New Smoother Air-Dry Clay Recipe


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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.


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African Animals Pattern Set.
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307 thoughts on “New Smoother Air-Dry Clay Recipe”

  1. Hi Jonni, been following you since last year when i wrote you about the Bigfoot sculpture my son wanted to do. It came out awesome and his mask was outstanding. We made our own from following your book: How to Make Masks, instructions. He was so proud of it and it fit him perfectly. My question is: What is the name of the mixer you use in your latest video blog on the new porcelin type clay you havent named yet? Could you email me the name and model, as I really need a new mixer and yours looks like exactly what I need, especially with the dough hook. Thanks so much and I hope you can share this with me, an avid fan/follower, Colleen

    Reply
    • Hi Colleen. I have a GE mixer that I got at Walmart last year, but they don’t seem to have it any more at my local store. It was a lot less expensive than the one I linked to above on Amazon (in the $29-range, I think). I like the power (300 watts I plenty for what I do) but I don’t like the way it throws things all over the counter. There’s something about the design of the beaters that causes that, I think.

      Reply
  2. Jonni,
    CUDOS!!!!!!!!!! Thank you, Thank you! Can’t wait to try it. I do have a question or maybe two. Can you use a ceramic dust clay instead of flour ? Why, just cause. 2. Can you use glycerin instead of mineral oil? I am allergic to mineral oil.

    A name, I agree with the Paper Porcelain but Jonni”s Paper Porcelain! You deserve all the credit. Can’t wait for your books.

    Reply
    • I don’t know about the ceramic clay, but I use it all the time in the original recipe (which makes it not the original recipe, but you know what I mean…) and it works great. It makes the clay slightly softer when it dries, so it’s easier to sand. If you try it in this new recipe, please let us know what you think.

      I used the mineral oil this time because so many people objected to the linseed oil I used before. To use linseed oil but avoid the chemicals in the boiled version, use raw linseed oil instead.

      Reply
        • I’m not sure it has a brand – I just get a low-fire clay from the local pottery supply store, with no grog. I’m sure it doesn’t matter where the clay comes from, or what kind it is, since it is only used as a filler and won’t be fired. You can also use wet pottery clay in the original recipe, and wet clay is actually easier to find in smaller quantities.

          Reply
  3. Hi, with so much cornstarch & ; whiteflour added, isn’t this likely to mold faster? For how long can it be stored?

    Reply
    • Those are questions that can’t be answered yet, because it’s too new. My first batch is about a week old, and still no mold. But the joint compound I used might have a mold inhibitor in it – some of them do, and some don’t. They don’t mention it on the label. Keep it covered tightly, and if you live in a high humidity area where things mold fast, you might want to add a tiny bit of household bleach or a few drops of clove oil.

      Reply
    • The mold problem is always there, eventually. But you can extend the life of any of the recipes if you have a refrigerator. I keep all my recipes in sealed containers in a small fridge in my shop. I only have a clay out of the fridge when I’m working with it. I’ve had batches last as long as two months without any sign of mold. Prolly a good idea to put a conspicuous label on the containers to ward off midnite snackers…

      Reply
  4. I have yet to make my first batch of paper clay ( I’m still using a ready-mixed version) BUT since I don’t have a hand mixer I’m wondering. . . why not put the toilet paper in a blender with a whole lot of water, then strain out the water in a colander and start the mix with this well-shredded paper? (Wow what a run on sentence!)

    Reply
    • Yes, many people do use blenders for the original recipe. This one tends to be heavier, so you might need to kneed more of the flour in by hand. But if you are careful not to burn out the motor, it should work.

      Reply
  5. Hi Jonni,
    I was just wondering if mineral oil or baby oil could be substituted for the linseed oil in your original recipe? Thanks for all your video’s and time you put into this site.

    Reply
  6. Oh I need to find a thrift store mixer! I’m guessing joint compound wouldn’t be a good idea on our food mixer! This clay looks wonderful and like something I’ve been hoping for. I just don’t like polymer clay but I want to make some small sculptures, under five inches. I am thinking this new clay might work! I like Paper Porcelain Clay because the porcelain explains the smoothness of it – hope to try it soon!

    Reply
  7. Excellent post! How about the name,”Good’s modeling clay” since it is more moldable. That way you would have a play on your name without using your first name like the other one. I couldn’t wait so I made up a batch tonight and used it on my goslings. The first coat was the regular Jonni clay. I found the new clay was much smoother than the other but with playing around with it, you could let it dry a bit, then sort of tack it up a bit with your fingers to make that peach fuzz look I needed for the goslings. We will see once it is dry. It is harder to apply but it is great for the details and for really smooth aspects of the sculpture-like the beak. I want to try it on pre made eyes and claws. How long do you think this will last in a plastic bag? Thank you Jonni.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you tried it – I think you’re the first one to actually use it on a sculpture. It should keep until mold develops, so if it’s tightly wrapped it should last for quite a few days. The first batch I made is still working fine, and it’s almost a week old.

      By the way, I found a video by David Lemmon that shows him sculpting a wolf skin – not quite the same as a gosling, but it is very realistic. He uses regular modeling clay, of course (he casts his pieces in bronze) but it is always inspiring to watch him work. You can see his video here.

      Reply
  8. Good paper porcelain , (gpp), Goods porcelain mache,goods sculpting porcelain , goods papcelain mache. 🙂 thanks so much can’t wait to try it…

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  9. I say….just keep it simple the name should be ( Jonni Clay 2) it is easy to remember and certainly should have your name tied to it. In your book you can say use Jonni Clay 1 or Jonni Clay 2…..
    you should brand the name.
    JIM

    I put you name in the first one should have been your name….

