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JonniClay v. 2.0 – Tell Me If It’s an Improvement or Not

I do hope you’ll experiment with these two new slightly-altered paper mache clay recipes if you have access to a few cups of powdered ceramic clay.

The clay I used was ordered from Georgies in Portland. It’s their Wonder White clay. I think any ceramic clay without grog would work the same way. (You probably won’t want to order a whole 50 pounds, but that’s the smallest amount I could get. If you want to play with this, call your local pottery supply store and ask if they have any powdered clay).

I haven’t had a chance to try any of this new paper mache clay on a sculpture yet, but I have used paper mache clay that has wet ceramic clay mixed in, and I haven’t seen it crack when it dries – but it’s always possible that it could crack, as Steve suggested sometime last year. (Anything’s possible, right?) Once more people have a chance to try it out and give us their feedback, we’ll have a better feel for whether it’s worth going to the extra trouble to make this version, or if we should stick with the original paper mache clay.

One important point, though – I don’t think you can mix it with a small hand-held kitchen mixer. I’m pretty sure it would burn out the motor. A really heavy-duty stand mixer with a dough hook might work. But watch carefully, so you don’t lose your expensive equipment. (That would make for a very expensive batch of experimental paper mache clay.) It seemed to work just fine today in my food processor.

The specific proportions I used are below the videos. This first video is the latest one, showing the changes I made to the recipe after receiving your feedback. I really like this version, and the recipe you’ll find down below are for this version. The second video is the one I made a few days ago.

 

Latest Recipe for Paper Mache Clay with Powdered Clay Used as Filler:

  • 3/4 cup Elmer’s Glue-All or Rich’s home made glue
  • 1 cup Joint Compound (any brand except Dap)
  • 1 tablespoon boiled linseed oil (or substitute glycerin or mineral oil/baby oil, instead)
  • 1/2 cup powdered ceramic clay
  • approximately 1 1/2 cups damp toilet paper, with as little water left in as possible

I have now decided, after using both of these new recipes, that the version using Elmer’s is “faster” when covering a large area of an armature. It goes on very smooth, is easy to spread, and can be sanded when it’s dry. The version with Rich’s glue, however, can be modeled with extremely fine details, and that’s what I’ll be using for eyes, noses, fingers, etc. The detail you can get are truly amazing. Try both ways, and see what you think.

If you’re wondering if this clay is stiff enough to make a sculpture without an armature, I can’t answer that. I haven’t tried it. It might work, but I’m not sure it would dry all the way through. If you try it, please let us know. If you’re thinking about using it with kids, don’t use the boiled linseed oil – it has chemicals in it. Use mineral oil or glycerin instead.

If you try these new versions of the clay, please let us know how they turn out, and if you like them better than the original recipe for paper mache clay. Do they go on smoother, can you get details easier, did I add enough clay, or too much? Does your clay crack or do any other weird thing that we should know about? Let us know.

173 Comments

  • Hi jonni
    First I want to thanks you for all of the informationsame that you are sharing with us .secondly I want to ask you if I can use all purpose filler the brand is Langlow it’s a powder form I need to mix it first with water instead of the joint compound.
    Thanks

    • Hi Laila. I don’t know that brand, but if it’s drywall joint compound it should work. Just mix it with water first. What country do you live in? Maybe someone else has used the product and can give us some more information about it.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I absolutely love your paper mache animals. I am going to college next year and I wanted to make a paper mache animal for my wall, either an elephant or a deer. I was wondering if I could still use this new recipe even though it shrinks when dry?

  • Hi Jonni:
    A project I’m working on (non paper mache) didn’t work out like I had planned. I thought a paper mache charger plate might work for me. If I wanted to make a paper mache charger plate for a project I’m working on. Could I use a rolling pin to role out a circle from your clay recipe and lay over my current charger plate? Would I then be able to remove the paper mache plate from my original plate?

