Make Paper Mache Clay Perfect Every Time with a Kitchen Scale

If your paper mache clay doesn’t come out the same every time, a kitchen scale is your best friend.

Our good friend Rex Winn shared this recipe for paper mache clay that you make with the help of a kitchen scale.  If you use his weight measurements, your paper mache clay will come out the same every time.

The scale removes the biggest question we face when making paper mache clay – how much water should we squeeze out of the wet toilet paper?

  • If you press out too much, the paper sticks to itself and your mixer can’t tear it apart.
  • And if you don’t press out enough, your paper mache clay will be too wet.

When you use the scale, you know exactly how much water to squeeze out.

Just press out some water from your soaked toilet paper and put it back on the scale. The scale will tell you when the paper is ready to be mixed with the other ingredients

Of course, if you don’t have a kitchen scale, just use the original recipe. If the mixture feels too wet, just throw in some more flour.

And if you do use this recipe with gram measurements but you think you’d like your paper mache clay to be thinner or thicker, just change the amount of flour you add. Remember to keep track of how much you add, so you can use your own custom recipe next time, too.

Paper Mache Clay with Gram Measurements

  • Toilet Paper – 72 grams dry, 330 grams wet
  • Elmer’s Glue-All (PVA glue) – 195 grams
  • Pre-Mixed Drywall Joint Compound (not DAP brand) – 440 grams
  • White Flour – 70 grams
  • Mineral Oil (Baby Oil)  – 2 Tablespoons (I never actually measure mine – and it’s completely optional. If you don’t have any, just leave it out)

How to use a kitchen scale to make paper mache clay:

Weighing the dry toilet paper for paper mache clay.

Turn on your kitchen scale and then put your empty bowl on the scale. Make sure to choose the gram measurements and not the ounces. Then click on the Tare button so the LED screen goes to zero.

Start adding dry toilet paper until you have 72 grams.

Weighing the wet toilet paper for paper mache clay.

Add hot water to cover your toilet paper, and mix it around with your fingers until all the paper is wet.

>>If you prefer to use recycled newspaper or copy paper, you’ll need to let it sit in the hot water for an hour or so. Then put it in a blender, with plenty of water, to rip the paper into shreds.

Pull the toilet paper out of the water and squeeze some of the water out. Run the water through a fine sieve to catch all the toilet paper before throwing the water out.

Take the paper out of the bowl, set the bowl on the scale and hit the Tare button again to bring the display to zero.

Put the paper back in the bowl. If you have more than 330 grams, you need to press out more water.

When you have the right amount of water squeezed out of your toilet paper, tear the paper into smaller chunks. This will make it easier to mix with the other ingredients.

Weighing the Elmer's Glue for paper mache clay.

Add 195 grams of Elmer’s Glue-All or Elmer’s Clear. If you live outside the U.S., use any PVA glue. Most white glue is a PVA glue.

Weighing the drywall joint compound for paper mache clay.

Add 440 grams of premixed drywall joint compound.

  • Do not use the DAP brand, because it turns the paper mache clay into rubber.
  • And be sure to get the pre-mixed joint compound that comes in a plastic tub. They powdered form of joint compound contains plaster, and could cause your paper mache clay to harden in the bowl.

I use the ProForm brand. It’s available at most WalMart stores, and it’s much less expensive than any other brand. It works very well for paper mache clay.

Adding the baby oil to the paper mache clay.

The oil is optional. It does change the feel of the mixture when you’re using it, but if you don’t have any, just leave it out.

Mixing the paper mache clay.

Mix the ingredients on ‘high’ for several minutes. You want all the paper to be completely torn apart into tiny fibers. If you can see any whole paper bits in the bowl, keep mixing.

Weighing the white flour for paper mache clay.

When the paper and other ingredients are completely mixed together, add 70 grams of white flour. Mix again.

deer head paper mache clay

Apply the paper mache clay to your armature in a thin layer. If you need more or if you would like to add details, you can add new paper mache clay after the first layer is dry.

As you can see in the photo above, I covered my deer’s eye and the rim around the eye with paper strips and paste. I did the same thing around the nostrils. Sometimes, using both paper strips and paste and paper mache clay is the easiest way to make your sculpture come out the way you want it to.

Thank you, Rex, for sharing your measurements with us!

New paper mache clay recipe

19 thoughts on “Make Paper Mache Clay Perfect Every Time with a Kitchen Scale”

  1. Today I made some clay using the gram measurement recipe. I altered the instructions slightly to eliminate the squeezing out of water and thought that you would be interested to know how. There is a straightforward way to do this because 1ml of water weighs 1g. I used 72g of toilet paper, as indicated, and added 258g of water (258ml), giving me exactly 330g of wet toilet paper. That’s it. No need to squeeze out water.

    The clay came out beautifully. I mixed it by hand with a kitchen fork.

