DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements

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I call this “Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay,” and it’s one of the most popular recipes on this site.

First, mix together –

  • 1/2 cup toilet paper (24 grams dry, 110 grams wet)
  • 1/2 cup Premixed Drywall Joint Compound (200 grams) – Note: DAP brand joint compound will not work. Use any other brand except DAP.)
  • 1/2 cup Elmer’s glue (130 grams)
  • 1/2 cup corn starch (70 grams) and additional corn starch to be added when kneading the clay at the end
  • 3 tablespoons mineral oil (baby oil)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (70 grams) to start
3 Wise Men made with Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay
3 Wise Men made with Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay

Then, add up to 3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour and mix.

To see a video of this process, scroll down below.

You can use this recipe with any of my patterns for masks and sculptures, but you may need to brush some Elmer’s glue onto the cardboard to make sure it will stick.

This clay is a variation of my original paper mache clay recipe, and it’s intended to be used as a thin layer over an armature. It won’t dry all the way through if you use it as a thick, solid mass, like ‘real’ clay. Many people like to use paper mache clay as the first thin layer, because it goes on fast. Then they add another layer of this air dry clay to make a nice smooth surface.

Many readers have also told me that it works well in small silicone molds, and some people have used it for beads. If you want to use it without an armature, be sure to do your own tests to make sure it will be strong enough for your needs.

Video Showing How to Measure and Mix the Air Dry Clay Recipe:

Play Video

This clay isn’t as sticky as the original paper mache clay, so there are some tricks to using it. Be sure to watch this video to see how it’s done.

How to Mix the Smooth Air Dry Clay Ingredients

toilet paper for air dry clay recipe

Step 1: Measure the paper

You’ll need 24 grams of dry toilet paper. You can use any brand.

Wetting the toilet paper for easy DIY air dry clay recipe.

Step 2: Get the paper wet

Use plenty of water, and swirl it around with your fingers to separate the fibers.

Drain the water from the paper for the DIY air dry clay.

Step 3: Drain off the water

A metal sieve works really well for this.

Weigh the wet paper for the air dry clay recipe.

Step 4: Weigh the wet paper

You’ll need 110 grams. Keep squishing out water until the scale shows you have only 110 grams of paper and water.

Mix the paper and other ingredients of DIY air dry clay.

Step 5: Mix in the ingredients

In this step you only want to use half of the flour. You’ll mix in more flour in the next steps. You’ll also be using more corn starch (or flour) when it’s time to knead the clay (Step 7).

Mixing the DIY air dry clay.

Step 6: Add the last half of the flour

Use your dough hooks for this step, because the air dry clay will start to get very heavy, and the regular mixing blades don’t work very well. If the mixer has to work too hard, you may need to do this part by hand – you don’t want to burn out the motor!

Note – the dough hooks on my old mixer, shown here, worked great for this step. But on my new mixer, the air dry clay crawls up the beaters. I now do this step with a wooden spoon.

Kneading corn starch into the DIY air dry clay recipe .

Step 7: Knead in enough corn starch to get the consistency you want

The amount of corn starch is entirely up to you. It will make the air dry clay stiffer, which makes it easier to form fine details. However, the stiffer it gets the less sticky it gets, so pieces of clay won’t stick together as well. Play with it with different amounts of corn starch until you get it the way you like it.

You could use flour instead of corn starch, if you prefer. Try it both ways and see which one you like best.

Finished Silky-Smooth DIY Air Dry Clay

When the air dry clay is ready, you’ll be able to pull up a thin piece of clay, as shown above. It will be softer than commercial air dry clay, but will hold very small details well. You can adjust the amount of flour and corn starch to make it as stiff as you want, but if you add too much it will be difficult to get it to stick to your armature.

Be sure to watch the video above for tips on using your new air dry clay.

And for a bit of history – my Indian Rhino was one of the very first sculptures that I made using the Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay.

If you haven’t used air dry clay over an armature before, it can be tricky. Be sure to watch that video for some useful tips you can use for your own sculpture.

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How to Make Air Dry Clay

1,174 thoughts on “DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements”

  1. Hi, Jonni…I’m getting ready to make your air dry clay and was wondering about the shelf life in the frig? I freeze the paper mache clay in batches and store what I’m using in the frig and that works great. Can I do the same with the air dry? Also, what is the thickest you can use the air dry clay? As in ornaments? Thanks so much for sharing everything you do,.

    Reply
  2. Hi Jonni (how many times have you been asked if your middle name starts with B.? haha!)

    Last night I came across your website and was very excited to see all the different sculptures you have made with your paper mâché recipe. For many years, I created small animal sculptures with FIMO, but have always wanted to try to work bigger and with an air-drying clay so am thrilled to have found you and your recipe!!

    I live in the Czech Republic (though I am not Czech, but my husband is) and have just spent quite some time researching ‘drywall joint compound’…that is, how it is called in Czech and finding various brands of it here. There are a few (after all, drywall is pretty universal, so joint compound MUST exist here, too, right?) I just hope the one I choose is not like DAP (a brand that did not come up in my search).

    Having watched your video on how to make the clay, I was happy to learn there that the PVA glue should not be school grade so I will look now for a higher quality of one. I do think Elmer’s glue exists here.

    Not to bore you with all the above, I just wanted to say I am so excited to get started on some new animals…bigger ones! And now I can toss out that old oven I kept around to bake the FIMO clay animals in!! haha!

    Thank you again…look for me in the comments…I will be back!

    Cat
    Prague, Czech Republic

    Reply
    • Hi Cat. I hope you have a lot of fun with your new sculpting projects. I don’t know if Elmer’s is available there, but every country has at least one PVA glue. I think it’s usually mentioned on the label, although that isn’t true here in the States. If you’re not sure about your available products, you can always test them by mixing a tablespoon of joint compound and a tablespoon of the glue – if they stay soft without turning into rubber or getting hard right away, they should work for paper mache clay.

      Reply

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