Paper Mache Clay

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The recipe for paper mache clay

  • 1 1/2 cups damp toilet paper
  • 1 cup premixed drywall joint compound in a plastic tub (but not DAP brand joint compound)
  • 3/4 cup Elmer’s Glue-All or any PVA glue
  • 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.

What does it look like when it’s dry?

Paper Mache Clay Deer HeadGood question.

If you’d like to see what your sculpture might look like when you use this recipe, I finished most of my sculpture and mask patterns with it, 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. 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:

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, becasue 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 other alternative recipes, and many people actually prefer them. Go ahead and try them all, and see which one you like best.

  1. If you live in a humid environment and you worry about mold and mildew, or if you’re allergic to gluten, check out the new recipe for paper mache clay without flour. It takes another small appliance to make it, but the final product works just as well as the original recipe on this page.
  2. 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.

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 that has been soaked in hot water and then chopped up with an electric blender. I haven’t tried that myself because I’m lazy and toilet paper is so much easier. But many people have told me that it works.

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 uses boiled linseed oil if children will be helping you with your sculpture, because it contains chemicals.

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.

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.

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

4,759 thoughts on “Paper Mache Clay”

  1. Hi Jonni,I would like to know how I can get a copy of your book Make animals with Paper Mache Clay. I have checked every bookstore and Library in Regina Saskatchewan (that’s where I live), and nobody seems to have it. I don’t feel comfortable using credit cards, etc in the mail. Do you accept American Postal Money Orders as payment? I also enjoyed looking at your Mask Book, and the mounted animal heads. Your work is fabulous!
    Cheers, Marielle

  2. Hi, I live in Japan. They have powder gypsum plaster here that you just add water too. Would that be ok to use? Or the sheetrock setting-type powder from amazon? The premixed buckets from amazon can’t be shipped here. Thanks

    • Hi Sabrina. The plaster probably won’t work – it will harden in the bowl instead of waiting for you to finish applying it to your sculpture. If you can find the slowest Sheetrock joint compound powder (the minutes it takes to set are usually listed on the package) I think it would work. Several people have told me it does, but I haven’t tried it myself. Mix a small amount according to the package directions and then add the other ingredients in the paper mache clay recipe. And be sure to let us know how it works for you!

      • Thank you Jonni! I was able to order some joint compound from Walmart. It will take a month or so to arrive(Japan). I am going to be making decorative vases for artificial flowers. I have a few questions. Can the paper clay be sanded once it dries? Can you put the paper clay over plaster cloths?

        • Hi Sabrina – and yes to both questions. The paper mache clay does dry very hard, so smooth it as much as you can while it’s still wet. It helps if you dip a knife into a mixture of water and pva glue, to make the knife slick, and then run the flat side of the blade over the wet paper mache clay. The pm clay will stick to plaster cloth. Good luck with it!

          • Awesome! I have one more question. I notice that you wrap your armatures with duck tape before adding the clay. Is it ok to add the clay directly on the armature and not use duck tape? My armatures are cardboard would it be ok to add the clay directly on the cardboard?

  3. I made my paper mache & paper clay Jack Skellington head waterproof by spraying him with multiple layers of Plasti-Dip before using an outdoor primer, acrylic paint and satin acrylic outdoor varnish. The Plasti-Dip made him a lot more resilient as well.

    • That’s good news, Jeni. I just did a fast Google search, and it looks like the Plasti-dip brand has several different products. Is this the one you used? And is there a special brand you used for the primer? And one more really important question – or maybe two: Do you have a photo of your Jack Skellington that you’d be willing to share with us, and how long was Jack outside?

    • I’m sure any Plasti-Dip will work but I used the spray can version. As for the primer, I can’t remember which one I used but I know it was either a spray can of Rustoleum or Kilz. Modern Masters Clear Sealer in Matte is my newest “rave about” product that I used it to seal our wood planked shower walls and ceiling. I love it and I am getting ready to seal a mache Beetlejuice Sandworm that I’m making for my daughter. It’s not cheap but I trust it enough to seal my Plast-Dipped outdoor mache pieces.
      Anyway, here’s Jack. ?

