Easy Paper Mache Clay Recipe

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.

122 thoughts on “Easy Paper Mache Clay Recipe”

  1. Hi Jonni. I was wondering how long do you need to let an amateurs 1st layer of PMC dry before adding another layer? Thank you!

    • Hi Lisa. It depends on how thick your layer is and how humid and warm your weather happens to be. In other words, it really depends. I always give mine at least two days to dry, and I use layers that are about 1/8″ or less. If you put your sculpture in front of a fan it really helps speed up the drying time.

        • Did you try to upload a photo with your comment? If you did, it didn’t work – probably because it was too large. Try editing the image to make the file size smaller and try again – we’d love to see it.

  2. I dont have “join compound” but i have all kinds of caulk like sealant, liquid nails, etc. Will any of that stuff work instead?

    • I haven’t tried any of those things, but I doubt it. Joint compound isn’t like any of those things – it’s made for a different purpose with completely different ingredients. You can go ahead and try it, of course.

      • Joni, I am a doll artist and most of my sculpting is done with Polymere Clay. I have done animals with a Paper Clay also and discovered your website last winter. The recipe for your Clay is fabulous. I wanted to make a large Enchanted a Fairy Tree and using the brand was “cost prohibitive “ Your Clay is wonderful. I found it easier to work with and so strong! As I was working my mind immediately thought”Dragon!”
        Dianne Gardner. P S Tree won Gold @ Silver Arts

        • Dianne, we would love to see your Fairy Tree. Do you have a photo you’d like to share? And as soon as you get that dragon finished we want to see that, too!

    • No, this recipe really needs the joint compound, but as far as I know, it is really only toxic if you sand it and forget to wear a mask. The dust isn’t good for your lungs. But if you want a recipe that doesn’t have the joint compound, do a Google search for paper mache pulp. It won’t be as smooth or quite as easy to work with, but it’s just paper and paste – all organic. Also, check out this website for recipes and tutorials.

  3. Hi Jonni, thank you for the recipe! I’m attempting to make a rib cage which I constructed a wire mesh frame of and covered with the paper clay. I’m just concerned about it being firm enough to hold in place and was contemplating covering it with plaster cloth once it completely dries in hopes it will be more stable. Just wondering if you’ve had any experience using plaster cloth over the paper clay. Thank you for sharing all your work, some truly amazing stuff! 🙂

    • Hi Jamie. I haven’t used plaster cloth on top, but I have used plaster cloth under paper mache clay. I’ve only done that when I wanted a sculpture to be hollow – the plaster cloth is much easier to cut apart when it’s time to remove the armature, and then you can stick it back together. Is there anything under the ribs in addition to the wire mesh? Do you have a photo you could share so we can get a better idea how your project is built?

  4. I saw somewhere where you said one could substitute glycerin for boiled linseed oil. Have you tried this? Does it work/last as well? Thank you!

  5. Great clay for DIY Halloween mask. Did change the ratio of the clay a few bit. And used wood glue instead of white. The base recipe is what you need to start with. The mask is very light weight and very very durable… First time DIYer… My sin lives the stuff… Thank you for sharing the recipe…

    • You’re welcome. About that wood glue – I’ve experimented with Titebond III, and it worked well. I tried Elmer’s wood glue, and it got rubbery (I think – that was a long time ago). What brand of wood glue did you use? How did it change the properties of the pm clay? Did you make any other changes to the recipe? Do you mind all these questions? 😉

  6. Thanks so much!!! I’m making a horse for a ‘headless horse woman’ halloween costume and your clay worked so well for the head! My joint compound was kinda green but I’m thinking with a base coat it’ll be ok to paint. Really glad i found your recipe, youre a really cool lady 🙂

    • Paper mache needs to be treated like traditional paper mache, so you can’t let it get wet. It won’t melt, the way wet paper mache does, but it gets soft and will probably collect mold. I haven’t tried burning it, so I can’t answer that question at all. I doubt that it will burn very well, but I could be wrong. Do you have some unusual use for the clay? An interesting project that you have in mind?

Leave a Comment

Heads up! You are attempting to upload an invalid image. If saved, this image will not display with your comment.

Heads up! You are attempting to upload a file that's too large. Please try a smaller file smaller than 250KB.

Note that images greater than 250KB will not be uploaded.