    Reply
  10. Hi! How about Jonni’s Magic Silt Clay? Or, Paper Silt Clay? Something with the word ‘silt’ in it, because that brings to mind the smoothness this new formula seems to have!
    Speaking of which– I couldn’t find the written recipe. I’d love to try the new recipe with a houseful of craft-loving kids I have here with me. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Jlou. Thanks for the idea. And yes, several people noticed that I forgot to include the actual recipe on the post. Oops. That was sort of important, wasn’t it?

      I sent out an email this morning to my subscribers with the recipe, and added it under the video above. You should now be able to find it.

      Reply
  11. Doll clay by Jonni or Dollies the Jonni Way. You could name your book this way too. At this point I’m not sure which recipe to use. Although I’m taking it for granted that each recipe is used for an exclusive purpose – this newest adaptation to resemble a porcelain doll more closely. Since the other recipe – the one with the uncured terracotta and the special glue recipe – is easier to sand – that one could remain Jonni Clay.

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  12. Hi , Jonni , I am a grandmother from the Texas panhandle…Lots of tornadoes and dust storms here . I have been on computer for less than a year ! I am a paper mache junkie , so I was seaching for anything paper mache…and I found you ! Lucky me ! I subscribed to your channel and have followed you so closely ! It is my fondest wish that paper mache be elevated to its rightful position in the field of fine art , and you have certainly done your part to champion that cause ! I have sculpted in ceramic clay and cast my work in concrete and “Bondo” the resin used for auto body repair…but I really want to cast them in paper mache …light weight to ship and practically unbreakable ! I loved all your “Jonni clays ” and I really love this new one using the cornstarch…can’t wait to make it up and try it ! Incidentally , I want to tell you how much I love your daughter’s painting ! I paint also , but am more of a realist . I love the utter looseness of her paintings , and would love to get more of that quality in my work . I am posting 2 pictures of paper mache sculpture . One is a little black lady holding a cherry pie ….hand sculpted over a plastic drinking cup …built up snowman fashion and detailed with paper napkins and paper mache clay . The other is paper mache clay pressed into a mold I pulled from one of my original ceramic sculptures of a little Indian girl called “Sante Fe Sleeper”. Jonni , I absolutely love your “Einstein”sculpture….An outstanding portrait sculpture of the highest magnitude ! You are truly a “fine art” artist. I make a few dolls , mostly heads….now I need to put the bodies on, so I am looking forward to your new book…I already have the one on animal sculpture and I love the method you have invented ! This allows even the rank beginner to make something to be proud of ! Thank you so much for sharing !

    Reply
      • Oida, your sculptures are beautiful. This one really looks like fired clay. I have not been very successful using the paper mache clay in molds, so I’d love to see how you do it. Would you be interested in doing a guest post tutorial for us, so we can see how it was done?

        Reply
      • Thank you Ouida for the nice compliment! Your work is beautiful! (I agree that Jonni has made something really special with the recipe as well as this great blog and the other resources she has created to help paper mache artists.)

        Reply
    • Thank you, Jonni, for all the time you take to share this info. I greatly appreciate it. Your sculptures are amazing !

      @Ouida, your artwork is outstanding…I hope you take Jonni up on her offer and guest blog with her.

      Reply
  13. How about Jonni Super Clay!
    I need to get a mixer with dough hooks! I can never get my clay very smooth.
    Thank you for the tutorial again Jonni – you are great!

    Reply
  14. A different name for your new-and-improved clay name is overdue and removes a ton of confusion. Every time I search on line for “paper clay” I get a wheelbarrow full of alternatives. Remember that WD40 stands for Water Displacement 40. Which means they didn’t get the formula correct for the first 39 tries. So why not call your newest clay edition JGClay 234, or an adjusted number?

    Congratulations for you, again.

    Jim

    Reply
    • Interesting idea, Jim, but it implies that I actually counted all those batches of goo that I threw away. My brain doesn’t have room for that kind of information. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Being a complete neophyte working with paper mache, EVERYTHING I do is an experiment. That said, I found that the roughness of the original mache recipe could be overcome with two or three coats (layers?) of the gesso recipe to provide smoothness and/or small detail work. This new recipe seems to combine the original recipe with the gesso recipe in an all-in-one mache? Cutting back on the amount of toilet paper might be a slight disadvantage in that there would be bit of strength loss in thin details, but there is nothing to keep from using a base of the original recipe followed by a layer of the new recipe.

    As for a name, how about “Silky Smooth Mache”? That’s the effect you’re looking for, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • Yes, this mix does do the work of the original clay, plus several layers of gesso. Oddly enough, the reduced paper content does not appear to weaken the mix, although that’s what I expected. I think the glue when combined with the calcium in the joint compound does some sort of chemical magic, turning the whole batch into a form of hard plastic. The flour, corn starch and paper just help it stay absorbent and easier to paint, instead of being like hard plastic, which is no fun at all to paint. I wish we had a chemistry professes in the group who could explain to us why this works so well. Or we could just go ahead and call it magic…

      I really like the name you suggested. We’re getting some great ideas. In addition to the names listed on the comments here, a YouTube subscriber suggested “paper porcelain.” (Having a name that would look good on a book cover would be nice, by the way – get out your marketing hats. 🙂 )

      Reply

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