Paper Mache Animals

Raven Sculpture Made with New Air-Dry Clay Recipe

A few days ago I posted a video and recipe with my new air-dry clay recipe. This video shows you how the new clay looks on an actual sculpture. It was made in my normal way, using a cardboard pattern inside and crumpled paper and masking tape to fill out the form. However, I used plaster cloth for my first hard layer, just so I could get to the details faster. That means, of course, that there isn’t really any paper mache involved in this sculpture, but hey – we don’t need to be purists, do we?

Thanks to John Taylor for recommending the “silky smooth” part of the new name for the recipe, and to everyone else who chimed in with their ideas. It will probably just be called “air dry clay” in normal conversation, but “Jonni’s Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay” is fun to say.

In case you missed it, the recipe is here, and the patten I used for this raven is below the video. Enjoy!

To see the full-sized image, right-click and chose “view image.”

Patterns for the Raven Sculpture

Patterns for the Raven Sculpture



About the author

Jonni Good

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


  • Your Kitty is such a sweet baby..she /he is so affectionate my cats are are all rescues a couple of them feral..they like to sleep on my head (literally..LOL) but they never would let me hold them like your fluffy cat ..such an amazing cat you have !
    Question ?Regarding the Raven ….for the feathers did you do layers of paper or is all the detail paper clay?

    • Hi Dena. My cat thanks you for the compliments. :)

      And the feather details — I couldn’t remember how that was done, so I went back and watched the video I made about how the armature was made. And it looks like the feather details were sculpted with the air dry clay. The major shapes of the raven were blocked out with crumpled paper and masking tape, but the detailing was with the clay. The armature was covered with plaster cloth, and then the air dry clay was added for the details. You can see the air dry clay being applied in this video.

  • I have no patience… I am waiting for the layers to dry on my life size deer project …upon watching your video of the repair you did on your raven I have decided to do a raven to perch on the back of my deer but I am frustrated with my proportions of the bird as I am attempting a life size sculpture of course I am inspired by your raven not looking to copy I am learning what a difference having a good armature makes with some other projects I ran into cracking because I was filling in thicker areas to compensate for an armature that was not well constructed ..I was hoping to find a video or photo of your raven armature..tomorrow I will be sure to post my deer in process photos …Thanks so much for the continual inspiration and encouragement

  • Jonni,
    Stumbled upon your site while looking for a medium that I could use to paint on my sculptures ..usually they are made of cardboard, tinfoil and masking tape.
    I have watched quite a few of your videos and “THINK” that I might be able to make a clay that I can thin out and use to paint on my creations.
    If this is true can you let me know.

    Your sculptures are amazing. I was drawn to watching the Raven being created due to the fact my multi-dimensional piece will have Ravens in it … or I should say reasonable approximations there of. Thank you for sharing all that you do.

    • Hi Jessie. Yes, I also think you could make a mixture that you could paint onto your creations. Most of my recipes are based on the mixture of Elmer’s Glue-All (PVA glue) and drywall joint compound. The original paper mache clay recipe contains those ingredients, plus toilet paper and flour (to thicken it). The air dry clay is the same, but less paper and with the addition of corn starch to make it smooth. The gesso recipe is just plain glue and joint compound. I should think that you could add a smidgin of the damp toilet paper to the plain glue and joint compound mix, to make a strong paper-reinforced “paint.” If you try it, please let us know if it works. And we’d love to see some of your sculptures, too!

      • Jonni,
        Thank you for the suggestion of a paint-able mix. I will be trying it today and yes when done will share a picture. Thank you again. And happy creating.

  • Thank you so much for your time and sharing your creative talents with all of us. I will attempt making this Raven sculpture, armature, for a birthday gift to my grown son. He loves Ravens and Edgar Allen Poe. Your video is exactly what I needed right now. I started out painting a watercolor, wasn’t feeling it. Then thought about making it more dimensional with more of a mixed media, steampunk feel to it. Nope. I started thinking, is he going to want to keep this always on his wall. My decision was he wouldn’t always have room for it on wall, BUT he could put a sculpture anywhere, shelf, mantle ect… I am going to add a little something to my bird though. A loosely scrolled ”paper” (made from clay) with The Raven poem on it. Nevermore.Thank you!!

    • Hi Nan. I’m glad you’re inspired to make a Raven. Your son will love it. I hope you’ll show it to us when it’s done!

