Paper Mache Clay Recipe

The recipe for paper mache clay

  • 1 1/4 cups damp toilet paper
  • 1 cup premixed drywall joint compound in a plastic tub
  • 3/4 cup Elmer’s Glue-All or any PVA glue (or Gorilla Wood Glue if you’re using DAP brand joint compound. Elmer’s Glue won’t work with DAP
  • 1/2 to 1 cup white flour (adjustable)
  • 2 tablespoons mineral oil (optional)

Note: If you have a kitchen scale, you can use this recipe with gram measurements.

You can also make colored paper mache clay – click the link to see how.

What does it look like when it’s dry?

Paper Mache Clay Deer Head

If you’d like to see what your sculpture might look like when you use this recipe, I finished many of my sculpture and mask patterns with paper mache clay, or with a combination of this recipe and traditional paper strips and paste.

Yes, I do sometimes use both. The clay doesn’t like covering the sharp edges of ears, and it’s easier to wind narrow strips of paper and paste around long thin shapes, like the wire used for bird legs or tiny animal sculptures.

For everything else, I use paper mache clay or one of the variations of this recipe.

Why I Created the Recipe for Paper Mache Clay:

Over ten years ago I became frustrated with traditional paper strips and paste. I couldn’t get fine details, like I could when sculpting with real clay. It took too much time to add all those layers of paper mache. And it was messy.

But I wanted to sculpt, and paper mache was the only affordable option.

That’s why I created this original (and still my favorite) recipe for paper mache clay. 

  • It’s affordable.
  • It uses common ingredients that you can find at your local DIY store or Walmart.
  • And it helps you create beautiful sculptures that you can be proud of. This is not the kind of paper mache you made back in grade school!

I put this recipe for paper mache clay on this blog and on YouTube about ten years ago. It has now been used by millions of people around the world, and I get emails and comments every day from people who tell me they love it!

How do you use it?

You use a knife to apply paper mache clay in a really thin layer over your armature, almost like frosting a cake.  You only need a very thin layer, because it dries hard and strong, even with as little as 1/8″ applied to your sculpture. 

How long will it last?

Once the material is completely dry, painted and sealed, it will last for years.

When it’s still in the bowl, it will last several days if you cover it tightly to keep it from drying out. Put it in the fridge if you can’t use it again for a week or two, because the organic materials in the recipe can attract mold while it’s still wet. If you want it to last longer, put it in the freezer, and it will last indefinitely. 

Can you sand it?

Yes, but I almost never do. Paper mache clay dries really hard, and sanding it is a pain in the rear. Plus, you need to wear a mask, because you don’t want the fine powder in your lungs.

And you probably want to do it outside, because that fine dust will go all over your house.

What do I do instead? I use drywall joint compound, which I always have on hand because it’s one of the main ingredients of the recipe. To see exactly how I do it, watch my video that shows you how to make paper mache smooth without sanding.

(And yes, it works with traditional paper strips and paste, too.)

When I really have to sand my paper clay I use my little electric sander.

Are there other options?

Yes, there are two alternative recipes, and many people actually prefer them. Go ahead and try them all, and see which one you like best.

  1. If you like to create fine details, the way you might if you were using real clay or polymer clay, try the silky-smooth air dry clay recipe. It uses the same ingredients, plus corn starch, but there’s less paper in the mix so it’s great for detailed textures and details. Many readers have also used it in small silicone molds for jewelry, and they say it works well. I haven’t tried that yet, myself, so do some experiments to see if it works for you.
  2. If you need a recipe that can be used for outdoor sculptures, check out the paper cement clay recipe. It’s only been tested for a little over a year so far, so consider it experimental – but many people have had very good luck with it.

How to make paper mache clay:

Bowls and mixer for paper mache clay/

You’ll need several large bowls, some measuring cups, a spoon and an electric mixer.

Supplies for making paper mache clay.

The supplies you need for paper mache clay are:

Elmer’s Glue-All, or any PVA glue. Most white glue will work. The Clear Glue from the Elmer’s company also works.

Drywall joint compound – any brand except DAP. That brand doesn’t work because it turns into rubber when mixed with glue.

I buy my joint compound at Walmart. It works great for this recipe, and it’s much less expensive than most brands.

If you aren’t sure what joint compound is called in your country, click here.

Note: There is a warning on the joint compound container that says you should wear a mask when you sand it because it contains silica. Silica is a very hard mineral (most sand is made out of silica) and you don’t want the fine powder in your lungs. I never sand paper mache clay myself, but if you do, be sure to wear a mask. (You should wear a mask when you sand anything!)

To make your paper mache clay smooth without sanding, watch this video.

White flour. The flour thickens the paper mache by soaking up the water. If you can’t use the flour for any reason, you’ll want to use this variation of the paper mache clay recipe instead.

Toilet paper. Any brand will work, so buy the cheapest brand you can find.

Some people use recycled paper instead. In fact, ever since the toilet paper shortage in early 2020, more and more people have made the recipe with old newspapers or the brown paper that Amazon.com uses inside it’s cartons. The texture of the final mix may be slightly different, but recycled paper works just fine. To see a video about using recycled paper in paper mache clay, click here.

Mineral oil (baby oil) or linseed oil – this is totally optional. The oil changes the ‘feel’ of the paper mache clay while you’re working with it, but the recipe works just fine without it. Don’t use boiled linseed oil if children will be helping you with your sculpture, because it contains chemicals.

More Lion King mask patterns for paper mache:

Step 1: Soak and measure your paper.

Soaking toilet paper for paper mache clay.

The first thing we need to do is get our paper ready. We want about a cup and a quarter of wet paper. You can use any cup to measure with – it doesn’t have to be exact.

Put the paper in hot water to get it wet, and press it down into a measuring cup until you have about a cup and a quarter of wet paper. Then put it back in the hot water. You want all the paper fibers to be separated. Just swirl the paper around with your fingers and the toilet paper will completely fall apart.

