DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements

Play Video

Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay Recipe:

First, mix together –

  • 1/2 cup toilet paper (24 grams dry, 110 grams wet)
  • 1/2 cup 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)
  • 3 tablespoons mineral oil (baby oil)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (70 grams) to start

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

This is one of the most popular craft recipes on this site…

I used this air dry clay for all of the animal dolls in my book, How to Make Adorable Baby Animal Dolls: With Soft-Sculpted Bodies and Heads Made with Silky-Smooth Home-Made Air-Dry Clay. (Yes, I like long subtitles. 🙂 )

You can also 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.

Sculpted face made with DIY Air Dry ClayThis 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.

However, many readers have 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.

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.

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 for tips on using your new air dry clay.

Share this post:

How to Make Air Dry Clay

1,064 thoughts on “DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements”

  1. Hi Jonni,

    Thanks for sharing these instructions and recipes. I was wondering if the regular and silky-smooth paper mache clay recipes are compatible with Elmer’s School Glue? It is significantly cheaper than Elmer’s Glue-All. I was also wondering if there are any specific brands of white glue that you’ve tried that worked besides Elmer’s. Thanks!

    • Hi Kathleen. Several readers have tried it, and they weren’t happy with the results. The clear Elmer’s does work, but the school glue is not recommended. I don’t know of any other brand of white glue that’s sold here in the US, but I’m sure there must be some out there. You’d need to experiment, though, to find out if they work.

  2. Hi Jonni -We are making Frida Kahlo paper clay sugar skulls to create seasonal pins here in New Mexico. It would seem that we would need to fill in the sugar skull molds in thin layers and let them dry. Does that sound reasonable? Do you have any further suggestions for sculpting a deeper 3D item with this clay?
    Thanks –

    • Hi Karen. The recipe was really developed for thin layers over an armature, so I haven’t experimented very much with thicker items. However, quite a few readers have used this recipe in molds. You might want to copy your question over on the Daily Sculptors page, where more people would see it. If we’re lucky, someone will have a great answer for you.

  3. My clay is too sticky.
    Any suggestions?
    I did equal parts: drywall compound, cornstarch, flour, and glue all (as well the right amount of baby oil).

    • Paula, did you use the gram measurements in the recipe? In your comment you said you used equal parts of all the materials, but that’s not what the recipe calls for. You can adjust the stickiness of the actual recipe by adding more flour or cornstarch. But if you didn’t use the recipe, I don’t know if that will help. Give it a try, and see.

  4. Hey there – wondering what to do if mine is too sticky?
    What in the world am I doing wrong?
    I’ve made it three times…wanting my whole class to use this!!

  5. Hi Jonni. Great videos! I’m going to make my son a Jack Skellington costume with a large head about the size of a beach ball. I’d like to know if I could use this clay in lieu of paper mache or should I create a thin mask of traditional paper then cover it with the clay? The goals for the project are light weight, durable, and smooth. Can you offer any advice on if any armature is needed for this kind of thing?

    • Hi Matt. I have not used paper mache for hollow items, except for my doll heads, a humpty dumpty sculpture made with a balloon, and a globe built over a rubber ball. In all cases, I used plaster cloth to create the initial base because it hardens quickly and the threads help reinforce the shapes. After the forms were removed I used either the air dry clay recipe (for the doll heads) or paper strips and paste. A very thin layer of the air dry clay or just one or two layers of paper strips are needed if the plaster cloth is used. However, a lot of my regular readers actually have more experience with the air dry clay than I do. You might want to post your comment on the Daily Sculptors page, too, to get more ideas.

  6. Hi Jonni,

    If I have a masking tape armature, will the air-dry clay stick directly to the masking tape, or do I need to adhere it with the glue?

    Thanks so much!

    Lilleth

    • Lilleth, I think it may depend on how much corn starch you add to the mixture. The corn starch cuts way down on the stickiness of the air dry clay. Try it on a piece of cardboard that has a few pieces of masking tape stuck to it, and see if it works the way you want it to. If not, just brush on some glue and water before sticking the clay onto the armature. Good luck with your project!

  7. I’m wondering if powdered laundry starch can be used instead of corn starch. I suppose I could experiment but if you have tried it I would really like to have the benefit of you experience. Thanks!

