New Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Better Measurements

I wanted to standardize the new air-dry clay recipe, so it will come out exactly the same every time. To do that, I measured the ingredients, and took special care to weigh the toilet paper after the water was squeezed out.

The toilet paper can be squeezed too dry, and if that happens you end up with lumps in your clay. The only way to know for sure that you’re squeezing it exactly the same amount every single time is to use a scale. I know that most people in Europe use a scale in their kitchen, but you may not have one if you live in the States – unless you’re into baking great bread. If you don’t have a scale, you might still want to watch the video to see how the paper looks before it’s mixed in with the other ingredients.

Note: This clay is intended to be used as a thin layer over an armature, like regular paper mache. It won’t dry all the way through if you use it as a solid mass, like ‘real’ clay. Also, there are some tricks to using it. Be sure to watch this video to see how it’s done.

The air-dry clay recipe, with both cups and gram measurements:

First, mix together –
1/2 cup toilet paper (24 grams dry, 110 grams wet)
1/2 cup Joint Compound (200 grams)
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.

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949 thoughts on “New Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Better Measurements

  1. Jonnui,
    Do you have videos showing the actual sculpting process with the clay? For the details like eyes, fur, mouths, etc? I don’t want someone to show me how so much as at what point of the drying process and how thick of the clay needs to be added to actually have sculpting thickness? I hope that makes sense!

    • Hi Michele. A lot of the projects on this site are made with the air dry clay recipe. This guest post is a good example. I try to keep the layers below 1/4″, so they’ll dry all the way through. Most of the time I keep the layers even thinner than that. You don’t want to add more clay until the first layer is dry, because it could form a skin and trap moisture inside. A fan really helps to speed up the drying time.

      • I meant the actual sculpt of let’s say…. recessed eyes and brows and furrows and lines, etc. I usually just barely coat my armature with clay, let harden and paint. The thickest parts are the combs and waddles pr if I make a tail instead of use feathers, those are thick…. but I don’t really sculpt much in the way of digging into the clay with anything other than my fingers.

    • Hi Michele – yes, we need to use Elmer’s Glue-All, not school glue. I should have made that more clear. I’ll edit the post. Thanks for pointing it out!

  2. Hi Jonni, thank you for the recipe! How long does it take for a 1/4″ thick layer of clay to dry? Is there a way to make it dry faster? Also, is it possible for me to use this recipe to roll out and create something like a slab as they do in handbuilt pottery?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Liz. Mark Smith wrote a guest post showing how to make very thin sheets of the air dry clay, which he uses for abstract work. However, the air dry clay isn’t as stiff as real clay, so It might not work for your project. The only way to find out is to give it a try. The humidity in the air affects the drying time, so it’s not really possible to say how long a 1/4″ thick piece would take to dry. It does go faster if you put the piece in front of a fan. And give it at least two days, but probably longer to get dry all the way through.

  3. Hi Jonni!
    I am building a 6′ long 33″ high sitting camel for a prop for an Arabian Nights prom. I am an event planner and the students wanted a camel. (A lofty starting project). Anyway, I am thrilled with the structure we created. We did a coat of traditional paper mache, and then I found your Air-Dry recipe and instructions. So we did that next. Do you use one whole roll of toilet paper in that recipe, or do you measure off and weigh only a portion of it? My clay is very textured but I don’t mind that for the body of a camel. Now I have to add some features like ears, eyelids, lips, folds in neck skin. So I need it smooth and pliable. I will send you pictures when we are done.

    • Hi Jeanine. That sounds like a great project. I’ve been dreaming about making a baby camel for years, but so far it just hasn’t happened. Maybe after we see yours I’ll get motivated and start on mine!

      For the recipe, I weigh it before adding it, as shown in the video. The idea behind creating this recipe was to get a smoother version of the original paper mache clay, and to do that I used less paper. If you add more paper, per weight, than the recipe calls for, you’ll have the original recipe. I happen to like the papery texture of the original, but if you’re looking for a smooth look you’ll need to use less TP. If you already have some of the air dry clay mixed up but it’s too bumpy, just add more joint compound and glue, and mix again. Then add the flour or cornstarch to make it the thickness that you want.

      I can’t wait to see how your camel turns out!

  4. Hi Jonni! I love thegram measurements and have had a great time with the clay. Im thinking of adding more joint compound to up the plaster texture of the clay, but im concerned about the toxicity. Is joint compound safe on the skin? Or to breathe?