    Also, In the video where you broke your tile, you commented about only being in oven for a couple hours. At what temp and how long would you typically dry your item. I live in the pacific northwest and it’s extremely damp here.

    I started researching this morning and love all the information you’ve put together. If you have any suggestions, I’d greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you.
    Betty

    • Hi Betty. I’m not sure the clay would work for you, because it always shrinks while it dries, and it may crack or warp without an armature supporting it. If you do try it, be sure to use the original recipe, instead of the one on this page, because it’s stronger. The person who could really give you some great ideas for a paper mache plate is Natalie, who wrote a guest post for us recently. She’s been really generous with her advice whenever anyone puts a comment on her post, and she may have some good ideas for you.

      As for the oven – I’ve found that putting a piece over a furnace vent with warm moving air, or even just in front of a fan without heat will dry paper mache faster than an oven. It will take at least 24 hours to dry, but you should give it another day before adding any decoration or varnish, just to make sure it’s totally dry.

  • Hi Jonni,
    I’d like to know if there’s a way of smoothing pm clay that’s been made with PVA glue (instead of using Rich’s homemade glue). I’m just thinking it’s not worth the trouble of the whole process of making it. Maybe by using the homemade gesso?
    (P.s. I found an art store that sells everything (including glue, acrylic paint, exc. for really low prices).
    Thanks,
    Edden

    • Hi Edden. You can smooth the wet clay when it’s being applied by dipping your knife into water, or a mixture of water and glue, and sliding it over the surface of the clay. Or you can wait until the surface is just a bit stiff, maybe in ten minutes or so, and then put a piece of plastic wrap over the clay and rub your fingers over it. Did you see the original recipe that just has the basic ingredients? It’s the easiest one to use. Also, if you need the surface to be really smooth, you could try using the air dry clay recipe, which has less paper and corn starch added. It isn’t as sticky, so there are some tricks to using it, but it’s easier to get it smooth.

  • Hi Jonni,
    I am planning on making a pretty small paper mache clay dog.
    i would like to know if it’s ok to use crumpled newspaper over a cardboard armature, to give it the 3d volume instead of using aluminum foil?
    Thanks,
    Edden

    • Yes, that will work. It’s just a little easier to control the shapes with aluminum foil when making really small sculptures. But I’ve made many sculptures entirely with cardboard armatures and crumpled paper, and when I’m patient with the process, it works just fine.

      • I wanted to know, if you think it’s possible to make a large paper mache clay sculpture (about the size of the baby elephant, only a little smaller) using regular cardboard. In the video of the elephant you mention something called plywood or something like that, which I don’t know what it is.
        Thanks,
        Edden

        • Yes, you can use cardboard instead. In fact, that’s how I would do it if I made the baby elephant again. It would make the sculpture much lighter, and easier to move.

          • Another thing I’d like to know, is whether the layer of paper strips and paste is needed? (In other tutorials on how to use the clay you said that it can completely replace paper strips and paste)
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • You don’t need to use paper strips and paste under the paper mache clay. Some people like to do it that way, but I never do. A thin layer (1/16th” or perhaps a bit more) will replace the paper strips and paste, and should be plenty strong unless children might climb on the sculpture.

          • And by the way, when we say cardboard are we talking Bout the kind in cereal boxes, or is that too fragile for a large sculpture?

            • Cereal boxes would be way too light. You need the strength of the heavy cardboard used in things like shipping boxes.

      • Hi Jonni,
        The last batch of clay that I made, after sitting in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days (and having a stinky smell from an unknown source), I found it with a layer of mold on the top.
        I threw it away but still managed to use the rest underneath.
        So here’s my question,
        Is it possible to add something (perhaps salt to the clay or the the water the paper goes in. My mom says that she doesn’t want me to put in bleach, since I like to work with my hands)?
        Thanks,
        Edden

        • Hi Edden. You can add oil of clove to slow down the growth of mold. Many people have also told me that salt will work, although I haven’t tried it myself.