Step 2: Press out the water.

Paper Mache Clay Recipe

You want to press most of the water out of the paper, but you have to be really careful that you don’t press out too much.

If you press out so much of the water that it’s almost dry, it won’t fall apart when you run your mixer. You’ll end up with big globs and bumpy lumps in your paper mache clay.

So go ahead and test it in your hand. Can you push it around and have it come apart, even though most of the water has been pressed out? Then you’re good to go.

Step 3: Add joint compound and glue to the paper mache clay mixture.

Paper Mache Clay Recipe

Now you can add the drywall joint compound and glue, and start mixing.

What is drywall joint compound? This product is made for the construction industry when they build interior walls. The joint compound is used to cover the edges between two sheets of drywall (also called gypsum board, plaster board and sheet rock). You’ll find it in the paint department at Walmart, or in any DIY store.

If you live in a country where they don’t make flat walls out of plasterboard or drywall, you won’t be able to find drywall joint compound in your stores.

A lot of people ask me, “Can you make paper mache clay without drywall joint compound?” No, you can’t – this recipe requires the joint compound.

If you can’t find the joint compound in your country or if you don’t want to use it, this site has projects that use the traditional paper mache mixture of softened paper and paste.

Mix your paper, joint compound and glue for several minutes. You want the mixer to tear all of the paper fibers apart so it’ll be nice and smooth.

Step 4: Add the flour.

Add flour to the paper mache clay mixture.

You’re going to use the white flour to thicken the paper mache clay. The flour soaks up the excess water in the mixture, and makes it easier to spread the paper mache or create sculpted details.

The amount of flour you need depends on how you want to use your paper mache clay, and how much water was left in the paper. Just keep adding more until you get the consistency you want.

For instance, if you want a really thin layer like I use when I’m covering my mask patterns, or when I want to create a hard solid surface with my first layer, I’ll use a  small amount of flour to make a really thin mixture of the paper mache clay.

Snowy Owl made with paper mache clay

But when I want to add texture, or if I want to actually sculpt with the paper mache clay like I did with my snowy owl, then I’ll add more flour.

A note about the beaters: I add 1/2 cup of flour to start with, using the standard beaters. When I need more flour, I’ll switch to the dough hooks.

My mixer didn’t come with the dough hooks, like this one does, but I use some old ones I have from another mixer, and they fit.

If you don’t have the bread-mixing beaters, the paper mache clay has a tendency to crawl up the standard beaters. The mixture will also become very heavy, and could burn out the motor in a small mixer if you use the standard beaters.

Another option is to mix the flour in by hand.

An alternative to a kitchen mixer: If you need to mix up a lot of the paper mache at one time, perhaps for a workshop or a very large project, you can use a paint mixer attachment for an electric drill instead of a of a kitchen mixer, and a plastic pail instead of a bowl.

Step 5: Apply your paper mache clay to your armature.

Use a knife to spread a thin layer of paper mache clay over your armature. If you’ll be using the paper mache clay to add finer details, it’s easiest if you put on a thin layer first and let it dry. Then you have a solid surface for your final sculpting.

Almost any of the projects on this site can be made with paper mache clay. You’ll find them all in the Art Library.  There’s a link to that page at the top of the site, so you can always come back to it. That’s also where you’ll find other recipes, like the smooth air dry clay and the paper mache clay without flour.

For a fast start on a project, choose one of  my mask and sculpture patterns. Any of the patterns can be used with either paper strips and paste or this paper mache clay recipe.

Have fun!

DIY paper mache clay recipe

5,241 thoughts on “Paper Mache Clay Recipe”

  1. Hi Jonni,

    First off thanks for such a fantastic resource. The information is abundant and so helpful.

    A quick question on pinatas. I wrote recently and asked you about using your PM clay recipe – and wondered if it would be hard enough for a long-lasting pinata. You assured me that it would.

    As I think about ‘advanced’ and ‘creative’ designs for a pinata, I am wondering about an idea and would like your thoughts / input / advice on how to excute.

    Do you think that I could create a sculpture – any kind of scultpure – then cut it in half to remove the armature – then reassemble it as hollow- ? It could take my pinatas to new places!!! 🙂 I guess I may lose some of the structural integrity and strength – but if I make the seam and then build the whole sculpture up to disguise the seam – do you think it would work? Also, is there a certain treatment of the armature that I should consider to make it easier to remove? Cover it in foil or some other medium?

    I really appreciate your help. I am excited about the possibilities —


    • Yes, Justin – you can definitely cut open your sculpture and remove the innards. It could make very large sculptures unstable, so you might want to create long valleys in your armature. Once those are filled in you would have internal ribs that could support the sculpture while it’s moving. However, it might also make it impossible to break. Did you try using the clay for a pinata? If so, were you able to break it? Be sure to experiment with how thick the walls need to be to hold up without a support and still allow the piece to break after enough whacks. And be sure to let us know what you find out!

      The Yahoo Papier Mache Art group has been sending URLs of paper mache sites, and one of the sites was a company that makes large (and very expensive) pinatas. You have to check it out: http://www.pulpparlour.com/index.html

  2. Again, this is something that really helped me and even ‘tho I worked with cement, I think it will work for the PM Clay, as well. I often made my armature out of styrofoam. I got it in the insulation dept of Home Depot. It comes in a variety of thicknesses; is easy to cut; is easy to shape with a file; and it’s lightweight. You can join pieces together for thickness or to add another dimension. I made a huge mountain, which I think is in one of the photos I uploaded earlier, it also has mountain lions on it. The armature for everything is from styrofoam. I also made a tiny newborn foal using the styrofoam as an armature. I think that I have some photos that I took of the works in progress, as well as the final sculptures. I will look for them and try to post them, Jonni, if you think this might be useful to you and others. Let me know.

    • Yes, Nikki – we’d love to see one of your works in progress. The Styrofoam probably adds quite a lot of support to your concrete sculptures, without adding weight.

