DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements

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)
  • 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.

To see a video of this process, scroll down below.

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.

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

Play Video

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 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.

Share this post:

How to Make Air Dry Clay

1,163 thoughts on “DIY Air Dry Clay Recipe, with Gram Measurements”

  1. hi Jonni, i’m from the netherlands so forgive me if my grammer is not the best.
    i have a question, i’m working a lot with paper (papercraft) and i have a lot of paper left over from cutting etc and i was wondering if i could use this for making paper clay ? the point is that’s most of the time its 160 gram until up to 200 gram paper. would this be to thick or heavy to make paperclay ? i would like to know your oppinion please
    thx and regards
    Pascal

    Reply
    • Hi Pascal. You can use any paper that will fall apart into fibers after it’s soaked. The card stock you’re using might have binders in it that would keep it from disintegrating in water, but there’s a good way to find out. Use warm water, and leave it in the water for at least an hour. Then see if you have paper pulp or just wet cardstock.

      Reply
  2. Hi Jonni,

    I followed the silky smooth air dry clay recipe – and measured the ingredients as per the recipe. The first day I used the clay it was perfect and a dream to work with.
    I live in the tropics so am in an air conditioned room – that tended to dry out the clay quickly ( good for the sculpture!) When I noticed the surface of my clay (in the bowl) getting a bit dry I spritzed with a fine mist of water which worked fine.
    The next day however I noticed a lot of little air bubbles in the clay and it had increased in size (like when yeast makes bread dough rise) – It was also much more sticky to the touch – I didn’t think much of it so just kneaded out the bubbles and carried on – I was making some fine details (small thin ‘coins’ that I intended to add to the sculpture later) and left them to dry over night when I came back this morning they had puffed up and although dry on the outside feel spongy – when I peeled one open it looks like bread inside.

    Obviously something is fermenting – I assume the wheat flour? I didn’t keep the clay in the fridge so I guess it got warm.

    My question is – can it be revived somehow ? If I add a teaspoon of bleach or something? Or is it best to throw it away and make a new batch with less/or no wheat flour and more corn flour?

    Have you had this problem? Maybe I should forgo both types of flour and add more toilet paper with glue and Joint compound?

    Please help!

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle. I haven’t had this problem with the air dry clay, but I live in a very different environment. It does happen every time I use the old-fashioned flour and water paste, though, because yeast is trying to turn it into sourdough bread dough. I never keep the paste overnight because it won’t work well the next day. That’s why I’m sure you’re correct that you have some fermentation.

      Yeast spores are attached to the flour itself, and they also float around in the air. If you live in the tropics or bake a lot of home-made bread, there will be a lot of yeast spores in the air and they’ll grow whenever they find food and water.

      At this point it might be best to start a new batch, although your bleach idea might save the batch you have. Go ahead and try it – and test it on a piece of cardboard instead of your sculpture. If it seems to work, go ahead and use it. But next time you might want to use the no-flour air dry clay recipe, instead. It isn’t as easy to make, but it might be worth the effort.

      When you make your new batch, be sure to keep it really well covered, with a piece of plastic wrap right on top of the clay plus a tight lid on the container, and keep it in the fridge. I hope this helps! 🙂

      Reply
    • did you perhaps use flour with a rising compound already in it? Check your flour and see if it is self rising, might be a sneaky label hiding somewhere on the bag.

      Reply
      • Hi Savannah,
        No it was normal plain flour. I think it was just a combination of the heat and moisture – I added the bleach and have kept it in the fridge overnight – seems to have done the trick!

        Reply
  3. Hi Jonni,

    I have just discovered your videos and I am loving them. I have a quick question for you. If I wanted to make a small animal shape, lets say a snail or bird, is there one iteration of this clay that works for making a body from it and letting it dry? Or do I need to make an armature of some sort from foil or whatever and then only use this clay to coat it? Thanks so much for you generous sharing of information!