          • Thanks, I’ll try it with the salt, but should I put the salt in the water that I soak the paper in, or in the actual clay itself?
            Thanks
            Edden

            • Sorry – I don’t know. A lot more people read the comments on this page – maybe you could ask there, and someone who uses salt might help you out.

            • Sorry – that happens sometimes. Try adding just a teaspoon or so of salt to begin with and see if it helps.

          • Hi jonni,
            I think you mentioned before that there’s a trick for working with the silky smooth air dry clay. What do you mean?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • The air dry clay isn’t sticky, like the paper mache clay is. To get new clay to stick to a dried layer, you want to first paint on a coat of white glue diluted with water, about half and half. You might also need this mixture to make sure that each new piece blends in nicely with the clay next to it, so the pieces don’t pull apart as they dry.

          • Thanks for the information. But do you really think that it’s that much of a difference than the original pm clay (in terms of how smooth it is)?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • Yes, it’s much smoother. But you can try it yourself and see if it’s enough of a difference to matter to you – it depends on what you’re intending to use it for.

          • And another thing, will the air dry clay stick properly to an armature, or should I use the half and half water and glue mixture to help it stick to the armature?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • I think that will depend on what the armature is made out of. You’ll be able to tell right away. If it doesn’t slide off, you won’t need the glue.

          • And one more question,
            Do you think it’ll be possible to make the air dry clay with recycled paper (to get it smooth)?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • Yes, I think it will work, but I haven’t tried it so I don’t know how smooth it will be. You’ll have to do some experiments, I think.

          • Hi Jonni,
            I wanted to know if you found a way to waterproof the paper mache clay.
            I see lots of videos on YouTube where you talk about that. But did you actually find something yet?
            If so, tell me about it or put the link.
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • No, I haven’t found a way to waterproof paper mache. My own two experiments failed miserably, and the spar varnish that Michele used on the giraffe didn’t work, either. I don’t know of any fool-proof way to waterproof paper mache. The main problem is that the only thing that might work is to envelop the sculpture completely in a plastic layer of some kind, but almost all plastic will eventually disintegrate when exposed to the sun. Julie has made a number of sculptures using paper mache clay as the base, and with Quikwall bonding cement over it. So far, they seem to be holding up well. The paper mache clay just provides a solid surface for the cement, in place of the traditional wire structure used in ferrocement. The final sculpting of details is done with the cement product. This is still an experimental technique, and several more years are needed to know how well these sculptures will last. My own feeling is that it makes more sense to use ferrocement for outdoor sculptures, because it’s a proven technique.

          • So what is the purpose of the gesso? (I’m sorry, but I’m not toataly sure what you mean when you say seal the paper mache)
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • The gesso can be used to create interesting textures, like fine fur, using a stiff brush. Or it can be used to make the surface nice and smooth, by rubbing with a lightly damp sponge. The most important use, though, is to give you a nice white ground for the paint that you use later. The colors show up much brighter when used over a white base. When the paint is dry, I always use an acrylic varnish to seal my sculptures, to protect the paint.

          • And when you say rub it with a sponge do you mean to pain it on with a brush and then rub it with the sponge, or put it on using a sponge?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • Hi Edden. I apply the gesso with a brush. Then I let it dry. And then I use a lightly damp sponge to smooth it, instead of using sandpaper.

            • Hmm. Maybe the site wasn’t working or something. What file type is your image? Is it a jpg?

          • To tell you the truth, I don’t know what file type it is. I only know that I took the photo using my ipad. Maybe that’s the problem?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • Hmmm – I don’t have an iPad, but there must be some way to save the files as jpg’s, or to convert them in some way. Would you do me a huge favor and ask if anyone knows how to do it over on the Daily Sculptors page? That’s the page the most people subscribe to. If I wrote a post myself, I wouldn’t be able to understand the answers because I don’t have an iPad.