        • I just finished trying to make my daughter a replica of the sandworm from the movie Beetlejuice. I’ve never worked with any sculpting materials before trying mache & clay. This is my 2nd attempt at trying it & what I would consider to be my first true sculpture ever. With this sandworm, I used your recipe. As a beginner, I thought your clay was fairly easy to work with & extremely strong once dry, considering it withstood an accidental fall.
          Also, I’ve been wondering if you’ve had a chance to try the Plasti-Dip & Modern Masters sealer I suggested for waterproofing & if so what your thoughts were?

          • Jennifer, your Sandworm is fantastic! Your daughter must have been so excited when she saw it.

            Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to play with the Plasti-Dip, or any other sealer. I seem to have at least 4 things going all the time, and haven’t had a chance to do any experimenting at all. I do hope to give it a try someday, but it could be awhile…

  4. Hi Jonni,
    I’ve taken on a monster of building an 8′ tree for my new grandsons nursey. The theam is Neverland. I’m ready to add the texture using your recipe, my question is can I add acrylic paint to the mixture? Covering an this monster (it’s actually pretty good looking if I say so myself) then having to base color paint it would be much easier if I could add the paint pigment first.
    I’m apologize if the answer is somewhere in a previous post .

    Thank you for all your information and videos!!
    Respectfully ,
    Debra Lee

    • Hi Debra. You can add acrylic paint, but the white of the drywall joint compound will turn any color pastel. You could paint over the tree with latex house paint, though. It’s much less expensive. I should also note that the drywall joint compound and the mineral oil are not intended to be eaten. I doubt that your grandson would chew on his tree, but you never know… 🙂

  5. Hi again Jonni, I contacted you prior to my exhibition, to ask some questions about your paper mache clay recipe. Have since created my artwork, had the exhibition, and am still smiling. You are an artistic genius! Your medium is absolutely fabulous to work with. My Mother Earth Goddess was a huge success, and has led to some very interesting phone calls & offers. I’m still smiling 🙂 I tried to download a pic, though alas, IT is not my forte. Seems my photo is ‘too big’, so it won’t load. If you’d like to see images of her, she is on my face book page. I can’t find the words to thank you for not only creating such a fabulous product, though for sharing it with all of us. So I’ll simply send a giant “Thank You!” With great big smiles, Lindy 🙂 xxx

      • Have tried the theory of downloading to fb, then saving them to my pc, then attempting to upload again. Have 3 pics. Fingers crossed 🙂

      • Last pic of my Paper Mache Clay Mother Earth. Again Jonni, had so much fun using the medium you created…you are officially BRILLIANT! 🙂 Thank you xxx

          • Hi again Jonni, Yes, definitely influenced by the years of research during one of my Uni majors (Women’s Studies) 🙂 As she is my first venture into both paper mache & sculpture, no website to sell my 1 sculpture (the other 2 exhibition pieces were lino print & acrylic on canvas). However, thanks for asking. We also live in a tiny historic town, the last in our state (Victoria) without electricity (or water, or sewerage), so spending lots of time on the computer is not as easily done as for most. I exaggerate. Really, we live in such a glorious setting (historic township set amidst 7000 hectares of National Park) that we honestly don’t stay indoors much. Too busy outside with the kangaroos, koalas, eagles, owls, etc. We’re old, not insane 🙂
            Though must admit, have enjoyed working with your medium so much, especially how well it gives form to my visions, that I’m itching to have another go. Again, am sending you a heart-full of thanks…for your creative genius, tenacity, and your generosity in sharing your journey with us all. Truly looking forward to seeing what your latest artistic adventure may be! With big Steiglitz smiles, Lindy 🙂 xxx

  6. Hi, i have done my degree in fine arts and looking to work freelance, i like your recipe, its simple and best!
    I have some questions, like
    what are the best colours for paper mâche clay you use ?
    can i colour it without varnish layer?