    • Hi Jane. I’m not a chemist, but it looks like the only time joint compound can possibly cause illness is if you sand it without using a mask. I’ve searched online for any report of anyone actually having any health problems related to the product, and I can’t find any. The product can be drying to the skin, however, just like pottery clay, so you might want to use latex or nitrile gloves if your hands are sensitive.

  5. I’m so looking forward to trying this! I have been using natural clay but it cracks & eventually breaks.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. I got a quick suggestion about the mixer. I have a smal drywall mixer blade I used on a drill. $3-4 bucks. Works great.

      • Thank you. I stumbled across?this site from another. I really liked the clay idea. So yesterday I played with a few things and the last one I added morter mix. Wanted to see if it can hold up outside. I’m doing those garden nomes and looking for cheaper ?ways. I also used newspaper instead of tp. It mixed to a nice pulp. I’m hooked!!

          • Yes. Her work just amplified my desire to keep going. I’m sure the other half is going, oh brother lol. I will update once I get done with one. I ended up having enough mix left that I made a few other things. Stepping stone and a skull mold I filled just to use up. The drying time is longer than paper or morter alone. I used morter mix just like between the brick kind. We shall see. Thank you for letting me creep your blog. Great work.

            • You’re certainly welcome. Will you be testing your concoction to see how well it holds up in the rain? Concrete with paper added seems to do OK, but I do hope you’ll keep us updated.

          • Lee’s guest post ?
            I did and loved it . It is superbe and just knowing that it can be done with your recipe and a bit of imagination and skill and for sure patience is a big plus for who ever wants to try sculpting with paper mache . Thanks again for your hints for paper mache !

  7. Hi Jonni – I’m a big fan of your work. You are so talented! My question is about the silky smooth paper mache clay and whether it will adhere to duck tape (which I always thought was actually called duct tape – LOL). Anyway I will attempt to send a pic with this question. I am trying to make a dress form but not for actual sewing, more for decoration. I completed the process of wrapping a person’s upper torso in the tape, cutting it off, taping it back up and stuffing it with polyfill. My goal is to decopage fabric to the finished piece but I am not quite happy with the bumpiness of some areas. I am contemplating putting a thin layer the silky smooth paper clay over the entire form. But I’m afraid it won’t stick to the slick finish of the tape. What do you think?

    • Hi Jackie. You’re right – it’s called duct tape. “Duck” tape is a brand, though. Rather clever, I think.

      I don’t know if the silky-smooth air dry clay would stick to the tape, but I covered my dragon with duct tape and a thin layer of the original paper mache clay recipe stuck to it quite well. I didn’t add as much flour as the recipe called for so I could spread it easily. You can mix the air dry clay with less corn starch than the recipe calls for, it will make a stickier mixture. I don’t know if it would stick to the tape, but it’s worth a try.

      • Thanks for the info. I decided I was being too picky about the bumpiness and just went ahead and decoupaged it. I have too many irons in the fire right now but I’m hoping to try out your recipes soon.

  8. Which recipe -air dry or paste – should I use for a mask that covers the whole head? Thinking it might be too heavy if I choose wrong. Also, would you place eye holes during construction or cut out once dry?

  9. Hi I live in the UK and was just wondering if joint compound was the same as polyfiller?. Also is it the dry or ready mixed you use?

    • We use the ready mixed kind that comes in a plastic tub. I believe it’s called polyfiller there, but ask the clerk at the store. You want the stuff that fills in the crack between two sheets of drywall (also called plaster board or gypsum board) when new walls are built.

  10. Hi Jonni,
    First I’m sending you my best wishes for the new year.
    One of my resolution is to start again to work on jewelry with air clay. I need to buy an electric mixer which I will be using only for the clay. Which type is the best, the hand electric mixer or the food processor?

    • I prefer the hand mixer, and just get the cheapest one I can find. The air dry clay is very heavy and could cause too much strain on the motor of a food processor.

      We would love to see the jewelry you make with the clay. A lot of people ask me how to use the clay for jewelry, and I can’t tell them because I’ve never done it. Please share some photos so we can see how your work turns out.

    • Don’t know if u purchased your mixer yet. I bought a Black and Deckor mixer. It has several beaters. One regular one and one for dough. The dough one is great when you add your flour.

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