New Smoother Air-Dry Clay Recipe

Looking for great ideas for your next paper mache project or a gift idea? Check out my patterns and videos for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts.

Note: I recently uploaded a video showing a better way to measure your ingredients for the air-dry clay. You can see it here. And I recently published the book that I developed this recipe for – you can see it here.

Puppy doll head, in progressI’ve been working hard this week, developing methods for making the baby animal dolls that will appear in my next book. One thing I worked on was making a new recipe for the dolls that could be made smoother than the original paper mache clay. I tried a number of different versions, and all but one ended up in the trash. This one, though, really does what I wanted it to do.In fact, if you first smooth it with your finger and the glue mix, like I show in the video, let it dry, and then very lightly sand it with a very fine sandpaper, it really is as smooth as porcelain.

I dries really hard, though, like the original paper mache clay, so sanding does take some effort. If you look real closely at the photo of the puppy head I made for my doll book, you can see how smooth it is.  It works very much like air dry clay you can buy at the hobby store, (but lots cheaper, if you need more than one small batch). Let me know what you think.

Recipe for the new Air-Dry Clay:

1/2 cup wet toilet paper
1/2 cup Elmer’s glue (or any white PVA glue)
1/2 cup drywall joint compound (any brand except Dap)
1/2 cup corn starch
3 tablespoons mineral oil (baby oil)
1 cup all-purpose white flour, or as needed

Mixing instructions are in the video at the top of the page.

Looking for great ideas for your next paper mache project or a gift idea? Check out my patterns and videos for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts.

286 thoughts on “New Smoother Air-Dry Clay Recipe

    • Hi Judith. I’m not quite sure what you mean. You can definitely put paper mache over a sculpture made with WED clay, and then remove the clay after the paper mache is dry. You’ll want to use a release to keep the paper mache from sticking to the clay.

      Did you mean to ask if you can mix WED clay into paper mache paste? If so, I can’t imagine how that would work. A very small amount mixed into the original paper mache clay recipe might make it smoother – I have mixed regular pottery clay into that recipe, but you need to keep the amount quite small or it will crack.

    • People have used the air dry clay in a lot of different ways. My favorite way is to use it as a final smooth layer over a firm surface, made either with a thin layer of the paper mache clay recipe or over plaster cloth. Many people prefer to use the air dry clay by itself. You might want to experiment to see what works best for you. (Do you sell pet portraits, by the way?)

  1. You give so much inspiration! And I have attempted a couple of things! I do have one question. I sculptured a face once with paper mâché clay and it was good! But, I would like to know if I can use wallpaper paste mixed in with it to prevent mould! Or, do I add bleach or salt? There seems to be so many variations that I only need one answer to prevent mould occurring, I would appreciate your advice. Thank you

    • Hi Jessie. The best way to prevent mold is to use thin layers, and let them dry quickly in front of a fan. Mold can’t grow without water. If you live in a humid area, that might not be enough – in that case, you can add a teaspoon of bleach to the water you use to soak your paper, or add a few drops of oil of clove when you mix the paper with the other ingredients.

      • Thank you jonni. If the weather here is a bit damp! (UK) and I can’t wait for the layer to dry can I put it in the oven?

        • Yes, but try to keep the temp under 200° F (93° C?). Burning glue doesn’t smell very good – but if you don’t try to hurry it too fast, an oven works. However, I find that putting it in front of a fan works almost as fast. Use whichever method works best for you.

  2. dear Madam, First of all I like to praise your work and your artistic views. About the clay making , can I use Arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch

  3. Ok, I threw out the first half batch I made because a small thin disk I made with it cracked while it was drying. I made a second half batch being careful with the ingredients amounts and it came out much better.
    I do have a question. The finished batch is very hard to knead but if I pull off a small amount to work with, it is very soft, not firm. Can you tell me which ingredient I can knead in to the finished batch to firm it up to make it easier to work with?

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