    • Most of us use acrylic paint over the paper mache clay, but any paint that can be used over paper should work. I often paint directly over unsealed paper mache clay, but it does leave a slight variation in color because the different ingredients absorb paint differently. If you need a nice clean ground, use an acrylic gesso before painting.

  7. Is it possible to make one on these paper mache clays but in a liquid form? not water liquid but pourable (and smooth) into a plaster mould, and would I need anything to make it release from the mould as the form would be hollow not solid once dry
    air drying would be great for the mache as I don’t have a oven/kiln to dry them.

    • Hi Gaz. I have tried find a way to reproduce the Li Qua Che product. It works the way you describe (except you don’t use a release with it.) I’ve never found a mixture that would work. I think it’s possible that the Li Qua Che is made with paper fibers and latex, but that’s just a wild guess. The paper mache clay recipe is made with three different things that stick very tightly to plaster – the glue, the joint compound, and the wet paper. If you use a release that keeps it from sticking it will all flow down to the bottom of your mold instead of creating a shell.

      I made a video of the Li Qua Che used in a plaster mold. You can see it here.

      • Hi Jonni, I have heard of Li Qua Che, never tried it I used to use one called PA3 from Germany but it was expensive (import tax and all that) and I only make them as a hobby. Guess my search will continue for a homemade version 😉

        • If you find one, please let us know. I get a lot of questions about this, and I’d love to find the magic recipe. In the meantime, you might also want to see the plaster and paper “instant paper mache” recipe I use in silicone molds. The molds are more expensive, but the castings are really cheap. Not as easy to use as the pourable product, and it would be pretty hard to get it to work in a two-part mold because the plaster hardens too fast. But it might give you some ideas.

  8. Jonni,
    Thank you for all your knowledge you share with us. I have so many ideas I don’t know where to begin. But I have some pictures of some finished projects.

  9. Hi Jonni,

    Would you recommend using paper mache clay over an armature when making a faux taxidermy head or using the traditional paper mache paste and newspaper strips on the armature?

    Thank you for your time and your website!

    Kind regards,
    Anthony

    • Hi Anthony. I’ve done it both ways. My bear and my jackrabbit, but I used paper mache clay for the elephant. It’s really just a matter of personal preference. The main point for any wall-mounted sculpture is to make them as light as possible. If you do use the paper mache clay, just put on a thin coat (which I always recommend anyway).

        • Michele, I don’t work with polymer clay so I’m the wrong person to ask. I just never got the hang of it. The polymer clay piece might come unstuck in the oven, but that’s just a guess. I do know you wouldn’t want to bake anything made with paper mache clay any hotter than 200° F, because the smell of burning Elmer’s glue is not nice. Many people use polymer clay details like teeth and claws with the paper mache clay, but I don’t know how they do it. The next time I see something made that way I’ll ask them to show us how they did it.

    • I made a new sculpture and she’s perfect. Finished yesterday around 5pm. She feels dry but… squishy underneath. The form I use was primarily paper covered with aluminum foil and tape. I hope the form wasn’t too soft?? Would covering her in another layer of clay make her firmer?

      • Hi Michele. If you used the paper mache clay and the layer is at least 1/8″, and it’s still squishy, it means that there’s still moisture trapped inside the sculpture. It will feel perfectly dry on the outside when there’s still moisture on the inside. Put it in front of a fan or over a heating vent and give it a few more days. If you used a paper thin layer and you know for sure that it’s dry all the way through, then a thicker layer would help.

  10. Jonni,
    Thank you so much for everything. For sharing your knowledge with the world, for being a great artist, and an inspiration to us all. I started working with paper maché a couple of years ago after watching one of your videos. I am hooked with paper maché. It is my preferred medium, and every time I don’t know how to do something I come back to your videos. You are an amizing sculptor, and such a wonderful human being. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Thank you Yazmin. Those were very kind words. I love those horses at the top of your Facebook page, by the way. Are they made with paper pulp? The texture, the color, the shapes – they’re just great. Do you sell your work?