    • Hi Deborah. I’m glad the book has been helpful. The hoof issue is something I struggled with, too. That’s why I ended up using the tin foil – it’s easier to squish it smaller. With paper mache added over the armature, all the narrow shapes, like legs and hooves, will get slightly bigger. If you can, remove some of the material around the armature in that area, and try again. Also, do a google image search for horse’s hooves, so you can see how the shapes come together – that helped me a lot. Here’s a really nice one I just found.

      Do please show us your horse when she’s done – the instructions for adding photos to your comments can be found here.

  3. Jonni, I just received your animal paper mache book and it really helped me with my horse. I love the book – it is just what I have been searching for. finding good books on paper mache , until now, has been impossible! Tomorrow I will make the paper mache clay and cover her. I am making this for a friend who lost her mare two months ago to a tendon injury. I will take a picture and hope to get it on here and will let you know how she likes it.
    by the way, my armature is made of wire stuffed with paper, but the aluminum foil was very helpful. I hope to make another horse and will try out your cardboard armature.

  4. Glad I decided to let you all know about the tubes! I have a couple of photos of my columns, but not quite sure how to post them now.

  5. Hi!
    I have been recruited to create a paper dress for a paper fashion show. I have almost no experience in clothing construction (I am in graphic design), but am considering making the top part of the dress (the bustier) out of paper mache. Is this a good idea? If it cracked and split during the show, it would be a little inconvenient for the person wearing the piece (me :S), so it needs to be pretty strong. Is this a possibility, or a bad idea? Any suggestions for the type of paper mache or clay? Any and all advice and suggestions are welcome!


      • What if you did the bustier part in at least two pieces, say back + one front 1/2 + the other front 1/2, hinged together by something more flexible (non-mache paper?) That way, you’d have the effect, with some flex, and it might be easier to construct, too.
        You could even do some pm ornaments on the skirt area (or wherever). What a fun idea! Hope we get to see what you come up with.

    • Hi Rebecca. Your idea should work. You can get some ideas about making the bustier fit on this dress form tutorial. There’s also a link on that page for instructions for making a paper mache dress form. I would suggest using the strips and paste method or the paper mache clay recipe on this page, because it would be slightly lighter and much stronger than traditional paper mache pulp.

      Getting the thing on and off will be the tricky part. Some sort of cloth hinge, with ties? Hmm – interesting problem. Does anyone else have ideas for Rebecca?

      • Hey there Rebecca,

        I live in New Zealand and we have a thing here called the World of Wearable Arts. Amazing. I entered in 2006 and the top of my garment was made of paper mache. If you go to http://www.worldofwearableart.co.nz/ and check out the website you can see that it’s a crazy, artistic fashion show with amazing choreography. So so cool! Talk about inspiring! The bustier idea can definitely be done! Easy peasy. I’d post pictures of my garment, but am a bit of a dope when it comes to this. If you’d like…you can sure email me privately and I can help you through it. I’m at bethkopf@gmail.com. I lined the hardened paper mache form with super soft cloth (polar fleece) and just glued it right to the form and then actually bought a multiple hook bra hook/closure at the fabric store to hook it up. You might even think of paper maching a front and then a separate back. You could then punch holes or easily put in grommets (the metal holes or “eyelets”) down either side of each side (if that makes sense) of the “mached” pieces, lace up one side like a corset (or like lacing a shoe), put the bustier on and then lace up the other side. If you can get a hold of a female mannequin torso, (cheap as chips for a beat up one on ebay) you can then just paper mache directly on top of the form. That way it would have time to dry properly. Then you can carefully pop it off of each side. Even if you don’t sew or know garment construction…you can make this bustier without a bit of garment experience. Again, if I can help…email me and I’ll get pictures of the process sent to you and fill you full of more of my words of wisdom! Ha! 🙂

        Cheers! Beth
        – Show quoted text –

        • Beth, we’d all love to see those photos. Check the instructions here, to see how to upload your images, if you feel like sharing. It’s not terribly hard. A little, but not too much 🙂

          • Hey Jonni,

            Well I tried the IMGUR link so we’ll see if you can see it, eh? 🙂 Hope you enjoy the images. This wearable piece is called “Time on Earth” with Father Time floating in with his hand resting on Mother Earth’s shoulder. I hadn’t found your site when I did this in 2006 so the pregnant belly bodice and Father Time’s head are made from traditional paper mache strip technique. I’ll cross my fingers I did it right! Ha! 🙂

            Let me know Jonni…will ya? Cheers! Beth

            • Just me again, Jonni…

              I checked to see if the link worked and it did! (from what I see here anyway!) I did upload 3 pictures but only see one of them (the close up) with imgur??? Oh well…so If you don’t see the pics of Father Time with this upload, I can sure try to get another one posted of just him if you’re interested. See Ya!

            • Hi Beth, only one image came through. Since your images are quite large, try to go back to the Imgur page where you uploaded the images, and click on “other sizes.” That should give you an option for a small thumbnail. When you click on it, nothing seems to happen, but the links on the left-hand column will change. If you copy the one for emails, the one that ends in .jpg – and also send me the link at the very top of your browser window to get the URL from the address bar, I can link the small images to your large one on the imgur site. That’s what I did with the one image that came through.

              I do wish we had an easier way to do this, but I haven’t found one yet. Please try again – the one image we got is wonderful, and we want to see more.

            • Wow – very nice. Can you tell us how the bodice was made? (and see your other comment to find out how to get the other images uploaded. We do want to see them.)

  6. Brilliant suggestion to use the tube forms! I can see them as being great for building life-size animals! Elephant legs, and even bodies!

    So many great ideas here! Love the synergy!