          • Another question I have, is before putting the clay on an armature (the giraffe I’m working on) is it recommended to put on a layer (or few) of paper strips and paste, if the armature isn’t sturdy? If so, what paste should I use, and how many layers are recommended?
            Thanks again,
            Edden

            • If your armature is strong enough to hold up the weight of the wet clay, you shouldn’t need to use any strips and paste. If it seems a bit flimsy, you can still use just the paper mache clay, but work up from the bottom of the piece. Allow the lower part to harden, then add more above that until you have a completed sculpture.

          • Another question I have, is whether you think it’ll work or not to make a paper mache sculpture (like the way you made the chihuahua) only with aluminum wire and newspaper instead of using foil? If so, do you think it’ll be possible to cover it with the pm clay instead of paper strips and paste?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • Yes, you can do that. The foil is easier for really little items, but the crumpled paper works great, too.

            • And I forgot to say – the paper mache clay can be used in place of traditional paper strips and paste in almost any project.

          • One more thing is, the sketch of the chihuahua that you used as a guide – did you draw it yourself, or is it something printed from the computer (you say in the video that you printed two copies, so I’m wondering) Not that it really matters for the sculpture…
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • I draw my patterns and then scan them into my computer so I can clean them up and print out several copies.

          • Another thing I’d like to know, is whether you know of some glue or paste that glues cardboard? That giraffe I’m working on – its neck and legs are made from cardboard rolls.
            Thanks
            Edden

            • Any glue, like Elmer’s, or even the flour and water paste, should work with cardboard.

          • 2 more things I want to say:
            1. I’ve learned that the best way to attach is first glue the big parts of the sculpture, and only after they dry add the smaller parts.
            2. Have you heard of “Tacky Glue”? It’s a white glue (not sure if it’s PVA or not) that dries very fast, something like 20-40 sec.

          • Today, I finally managed to hot glue the neck and head of the giraffe onto the body. I started covering it with the clay but didn’t have enough to cover everything. I’ll make more and continue later.

            • Good luck! I hope it all goes back together easily, and you can repair the boo boo seamlessly. Such a beautiful creature…

          • Another thing I’d like to know about working with the clay, is weather you think it’ll be fine (or will it work) to add more clay on the parts that have dried to make them thicker and stronger, and if will add new clay on parts that weren’t covered yet, will it dry ok if I put on a thicker layer of the clay, since I see it doesn’t hold up well enough. Or should I use paper strips and paste on these parts?
            Thank you so much for your help and support,
            Edden

            • Yes, you can add more clay to parts that have already dried. I do that all the time.

          • Hi Jonni,
            I just now finished make a batch of pm clay, with a teaspoon of salt along with the other ingredients. I also added a drop of lavender oil to make it smell better. I wrote today’s date on the airtight container it’s in to see how long it’ll last with the salt.
            I hope that the salt will do a good job.
            Thank you again for all of your support,
            Edden

          • Hi Jonni,
            I continued covering the giraffe with the new clay I made, and again ran out of clay. I’ll make some more when I get a chance. But I do want to say that even with the clay on, the giraffe is very unsteady, and is even falling apart sometimes. I left it outside to dry with a support for the head. Hopefully the next batch of clay will do the job. Do you have any suggestions?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • If the armature isn’t strong enough to hold itself up, it may need to be reinforced before you continue. The clay might stiffen it up enough, but a good armature is really important. When the first layer of clay dries you should be able to tell if it’s going to be strong enough.

          • Thanks for the suggestion, but what do you mean when you say “reinforced”? What should I reinforce it with?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • It depends on how the original armature is built. You might need to use some stiff wire, if the piece isn’t strong enough for the weight of the clay.

          • Another thing I’d like to know, is whether you it’ll be possible to make an armature for a paper mache clay sculpture using wire, but that it will be a bit bigger?
            Thanks,
            Edden

            • Sure. Just make sure the wire you use is strong enough to hold up the legs. You might need heavier wire than I used, if you make yours bigger.

