Make Paper Mache Clay Without Toilet Paper

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With the recent toilet paper scarcity, a lot of people are asking me if you can make paper mache clay with newspaper or other recycled paper.

The answer is yes, and, I have some tips on how to make paper mache clay with newspaper and other recycled papers.

I forgot to mention in the video that you can also use traditional paper strips and paste for all of the projects on my channel instead of paper mache clay. That way, you don’t have to run to the store to buy anything, because you probably already have all the needed materials in the house already.

Links mentioned in the video:

And one extra one, for those who don’t have all the ingredients for the paper mache clay recipe – don’t let that stop you from making something!

16 thoughts on “Make Paper Mache Clay Without Toilet Paper”

  1. Hi, there. I bought a paper Mache bowl that got damaged in shipping. Which method would you suggest to repair it?
    Thank you!
    I can send a picture of the bowl if there is a way to that.

  2. Just a suggestion- For years I used cellulose insulation in making paper clay which is simply clay mixed with paper. It’s ground newsprint with borax added (harmless unless you’re an insect) added for fireproofing. I haven’t tried it yet for paper mache but I’m certain it would work fabulously and it’s much cheaper than toilet paper. A 20 or 30 pound bag is around ten dollars and available at any big box or hardware store.

    Hope this helps!

    • Hi Curt. I tried it with my paper mache clay recipe, and it didn’t work. I was very disappointed, but when the borax is mixed with PVA glue it turns the mixture into rubber. There’s borax in DAP drywall joint compound, and it causes the same problem. Do you just use the soaked insulation by itself, or do you mix it with something?

      • I just used it mixed with water to a sloppy consistency and then wedged into dry clay to make it usable, in fired clay it works amazingly well. I suppose you could rinse most of the borax out of the paper, I’ll try that and see if it helps. I’ll keep you posted!

        • Oh, you’re using it in ‘real’ clay. I somehow missed that point. I’ve seen people use real paper clay for their sculptures, and I’ve always been really impressed. The paper mache clay is a totally different thing, of course, but it would be nice to be able use the insulation instead of toilet paper or recycled paper. If you find a way to make it work with PVA glue, we’d love to hear about it!

          • Yes, it works fantastic in handbuilt projects, it nearly eliminates cracking due to thick and thin spots or uneven drying. I even used it on a potters wheel with great results too! I think I have some insulation in my garage and I’ll find it and see if I can rinse the borax out. I’ll let you know what I find out! 🙂

  3. Is this recipe good to use to make a smooth bowl? Previously I’ve made bowls using a ‘clay’ made with newspaper mulch and pva glue only. It’s worked out well to hold the shape and is very hard but I dislike the super lumpiness of it. My other thought was to make the initial bowl that way then do your recipe in a thin layer over the top. Could you lend me your expertise and thoughts please? Thank you so much.

    • Hi Charada. If you’re looking for a smooth surface, I’d recommend the Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay recipe, and you’ll get the smoothest result if you use the toilet paper instead of recycled paper. However, as I mentioned in the video on this post, you can use recycled paper if you make sure to soak it long enough, and mix it really well so all the fibers come apart. You can use it as a very thin layer, too – just add less flour or cornstarch to make it easier to spread.

      • Hi Jonni!
        I’m still happily working non-stop on my giraffe and ready for the scariest part (to me) which is breaking into the PMC/SSADC (Silky Smooth Air Dry Clay) & joint compound. The slight tweaks I wanted to make to her snout/lower jaw went great! The sewing was the way to go!
        So my giraffe is ready, for clay!
        ??I’ll finally get to my questions here:
        One, I don’t own or have more than US measuring cups/spoons and an old electric egg beater mixer to work with. Nothing for gram measurements, so I’m hoping I’m fine with what I have.
        ??I’m really really hoping instead of using toilet paper I can use a leftover bag of white Amaco Claycrete papier-mâché that’s 100% pure white paper pulp.

        I’ve read conflicting choices on the giraffe, after doing the face and mane with paste & strips. One did a first layer of either your Silky Smooth Air Dry Clay, or plain joint compound on the entire giraffe, Instead of using your PMC as a first, foundational layer.
        Then in the original instructions it calls for your original PMC first, with nice texture in the ears and mane followed by a layer of joint compound. (I’m very comfortable w/joint compound- had to re-plaster entire bathroom last year!)

        ?? So, I’d usually just follow directions and use the your PMC first on bulk of the giraffe, I only bother to ask because I’m not doing a regular giraffe fur spot pattern and (I may or may not want to fluff the inner ears if I end up doing something unique inside the ears)
        I plan on keeping my mane minimal, more smooth & modern with a high gloss shine over what I design the giraffe skin with as of now.)
        Any thoughts or advice on the pulp and the order of clays? ?

        • Hi Ali. I’ve used just cups for measuring many times, and it works. Sometimes it’s hard to get exactly the right amount of water out of the soaked paper, so the paper mache clay comes out less thick than you’d like. But if that happens, just add more flour.

          It’s possible that the Claycrete contains plaster of Paris – but I don’t know if that would be stated on the bag or not. You can find out by mixing a small amount of it with water. If it hardens fairly quickly, but is still damp, that means it has plaster. You could still use it, but make half a batch instead of the full recipe, so you’ll have time to work before it gets too hard.

          The paper mache clay first and then the thin coating of joint compound is the easiest way to do it – for me, at least. Other people do it differently, so it’s really a personal decision.

          I can’t wait to see how it comes out! 🙂

  4. I have heared from a paper maker that paper used to make Tetra-packs would be very suitable to make emergency toilet paper. You just have to peel the plastic membranes out it.
    I think about using it in future paper maché sculptures since tetra-packs are becoming more difficult to recycle.

    Can’t wait to see the result!
    Hope this can help 🙂

  5. Can you use Cross-cut paper (like confetti) from a paper shredder in place of toilet paper and soak and strain the water out??

  6. Jonnie,
    I am new to paper mache – it has been my recent inspiration during this unusual time. I am thankful to have found your site. I really admire your work.

    I am wondering how to afix something to the paper mache to hang on the wall. Os that explained in any of your tutorials? If so, which one?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Maria. It depends on the shape of the item, and if there is anything inside it to add support. For my animal wall sculptures I have a flat piece of cardboard on the back of the heads, so I just drill a hole near the top in the back piece and hang them over a nail. You can also use epoxy glue to attach them to a wooden plaque, and then hang the plaque on the wall with a hanger.


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