    Sharyl

    Reply
    • Sharyl, I haven’t tried using the recipe without an armature. I think it would crack if it dries first on the outside, and then slowly dries the rest of the way through. And I don’t have a special recipe that will work the way you described. I think most water-based air dry clay, whether it’s a DIY recipe or a commercial product, will be best used if fairly thin layers over an armature.

      But play around with it – you may discover some things about it that I haven’t learned yet! If you find that it does work, please let us know. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Does anyone have data on the results they’ve seen from adding “too much” of any of the ingredients? I’ve gathered that not enough paper slows (or maybe even prevents) drying, but is that because of too much glue, too much joint compound, too much flour/cornstarch, or too much of all of them compared to the amount of paper?

    Don’t look at me because I’ve left my precise phase and am into wild and crazy now, so haven’t been measuring my ingredients, but it would be informative if someone had kept track and there was a page that described what happens if we use too much glue, too much joint cmpd, etc…

    It’s too soon for me to know, but I haven’t been using flour or cornstarch and have been using a very thick clay made from estimated amounts of glue, joint cmpd and paper (which I mix by hand with a 2 prong fork) and then apply to gourds. So far it seems to be drying strong and hard so I’m happy, but if I do run into problems I’d love to be able to figure out what I need to add more of to make the kind of clay I need.

    Reply
    • Hi Kris. I tend to play around with the formula to get the consistency that I need for every project, and I haven’t found any difference with the final result. The “magic” of the recipe is the combination of glue and joint compound, when reinforced with paper. As long as you have those three ingredients, the recipe will work. I’ve even tried adding more glue to make a super-thin mixture that can be almost painted on, and it still worked. I’ve never noticed any of the variations taking longer to dry, but I always use really thin layers. Other people might be more observant than I am. 🙂

      Reply
  5. I am having trouble getting the toilet paper fibers loose enough to create a smooth clay. I keep getting lumps of toilet paper in mine. Any tips?

    Reply
    • You might be squishing too much water out of the paper before you add the other ingredients. It might help to add a tablespoon or so of the glue and joint compound, and then mix again. You might need to keep mixing longer than you would expect, in order to break the paper apart. If that doesn’t work, it might also help if you use a large spoon, and instead of mixing like you would normally, press the back of the spoon tightly against the side of the bowl and drag it upwards, to catch the lumps of paper and break them apart. Good luck with it!

      Reply
  6. First of all, a massive thanks Jonni for this invaluable resource as well as the paper mache clay recipe, I recently decide to move in this direction and spent a lot of time researching before coming across your site. Also links to other people with very helpful info. I have seen a few questions about the use of polyfilla (the most popular joint compound in Ireland) using the powdered form rather than the inflated pricey ready made tubes. I haven’t found anywhere that says what the ingredient difference is, just the performance. I am going to test the powdered one by making it up first and then using the paste as described in your recipe and also one using the ready made at the same time and see what happens over a week to the way it behaves. Will let you know. The air is very humid here too so that will likely slow drying out times. If anyone has already done some test pieces, would be great to know. thanks again. I wanted to add silk fabric into my pieces as well as other textured mediums so its all a fun new journey this year 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Rebecca. I can’t wait to hear about your results. This is a great experiment. I have heard from a lot of people who say the dry version of joint compound works in the recipe, but I don’t think anyone has told us how much water they use when mixing it, or even if they pre-mix it before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. If you would be interested in writing a guest post for us, with photos and telling us exactly how you’re doing it and how the experiment came out, just let me know. It would be really nice to have a specific page that I could refer people to when they ask about the dry joint compound. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Hi Jonni,
    I wanted to put paper mache over an exercise ball and then deflate the ball so I’m left with a hollow round shape. Do you think your recipe will work for that? Should I do multiple layers or just one thicker layer?
    Also do you think I need to do something to prevent the ball from sticking?
    What a fun product you’ve created with endless possibilities.

    Thanks,
    S

    Reply
    • Hi Stacee. I haven’t done this myself, but you can keep the air dry clay from sticking by wrapping the ball with plastic wrap. You might need some tape to hold it on. If you sit the ball in a bowl it won’t roll around while you work, and you’ll have to work on just one side, allow the air dry clay to dry completely, all the way through, and then turn it over and do the other side. Leave a fairly large hole around the air intake so you can let the air out when you’re done.