      • Jonni,
        I was just sitting here on my porch re-watching your video before diving in to begin my Raven. The funniest thing just happened, and wanted to share. I have a few cats inside taking turns all day sitting in open screened windows. So I’m watching your video and I’m hearing a cat meow. I’d look over to thie windows, not see anyone. Hear the peep meow, look again, same thing. Then you mentioned picking up your kitty so maybe she’ll not meow!! I laughed out loud becauseI thought I was crazy, lol!! And by the way, I love your videos, cat and all. You have a great way of explaining everything. I’ll be buying your books very soon, can’t wait. Thank you!!

        • How funny – I actually get caught the same way, thinking my cat is talking to me when I review my videos, when it’s really just her recorded voice. She’s talking to me right now, though in real time – saying something rude about the empty food bowl…

          • And I can’t wait to see your raven. I hope you’ll post a photo when it’s done.

          • There’s some things I’m not happy about so far with my Raven armature, as in it looks more like a Sea Gull at this point. ;0) I was going to attempt a cardboard beak but tomorrow while adding the air-dry clay this will change. Just though I’d show you my progress. Thank you again for your videos. :0)

  • Hi Jonnie,
    So happy to find your site. Have been thinking of making a 3 D raven for a long time and never have found the media. Your new paper clay recipe may just be perfect. Have never worked with these type of materials before however so have a few questions. I live in Mexico so finding supplies is always a challenge. Would also like to make the open beak but will have to order the Sculpy and wait forever for it to get through customs. There appear to be several kinds of this material available so before I order it can you tell me exactly which one I need…or perhaps there is an alternative material. Also if it needs to be “baked” is this done before or after attaching to the body? Also wondering how much of your clay is required for one bird (12″size) as I am thinking of making a pair. It seems that if recipe is doubled it will be very unwieldy. As you can tell from my questions that I am a rank beginner! Thanks for your advice…your raven is beautiful….Ruthita

    • Hi Ruth. You don’t need to buy the Sculpey if all you need it for is the beak. Just use aluminum foil instead, and cover it with plastic tape or masking tape to make the surface smooth. It will be slightly more difficult to remove from inside the beak, but not so much more difficult that it would be worth the extra expense and waiting time for your Sculpey.

      You don’t need to bake anything – the air-dry clay dries hard without baking.

      One recipe will make enough for at least one bird, and probably two. I used a very thin layer, so it dries pretty fast, too.

      Have fun – and be sure to show us your raven when it’s done.

      • Hi Jonni,
        Thanks so much for your prompt reply. Will give the foil a test drive but think I may order the Sculpey anyway as I am a sucker for new art supplies…by the time I receive it I may already have one bird under my belt. Dick Blick has 2 kinds…Super Sculpy and Polyform Sculpy Original. Which one do you recommend? Thanks again for the great info and hopefully I will have something worth photographing!

        • I haven’t ever used the Polyform Sculpey. With a piece as small as a raven’s beak, I can’t imagine that it would matter. If you use the Sculpey again for another piece, and even bake it, like it suggests on the package, then it might make more of a difference. It’s possible that Super Sculpey will hold better detail if you do fine detail work.

  • One more thing…I love your cat. I have a Siamese who treats me the same way. I must be ever alert as sometimes that jump onto my shoulder takes me by surprise. No wonder I had rotate r cuff surgery a few years back!

    • I guess I’m lucky that my cat is getting older, and was never very athletic to start with. No jumping. And only slightly obnoxious. :)

  • I am so excited at finding you! I make soft sculpted fabric dolls as my main endeavor. A dear friend requested my making a raven, so I have been “constructing” in my mind. The right black fabric can be difficult to find. Yesterday there was a paper clay workshop I attended with the thought I might perhaps use that technique for the raven. I live in a very rural area, however, so the supplies would be difficult to obtain. Imagine my delight when I Googled paper clay recipes and found your Blog…and with a raven no less. I will need to do some adjusting as the requested raven should have out spread wings to look as though it is just landing. I can hardly wait to get the supplies and start. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!!!!

    • I do hope you’ll show us your raven doll when it’s finished. I would love to see it. And let us know what you think of the new air-dry clay.

  • Hi, I can’t wait to try the new recipe since I want to do more human figures and silky smooth is what I am looking for. Here is my 2nd papermache inspired by the ballerina bunny.

  • Edgar Allan Poe would never quote nevermore to this raven. He’s very Halloweeny. What percentage does your pattern have to be increased to bring it up to the size you used for your raven?

    • Gosh – I don’t know the answer to that one. I drew it out full sized on the cardboard, and then took a photo of the cutout piece, so I didn’t add any grid lines or scale it up. The image on the blog is obviously smaller than the original, though. My raven is about 12 inches long, but a real one is about twice that size. Since you draw quite well, you would probably get a better likeness by looking at photos of the real birds, and start from scratch.

