Paper Cement Clay Update – After One Year Outside

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The Toad Sculpture Update: A Year in the Elements

It’s time for another update on the Toad made with paper cement clay. Just over a year ago, I introduced you to this recipe for an outdoor version of paper mache, which I borrowed from a guest post written by Warren Eggleton. I made a few tweaks to Warren’s recipe and used it to create the Toad sculpture.

Toad on a Leaf sculpture made with paper cement clay.

So – how did he do out in the wild?

Our last Minnesota winter included freezing temperatures as low as -30Β° F, heavy rain, and at least three feet of snow. (It’s a long trip to the chicken coop when you’re shoveling that much snow!)

After spending the cold winter and a hot summer with some very heavy downpours, Mr. Toad still has bright colors, and there are no cracks or other damage – he’s doing fine. πŸ™‚

But some people didn’t have the same luck I did…

Many of you decided to start on your own paper cement clay experiments, and it’s been fun seeing all the posts about the paper cement clay that have been showing up on the Daily Sculptors page.

But we recently received a post from Michele, who shared her lizard sculpture. It looked fantastic when she finished it last year, but a few weeks ago she noticed small white spots all over it.

While I’m no cement expert, I suspect this might be due to the different sealers that we used. But if you have a better explanation, please let us know.

How I sealed my toad

I used Rust-Oleum Matte Clear Enamel on mine. I’m using it on some of my indoor sculptures now, too, because I really like the matte finish. It did work for my toad – but I don’t know if that’s the “best” sealer for cement sculptures. I can’t afford to buy every product and test it myself.

However, I do know that sealing your outdoor sculptures is really important if you plan to leave them out in the rain and snow.

Rustoleum Matte Clear Enamel

The paint I used for the toad

Someone recently asked me what paint I used for my sculpture. I kept it simple and used regular acrylic artist paint.

Toad feet. πŸ™‚

Someone recently asked if I put the paper cement clay over the epoxy clay that I used for Mr. Toad’s feet. The answer to that is ‘no.” I used the Magic Sculpt because it was too hard for me to get the paper cement clay to look nice over the wire – I have the same problem with paper mache clay. So I used the epoxy clay instead. That means that I couldn’t test how the cement clay would fare on those delicate toes. If you give it a try, let us know the results!

I forgot to mention it in the video, but Rosita sent in a post a few days ago, and showed us a frog that was cast with the paper cement clay – there was no wire in her frog’s toes, and they broke. You can see her post here.

How long did I cure the paper cement clay toad?

With concrete, you’d want it to cure slowly over a month or more. And yes, I know this isn’t really concrete, but a lot of concrete experts have mentioned this, especially in the YouTube comments.

But I admit I didn’t follow that rule. I let the Toad dry for about three to four days before painting and sealing him. I got away with it, but you might want to stick with the experts’ advice, instead. Maybe I just got lucky. πŸ™‚

Why I really liked working with the recipe:

I really liked the way the paper cement clay felt when I was spreading it over the toad’s foil armature – I think I even like it more than the original paper mache clay recipe.

As soon as I get the front yard looking like somebody actually lives here, I hope to start making a lot more outdoor sculptures. But I actually had to bring Mr. Toad inside a few weeks ago, because he was getting lost in the weeds. I’ve been having way too much fun making mask and sculpture patterns, and that’s my excuse for not taking better care of my yard. (I redesigned the image that goes at the top of that page yesterday – if you have a chance to take a look at it, let me know what you think. πŸ™‚ )

The perpetual drywall joint compound problem has just gotten worse…

There’s now another brand of drywall joint compound that we can’t use in any recipe that also includes the Elmer’s Glue-All (PVA) glue. We now know that you can’t use either DAP or Wurth in paper mache clay, the smooth air dry clay, or the paper cement clay recipe.

So you might want to use the paper cement clay recipe that doesn’t use any joint compound, even if you’ll be leaving your sculptures inside. I think I may start doing that myself. The no-joint compound recipe is on this page – just scroll down a bit to find it.

Paper Cement Clay Update - After One Year Outside

I hope you’ll share your own paper cement clay experiences. Head over to the Daily Sculptors page and post your creations. Let us know what materials you used and how they held up in the elements. The world of sculpting is full of discoveries, and together, we can keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

To see the posts that other people have already submitted, put “paper cement clay” in the search bar.

And one last thing – would you like me to send out a newsletter one a week, instead of the rather casual way I’ve been doing it, whenever I have a project or post to tell you about? Let me know if the comment section below. πŸ™‚

73 thoughts on “Paper Cement Clay Update – After One Year Outside”

  1. Hello Jonni, thank for this update, greatly appreciate! Always a pleasure to hear from you and once a week would be very inspiring although it is a lot of work for you. So I will happy to read you as long as you enjoy writing to us. Thank a lot!

  2. I enjoy your emails and I appreciate you very much. Once a week would be great as long as it fits your schedule. I wouldn’t want you to dread posting.

  3. I would very much enjoy a weekly message from you Joni. It would be a nice way to keep up to date with the activity posted on daily sculptors and learn more about other sculptors and their work.

    I love the concrete paper clay! I’ve used in on several projects now and prefer it to the original paper mache clay recipe. Not sure if this helps, but I also had some of the white spots emerge on a piece about 14 days after making it. It’s was only one piece that this happened and I attribute it to the hard water in my area. I use water to smooth the clay and it very much resembled calcium deposits. I was able to easily sand this off and lucky had not painted it yet. Now that I use distilled water on my projects it’s no longer been an issue. I have been allowing my pieces to dry for about 3 weeks before painting. My pieces are quite large and I have 2-3 layers of clay, 3/4-1” thick when done.

  4. Yes I would love to read your emails once a week. Love your creations and love learning how to do some sculpting myself. It’s a great idea….

  5. I would love to get your newsletters once a week. It’s always inspiring to see the work of other crafters and artists. πŸ™‚

  6. I always enjoy and appreciate the information you share with us. You got me crafting while I was going through my cancer treatments. I made a lot of piggy banks, frog and chicken. Thanks so much. Susan Hathiramani.

  7. Jonni,
    I’m good with what ever works for you. Once a week is a lot of work, maybe every other week might be better. I’ll read whatever you have time to write, you seem to have more time than I, I enjoy all the helpful suggestions and art work.

    • I’m hoping it won’t take too much time – there never seems to be enough of it! Maybe I’ll need to do some research to find out how people manage to keep creating when they’re working full time. I still haven’t quite figured that out… πŸ™‚

  8. I wouldn’t find it useful to see a newsletter once a week. Thanks for all of your excellent design work and experimentation.

  9. Jonni,
    I would love to hear from you weekly. You are so creative and you always have the best ideas! Thank you for sharing.


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