  2. Occasionally have made this and that with paper mache over the years and have been thrilled to see a resurgence (?) of mache creativity. Another way to obtain a smooth finish, which I’ve used, is to have a bowl of water with liquid dish soap in it and dip your fingers in as you smooth out. The soap doesn’t harm anything and you have very clean fingers….lol.

  3. I love your original recipe, I do use hot water on the cheep toilet paper to break it up. The mixer breaks it up great when it’s hot. I then scoop it into a strainer to get the water out. I pack it into old apple sauce cups because they are 1/2 of a cup. The ones I do not use I let dry out on newspaper in the back yard for later. This is so they donot mold. When I get ready to use them I just drop them into hot water again to fall appart. Then baby Oil is the first thing I put into the bowl, it helps keep everything from sticking. Then I add the squeezed out paper the sheet rock mud, glue and mix. Then I start adding the flour, the 99 cent store had coconut flour so I got some of that now I use 1/2 cup with my recipe, I’m not sure but I think it helps it last longer in the frig. I’ve had some go 2 months before turning. Would send you some pics if I could figure out how to.

  4. Now that the videos work on my computer, I’m trying to catch up. From my perspective, watching that was very interesting. I wanted to add that I struggled for a year trying to make the type of clay I liked to work with (back in 2011). If this clay is not perfect for you, experiment with different weight of the paper, etc., to make it the way you like it.

    We make our own bad habits. I was fascinated when I saw Jonni tear up the paper before adding water. I’m going to give that a try. I throw the paper into water, let it soak, and after measuring it THEN I break up the paper. It is a laborious process and Jonni made it look much easier to tear it apart while in the water. (Hope that makes sense.)

    I love the aluminum foil around the eyes, nose, and ears and then paper strips. I have never tried that, but it’s time. I have always said that touching the regular clay with your fingers is asking for disaster. However, the air-dry clay I use my fingers all the time. Have fun.

    Thanks, Jonni. Great job.

  5. Estoy muy contenta porq no entiendo el inglés y por aquí pude leer todo en ESPAÑOL ahora si podre realizar mejor los proyectos.. ME ENCANTAN TODAS TUS ESCULTURAS SON MAGNÍFICAS ???????

  6. Very.helpful! It is hard to guesstimate just how much 1/2 roll of toilet paper is and having the dry and wet measurements is great! Now I will have to revise the recipe sheet for my classes.
    I also will use the paper strips and the air dry clay on the same sculpture, sometimes I use the smooth as well depending on the subject matter so ther is all 3 types on one sculpture! Depending on my mood, I will use the strips for the first layer or if I have the clay made, I might do the first layer in clay. Personally I like 2 layers for the strength. This is how I teach it too.
    Thanks Jonni, thanks Rex! Every tip helps!

  7. Hi Jonni,

    Thank you for your response of my email about why my mixture is so sticky. It could just be I had to much water left in the paper. I will try adding more flour until I get it where I can use it. I like to make figurines, Santa’s and Halloween trick or treaters etc. I use paper clay over the faces to give them a smoother appearance. I ran out and bought an 11.00 on sale scale today at Walmart’s and hope that gives me the right recipe. Thanks to Rex for doing the measurements..

    • Jeanne, you might also try using tools to apply the paper mache clay instead of your fingers (if that’s how you do it now) and dip the knife or spatula into water occasionally to smooth off the upper surface of the wet clay. Then the stickiness won’t bother you as much. I made this recipe sticky on purpose, so it would hold onto an armature in place of paper strips and paste. Just curious – have you tried the smooth air dry clay? A lot of people prefer it when sculpting faces.

  8. Hi Jonni and Rex,

    What a timing, this is so helpful to me, thank you so much!

    Last week I started a new project and thought to use the paper mache clay recipe for the first time. And now I have the gram measurements I am definitely gonna try it.

    My dog Maggie modeled for me, She seems to like her;-)

    • Corinne,
      Probably 80% of a successful sculpture comes from getting the armature correct. Believe me, I’ve tried to ‘wing it” and it’s so much harder in the end. Jonni knows this better than anyone! Your armature of Maggie is really good! Hope to see more of your progress along the way.
      Thanks Rex and Jonni!

      • Thank you Lori! So glad to hear you notice it.

        Actually this is the first sculpture I make with an twistable armature wire (inspired by Jonni’s ideas)

        Although it took me quite some time to learn how the tracing program worked and where to cut the pattern of the legs, I am now glad I did.

        To be honest I am really amazed how she turned out so far:-)

        Yesterday I made the paper mache clay recipe with the help of Jonni and Rex. I do need to practise how to put on a thin layer but I like the clay’s structure especially for a dog.

        With pleasure I’ll show the progress.

    • Wow. She looked great even at the beginning! Being silly, but I do know it is important to be as perfect as one can be from the beginning. This is awesome.

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