  7. It was never a problem. I would either apply the mixture (sand and white portland cement) either with a trowel, knife, or my hands; press it into place in small sections. The mixture wasn’t wet enough to make anything soggy, ‘tho the cardboard tubes are pretty sturdy. Also, just as you do with the PM Clay, I did thin layers at a time, which allowed it to dry quickly. Since I live in the desert area of Arizona, I sometimes needed to put a wet towel over it to keep it from drying too fast! That would cause cracking. But if it did crack, I simply would go back to that area and fill it in with the cement. In this case, I would think that you could use the PM Clay in the same way. Finding these forms was such a huge help to me.
    I meant to add in the first post, that I think you could use braces, both small ones, “l-shaped” and larged shelf brackets for more strength. I used the “l-shaped” ones often when joining sections.
    I think that if you experienced some slipping, you could put on some paper mache strips to roughen the surface a bit. But I don’t see it as a problem. Also possibly laying it flat on a surface and working horizontally across, or bottom up, etc.

  8. Hi everyone,
    I’ve been reading everyone’s great comments to help each other. This is so wonderful!
    Haven’t seen this mentioned before, so thought I’d throw it in now in case it’s helpful. If you need an armature for something that is tubular, you can find cardboard tubes in a variety of circumferences at building supply stores or cement supply sources. I have used them very successfully as an armature for my cement sculptures and just put the cement layer on the outside, much like the way I’ve seen described for the paper mache strips, or the PM Clay. The tubes can be cut to the size needed. and also you can add shapes on to the sides with screws, supports, etc. I also put on a wooden base and top for some of mine with a round piece of wood and then sculpted over that as I needed it to be strong enough to hold another sculpture on top of it. They are now over 10 years old, and doing just fine. The forms we have locally are “Quik Tubes” building forms. I find them in the cement section of Home Depot. They are extremely strong, and by using them the finished figure would already be hollow. I’m thinking that you could probably create an amazing variety of shapes. Hope this helps. The tubes are created for builders to pour the cement mixtures into and create columns of solid concrete, thus the variety of sizes.

    • Good idea, Nikki. I’m wondering how you apply the concrete to the outside of the tubes without the wet concrete slumping towards the ground. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Nikki…
      THANK YOU for your suggestion about where to buy cardboard tubes, “Quik Tubes”!! I never would have thought to look in the cement section at Home Depot!! I was going to go and just walk around the store looking for “inspiration”… but I haven’t had a chance to do that yet.

      I can use one big tube in the center and then build it up with paper towel and toilet paper tubes to create a rough shape. At that point, I can use newspaper and masking tape to fine tune the shape. What do you think?

      I would love to see pictures of the projects you’ve done. Will you post them here?

      Thanks, Nikki!! 🙂

      • I found the Quikrete cement tubes at Lowe’s and Home Depot!! They have multiple sizes…. but I’ll probably get the 8″ x 48″.

        THANK YOU, NIKKI!! 🙂

        • In case anyone is looking for big round tubes, I just got a few when my mother hand her floors done, vinyl floors ,(and sometimes carpet) comes on big cardboard rolls, if you ask at flooring places, you maybe able to find some, cheap skate me is always on the look out for free useful stuff :))

          • Hi Chris. Good idea – a flooring place probably has to pay to have the tubes hauled away. I’m starting to imagine all sorts of things to use them for. A totem pole is the first thing that comes to mind. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?

  9. This is probably a really stupid question… but is the Paper Mache Clay recipe used in lieu of the Paper Mache Paste recipe? I was under the impression that you use the strips of paper and the paste recipe for the first few coats… and then you use the clap recipe as a “top coat”.

    As I ready through some of these posts… it sounds like people are using the clay recipe instead of the paste recipe. Am I reading this wrong? Will a thin layer of just the clay be enough?

    I am SO confused right now!! Help!! LOL!!

    • Actually, you can do several different things with the clay recipe. I use the paper mache clay instead of paper strips and paste. One layer is often all you need, because it’s quite strong. In some cases you might want to use one or two layers of paper strips and paste, and then use the paper mache clay over it. The only time I can think of that I would do that is if I was using a chicken wire frame. The clay would fall through the holes in the wire, so it would need some kind of backing. Otherwise I use the clay by itself. It is a bit more expensive than paper strips and flour paste, though. Also, if you make your vase with the clay and then cut it apart to get the inside armature out, you’ll need to stick the pieces back together. The strips and paste would work for that, and then a thin top-coat of clay could cover the strips after they dry, and hide them.

      If you look at the post about my Joker mask, you can scroll down a bit and see the mask after the armature was taken out. You can see how thin the wall of the mask was. I’m pretty sure I could throw the thing on concrete and it wouldn’t break. The combination of Elmer’s glue and joint compound seems to create a product that is much more like plastic than paper – it is rather amazing stuff. You might want to make up a batch and play with it – make something, let it dry, and then see if you think it’s what you’d like to use for your project.

      • Thanks, Jonni!! You just saved me hours and hours… actually… days and days of work!! LOL!! I love it!!

    • Hi Debbie, The nomenclature can be a bit confusing indeed.

      Torn paper strips and GLUE can and are used in layers to make PM shapes. The glue used commonly is white PVA glue and I often use Elmer’s Glue-All brand.

      Torn paper strips and PASTE can and are used in layers to make PM shapes. The PASTE I use has regular general purpose white flour, PVA glue and Liquid Starch with some water mixed in as well. There are many, many variations of paste used.

      Paper Mache Clay (generally) is made of mushed up paper ( toilet paper or newspaper or “other”) that is then mixed with the above mentioned GLUE or PASTE and Drywall Compound (I also add acrylic paint) of course there are many, many variations of that as well.

      I often use “paper mache clay” on top of a few layers of torn paper strips and PASTE for my creations depending on the goal and location. For example no flour used for my yard art to keep hungry critters from snacking on my efforts.

      The combination of paper and paste (or glue) makes a surprisingly strong “composite” material because paper is made of fibers that binds with the Glue or PASTE and that applies to both the strip and clay mache types.

      Remember at the top of this very post (topic) is Jonni’s now famous recipe of her “paper mache clay” with another nicely produced How To video about it.