          • Hi Jonni,
            I finished covering the giraffe with the pm clay a few days ago. I put on the first layer of the homemade gesso today, and waiting for it to dry. I have 2 questions:
            The first, is how many layers of gesso should I use if I want it to be quite smooth, and weather should I rub each separate layer with a damp sponge?
            The second, is weather you think it’s possible to add color to the pm clay (maybe by mixing a bit of paint into it)? I’m asking, because I’m having a bit of trouble putting the gesso on since I’m color blind.
            Thanks again,
            Edden

            • Hi Edden. Yes, you can put paint in the paper mache clay to color it. And I do smooth each layer of gesso with a sponge – that’s how I know if I’ve gotten it as smooth as I want it. I don’t usually try for a super-smooth finish, just because I happen to like a bit of texture. But you can keep adding as many layers of gesso as you need to get it as smooth as you want it to be.

  • I have a question, but it’s not about the clay.
    Have you heard of any homemade recipe for acrylic paint? I found this YouTube video, but it includes white glue (which, as rich mentions on his blog, is relatively expensive) so if you know anything that could help me, I’d be glad to hear.
    Thanks,
    Edden

  • I just wanted to know if I can use flower instead of the ceramic clay in this recipe? If it’s ok, how much flower should I put in?
    Thanks,
    Edden

  • i want to know what can i use instead of ceramic powdered clay. can i use flour
    wat r the disadvantages of using flour

  • Hi!

    I’m using your paper mache recipe/ shop towels to make a mountain for my little boy’s Brio train track. It’s looking really good after a couple of layers, but I want to add some striation to the “rock.” Would it hurt to use self-drying clay from the craft store to add some texture to parts of the mountain, then paper mache again over to top of it? I know you mentioned needing to remove all the modeling clay you sometimes use in your masks- but I think you said it was because it was oil based or something- but the self drying clay wouldn’t be. If anyone can answer this it’s you!

    Thanks for the videos- you’re inspirational!

    Jeff

    • Hi Jeff. Yes, any self-drying clay should work just fine under paper mache. Just make sure it’s dry before adding any additional layers. Modeling clay with oil does cause problems, but self-drying clay should be just fine.

      • Thanks Jonni! Thanks again for ALL the info- Sawyer is going to be soooo happy! If the mountain ends up as something worth being proud of I’ll send you a pic! [laugh]

        Jeff

  • Spelling corrections:
    Thanks to you Jonni, I’ve built up the confidence to start a webpage (under construction) and make neat & different things with your clay recipe. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I already sold 5 art pieces on Etsy and one of them was a request!!!
    Here is the recipe I use which of course includes some of the ingredients you suggest in your latest clay recipe:
    My version of clay-c/o Debbie Vandeventer, Jonni and Stolloween

    1 cup of powdered clay
    1 cup liquid fabric softener
    1 tablespoon-Limestone
    1/2 cup white glue
    1/4 or possibly 1/3 cup of plaster of paris
    Cellulose fiberfill

    Mix the first 4 ingredients together until it’s the consistency of very thin pancake batter. (Add the plaster of paris and mix well). Slowly add the cellulose fiberfill and mix until it becomes a workable and spreadable consistency.

    It works just fine for me and the clay is smooth and durable when it hardens!!

    We love you and hope your Christmas will be fantastic!! CHEERS TO YOU!!!! Later I will send you a pic of a beautiful angel we are currently working on using the clay recipe as well as the paper clay store brand.

  • hi Jonni just want to say thanks again for such an amazing recipe i make Cosplay weapons and items with it. http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e72/fleata1/ebay/November/252312_309078549205064_1155578456_n.jpg
    for example of two Chakrams. this was with the original recipe .

    however i’m in the UK and trying to find powdered ceramic clay to see how your 2.0 recipe goes with what i’m making. but i just cant find any here online, I know you dont really need it but would like to try it out on the next project i do. Has anyone else managed to find something that works in the UK? like the all-purpose powder filler say Powdered Mortar Plasticiser or something cheaper that the powdered marble which is horrifically expensive here. or Unibond White Reduced Dust Powdered Adhesive. sorry for all the questions.

