment to you Jonni! But then the price verses amount factor roll’s in for me. At $11.99 for a one pound bar (16 onces) and I havent figured it out yet…but I’m gonna guess that Jonnis would make more. So with all this said…more testing for me and I will let you know what I think. But none the less the end result should be the happiness to the ending.
            I also had my husband holly, tell me I looked like I was icing cupcakes! And I will try with gloves to see what works. Thanks so much you two were nice to point that out!

  • Just wondering how you apply the clay to the sculpture?
    Fingers? Spatula?

    I am new to your web site, but love it so far.
    I’m awaiting your book to arrive from Amazon.

    • Hi Penny. I use a knife to apply the PM clay – just a standard table knife. You can use the flat side to smooth out the clay after it’s applied if you dampen the knife just a bit. And you can use the knife to make realistic fur and feathers. The clay will stick to your fingers. The knife also makes it easy to get a nice thin coat of clay over your armature, so it will dry more quickly.

      Enjoy the book – I do hope you’ll show us your sculptures!

  • I adore this idea and recipe. I wanted to know if you have dried a wood dough yet?

    “If your kids like playing with dough like Play-Doh or molding clay, they will love making sculptures with homemade wood dough.  Homemade wood dough dries to a wood finish and can be sanded down smooth with sandpaper. 

    You can also paint or stain wood dough sculptures.  To paint them, you can use any of the homemade paint recipes I have at the bottom of this article.  To stain them, you can make a stain by adding 6 drops of food coloring to 1 tablespoon of water.

    What you will need to make wood dough:
    1 cup of clean sawdust (you can get it at the craft store)
    1/2 cup flour
    1 tablespoon liquid starch (it’s in the laundry section)
    1 cup of water

    Step 1:  Mix the ingredients together in a bowl until a stiff dough is formed.  If the mixture is too dry, you can add a bit more water.  If it is too sticky, you can add a bit more flour.

    Step 2:  Create your sculptures.

    Step 3:  Let your sculptures dry for 3 days.

    Step 4:  Sand and paint or stain your sculptures, if desired.

    Tips:  You can make wooden beads with wood dough. Just be sure you make a hole in the beads with a toothpick before they dry.”

    • Interesting – this looks like the “composition” they used in the past to make frames and other ornaments. How thick can you make your pieces? Do they crack if they’re too thick?

  • hi, i ‘ve a lot of paper mache work, made my own pulp till the ready made came on the market. i always put a few drops of clove oil in the mix to keep the bugs away. smells good to!
    i am trying your mix today, i didn’t want to buy a huge bag of joint compoud so am trying white unsanded grout. we’ll see!! thanks, mavis

    • Mavis, I believe that grout contains portland cement, which will harden long before it dries. If you work fast, though, it might work for you. I buy ready-mixed joint compound in a gallon container for about $5. If your grout works (and I worry that it won’t) please let us know. You may be inventing a whole new sculptural material!

  • I love this recipe, and your whole website! Thank you Jonni!

    I am about to make up a batch and realized that I left my joint compound at the studio. Can I use spackle instead?


    • I don’t know the answer to that question – it will probably work, but no guarantees. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out.

  • I was wondering if wood glue would work instead of Elmers glue-all. I have wood glue at my disposal and I dont want to go buy other glue if I dont have too.

    • Molly, I think your wood glue will work, but I haven’t tried it yet myself. Can you make a half-sized recipe as an experimental test? If you do, please let us know if it worked.

    • Beside the color the main differences are that the wood glue dries faster and is a little more water resistant. Also white glue is cheaper.
      If it what you have use it.

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