      • Thanks so much Jonni. In hindsight I realize it’s not a very bright question. Of course it will work. The main difference between corn starch and laundry starch is that corn starch is food grade. Since I don’t plan on eating paper clay I think it’s a good way to use the laundry starch I’ve been moving around under my kitchen sink for I don’t know how many years!

  8. Hello. Probably I’ve missed this part somewhere along the line but at which stage did you add the joint compound, glue and oil? I’m guessing before you started mixing initially and before kneading? Kind of like in making cooking dough? Sorry for asking the bleeding obvious but I really feel enthused about making something after watching your video and I don’t want to stuff it up too much. Thanks muchly. Carolyn in Adelaide, South Australia

  9. Hello
    I would like to know if you can make some of the animals you have in the background of your videos. What would the cost be, including shipping to Miami? I would like to use them for head pieces therefore we may have to include a baseball cap per animal and work the design of the animal around it so it can fit. If you don’t, then I will try my best to do it myself. Your videos are very clear and easy to follow. Thanks,

    • Hi Helen. I don’t make the completed wall sculptures and masks to sell, but the patterns are very easy to put together. I’m sure you can find someone who can make them for you locally. I do have lion headdress-style masks that include a pattern for the cap, but the sculptures on the wall behind me in my videos don’t have that design element. A lot of people have made them work, though, some with baseball caps and others with bicycle helmets.

      Good luck with them – and if you have any questions, be sure to ask. 🙂

      • Thanks for your kind reply Jonny, appreciate it
        I did buy the patterns, so wish me luck. Will get back to you when I am done, I will also send you some pictures so you can grade me. (just joking). Your patterns are really easy to follow, that’s why I bought them. And I like the wood glue advice. I will try that one first.

  10. Hi there. Used your recipe and the clay is really sticky and clumpy. However I’m in the south and it’s very humid down here. Could you do a troubleshooting video detailing signs of clay that has too much/little flour or starch or drywall paste etc ?

    • Hi Nep. If your clay is clumpy, you might need to mix it longer. It sounds like the paper isn’t coming apart into individual fibers. It also sounds like you may have too much water. Did you weigh the paper and water? If your mixture is not too heavy for you mixer, try mixing it longer. Then put some flour or corn starch on the table and knead it until you have the consistency that will hold a nice thin shape, like I showed in the video.

      And one last question – you didn’t use DAP joint compound by any chance, or Elmer’s School Glue?

  11. Try using resin to coat your Paper Mache Clay Armature for waterproofing. After the Armature has dried, of course.

  12. Jonni, this new video is really good, concise, and thorough. I don’t think you missed a thing. It will be interesting to see if others have some little tips….as you said, we all are constantly refining how you use the clays. Thanks for the props in your video also- you didn’t have to do that! You could have said one of our regulars. Now I will have to link to that video for my new class members in order to give myself some cache!
    I liked your tip about the gel medium, I will try it some time for myself. I can tell the students about it but I usually like to give them the cheap options first. Thanks, I can’t believe how much work you put into these tutorials with a video and then pics and written explanations. You are a marvel!

      • Hello,

        I love your videos! You’re so talented! I have a question:
        When you give the quantity of drywall joint is it the dry or wet version?

        Thanks

        Caroline

        • Hi Caroline. I always use the premixed wet version in my recipes, because it doesn’t have any plaster in it. I buy mine at Walmart, but any brand (except DAP) will work.

  13. So, you mentioned plaster tape. Do you make your own? Or is it something you buy at the hardware store?

  14. Can I use this clay to make decorative planters? Meaning, planters you’d put a normal plastic, draining plant pot in to make look nice? It wouldn’t necessarily hold the actual soil and plant itself, but decorate/hide the plastic pot the plant is in now. I hope this makes sense. Can you use the clay to make this? And then maybe I’d glaze the dried clay in epoxy for added water resistance? Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Hannah. You could do that, as long as the air dry clay never gets wet. Make a small item as a test, and use the epoxy product on it. Then, after the epoxy cures, leave the test piece in water for a few days and see what happens. If the water gets through the epoxy, the air dry clay will feel soft.

      Would it be possible to make a decorative sleeve instead of a planter? So it has an open bottom and slips over the real planter and the saucer underneath? Then it would rarely get wet.

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.