    What type of clay did you buy and what is it generally used for there? for just art and crafts or it used for something else that I might find the equivalent. could i find it in say a hardware store or just an arts and crafts store?

    anyways thanks for reading i hope you can answer my questions. I managed to find the sheetrock joint compound in the UK not easily but it exsists.

    Thanks Jonni you have helped me get my Cosplay making off the ground.

    • I think you’d have much better luck just looking for regular clay at a local pottery store or art store. Lately I’ve been using 1/4 cup of wet clay in the recipe, and I really like how it works. I think I’ve been using just slightly less paper, too, but I don’t really measure any more. There must be a pottery supply store, or a potter who will let you have a small amount of clay near you.

      The kind I’m using is just regular low-fire earthenware clay, like the kind they make pots with.

  • Hello Jonni,

    I called Georgie’s about the powdered ceramic clay, but they sayd they have many clays in powder, and wouldn’t know which one is going to work in paper mache. Can you please let me know which powdered clay you used.

    Greatfully yours,

    Semyon

    • Hi Semyon. Actually, you can use any low-fire clay. You don’t even need to use the powdered clay – lately I’ve been throwing about 1/3 cup of wet pottery clay into the original recipe, and it works just fine. The powdered clay version was a fairly elaborate experiment, but in all honesty the original recipe without the clay is fine, too.

      • I was wondering why you seem so hesitant to actually give the brand name of the powdered clay out? A few different people asked, but instead of giving the name, you just gave alternate methods. Is it a liability issue?

        • Every pottery supply store sells clay from a different place, so I don’t think “brands” don’t really apply. I also don’t think it really matters, since the powdered clay is just used as a filler in this recipe. I bought mine from Georgies.com. The particular clay I used was the powdered Wonder White. But really – it doesn’t matter. In fact, I am now using a local clay sold in South Dakota, and instead of powdered clay I’m using about 1/4 cup of wet clay (a low-fire clay that’s supposed to be great for kids, but I’m not sure why). It’s cheap, and it does make a nice smooth paper mache clay. But you don’t actually have to use any clay at all – the original paper mache clay recipe works fine without it.

        • http://ultimatepapermache.com/jonniclay2

          “The clay I used was ordered from Georgies in Portland. It’s their Wonder White clay. I think any ceramic clay without grog would work the same way. (You probably won’t want to order a whole 50 pounds, but that’s the smallest amount I could get. If you want to play with this, call your local pottery supply store and ask if they have any powdered clay).”

  • Hello, just found this and am working on getting all the materials together to try it. I was wondering though, is anyone using it for items that are worn on the skin? Just wondering whether it’s safe with the joint compound and such things after it’s been sealed. Or should I be planning a ‘next to skin’ cover…

    • The products are from the construction industry, so they aren’t FDA approved, obviously. Also, the clay hardens to a material that is really hard. It would not be very comfortable, I think.

  • Tried using powdered cornice cement I place of powdered clay…result is incredibly strong fast drying.
    . Also replaced toilet paper with fine waste paper pulp and added 1 a 1 1/2 cups fine wood shavings,to bulk out the mix , creates a lighter weight and nice speckled result.
    So thankyiu Jonni, I have had lots of fun with your terrific recipe! I am so relieved there are others out there who love creating their own sculpting materials, I was thinking I was quite alone with my little eccentricity.

      • Cornice cement is a really strong adhesive plaster that is used to stick fancy plaster trims in the angle where ceiling meets wall. If you have ever tried to remove cornice when renovating your will know how strong it can be. You should find it anywhrere that does plastering supplies, same place as jointing compound. As I was doing a large project, and using the mâché to cast from inside a plaster mould. It was a good addition as it seems to dry the mix out. I put the wet paper pulp into an old pillowcase and inor my old washing machine for. A spin to remove the excess water, as my arms were aching from so much squeezing. I rolled the mix in my pottery slab roller (bit like a giant pasta machine) to 1cm thickness. It tore as I handles it into the mold, but presses together again well.
        As it dried there was some shrinkage, do you have the same with the TP recipe?
        I found that pressing the mâché sheets firmly into the mould with an old metal ice cream scoop worked well and kept the mâché consolidated.
        So all good fun, but now I have to clear up the mess!