      • Hi Bob…
        Thank you for the clarification. This is my first attempt and I am extremely frustrated right now!! I want to make a 36″ floor vase and I haven’t had much luck so far. I started by using the garbage bag method, filling it with crumbled newspapers. I even made a cardboard base and used twine to help with the shape. Long story short… and after mutilating 5 garbage bags and using a whole roll of 2″ masking tape… I gave up!!

        I actually posted a message to Jonni earlier asking for help!! I’m just not sure what to use to shape the armature. I saw the plant stand that you made… and the floor vase that I want to make is similar in size.

        I am on my way out to Lowe’s to walk up and down the aisles in hopes of finding things to use!! Where did you get the 4″ cardboard tube? Was it expensive? If I use a tube like that… what would I use to build up the vase shape around it? Maybe I should have started with a 3″ lizard!! LOL!!

        Thank you for any advice you can offer!! 🙂

        • Hi Debbie. I’ve been lurking on this discussion, and an idea occurred to me that might work for you. Jonni uses flat forms to give the general silhouette of her final form. What if you used that idea for your vase? Like, cut out of cardboard a vase shape, make another just like it and notch them together so they cross. You could then put that inside a plastic bag (or wrap in plastic wrap?) to make it easier to remove later. You could make your vase have flat sides, or fill it out between the vanes of cardboard. You could add a smooth twist to the cardboard, which would give the final vase a neat spiral effect! Just brain-storming here… Good luck! 🙂

          • Hi Xan…
            Thank you so much for the great idea!! I was ready to put the bag and papers in the fireplace and call it a day!! The vase definitely needs support… like your cardboard suggestion!! I’ll give it a shot and keep you posted!!

            Thank you!!

        • Hi Debbie, I was reading your posts and wondering how you were going to make that round vase with a gargage bag and tape. Here’s a suggestion using Jonni’s paper clay. Use a VERY large salad bowl to make the bottom half. I would use some plastic wrap stretched over the outside of the bowl for easy release.(I don’t know if it will stick to the bowl, maybe not.)Let dry. Then use the bowl to make the top half leaving an opening for a cardbord tube to be inserted for the neck.. When dry, put the two parts together with a strips of paper and pm glue or clay all around. Let dry. Put some paper clay in the bottom of the bowl to anchor the tube and push it all the way down. Be sure to anchor it to the bottom for stability. You might later want to put some pebbles or sand in there to stabilize the vase and it would be easier to get in or out. Use paper clay to fill in the spaces around the neck and build it up like the vase in the picture. Keep turning the vase at eye level as you are working on it to make sure the neck stays straight. You might find an inexpensive large plastic bowl at a used merchandise store. If that’s not big enough for the vase you want, try a plastic beach ball. However the bowl does have a flat bottom and would be easier to get the two sections alike. If you can’t find a cardbord tube, get some poster board. Find a bottle the size you want the tube to be and roll the poster board around and tape it.
          To get the texture like the vase in the picture, I would wrap string or cord around it. The easy way to do that is to make a thin water/glue(or flour/water) mixture in a coffee can. Feed as much string as you think you need in to the mixture making sure not to tangle it so it will pull out easily. Make an X in the plastic can cover and insert the string. This will pull most of the mixture out of the string as it goes through.
          Put the vase on a lazy susan and turn it as you glue on the string, starting at the bottom edge and wind upwards. If you want the string underneath, it’s easier to make the swirl on a paper plate. When dry, trim off the paper plate and glue it on to the bottom of the vase. Ready to paint and antique like the picture.
          I hope this helps you debbie. I haven’t done this for a long time. I just discovered this web site really like it. Thanks to Jonni, I have learned a lot. Love the new paper clay recipie.
          Happy New Year,

          • Hi Jay…
            Yes… I was wondering MYSELF how I was going to make a vase with a garbage bag and tape!! Needless to say… I didn’t!! LOL!!

            Thank you for your salad bowl idea!! I love it!! So… when are you going to come over to show me how to do it? LOL!! I will give it a try and let you know how it goes!!

            I stumbled across this site last week and I am so thankful that I did!! You guys are awesome!!

            Thanks again, Jay!! 🙂

        • Hi Debbie, Starting off small is how I began. I made an egg shape 6″ long x ~3.5″ thick (not exactly a 3″ lizard but close to it) and used it to test materials and techniques. I was able to get a feel for just making the PM clay and paste, test what it was like to dry it in an oven vs a fan, compare textures of the PM paper strip and paste method vs PM Clay and see how paint looked on both etc. I still use that now but it has very little original surface area remaining to be used. This may set you back a few days from your main floor vase objective but the information and technique I learned starting this way gave me a major advantage in time, materials and confidence.

          Making a large PM Spherical shape is a real challenge, (at least for me) as does getting a smooth nicely curved PM surface. I made a life size skull using the plastic bag and tape technique and it was a real learning experience because “sculpting” with a thin plastic bag filled with crumpled newspaper was a foreign concept. Another way people have made this shape is with a large (in your case) balloon or an inexpensive child’s beach ball as an armature. I have no experience with this kind of armature …yet!

          I made a frog using two techniques: crumpled paper with masking tape and a frog shaped armature made by using narrow strips of cereal box cardboard hot glued to each other and to carefully designed cardboard frog like shapes.

          The crumpled paper with masking tape went quickly and is more “free flowing’ while the hot glue cardboard strip approach is much more precise and takes longer. You can see an example of each on my web page called “ Frog Paper Mache”. I think Xan’s nice idea is a combination of both and could work well.

          I learn much about these techniques from Scott A. Stoll seen here:

          Pumpkins V 2.0

          Looks like Scott has a new video showing the hot glue and cardboard strip approach too.

          • Hi Bob…
            The last thing I wanted to hear was… “start out small.” LOL!! I know that you’re right… I just didn’t want to hear it!! I am usually a very methodical and organized person… but I honestly wanted to just jump into this project with both feel and no parachute!! LOL!!

