Finally – We Can Make Paper Mache Clay with DAP Joint Compound!

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I finally did something that I should have done 10 years ago!

I made some DIY glue to see if it would work with DAP joint compound to make Paper Mache Clay.

And it did!

Rich, AKA “The Ghoulish Cop,” told us about his DIY glue recipe years ago. He liked using the glue in his paper mache clay because it’s less expensive than Elmer’s, and he made lots of really big displays for Halloween.

I didn’t try making Rich’s glue back then, because saving a few dollars wasn’t enough of an incentive for me. And because I’m lazy. πŸ™‚

I also wasn’t sure if the paper mache clay would be as strong as the original recipe, because I’ve always assumed there was something ‘magic’ happening when the glue and joint compound were mixed together.

But in my recent tests, the paper mache clay with the DIY glue is very close to the original recipe. Maybe not exactly the same, but very close.

This could be a real game-changer for us paper mache sculptors, because we can’t use the DAP brand joint compound in the original paper mache clay recipe. There’s something in the DAP brand (probably boron) that creates a rubbery mess when you add the store-bought glue.

And the DAP brand is taking over the US market, so it’s really hard to find any other brand at the store.

I’ve also heard that there are brands in other countries that aren’t made by DAP, but which use the same ingredients, and they also get rubbery when you mix them with PVA glue.

But now we know that if you can’t find any joint compound except DAP, you can make paper mache clay by using Rich’s recipe for home-made glue instead of the Elmer’s glue that is called for in the original recipe.

Home-made Glue Recipe:

Make liquid starch

The liquid starch is an ingredient in the DIY glue recipe, and it needs to be made first. I don’t know if you can use store-bought liquid laundry starch instead – Rich didn’t mention it in his video.

Liquid starch recipe

First, put 1 cup of water in a small saucepan, and put it on high heat.

In a separate cup, mix 3 teaspoons of cold water with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.

When the water in the pan is boiling, add the water and cornstarch mixture, and cook for a few minutes until the cornstarch has turned clear. It won’t take long, and the cooked mixture won’t be very thick.

Remove it from the stove and let it cool.

DIY glue recipe

Now that the liquid starch has been made, we can start making the glue. There will be some liquid starch left over, but you can keep it in the fridge for several weeks, or in the freezer for months, and use it the next time you make some glue.

You will also end up with more glue than you can use in one batch of paper mache clay. You can save it, too, in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer, just like the liquid starch.

Recipe for home-made glue

Put 1 cup of white flour and 1/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan that is not on the burner. Whisk them together.

Pour half of  your water into the flour and sugar and mix. It will be quite thick. I used a whisk, but you could use an electric mixer if you want.

When the mixture is smooth, add the last of your water, for a total of 1.5 cups of water.

Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar, and then stir in 1/3 of the liquid starch that you made before.

Put the pan on the burner, at medium or medium high, and stir constantly as the mixture thickens.

My glue got thicker than the glue in Rich’s original video – I used bread flour in my glue because I didn’t have any all-purpose flour in the house, and that might be why my glue was thicker than his. But it really doesn’t matter, anyway. It worked just fine.

Using the home-made glue to make paper mache clay:

Mixing paper mache clay made with DAP and home-made glue

To make your paper mache clay with the DAP brand drywall joint compound and the home-made glue, use the recipe on this page.

Soak your paper as instructed in the video, and then add the other ingredients – but use your new home-made glue instead of the Elmer’s Glue-All that the recipe calls for.

The only other change you might need to make is to add a little flour at a time instead of following the recipe exactly. I used less flour than usual, but maybe that’s because the glue I made was not as liquid as the Elmer’s Glue-All. You may need more flour than I did, but add as much as you need to get the consistency you want.

Then spread your new paper mache clay over an armature, and make your new sculpture. Be sure to give the paper mache clay plenty of time to dry before you paint it – you never want to trap moisture inside a sculpture.

Extra links:

  • If you’d like to see how I made the paper mache bunny over a wet clay sculpture, you can find that post here.
  • And if you would like to see how to make paper mache smooth without sanding, like I did in the video at the top of this page, click here.

Have fun! πŸ™‚

4 thoughts on “Finally – We Can Make Paper Mache Clay with DAP Joint Compound!”

  1. So far we can get non-DAP joint compound around here still but it is good to know that there are alternatives. My concern is the same as Cheryl’s…critters! My old dog also ate paper mache too. My new dog doesn’t seem interested though.
    I still use the linseed oil for the same reason. It has that chemical smell that seems to deter the mice. Thanks for the alternative though.
    Did you put the new recipe on the recipe page?

    • Hi Eileen – I didn’t know that about the linseed oil. I do use it myself, and I haven’t had any problems with critters. But I think the cat may have something to do with that. πŸ™‚
      I will go put the latest post on the recipe page now – thanks for reminding me!

  2. Hi Jonni,
    Thanks for all of your experiments.
    My concerns about this one is the same reason I started using your air dry clay without the flour in it. Mice like it. I have never had that happen, but I know people who have and with the homemade glue that has not only flour but sugar too, that might be pretty tempting for a mouse! Otherwise it looks to be about the same consistency and strength.

    • That’s true – the critters can be a problem in some places. Cats can help, if you don’t get one like mine – he likes to eat the tails off of paper mache sculptures. Not to eat them, just because he’s bored. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any non-PVA glue that we can buy that could be used for paper mache clay, so if it really concerns you, keep using the non-DAP drywall joint compound.


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