      If you let the air out when there is still the tiniest smidgen of water inside, the air dry clay might collapse when the ball does.

      Another option would be to put a layer of plaster cloth on first, so you have the reinforcement of the fibers in the cloth to hold the finished ball together. You can add a thin layer of the air dry clay before the plaster cloth is completely dry – the clay and cloth will dry together. It will be very strong when it’s all dry. Have fun! 🙂

      Reply
  8. I was wondering if you have used clear elmers glue or any of their other varieties.
    Would using Elmers clear glue give different results to the white glue? What about their crafting glue?

    I often have the clear glue on hand and think it might make for a clearer more opaque piece. I’m going to attempt to make lanterns.

    I love you. I love your videos. I love this new creative avenue to make my extravegant visions come to Life. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Lauren. I have used the clear glue, and it works exactly the same as the Glue-All. Both are PVA glue, and that’s what you need. I don’t know if the clear glue changes the opacity of the piece or not – you’d need to try it. I think the Glue-All dries clear, too.
      When you get some lanterns done we’d really like to see them. You can show them off on the Daily Sculptors page. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Hi, first I want to say WOW! Your masks are amazing! Just happened by looking for a good air dry clay recipe , and yes I’m going to try yours. I use the clay in silicone moulds to make home decor , vases, flowers etc.
    normally I just buy it premade by Sculpty but I have gone through 10# in the last couple months which is biting me in my pocketbook lol
    So first question is how much clay does your recipe make ? In weight preferably so I can compare if I can actually save any money making my own.
    Also your recipe is very detailed about the TP but then It just says mix other ingredients, so just put it all in at once except half the flour? And lastly is the joint compound you refer to is it the premixed type or the powder? I have both so I was like ummmmm lol.
    Thank you so very much! I most definitely will be purchasing your deer pattern at some point to use with decorative items , a new challenge , Yes! ?

    Reply
    • Hi Lora. The recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of air dry clay, but I haven’t weighed it. The volume probably wouldn’t help when comparing commercial products, though, because they’ll contain different amounts of water. If you only need a small amount, it’s often less expensive to buy a one-pound package of commercial air dry clay. But if you use it a lot, you can buy the Elmer’s glue from the hardware store in a gallon size, and if you buy the joint compound from Walmart, like I do, that’s pretty cheap, too. Always use the premixed kind that comes in a plastic tub.

      And yes, you just throw all the rest of the stuff in, except the extra flour, and mix. Have fun! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Can I use this to make fairy houses using soda bottles as armatures? If not what would suggest using? I want to make fairy houses that can have lights & be similar to the Christmas Village houses which are commercially produces ie Dept 56.

    Reply
    • Hi Nanna. I have never tried using soda bottles for armatures, but they might work. The air dry clay will shrink a little as it dries, so it’s possible that the clay could crack. Some of the regular readers on the Daily Sculptors page have made fairy houses, and they might have tried soda bottles. It’s a great idea, if it works.

      Reply
  11. The first time I made this, I made far more than I needed or expected to need for some time. I did, eventually, use it all but had an idea. The hardest (messiest) part for me was soaking and preparing the TP, as I found it hard to judge amounts. I decided I’d use the entire roll of TP, soften it, break it up, then put it in a food processor to make sure it was fully “shredded”. Then, after squeezing out as much of the water as I could, I spread it out on a large cookie sheet, put it all into a warm oven, and dried it out completely. I stirred, shuffled, and turned the drying paper until it was completely dry and in tiny crumbles. I could then put the shreds into a closed plastic bag or container, ready for me to use, to mix as much or as little as I might need. It has saved me a lot of time in the long run and I don’t end up with a pre-mixed quantity left over. I admit it, I’m lazy and impatient.