            I love Scott’s site too!! He does an amazing job!!

            Don’t go too far… I may need your help, as I attempt this project once again!!

            Thanks, Bob!!

  10. Hi Debbie,

    I would like to 2nd Jonni’s words about definitely making a large vase. Your question had perfect timing because I was about to post my similar project here.

    I just made my wife a 20“ tall working plant stand for Christmas that can easily hold a waterlogged plant and have attached a picture of it and the bits I used to make it.

    It is made of parts from three 1 gallon milk jugs, a 4“ diameter cardboard tube that has a 1/4“ thick wall (very strong), masking tape, hot glue, paper and paste strips and a variation of Jonni’s PM Clay. It is finished with Jonni’s recipe of home made tinted gesso. Oh, also lots and lots and lots of sanding! Whew!

    The decorations you see are photographs I took of various pot and plant holders she has around the house that have the theme she likes. I wanted to make “3D” decorations and paint them too but I ran out of time. The photos were cut out and carefully glued to the gesso and then the entire plant holder was give 3 coats of Krylon’s “Moisture-resistant, UV-Resistant, Clear Acrylic Coating”. I successfully used MinWax Spar Urethane on outdoor PM Toadstools it but it would have yellowed the subtle blue “porcelain” finish so I used the Krylon spray.

    I hope you will post pictures of your protect.

    paper mache plant stand

    • Wow – Bob, I knew you intended to make a plant stand, but I had no idea it would turn out so well. It really does look like porcelain. Did you leave the plastic milk jug in the bottom to help with the moisture that might soak through from the plants?

      And look at that Christmas cactus, blooming right on time.

      • Thanks Jonni, This great web page, your kind and generous openness in sharing your skill and knowledge was and continues to be an inspiration!

        The plastic milk jugs were used as an armature to help make the shape I wanted but if water ever got that deep into this piece it would be mush I’m sure. I did test the Krylon product against the MinWax Helmsmen Spar Urethane and both made water bead and not wet the surface.

        Unlike the toadstools that have endured two summers outdoors this will not see the hot sun or drenching rain. So I suspect it will survive and a small clear plastic “dish” is on list to be placed between the plant stand and the pot.

        Yes the Christmas cactus flowers were spectacular this year!

    • Hi Bob!
      Your plant stand looks awesome!! You did a GREAT job!! Is this your first project? If not, what else have you made? Do you have pictures?

      This is my first attempt and I could hardly sleep last night because I was SO excited to get my supplies and get started!! I feel overwhelmed because I have so many ideas and I want to make so many things!! LOL!!

      I would love to see more pictures of your projects. I would like to make a cow, like the elephant that Jonni made. My friend collects cows and I would love to make one for her collection. Maybe not as big as Jonni’s elephant… that thing weighs 30 lbs!! LOL!! But it is amazing and I hope to be that creative… and good… one day!!

      Again… GREAT plant stand!!

      • I’m not Bob, but I can help with this one. 🙂 Use the search thingy at the top of the page and type in Bob C. You should get a list of all his comments – and many of them have photos. When you find a comment of his with his name in blue, you can click on it to see his web page. In fact, everyone should do this, because Bob shares a lot of ideas and the results of many of his experiments. His comments are a wonderful resource. (Thanks, Bob…)

        • Hi Jonni, I had no idea the search function could be used that way, that is so helpful. There are so many good things you and others have shared on this site and that makes it much easier to find and explore. Random search words should be a blast! Thanks for explaining that.

      • Hi Debbie, thanks for your kind remarks. This is not my 1st project but I’m still a relative newbie to PM and the plant stand was the biggest piece I’ve made thus far. It was a departure from my other efforts and I must say all that sanding to get it smooth and bump free did get a bit “old” but I did learned lessons about armature prep etc.

        As Jonni mentioned my web page has more pictures and info and is my attempt to “give back” a little to the PM community. It is a very old site and I’m considering an update but as you said, so many ideas and so little time. I plan on putting the plant stand project there…..real soon! Sigh!

        You mentioned Jonni’s elephant, truly an amazing big work of art, not to mention a well produced, edited, narrated and filmed project all on its on. Wow! I watched it several times! Just another inspiring example of Jonni’s talent and skills.

        I wish you well on you new adventure, be bold, experiment a lot, try new stuff and share the joy!

  11. I am going to try and make a tall floor vase, approximately 36″ tall. They are so expensive to buy… and I thought that I could make one by using paper mache and then using joint compound for the outer layer.

    I thought about using chicken wire to mold the shape before covering with paper mache. Do you have another suggestion for making a mold that large? What would you suggest using for the base?

    Would you suggest using a typical paper mache recipe or your paper mache clay recipe for the outer layer? My goal is to sand it smooth and use paint for the outer layer to create an “old world” look.

    I really appreciate any suggestions that you have to offer. Your work is beautiful and I am looking forward to trying your clay recipe! If not for this project… for another project down the road!

    Thank you!!

    • Hi Debbie. I think the chicken wire would work Ok. The paper mache clay would fall through it, but if you added one layer of paper strips and paste, or even if you covered the wire with masking tape, you could then use the paper mache clay. It’s easier to get a smooth surface with the clay, although the joint compound over paper strips and paste works well too. In fact, the joint compound is a little easier to sand.

      Of course, if you make a vase out of any kind of paper it won’t be waterproof – but I’m sure you knew that. You could use a round piece of plywood to make a nice flat base.

      • Hi Jonni!
        After reading through your website… I almost think that I can just crumble up newspaper and use duct tape to create the shape. Here is a sample of the type of floor vase I am trying to make: http://www.touchofclass.com/product/home+accents/table+and+floor+vases/rafferty+floor+vase.do?sortby=ourPicks#

        Since it’s so big… would you use the joint compound mixture or the clay mixture? I plan on sanding it down and doing some sort of decorative finish. I may even embellish it with raised joint compound to give it texture before painting it.

        These are purely decorative and I won’t be using them with any real plants!! LOL!!

