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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
Then, add up to 3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour and mix.
Video Showing How to Measure and Mix the Air Dry Clay Recipe:
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.
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
Step 1: Measure the paper
You’ll need 24 grams of dry toilet paper. You can use any brand.
Step 2: Get the paper wet
Use plenty of water, and swirl it around with your fingers to separate the fibers.
Step 3: Drain off the water
A metal sieve works really well for this.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
1,198 thoughts on “DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements”
First, thank you for your detailed recipes and videos! I was wondering if I could use a 1 gallon bucket with this attachment to my drill to mix the clay? Pros/cons?
I think it would work. I actually have one of those attachments, but it’s the larger size and I haven’t tried it with the air dry clay recipe. I have used the smaller types, with plastic paddles that stick out, and they work well.
I was trying to make your angel tree topper. You make it look easy. I must have messed up somewhere when making the super silky air dry clay. Maybe it was because I tripled the recipe. It took a lot of extra corn starch but was still sticky. The dough didn’t want to stick to the armiture. I struggled and then got frustrated and put it up to dry. The clay sagged and made wrinkles and cracks. I didn’t wat to have to trash her, she was kinda sweet. Gave it a few days and kept thinking about. Maybe everyone else already know this but I was thinking about clay slip. With my immersion blender, I put water and clay in a container. Kept adding clay until it got quite thick, then added some tp fiber. I smeared some on the angel so that the dough wouldstick. Then I put more on top and smeared it with my finger to smooth it. Worked like a charm. Hope this helps someone avoid the frustration. ? Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
It does help me. Thanks ?
I’m very excited to try this recipe! However, I sent my husband to the hardware with very specific instructions and unfortunately he came back with DAP because it was the only brand of joint compound they carry.
However, they do carry other brands of sparkling and such. Could sparkling or something similar be used instead of joint compound?
Thanks so much!
I have never tried the other products, so I can’t say if they would work or not. If they have a small container, it would be easy for you to test it and see. If you do an experiment, please let us know how it turned out.
I remembered wrong and managed to buy PVC glue. Do you think that could be used instead of PVA?
Marta, I just looked up PVC glue, and the results came up as the kind of glue used to put plastic pipes together. If that’s what you have, I really doubt that it would work. When I’ve used it for pipes, it dries almost instantly. But that’s probably not what you have – in any case, I don’t have any here at my house, so I can’t do an experiment for you. You would need to mix the premixed drywall joint compound and the glue together, just a few spoonfuls of each, and see if it stays fairly liquid and doesn’t clump.
Hi Jonni, thanks a lot for the thorough answer. I have found a few leftover PVA with which I managed to make half the amount and finish the project we had with the kids. Thanks so much for all the information and creative ideas you share with us.
Nicole -Toronto. What would you suggest for sealing and even to waterproof? Looking for Halloween decorations?
You could try using the Rustoleum Flex Seal. One of my guest posters said it works well, but I haven’t tried it. Most sealers I’ve tried have not been 100% effective. If your Halloween decorations do start to soften in the rain, you can bring them back inside to dry out. We also have an experimental recipe that might hold up longer outside, as long as it’s sealed. If you want to do some experiments with it too, you can find it here.
There is also plastidip spray paint. Some people use it to seal foam before painting. It should create a seal before painting and prevent moisture getting to the paper.
Thanks for the tip, Tiffany. I just now searched for it on amazon, and the listing didn’t say if it could be painted or not. Most paint won’t stick to a rubberized surface. Have you tried it?
I haven’t tried. I do know that I have seen it used by Bill Duran from Punished Props in YouTube as a base to seal foam before priming and painting. I would assume you would need a plastic primer before paint.
Hello Jonni Good
I’m so glad I found you! I was searching for a papier Machê that would have the same look as polymer Clay but was lighter for small silicone moulds full of details 🙂 Your soft paper clay seams to be the answer!
However the Joint Compounds are made of Cement or Calcium Lime.
Lime coatings have the colour of the sand they contain, cement coatings are generally white or gray.
Cement is strong and solid after dry and waterproof; Lime is also strong but is breathable/ permeable it’s used in old houses in southern European country’s for its ability to support tension and motion, unlike cement that breaks or cracks.
So in your opinion for those of us who are outside the USA, would you say that Premixed Drywall Joint Compound is made of cement or of lime?
Knowing that would make it easy for us to know what to search here in Europe so we can do your recipe and start creating!!!
Thank you so much for all your wonderful work and the time you have given us!
God bless you!
Hi Marina. I can’t help you with your question – I don’t have any access to the formulas for corporations who make the premixed joint compound in other countries. I think the best way to find out is to call the customer service desk at the company that makes the product that’s available at your store. Or you could ask the fellows at your local DIY store. I should say, though, that the premixed drywall joint compound sold here in the US does not contain cement, and it has no structural integrity at all. In the construction industry it’s used in paper-thin layers over a piece of paper tape to cover the seams between two pieces of drywall. If the house moves at all, the drywall seams will crack. In the paper mache and air dry clay recipes on this site, the strength comes from the combination of the glue, joint compound and paper, and it will dry hard as a rock. Joint compound alone dries soft, and can be easily scratched with your fingernail.
Love all your work and willingness to share. I found you through Youtube one day when I was looking for ways to weather proof my paper mache mask I had made for our tree.
I didn’t find what I started out looking for, I found much more.
I had suffered the tragic loss of 3 of my children, and the grief led me to being jobless and nearly homeless. My health was failing and I desperately needed an outlet for expressing my heart ache. I could barely afford to eat or pay my power bill much less art supplies.
Merging your techniques with some I knew from my younger years gave me the opportunity to create the art I needed to help me heal without breaking my non existent bank and has helped me on my healing journey.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with others.
Crystal, thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story. I truly believe that art, in any form, is medicine for the soul, and you’ve said it so much better than I ever could.
Crystal Ann, I’m sure I speak for many when I say that my heart goes out to you. I hope you continue to find some comfort in art for a loss beyond imagining.
Hi Jonni, I live in Tucson, AZ and after checking every retailer, I contacted Pro Form directly for help in finding ProForm All Purpose Drywall pre-mixed. Turns out the don’t distribute that in the western US. Would you be able to suggest another brand with will give the same positive results as ProForm? Thank you, Janelle
Hi Janelle. Any brand other than DAP will work. I really liked the Proform because it was available at Walmart, and cost less. Here in my town they no longer carry it, so I’m using the Sheetrock brand, instead. Any brand except DAP. Have fun! 🙂
Hi, Janelle. Did you try Lowe’s? I am in Southern New Mexico and ordered it for delivered very via Lowes.
J’aimerai faire de petits personnages 6/7 cm.
Quelle est la meilleure pâte s’il vous plaît
for something that tiny I would probably use Apoxy Sculpt or Polymer Clay. It might be possible to get tiny details with this air dry clay recipe, but I think you might be happier with the results of the epoxy or polymer products.
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,.
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!
Prague, Czech Republic
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.