Make Necklace Pendants with Paper Mache Clay

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Make beads and pendants with paper mache clay

Today’s guest post is by Matsa Zilih, who lives in Serbia. We receive many requests for information about how to make beads and other jewelry using paper mache clay, so I know this post will be a popular one. Thanks, Matsa!

You can see more of Matsa’s pendants and her lamps on her website at maxxbag.com

©2019 Matsa Zilih

How I make necklace pendants from paper mache clay.

My journey with paper mache and paper mache clay started some four years ago when I was looking for a way to repurpose a plastic bottle (to make a table lamp from it) and found Jonni’s Youtube channel and website with plenty of instructions.

Since then, paper mache and its clay became the No.1 material I use for my crafts. Thank you Jonni!

The only problem was that I couldn’t find joint compound in my country, so I had to experiment with different materials to get my own recipe. *

The best replacement for joint compound I found is a sort of tiling paste or a wall putty. As my challenge is recycling, I also tried different kinds of trash paper (egg-cartoons, toilet or towel paper rolls, white plies of napkins that remain after decoupage) but the best result I get with printed paper – you know, the one that over time clutters your drawers ?.

The idea to make pendants from paper mache clay popped up when, after finishing a few table lamps, a small ball of clay remained… I was kneading it in my hands and it looked like… a pebble.

All my life I’ve been fascinated with them – in my stash I have a couple of shoe-boxes full of stones and pebbles brought home from various trips. And now I can make my own stones…

But, let’s get back to the post. I take a ping-pong ball size of clay and make pendants in different shapes.

Creating a pendant from a ball of paper mache clay

To create them, I either use tools I have around or shape them by hand (the round one on the photo below is cut with a glass with thin walls and the other two are formed by hand).

I love textures and I use various household items to make imprints on pendants. For the round pendant I used the bottom of the small glass bowl with tiny ball-like bumps and for the third, a piece of non-slip pad and I left the one in the middle without texture.

Paper mache clay pendants, and tools.

When they dry, the next step is sanding – not so fun, but it makes pendants smooth and helps you take away any undesired or uneven spot.

After that, I paint the pendants with a primer – usually white acrylic paint (they often get darker when dry because of the printer ink). I did try to prime them with gesso too, but it’s not necessary and gesso requires another ‘round’ of sanding ?.

Now, the pendants are ready to be painted with a colour of my liking.

Then, I decorate the pendants in various ways: on the one that has texture, after applying the base colour, I filled in the indents with dark green colour using a tooth pick or a thin make-up brush. I often combine different techniques for decoration, preferably decoupage with napkins.

The decorated paper mache clay pendants.

And in the end, I seal them with a few coats of transparent acrylic varnish to protect them from scratches and humidity.

All the details about these three you can find in the videos on my Youtube channel. This link is for the playlist with 4 videos related to paper mache clay.

And additionally, I’ve lately been using acrylic pouring technique for decoration (also called fluid acrylic art). In the last couple of years, this technique became a very popular painting technique and it’s very easy to apply.

The possibilities are endless and you need a small amount of just a few paints – even two-three colours are enough, like in these heart pendants cut with a cookie cutter:

Make Necklace Pendants with Paper Mache Clay

And in these four reversible pendants:

Acrylic pour used for paper mache clay pendants.

And the very last step is to add a cord – I usually thread its ends through 2 – 4 beads so the cord slides and the length of the necklace gets adjustable.

– – – – –

Please note:

Regarding the alternative for joint compound in my recipe: I live in Serbia and use local products so it’s what works for me – in other words, it depends on where you live and what is possible to find there. A hint: there’s a Henkel’s Ceresit line with some apparently similar products but I didn’t try any.

– – – – –

* Recipe for PMC:

– 45 grams (~1.60 oz.) of printed paper;

– 1 cup of undiluted white, PVA glue like Elmer’s (or diluted carpenter’s/wood glue – I use very thick wood glue and need to dilute it – 50%:50% water:glue);

– 1 cup of starch;

– ½ a cup of coarse flour;

– ½ to ¾ a cup of tiling paste or wall putty (again, it depends on the thickness of the product you find)

– 3-4 tbs. body milk or baby oil.

Wish you all Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!


I you have any questions I’ll only be glad to reply.

You might like these posts, too:

Make pendants with paper mache clay

24 thoughts on “Make Necklace Pendants with Paper Mache Clay”

  1. Hello Matsa.
    I saw some videos of your jewelry. They are very nice pendants. I make jewelry too. I live in Canada. My question is, how strong is the paper mache clay? I have been working with air dry clays from Activa (La Doll and PLUS). I bought them on Amazon but they are very expensive. I cast the clay in silicone molds, pop them out right away and let them dry for a day or two. I found that sometimes the clay cracks and my pendants lack strength and snap easily. Even the thicker ones. Is it possible to cast paper mache clay in silicone molds? Some of these molds have intricate details and I need something that will keep the detail and be strong too. I have cast epoxy resins as well. They are strong as steel but are even more expensive. they harden very quickly which makes it hard to add detailed designs. I hope to hear from you and thank you for your videos.

    • Hi Jacques. I don’t know if Matsa is still watching this post for comments, so I’ll try to help. I suggest trying the air dry clay recipe to use in silicone molds. The only way to find out if it’s strong enough, or if it has the properties you want, is to do some experiments. The materials in the recipe are not expensive, so you’ll be able to make a lot of test articles to see if it’s going to work for you. You can find the air dry clay recipe here.

      I should also say that if you’re making items that will be worn against the skin, you’ll want to seal them well. The air dry clay dries very hard, but it might absorb skin oils and become discolored over time if not sealed well.

  2. Hi Matsa, your jewelry are gorgeous. One thing I have seen a lot to make a resin kind of finish in jewelry is using nail polish. I see the artists using the same mixing techniques you use and when dry use clear polish to give that sheen. I have been wanting to try that technique which would go great with your designs. The beauty of these jewlry designs that your imagination can go wild.

    • Thank you very much, Christine!
      Maybe I could try clear polish as the last coat for the shine. The dilemma is how long it can last and if it would crack if the pendant falls. The acrylic varnishes are elastic when dry, form a coat like skin.
      A while ago, I tried to mix a couple of nail polishes and gave up because of the smell and it dries too quickly . Also I watched few videos showing people trying to mimic ebru technique (dripping drops of polish on water) but didn’t get enough vivid and intense colours.
      And of course, need to admit: I’m pretty much ‘hooked’ on acrylic pouring :).

  3. Just discovered your YouTube channel. Very excited about it! I’m sure you get this a lot…but I didn’t see that you had an Instagram account. Might there be one coming? 😉

  4. I love the jewelry. I had made some with Jonni’s clay too. A friend painted southwest reigns on them and I added feathers that I had crimped on a cord that hung below the medallion. Also ratings work because they can be big and light.

  5. Hi Matsa,

    I make jewelry and I found your tutorial very interesting and useful. Thank you so much for sharing and showing your beautiful pieces!

    I also went to your website and enjoyed looking at your wonderful lamps. You are very talented.

    Thanks again,



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