        So what do you think? Am I being overzealous? Do you think that I can create a tall, floor vase using paper mache?

        Thank you for responding so quickly!! I really appreciate it!! I can’t wait to get up in the morning to get started!! LOL!! But… I don’t mind your advice and opinions!! I am reaching out for constructive criticism… so criticize away!! 🙂

        Thank you!!

        • Debbie, you can definitely make a large vase with paper mache. Someone who watched my baby elephant video on YouTube used the ideas and built a life-sized adult Indian elephant. If they can make something that large, you can definitely make a vase.

          You could use newspaper and masking tape. After the paper mache dries completely you can cut the vase in half, remove the paper armature, and then put the vase back together with more paper mache. If you use at least 8 layers of paper it will probably be strong enough to hold up the weight of joint compound applied to the outside, but be sure to test this first. I think I’d go ahead and use the clay recipe, because a 1/8″ layer is plenty strong, and you can use the clay itself to add decorative textures. But the traditional strips and paste will work, too. Be sure to let us see the vase when it’s done. Even better, take a few photos during the process, and let us see how it all goes together. I know I’d like to see it.

          • I saw the life-size elephants and a life-size giraffe!! They are amazing!! My little 36″ vase sounds silly next to the awesome projects!! LOL!!

            I bought all of my supplies this morning and I can’t wait to get started!! I am going to fill a garbage bag with the crumbled newspaper and use masking tape to create the shape. I’ll use the strips of paste first. It’s funny that you suggested cutting the vase in half… because I was wondering how to get the paper out!! LOL!! I guess it really won’t matter if I cut it in half because I can patch it back together again and use the clay as the top layer. Excellent!!

            I will definitely take pictures as I go along. You and your website have been such an inspiration and I am SO excited to start making projects!!

            THANK YOU!!

            • Great. We can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but be sure to let your vase dry absolutely bone dry before cutting it apart. Otherwise, the shape will get distorted and you’ll have a hard time getting it back together again. (I had that problem with my giraffe head, when I cut it apart to get the clay out.)

            • Thanks, Jonni!! I will painstakingly wait for it to completely dry before I cut it apart. LOL!!

            • Hi Holly!
              I plan on taking pictures as I make my projects… at least I hope I remember to!! LOL!! I will definitely use the clay as the top coat. I love the smooth finish.

              Do you have any projects that you can share? I would love to see pictures!!

  12. I am working on a paper mache horse.
    I just made my wire armature. I will crumble paper and put it onto the armature with masking tape.
    Will I then apply the clay recipe with a knife to the armature ? (no layers of traditional paper mache)?

  13. Three questions:
    Is it carveable when set or is it much like a hard plaster or clay? I understand it is pliable before drying.
    The linseed oil; is there a particular reason for that type of oil? In wood working I have found that linseed oil never quite dries as a finish. Is that part of the magic? Could a less toxic oil be used like walnut oil?
    Can you freeze the clay for long term storage?
    I am not a sculptor but I have a creative side and I love this idea, thanks

    • Hi Mike. I think the linseed oil makes the clay dry harder than it would without it. However, the recipe still works if you leave it out. I haven’t tried it with any other type of oil, but we have tried substituting glycerin, and that works really well. And it’s non-toxic. You can also find edible linseed oil at the natural food store, labeled as flax seed oil, but that would be a bit excessively expensive.

      The clay does dry hard, I would say almost more like plastic than plaster. You can drill and sand, but I have not tried carving it. Freezing it should be OK – I use mine up fast because I mess around with it all the time, so I haven’t actually tried it.


  14. Thank you for the recipe! Someone from my hand papermaking discussion group just posted a link to your website and I must say, your recipe looks intriguing and I’ll try it out soon. One question: do you know if recycled paper passed through the blender would do the same as the toilet paper? If I use the same amount of recycled pulp, wouldn’t it do the trick?

    • Yes, people have used recycled paper, and it works just fine. Make sure you use plenty of water in the blender, so you don’t burn out the motor.

  15. Hi Jonni! Thanks for the recipe for the clay – it was so fun to make! I don’t think that I have done anything with paper mache’ for around 35 years so this was a treat to have a go at! Also, I have never thought that I had the skills to be able to do anything in clay and sculpting but I am wanting to have a try.Just a couple of questions that I hope you can answer. I think in your video you said that to make the clay thicker to add more flour? Would that then make in like air drying clay? Also is it possible to make the clay ‘stick’ to fabric? I have been making cloth dolls and thought that to make a body (pancake style doll) and to then cover with the paper mache clay. Not the complete doll, but just the head and down to the shoulders? Might sound a bit strage, but I guess you may understand how ideas can dance around your head! Love to know what you think!

    • Hi Anne Maree. The flour does make the PM clay a bit less “juicy,” but it doesn’t give it the quality of air dried clay. However, if you want to put it over a fabric doll (interesting idea!) I think you’d want to use the recipe as-is, at least to start with. It should stick to fabric, and you’d want it to sink in just a little so it got a firm hold. Once you see how that works, then start adjusting the recipe a bit to see what happens.

      I would love to see how this turns out for you – it’s a really nice idea, and I think there’s a very good chance that you’ll have very good results.

  16. hi,
    I am making mask for a center piece and was wondering how long would this product take to dry before i start making them because i have several to make. another question is it durable or is the finale product like plaster very easy to break once it dries. Thanks :-))

    • Hi Cassandra. The PM clay will take about the same amount of time to dry as regular paper mache. The actual time will depend on how thickly you apply the clay, and the temperature in the room where they dry. Give them at least three days, and possibly more. The clay dries extremely hard – more like plastic than plaster.

      Be sure to let us see how they turn out. The idea of using masks as a centerpiece is really interesting.