    Reply
  12. Hi Jonni – I am working with very small wooden beads, approximately 3/8 ” and smaller. I have always just painted faces on the plain beads but I have never been really happy about them. I fell the wooden bead cheapens my overall project. I am thinking of using your silki smooth clay to put a thin layer but a slight nose to give the bead head a more real appearance. Any advice or suggestions? Thank you – (I make feather angels from cast off feathers here at our farm sanctuary and sell them to raise funds to support the sanctuary). – Judy

    Reply
    • Hi Judy. First, I have to say that we want to see your feather angels. Please post a photo or two by clicking on the big yellow button at the top of this page. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t made with paper mache – we want to see them anyaway! 🙂

      Now, for the noses, the air dry clay might work if it sticks well. You’d want to do some experiments. You can help it stick with a very light brushing of white glue on the bead first, and then attach the air dry clay. However, an option that is sure to work is Apoxie Sculpt. It will stick to anything, and it’s easy to shape into tiny details. The air dry clay can be shaped, but not as precisely as the epoxy product. The larger containers of Apoxie Sculpt are much less expensive per ounce than the small ones. However, a small container of the Apoxie Sculpt would last a very long time if you only mix up a tiny pinch of it for those tiny noses.

      Reply
  13. Joni, I made the air dry clay that turned out sticky. I followed the recipe except I didn’t have corn starch or mineral oil. I used Elmer’s wood glue. I kneaded it on a flour service. I also added 1 Tb bleach to the mixture. Is there something in that scenario that could have caused the stickiness?

    Reply
    • The corn starch is the reason why this recipe isn’t as sticky as the original paper mache clay. I have no idea if the Elmer’s caused a problem, too – I don’t use their wood glue for anything, so I don’t know if it actually works in the recipe. You’ve basically made up a new recipe, so the only way to find out what you can do to make it work is to do some more experiments with it. If stickiness is your main concern, I would definitely recommend using some corn starch.

      Reply
  14. Hi, I just started putting together my first mask pattern. Thank you so much for making these available!

    I have a few questions about working with the air dried silky smooth clay. You mentioned in the video you will sometimes use the plaster cloth first as it quick to apply, then cover with the smooth air dried clay. Is that approach ok for all your masks? I’m starting with the cat mask and trying to decide how best to proceed. Would I need plaster cloth first for that mask or could I just put the silky smooth clay on by itself?

    I really like the idea of being able to get a smoother finish on the pieces and it seems the 2 best options are paper mache clay with a very thin layer of joint compound smoothed over or using the silky smooth air dried clay. Is there a best use scenario for these approaches? Is it better to pick one approach over the other for different projects or is it just a matter of personal preference?

    About the Golden soft gel gloss to get a porcelain finish, is this applied after a piece is sealed with gesso, or does this work as a replacement for gesso as well? I’m not sure when to use it exactly, but I’d like to try it as I’m really interested in a smooth finish.

    Thank you so much for all your help!

    Reply
    • Hi Whisper. You won’t need plaster cloth on your mask, because the cardboard already provides plenty of support. The air dry clay is a little more difficult to apply in a thin coat because it is stiffer and less sticky than the original paper mache clay, but if you take your time it should work without a first layer of something else. If it doesn’t want to stick to the cardboard, you can brush on some Elmer’s glue (PVA glue) first. Make sure the edges of each new piece of air dry clay is smudged into the older ones, to make sure there aren’t any seams after it dries. If the air dry clay doesn’t come out as smooth as you want it to, the easiest and least expensive way to make it smooth is to wipe on a paper-thin layer of the drywall joint compound. When it’s dry, make it as smooth as you need to with a very lightly damp sponge, and then let it dry again. You can use acrylic paint directly over the joint compound layer, but if you have some acrylic gesso to use first it will make the colors brighter and you’ll need less paint.

      I hope this covers everything. Have fun!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Sharyl Murphy Cancel reply

Heads up! You are attempting to upload an invalid image. If saved, this image will not display with your comment.

Heads up! You are attempting to upload a file that's too large. Please try a smaller file smaller than 250KB.

Note that images greater than 250KB will not be uploaded.