Paper Clay – An Alternative to Paper Mache for Young Artists

Since this is a blog devoted to paper mache, what I’m about to say may seem like blasphemy–I’m going to suggest that paper mache may not be the best craft material for very young children. First, I’ll tell you why I think that’s true, and then I’ll tell you why I think paper clay is a better alternative.

Easy Paper Mache Clay Recipe

Paper Mache Bobcat

Get a fast start on your next paper mache project or hand-made gift with Jonni’s easy downloadable patterns for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts. The patterns help you create a beautiful work of art, even if you’ve never sculpted anything before.

12/10/09 – I’m editing this post and putting up a new video, because I’ve now had a few months to play with my paper mache clay recipe. The new video will give you instructions that you’ll  need to make sure your toilet paper rolls contain the same amount of paper as mine. The new mixing instructions are also easier to use.

This recipe was inspired by Ronnie Burkett’s Papier Mache Rediscovered (recipe #2) and some comments by readers, especially Bob’s comments on the paper mache pumkin post. Thanks, everyone.

Note: This material does use items from the hardware store that are not rated for use by children, and the resulting clay is not edible. Small children should not use this clay.

I used this clay to make all the big cats you can see on my gallery page.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think.

Edit – 11/3/09. While you can speed up drying by putting your sculpture in a warm oven, I don’t recommend using a temperature higher than 150. The heating clay puts out some fumes if you go higher than that. I’m not a chemist or a doctor, but it doesn’t seem like something you’d want to breath for very long. Also, any masking tape that is still exposed will unstick itself in the oven, even at a low temperature. I recommend that you be patient and allow your clay to air-dry naturally.