        • Thanks, Sandy. I’ll look for it – and after I get all my house-moving projects done, I’ll try out your method. Yes, the paper mache clay does shrink a little as it dries.

  • Why use toilet paper? Try using printers fine art paper, it already has a clay content which is used to crate the fine printing surface.

  • I make this recipe using flour instead of clay powder and it works fine. Since I use Rich’s glue, if critters are going to eat it the sugar in the glue will attract them so I don’t worry about more flour.

    When I apply the clay to large areas, I roll it out between two pieces of plastic wrap to whatever thickness I want. I use a 12″ piece of 1″ diameter wooden dowl (a closet rod) as a rolling pin, but you could use a rolling pin with a light touch. Then I apply the clay with one piece of the plastic still in place and pat it down on the sculpture, smoothing where it meets the last piece I applied. I can cover large areas really quickly that way.

  • Wow, fantastic website! I am another potter, and I found you thinking you were using just the mix of paper and clay one of your other commenters talked about. May I suggest shopping tactics for your “powdered clay”? In the US and western Canada, try google searches that include clay body brand names such as Plainsman, and Lauguna to help you find a nearby ceramic or pottery supply house. More eastern types can try looking for Axner, or in Canada Pottery Supply House. In Europe, try contacting anywhere that still makes pottery in your area. They can direct you better than I. Clay is a regional thing. Different kinds will be available in different parts of the country, not to mention different parts of the world. For instance, kaolin is the name given to a group of clays that can be found all over the world, but will have slightly different properties depending on where they are mined. In general, they are very white in appearance and can be quite sticky to work with by themselves, but not all of them. Your commenter Maggie said she had problems with kaolin. Some of them are more workable than others. If you just want a small amount of clay, most ceramic or pottery supply houses sell small quantities of “calcined kaolin”. The shop you mentioned Jonni, sells 1lb (approx 450g for those of us metric users) for 5$ US. The calcining process should reduce the shrinkage and make it more workable. It is usually listed under minerals or raw materials, things that are mixed together to make pottery clay, or clay bodies. If you want to use a lot of it, you can go ahead and buy a 50 lb bag of a premixed clay body from a local pottery or ceramic supply house. As clay is a regional sort of thing, I suggest calling and talking to someone. Most have a toll free number. You want to ask for a smooth, white clay body with low dry shrinkage( 5% or less). Firing temperature and fired shrinkage will not matter if you are air drying. Also, mould does grow quite readily in clay! Its a sedimentary formation. Think silt on the bottom of a river bed, with all kinds of accompanying biological inclusions. Potters encourage some moulding, because it increases plasticity. It isn’t the toxic kind, but it can cause reactions in those with asthma or allergies. As a final note, all clay contains some free silica. This is silica that isn’t bonded with other elements, and can be hazardous if inhaled over time, (like 25 years) or in large quantities (if you’re a sandblaster). If you must sand this stuff, it’s a good idea to use a HEPA filtered mask. Hope this helps!

    • Thanks! Of course, the original paper mache clay recipe (with no real clay in it) is also an option for anyone who can’t find a local pottery supply store. I’m still on the fence about which recipe is best, but the original is definitely the easiest if you don’t have a pottery store down the street.

  • I am Interested in an old recipe and/or process:

    Once there was a way to mold paper mache and add linseed oil and “bake” it to make furniture. I am interested in how this was done, although I doubt I will ever try to do it.
    I am a railroad modeler and I am looking for a way to make beautiful hills without foam (expensive and an ecological disaster) or plaster of Paris, which is heavy and brittle.

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