      • Yes, those are paper pulp, thank you for the nice comments. Selling… that is really hard for me, pricing the pieces is tough. I have sold a few small ones, but I’m never sure if the price is too low, too high, or if it’s right. But everything is a learning process. This year I want to keep working on improving my work, and gain more exposure. 🙂

  11. Hola, soy de Colombia podrías dar otro nombre a los ingredientes de la mezcla ya que aca no se consiguen esas marcas. Gracias

  12. Hello,My clay always cracks during drying process.I use wheat flour for white flour and also use lime(used in plastering of walls) as joint compound .Could this b affecting

    • Hi Nicholas. It sounds like you’re altering the recipe in ways that I haven’t experimented with. The only way to find out if your alterations are causing the problem is to try the original version, as written, and see what happens. Joint compound contains a lot of different ingredients, and the version we use is the pre-mixed kind. When you say ‘wheat flour,’ do you mean regular white flour for making breads and pastries, or whole wheat flour?

  13. Jonni,
    Ok. I made my first batch and wonder if I did it correctly….
    When putting the clay on my armature, it’s impossible to “smooth” out with a knife or frosting spatula, as the fibers break immediately. I was able to smooth it with my fingers by schmooshing and tapping the clay into place. Id say it took me about 7 minutes for my tiny armature and already the clay was drying.
    Could I need less flour? More glue?
    I measured everything.
    Maybe I didn’t soak the toilet paper long enough?
    I used a generic brand and measured it after expressing out the water.
    While getting the clay ready to put away, if call it the consistency of bread dough, tho not as sticky and a little more substance.
    Thoughts???

    • Michele, is it possible that you used the DAP brand of joint compound? It tends to make the clay quite stiff, almost rubbery. That might also be why your clay is drying so quickly. I’m not quite what you mean by the fibers breaking, because they should be extremely fine and they should be completely mixed in with the other ingredients. In fact, it should be difficult to see any fibers at all. The paper does tend to make this recipe a little more bumpy than the air dry clay recipe, though, because there’s more paper int he mix.

      You might want to try putting some of the clay into another bowl and adding equal amounts of joint compound and glue. Mix for several minutes, and see if it comes out in a better consistency. If it does, you can do the same thing with all of the clay. If it stays too stiff, then check the label on your joint compound. Some store brands are made by DAP, and there are a couple of brands in Canada that have the same issues (although I can’t remember the brands right now). Let us know if you find out.

      • It wasn’t DAP but it could have been made by them, i suppose. Fot it from walmart. Brand is proform professional.
        However.
        It dried perfectly fine and I’m getting ready to paint! Made 2 more of my sculptures and they’re drying now.
        Do you typically need to sand them or do tou paint yours with the rough texture/is it just a preference?
        I’m hoping to paint directly without a primer but am prepared to do multiple coats. Here is a photo of my first lady…

        • I’ve used the Walmart brand a lot, and it doesn’t cause any problems. As for sanding, I tend to avoid it because I like the texture. If you want your pieces to be a lot smoother, some people use the air dry clay recipe, in a very thin layer, over their dried paper mache clay. It’s a lot easier to make smooth with a damp finger when you apply it, and then you can avoid the sanding. If you scroll down near the bottom of Rex Winn’s guest post about pumpkins, you’ll see how much smoother it can be.

          Your photo didn’t come through, I’m afraid. Take a look at the tips on editing photos to make them smaller at the top of the Daily Sculptors page, and then please try again. We’d love to see it.

  14. What a wonderful website and blog. Thank you for taking the time to share your expertise, recipes and tips! I look forward to moving on from my attempts (resulting in balloons covered in mouldy newspaper) to some of the methods you have beautifully described herein! 🙂

  15. Can newspaper be used in place of toilet paper? I like to reuse/recycle and .y father in law works for the local newspaper and we literally tons on hand.

  16. Hello Jonni,
    I want to make a hard case for a musical instrument, i want to use paper mache techniques for that. Could you please give me some recommendations for a strong case? Is this clay recipe suitable for that purpose?
    thank you

    • Hi Nes. The clay will dry very hard, but could crack (like thin hard plastic) if it gets bent after it dries. There may also be some difficulty getting a flat surface – if you put any wet material over cardboard or even plywood and let it dry, it tends to warp. I probably wouldn’t choose it for the basic construction, but you can use it to make very nice sculpted details. Perhaps one of my readers has some ideas for you.

