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.