DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements

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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.

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How to Make Air Dry Clay

1,104 thoughts on “DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements”

  1. Love this clay and thank you for the smoothing tips with the joint compound and water!

    I ended up using this all by itself to make a snowman, no armature or anything, just made balls out of it and stacked my structure, but it’s obviously solid clay. It’s probably 7” x 5” at its widest point. Do you think I could put this in my oven to help it dry? If yes, do you have thoughts on what temp and for how long?

    Reply
    • Hi Lindsay. I wouldn’t use a temp over 200° F. The glue doesn’t smell very good if it burns. It will take a long time to dry, and you could see some cracks form as the outside dries and shrinks, while the inside is still wet. As you probably already know, the recipe is intended to be used in a thin layer over an armature, so you’re doing an experiment – and I hope you’ll let us know how it turns out. 🙂

      Reply
      • I was able to use the oven! I did 225° F for an hour, turned the oven off, and let it sit in there until cool. I did this 4 or 5 times.

        Since I was making a snowman, each time as I put him in the oven, the individual “balls of snow” started separating and it actually benefitted me in the end. I was able to take all the sections apart for the very last time I put him in the oven. I then hot glued him back together and used the joint compound smoothing trick to cover all of his cracks! I’ve painted him and added his scarf to bundle him up now! Just waiting on some white glitter to arrive to sprinkle over some glue to make it look like there’s just been fresh snow!

        I have to find a new project to make something else now because I’m having the best time with this recipe! This is the second time I’ve used this recipe (the first was to help my daughter make a fake rock for a school project. We followed the directions better and had created a rock form first with newspaper and then used the clay to spread a thin layer over top vs. using it as full clay like I did with my snowman project.)

        Reply
  2. Hello mam,
    I am from India and i would love to try your recipe. I dont think drywall compound is available in this region. is there any alternative that i could use? Your sculptures look amazing.
    P. S. Sorry for bad English
    Thank you

    Reply
  3. Hi, I really appreciate the recipe and think your sculptury and masks are wonderful. I enjoy sculpting with air dry clay (dragons and Halloween stuff), but it tends to be both expensive and brittle so I was looking for an alternative. I do a lot of work altering skulls into half animal/half person type monsters, so I was wondering if this clay would work by using a cheap plastic Halloween skull as an armature. I’ve done this with air dry clay to alter the contour of the skull, add fangs, or muzzles, which works well until the air dry clay breaks….

    Reply
    • Hi Suzanne. I haven’t tried to stick the air dry clay to plastic. It does shrink slightly as it dries, so it’s possible that it would crack or even fall off. If you try it, we’d love to know what you find out. We’d also love to see some of your sculptures. They sound really interesting! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Hi there! Thank you for the great recipe! I can’t wait to try it. I was wondering if, considering the current shortage of TP, if I could use regular shredded paper instead. I know it would require more soaking to break it down, but would the recipe still work?

    Reply
  5. I absolutely adore all of your tutorials and receipes! I’m going to get all my material and get started ASAP :). However, I can’t find Elmer’s Glue All anywhere. I can only get ahold of “School Glue” which you said was too thin and runny. Is there anything I can do to adjust to thicken up the mixture?

    Reply
    • Do you live in the US? And do you have a lumber or DIY store nearby, like a Lowes or Home Depot? They usually sell the gallon size of Elmer’s.

      I don’t have any school glue on hand so I can’t test it right now. I think I ran into problems with it in the past – but to be honest I can’t remember why I didn’t think it worked well. If you have some school glue on hand, try mixing a tablespoon of the glue with a tablespoon of the premixed drywall joint compound. If it doesn’t get rubbery or thicken up in an unexpected way, then it should work for the air dry clay recipe. You can always make up for the runniness of the glue with a little more flour or a small amount of corn starch, but if it gets rubbery there isn’t any way to fix it. If you do try it, I really hope you’ll let us know if it works or not – and I promise I’ll write it down somewhere so I don’t forget what you tell us. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Your clay looks exactly like clay, my husband made some for me and it still has a look of I’m not sure how to call it but like fiber or toilet paper he did exactly like your directions, which is amazing in itself lol is that how its suppose to look like? Or does it look like clay when separated?