  • Fabulous raven Jonni- you make it look so easy but we all know it is not! Your new air dry clay does dry faster if not applied thickly but it actually takes longer to dry if added thickly. Too lazy to make a new batch of Jonni clay, I used the new air dry clay to level out the bottom of my group of goslings so it would sit nicer. So far, 2 days later, it is not completely dry- you can tell by color rather than feel. Live and learn!
    I dont know why you said there was no paper mache on your raven- the clay has paper and flour in it. I hope the book goes smoothly for you. I can’t wait to buy it especially since you said you have included a baby lop.

      • To answer your question on how thick, I guess about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch. I had made the goslings seperately then pushed them together. This caused some dips and valleys on the bottom that I just wanted to straighten out- I should have done a better job with the armature so that wouldn’t happen. Anyway, they are dry now and have dried really hard- I think even harder than the regular clay. Also, when dry it doesn’t seem to soak in the paint as much as the regular clay- I don’t know why that would be accept that perhaps the cornstarch might have slightly different properties to it. I will post the goslings when I finish painting. I can’t decide whether to attach them to mom or leave them separate. By the way, your finished raven with the metal look is wonderful. Do they really get that big? We have crows here but no ravens.

        • Wow – that’s interesting that such a thick layer really did dry, even though it took a long time. Maybe that means people who want to model tiny figurines might be able to get away with putting it over a wire armature, with no paper padding. Anyone willing to give that a try?

          And the difference when painting is interesting, too. Which surface did you prefer to paint?

          • That’s a tough one. With the regular clay, I often get frustated that I have to go over the first coat again even though I swear I painted every last centimeter. It is difficult to get every nook and crannie(?) especially with fur details. However, I have no difficulty in blending the colors to achieve the look that I want. Also, if this clay gets too wet, it seems like the paint actually comes off. I did not notice that with the air dry clay.
            With the air dry clay, the first coat goes on smoothly but it is harder to blend the colors. I have to be more careful with my color mixing(not a strength!) So, in all, there are differences but they are both fun and I do not have a preference- I will just file away the differences for next time!
            My brother was commenting that he thought the new clay was more substantial feeling than the regular. Did you find that with the raven? It almost feels heavier.

          • Thanks, Eileen. I wonder id a first thin coat of gesso would help to seal the clay, to avoid any problems with the clay getting too wet? And yes, it does feel a little heavier. I like that, because if a sculpture is too light, it doesn’t feel “important,” if that makes any sense…

  • Jonni… I’m a big fan of paper clay, using it exclusively for my art dolls. I can hardly wait to try this new recipe; looking for that smooth, paper clay finish! I’ve followed your blog and creative journey for some time now. you inspire! Thank you… Daryle, from Woodstown Whimsies

  • Jonni, I am so excited to try your new air dry clay. I love you site and enjoy seeing whatever you are up too, and you curious cat too.

    • Hi Dodie. I’m working hard on the book, but I’m still in the very beginning stages. I’m having some technical difficulties with getting still photos to show the process as clearly as a video would do – not easy! So now I’m getting out my scanner and making some drawings. The first doll (a baby lop-eared rabbit) is almost done, and I have a list of 9 more that I want to include, but I may not be able to include them all. I’m having so much fun with this project, though – and I promise I’ll hurry! :)

  • Really beautiful Raven, Jonni! Thanks for sharing with us. I have to get my taxes finished, then maybe I can play with the new Jonni’s Silky Smooth Air-dry Clay. (Great name!)
    I think your lovey cat is so cute! She is just rubbing her momma with all her kitty love! Although, it looks like she may have gotten excited about SOMETHING in her sight and maybe took off over your shoulder. :)

  • Great! Such a beautiful raven! And the feathers look so real!
    Thank you so much fo sharing, Jonni!
    And again you encouraged me (without knowing) to go on with my own work.
    Big hug!

  • Hi Jonni, thanks so much for this mixture, I was working a piece and wanted it really smooth, was not looking forward to the hours of sanding, then you put this up and its great, I will post pic’s as soon as I put it together, I must say mine did dry a bit darker, mind you it was 35c and I put it out in the sun on concrete, so was a bit like putting it in the
    I did my usual and rushed out and bought what was needed, so I am hoping there is no difference in corn flour, and corn starch, as I got the flour, but it seems to be doing everything you said it would in the video, and it is great to work with.
    The raven looks great, love the detail in the feathers.

  • Hi Jonni –

    I’ve used the first layer gauze approach in some of my structures like the cats, but it never occurred to me that it was an obstruction to the paper mache process.

    I haven’t even viewed the video but I’m sure I’ll be inspired!

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