  17. Hi Jonni. I’ve been using your paper clay for a while now and I’m having a problem with odor. Pretty soon after I make the clay it start to smell really bad. I don’t know if it’s mold or something to do with the paper i’m using (I’m using printer paper from old documents I melted in water with bleach). The smell is really strong and sour, with a hint of the baby oil fragrance.

    Any help you can give on this problem would be hugely appreciated.

    • Max, I’ve never had this happen, but there are some possible reasons for it. If it happens right after you mix up the clay, then one of the products you’re using must have already gone bad. There should be very little odor. If the smell shows up a day after it’s mixed, you’re probably getting some yeast growth in your mixture, and it’s eating the wet flour. You might try adding some salt, which will slow down yeast. (I’ve had this happen with paper mache paste, but never in the paper mache clay). But if it’s showing up in two or three days, or a week, then you’re getting mold. You can keep your mixed wet paper mache clay in the refrigerator to slow this down. To keep it even longer, stick it in the freezer.

      If it’s happening after the pm clay is applied to your armature, you’re putting it on too thick and it isn’t getting a chance to dry fast enough. Neither mold nor yeast can live without water, so if that’s happening, use thinner layers and dry your pm clay in front of a fan.

      I hope this helps.

    • Max, I had the same problem with my first batch of pm clay. If you’re using joint compound in your mix, that could be the culprit. The joint compound I had smelled bad like a port-a-potty. I added some bleach and used new joint compound. Much better.

      • Andreon, thanks so much for coming to the rescue – I knew there had to be a reasonable explanation. And you’re right – if the joint compound sat at the store for too long it could have started to grow mold or ferment. I’ve never had it happen straight from the store (thank goodness) but I have had opened containers go bad on me if I kept them too long.

        • Hello Jonni,
          That’s exactly what I did. I let the container of joint compound sit too long and it went bad. I do a smell test in Walmart to assure it’s fresh, too. My PM clay batches have been sitting for over a month. No mold or odors. I don’t recommend in warmer temperatures.
          Happy crafting!

    • I use old printer paper that is shredded also. I have made several batches and mine has been sitting for a week or longer sometimes. I never have had issues with odor. I do not use bleach so maybe this is the issue. I just let my paper shreds sit in water over night then use emulsifier to blend it. otherwise maybe it is another product you are adding in? I use joint compound, elmers glue, corn starch, baby oil.

      • Kandis, I used the same ingredients as yours. I didn’t know what joint compound was supposed to smell like and I used bad joint compound. I dumped the batch back into a pan and added a little bleach. It killed the odor greatly. No problems on drying. I don’t need bleach now because I know joint compound should be used immediately or checked occasionally.

  18. Hi Jonni…we are making the Indian Elephant that you described for a community float over in Eastern Washington. If we choose to use the Paper Mache Clay would we just mix it up and use it over the masking tape or would you recommend us doing it over some layers of regular paper mache that has dried? Also – the look of the paper towels to give the skin texture looks great! Would this work to lay it on the clay as well? Thank you – Kim

    • Hi Kim. You live in my old stomping grounds. I grew up in Eastern Washington. I hope you’re having a nice winter.

      As for your questions, you don’t need to use any paper strips and paste if you’re using the paper mache clay. It will dry very hard, and it will cover any irregularities on the skin of your elephant. Also, you can use the paper towels over the paper mache clay. Let the pm clay dry really well, and then thin the pm clay you have left over with a mixture of water and glue. Then you’ll have a nice thick paste for you towel skin that will let you form nice ridges and wrinkles, and when it dries it will support the towel. I did this with the elephant wall hanging. You can see me doing it in this video, starting about minute 1:24.

      Have fun. And be sure to take a photo of your elephant when it’s done and share it with us, so we can see how it comes out.

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