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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.

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

Play Video

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

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

1,226 thoughts on “DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements”

  1. Hi. Followed your directions to the letter, almost, difference being I used a paint mixer rod and my drill instead of a mixer. Everything seemed to mix well, but my clay wasn’t smooth. Rather, it had the fibers of paper seemingly in it. It has dried well on my armature so my plan is to sand it smooth. What could have prevented it from becoming satiny smooth like yours?

    Reply
    • It sounds like the paper fibers didn’t break apart the way they need to. That could be caused by not soaking the paper long enough, or mixing long enough. Or maybe you bought a brand of paper that doesn’t fall apart when it gets wet. If you still have some left over, try mixing again – the paper has had time to soak up more moisture in the mix, and it might be smoother this time.

      Reply
  2. Hi there.

    The abundant information in your tutorials & videos gave me the courage to begin my first papier mache project. I’m using your silky air dry paper clay and find that my plan involves layering, which led me to the following question:

    What is the ratio of glue to water for the mixture that is used to fuse or blend two layers?

    I would sincerely appreciate hearing from anyone who may have the answer.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Hi Kathleen. The ratio really doesn’t matter, as long as it’s still sticky. You can use just glue if you want to. Or a half and half mix. You just need to wet the air dry clay enough so it will grab onto the layer that’s already there. Have fun! 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks so much for your prompt response, Jonni.

        It appears that the best approach will be to experiment with various blends until I find one that works for me!

        Thanks again.

        Reply
  3. Hello! If I want to “frost” the surface of my project with a thin layer of the air dry clay, do I need to cover the object in a mixture of glue and water first, or will the air dry clay just stick to it as is? Some of the underlying structure will be made of “normal” (i.e., not air dry) paper mache clay, if that information is useful. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Pam. I think that depends on how thick you make your air dry clay. In other words, how much corn starch you add at the end. That’s what makes it less sticky, so using less will allow it to stick easier. But it also makes it a little more difficult to work with, and it might be hard to get a really smooth surface, if that’s what you’re looking for. So do a small test, to see it a wetter version of the recipe will work for you. If it doesn’t, you’ll probably need to brush some glue on the surface of your piece first.

      Reply
  4. Hello Jonni! So excited to have found your website! I will be trying your air dry clay as a final smoothing layer on a Spider Man figure I’m working on. I watched the Rhino video to watch your methods (she’s so pretty!!). You mention a couple of times to use a water and glue mixture – when filling cracks and for better adhesion to surfaces. Is there a good water to glue ratio to use for this purpose? Thanks! I’m looking forward to really exploring this site and your wonderful projects 😀

    Reply
    • Hi Diana. I just mix a little water into my Elmer’s glue to thin it down and make it easy to brush on. You don’t really need to add the water at all, so there’s no real formula. The glue does help when using this air dry clay recipe – I’m glad you watched the video so you know some of the tricks for using it. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi Jonni. This is Randy again. Thank you so much about the information on where I can store it.

    Just asking if wire mesh could be suitable to use as an armature for the smooth paper mache clay.

    Could I use strips of newspaper dipped in water/glue and then apply it onto wire mesh? Then could I add clay on top?

    Reply
    • Hi Randy. Yes, that should work just fine! A lot of people use the air dry clay over paper strips and paste. You’ll need fairly large pieces of paper to make sure they don’t fall through the mesh. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Hi Jonni! I was wondering if this air dry clay can be stored in a fridge or does it just need to be covered with plastic wrap.

    If I can, how long can I store it and if not how else could I store it to be used in a couple of days?

    Reply
    • Hi Randy. It will usually last a few days out on a shelf if you seal it well, but it doesn’t hurt to put it in the fridge, especially if you have to leave it longer.

      Reply
  7. Found your website after looking at a similar recipe for air-dry clay on another YouTube channel. Your recipe was more exact on quantities of toilet paper and water, so I opted to use your recipe. Glad I did.

    Found the stuff does mix well with a 3/8″ drill and paint stirrer up to the point where one just has to knead it. I also found I liked combining the ingredients (without the soaked toilet paper and the second half of flour) in a deep stainless steel mixing bowl with a rigid putty knife, then changing over to the drill and paint stirrer. Paint stirrer then whipped up the initial mixture quite nicely. Only then did I drain the toilet paper (weighing it wet does give you the correct ratio of water, so don’t skip that step!), tore the wet TP into small pieces into the mixture already in the bowl, then went at it with the paint stirrer. After trial and error, found it most helpful to occasionally pull the paint stirrer up and directly mash it into the center ball of TP and goo (while the stirrer is still spinning). This seemed the most efficient way to get the paper fiber evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

    Since I wanted to roll this out and cover my support structure like fondant on a cake, I opted to use about 50% to 75% more floor in my mixture than specified. I also tried to knead and roll out with flour instead of the cornstarch but found the cornstarch better for my project. Cornstarch really does help the mixture become less sticky sooner. Did use the idea of a half glue, half water mixture on my cardboard and wire structure to help it stick, and also on the edges as additional pieces of the clay were put into place. Also used the technique of folding up the larger sheets of clay so the material would not stretch as much due to the weight of the water in the mixture while transporting it from the rollout table to the structure. I imagine the baker’s technique of rolling a sheet of fondant up on the rolling pin to transport to the destination would work well also.

    Had a leftover piece of 1 1/2 inch plastic ABS pipe from a recent plumbing job and found it worked great as a rolling pin. Don’t like using our kitchen baking tools and utensils with non-food ingredients (like premixed joint compound and Elmer’s glue.) Speaking of the joint compound, I had the leftovers of a big box of it from a recent remodel, and this project only took a fraction of what I had left over. Glad to use the leftovers in this project rather than see it eventually go to waste.

    Thanks again. Saving this recipe.

    Reply
  8. Hi Jonni! I’m really in love with your work. I have only one doubt this formulas that contain flour can resist trough years? At least in my country I knew that some recipes with flour attracts mini insects that eat flour and can destroy the peace you create. Hope you can understand my question I’m not an English native speaker and it’s a difficult question to ask! Best, carol

    Reply
    • Hi Carol. You’re right – in some environments, and especially in ones where the humidity is really high, you might want to use sculpting materials that critters don’t like to eat. We have a no-flour recipe for paper mache clay that might work better for you. But remember that paper is also edible to some life-forms, so you’ll still want to seal your sculptures to keep them out and to keep the sculptures dry.

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
  10. Hi there!
    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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
  11. Nicole -Toronto. What would you suggest for sealing and even to waterproof? Looking for Halloween decorations?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
        • 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?

          Reply
          • 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.

            Reply
  12. 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!

    Marina Santos

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  13. 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 (MotherofAngels)

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  14. 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

    Reply
    • 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! 🙂

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  15. 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
  16. 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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