  17. Jonni,

    For my school project in drama we are to make a mask from scratch. I’m making a chinese dragon mask and I’ve made the base of it with Model Magic so that its ok on my face for long periods of time. I’m planning on covering that with paper mache so that it is stronger and I can build up my face and snout. I’m then going to put another layer of Model Magic on top to create scales, and so I can paint it. I was wondering if this clay would stick well to Model Magic (it’s the old formula by Crayola) and if it cracks at all? I’ve heard people having a problem with drywall compound like stuff cracking and breaking when dropped. Do you think I should use this clay for my mask, in combination with normal paper mache? And will it crack at all?

    And the other thing is how heavy is it when it dries? I need my mask to be light, and I know normal paper mache is fairly light, but how is this in comparison?

    – Thanks, Amanda.

    • Hi Amanda. I don’t know if the clay would stick to the Model Magic, because I’ve never tried it. However, since you will be using the Model Magic anyway on the outside of the mask to make the details like scales, I don’t really see any need for the PM clay, too. The traditional paper strips and paste are very strong and light, and you’ll get good details with the commercial product, so I think you’ve got all your bases covered.

      I hope you’ll let us see your mask when it’s done.

      • Amanda,
        I think Jonni’s right; if you’re using the Model Magic, you don’t need the PM clay. Should you try to put it over the Model Magic, keep in mind that it will take much longer to dry than it would over cardboard or paper because there won’t be any air flow. If you don’t use PM clay this time, DO try it sometime. You can sand it, drill it and paint it. It’s light, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Good luck. I hope we get to see your mask.

        • It just occurred to me that there might be another problem – the PM clay will shrink slightly. That doesn’t matter at all when it’s placed over a crumpled paper armature, because the paper moves as the clay shrinks. However, the Model Magic probably won’t do that, so you could end up with some cracks.

          And I, too, hope we get to see the mask. I’m really starting to like masks, and I hope to learn more about how they’ve been used in traditional cultures.

          • I am making masks. My partner is from Puerto Rico and we have a small collection of authentic vejigante masks we have purchased when on the island. Colorful and filled with personality, they have been an inspiration to me — and that is how I found your site, researching recipes for creating our own interpretation of the vejigante.

            • So I apoligize for this being such a late reply, but after the mask shows finished, I got busy with other work. My mask turned out great and everyone loved it! I didn’t end up using this clay, but mainly traditional paper mache, and it worked quite well. I’m just back on this site again because my friend is in drama this semester and she is having to make a mask as well, so I’m recommending this site to her for ideas and recipes. But this is my mask, and how it turned out, (there are 5 photos from different angles):


            • What a wonderful mask. Can you give us some details about how it was worn? In other words, how did you keep it on your head?

            • The mask was glued to a painters cap, and also had a chin strap. This worked quite well because it didn’t move around too much when on stage 🙂 And the material in the photo was used to cover the back of my head and hair, and it pinned around at the front, adding extra support.

            • Yes, if I made the elephant again I’d use the clay instead of paper strips and paste. My snow leopard is almost as big as the baby elephant, and it was made with the paper mache clay.

  18. Hello Jonni,
    I m Jaya from India,all your tutorials on this website are really amazing,and the clay recipe is fantastic,i ‘ll surely make a try. I made a Jharoka using readymade clay available in market,i think it is papermache clay,but not sure about it,i ‘llpost the picture of clay,let me know is that papermache clay,let me know how to post the pictures of clay and Jharoka in your website.
    Jonni,please help me with the ingredients,what is joint compound?Is it available in India?Tell me other names of joint cmpnd so that i can try here,nd let me know for what purpose it is used outside.
    what is elmers glue? Instead of it may i use fevicol or bulbond?
    What is white flour?Some of my friends tried with maida,cornflour,ceramicpowder,chalkpowder,but they are eaten by bugs.
    please rectify my doubts,Jonni plzzzzzzzzz help me so that i can make perfect nd wonderful sculptures with your clay recipe.
    THANKS in advance.

    • Hello Jaya. Unfortunately, nobody from India has told us yet what joint compound is called there. It’s used to fill the cracks between pieces of plasterboard, which is used to make walls. I don’t know if your houses are made this way, or if joint compound is available there. A recent comment from another person in India indicated that the recipe didn’t work well with the materials she thought were comparable to the ones available here in the United States. The Elmer’s glue is a PVA glue, but I couldn’t find out if the fevicol glue she used has that particular type of plastic in it.

      The white flour is made from wheat, with all the germ and bran taken away. I believe that cornstarch or very fine corn flour would also work, but I haven’t tried it.

      I’m sorry I’m not being very helpful. If you do find the products that work in this recipe, please let us know what brands you used. Be sure to buy small containers, of course, just in case they don’t work.

      • dear jaya ad johny
        for paper mache clay india we could use toilet roll…..fevicol….salt …….and paster of paris i do so…..and no jaya that clay we find in market is not paper mache(atleast not exactly)its more like made of mitti and some glue…….btw acccording to jonni we should be using that white plaster that is used to treat wall ki papdi …….it comes in the ad but i forgot the name…….but u can use these things i mentioned above….
        GOSH!!!i dont noe if im of any help….but being in an army life i gaurantee it works evrywher from j and k to rajastan!!!!

  19. Hi Jonni,

    I love the looks of your recipe! I was wondering if it could be thinned enough to be “piped” through the corner of a zip lock bag, for raised elements? Would the base material have to dry first? And for my own experiments, would you recommend adding more glue to make it softer, or leave the paper wetter? Thank you!

    • Hi Anna. You have an interesting idea – and I’m quite sure it will work. You might get a bit more control if you let the first layer dry first, but you should try both methods to see which one you like best. I would either use less flour in the recipe to make it thinner, or add a little bit of water. Be sure to let us know how your experiments turn out!

      • Thank you so much for your reply! I will begin my experiments and let you know how it turns out. I want it to be as smooth as possible, so I am going to try Scott 1 ply paper due to the fact that it is highly recommended for septic tanks because it breaks up very easily. I’ll measure it per your instructions and let you know how much is in a roll and how smooth I can get it.


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