    Reply
    • LeAnn, it sounds like there may be too much paper in the mix. With this recipe you shouldn’t be able to see the texture of the paper at all. Try mixing a little more glue and joint compound into a small portion of your clay, and see if that makes a difference. The other possibility is that the paper just didn’t have a chance to separate out into tiny fibers. If that’s the case, it might come together better just with more mixing. Good luck with it!

      Reply
  7. Hi! Would this recipe or the other similar recipes work with all cornstarch instead of flour? i have flour on hand to use, but prefer the texture cornstarch tends to give in homemade clay recipes, and was curious if you or anyone else has tried this. I didn’t see anyone talking about it in the comments, so i figured i would ask! I am making a big quarantine project supply order in the next day or two so if nothing else, i will have enough supplies to experiment with it and i can report back with whether or not it worked if anyone else is curious about this. (apologies if i already posted a similar comment, i tried posting a comment earlier and the website timed out when i hit send so i’m not sure if it went through)

    Reply
    • Hi Griz. I don’t think anyone has tried that yet. You might want to experiment with a small batch, just to see if it turns out the way you want it to. And be sure to let us know how it turns out! 🙂

      Reply
    • That’s a good idea if you’re going to make more than you can use up in a day or two. Be sure to put it in a sealed container so it doesn’t dry out. Have fun!

      Reply
  8. Hi Jonni.
    I tried a shop brand air dry clay to make a statue and I had terrible problems with shrinking, separating and cracking.
    I made your own air dry clay recipe with the second model I made and it is amazing, no cracking and no visible shrinking and no separating at all.
    Thank you very much

    Reply
    • Hello,
      I have access to a lot of beverage napkins, the 4 inch square white kind. They get thrown away where I work Unused still in plastic, so sad) so I have been saving them. Do you think I could use them instead of toilet paper. They are very thin like toilet paper. Not heavy at all. I would be thrilled if I could!

      Reply
      • Hi Cindy. A lot of people use recycled paper in the original paper mache clay recipe, so it should work with this recipe, too. You’ll need to soak the paper longer, and make sure to mix the ingredients long enough. You need the paper to come apart into fibers, so it won’t be lumpy. Have fun!

        Reply
      • I’m not a pro like Jonni, but I found running paper through the blender and then boiling it helped to break it down. I did this with newspaper. So that mah help with your napkins.

        Reply
    • You need to use the premixed joint compound that comes in a plastic tub. The powdered form contains plaster of Paris, and could set up on you before you want it to.

      Reply
  9. Hi again! I was wondering if you use regular kitchen tools to measure? When you use the measuring cups and the spatula, how do you wash them? Do you use them exclusively for these art projects?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Olivia. I mix my air dry clay and paper mache clay in the studio, so I have separate measuring cups and spatulas that I use for these recipes. I also have a cheap little mixer that I use in the studio. All of the ingredients are water-soluble except the oil, so they wash up easily with soap and water.

      Reply
  10. Hi, I’m planning to use one of your recipes for my students to make fairy houses using glass jars. Which of your recipes would you most recommend for a project like that? I want the kids to be able to mold it and add detail, but it also needs to be able to adhere to the glass jars without being glued. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Any water-based product, like the air dry clay and paper mache clay, will shrink slightly when they dry. If you put them over a hard object, like a jar, they’re likely to crack. I haven’t tried using any of my recipes with glass, and I’m not sure if they’ll stick or not. You might want to put your question into a comment onto the Daily Sculptors page. Many of my regular readers visit that page every day, and one of them might have some experience with using the recipes with glass. I know that quite a few people have made fairy houses, but most people use cardboard for the structure.

      Be sure to mention the age of your students, too.

      Reply
    • Hello Mrs. Hall. I have been using Jonni’s recipe to make my fairy houses. I have used it on glass fish bowls, canning Jars, and other small jars without any cracking or problems. I would be happy to send you some pictures of my fairy houses if you want to leave me your email.
      Lorrie Stephenson – ratherbsewn@gmail.com

      Reply

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