Paper Mache Clay Made with Plaster of Paris

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Is it possible to make paper mache clay with plaster of Paris instead of pre-mixed drywall joint compound?

People have been asking me that for years. I didn’t really think it would work, but I finally decided to try it and find out for sure.

In this experiment I show you that it is indeed possible to make a version of paper mache clay with plaster, but it isn’t the same as the original recipe.

It can only be used for a few hours before it gets too hard, so you’ll need to make very small batches. Use the paper mache clay recipe with the gram measurements to make it easy to cut the recipe in half or quarters.

Or use the Silky Smooth Air Dry Clay recipe instead.

Whichever recipe you try, remember to not put the flour in until everything else is completely mixed in. Run your mixer for three to five minutes, and then add flour if you need it.

Also remember that the spoon, beaters and bowls don’t get washed in your sink – plaster will harden under water, even inside your pipes. Throw them in a bowl of water, rinse them off, and throw the water outside.

If you have pre-mixed joint compound available, I recommend using it instead of plaster of Paris. The original recipe, with the joint compound instead of plaster, will stay usable for much longer (weeks, in fact, if you keep it covered and in the fridge). It feels creamier when applying it to the armature, too – I think it just feels nicer.

On the other hand, the slowly stiffening plaster version does let you apply it quickly when it’s first made, and then sculpt details later as it gets stiffer – kind of like working with epoxy clay.

Go ahead and try the plaster version – you may like it better than I do.

If you’re interested in making any of the animal sculptures and masks that you see behind me in the video, click here.

If you experiment with using the plaster instead of joint compound, please let us know:

Do you like it? Did it stay workable long enough? Were you happy with the final result? Let us know in the comments below.

20 thoughts on “Paper Mache Clay Made with Plaster of Paris”

  1. Always good to have more information on the subject of paper mache! Thanks for your experiments that we all have benefited from!

  2. I enjoyed the video. It’s not for me because I made clay five days ago to start a project and it is still sitting there! The time would kill me because of my discipline!

    I discovered, quite by accident, when I bought glass storage containers, that paper mache clay stays good much longer. I put some away for about a month and knew it wouldn’t be any good, but I pulled it out and used it. So I think SJT has something there.

    Thank you, Jonni, for your experiments and wonderful teaching methods. Now to use some of that clay!

  3. Hi Jonnie
    I’ve been making my paper mache this way for a long time…well, couple years.
    i use P.oP (plaster of Paris)
    flour and cornstarch
    PVA glue and TP (toilet paper) and baby oil
    o and salt…so it mold
    i keep it in a bag, and i kid you not..i used it over a month later and it was still usable ..a bit stickier…(just oil your hands) but useable

    • That’s strange that your mixture doesn’t get hard – mine was just a thick, hard lump after just six hours! I can’t understand why mine worked so much differently. Do anyone have an answer to this mystery???

      • Hi,
        didn’t see a response and decided to give it a shot, even though its been so long.
        My experience with adding plaster of paris to the PMC is the same as you, Jonni. Definitely needs to be made in small batches!
        I think the answer to why Joanne’s clay did not harden must be ratios used, especially of the mineral oil. With a greated volume of oil, the water will be displaced and “kept apart” from the plaster. There wouldnt be enough water to ” activate” the plaster, and the oil will keep the clay fluid. Once it is on the sculpture, some of the oil could leave the clay and seep into the material, allowing the water to do its thing.
        Sorry for the long theory that, may turn out to be completely wrong! lol
        Anyway, thank you, Jonni for your work. It has been very therapeutic to explore PM sculpting.

          • I would like to use this POP recipe but there are no amounts listed. How can I get the right ratio? I don’t have a gram scale. Thank you so much. I took sculpture at college but I never pursued it at home due to the cost. Now I am 73 years old, in a rest home and I think I have waited long enough. ?

    • I want to make some paper clay Christmas ornaments this year. Do you think using P of P would work for rolling out the clay and then stamping it? I live in Greece and we don’t use that joint compound that Jonnie talks about.

      Any advice would be much appreciated.

      Be well.

      • I don’t have enough experience with this recipe to know if it would work or not. However, it did take some fairly fine details when I played around with my knife, so I can’t see why it wouldn’t work with a stamp, too. Test it to see if you’ll need a release to keep the stamp from sticking to it.

      • add flour in same amount…so if one cup PoP use one cup flour…mix it with the glue when its all mixed add the oil just a bit at a time…kneed it… until its not sticky…

        • Thank Joanne, I’ll give it a try. Should I also spray my embossing folders or whatever I use to emboss my ornaments ? I’m thinking, Pam spray or perhaps corn starch??

          Thanks again, Lis

  4. I often use the dry / powder drywall compound because it’s more readily available in my area & significantly cheaper than premixed drywall compound.

    What I’ve found works for making the ‘clay’ useable for a longer period of time is simply adding a little bit of water & mixing it in well when I feel it’s becoming stiff. Works just fine, giving me a great deal more time to use it

    In addition, when I store the clay, I wrap it in a plastic bag (not a ziplock bag), twist it tightly closed while squeezing the air out, then flip the bag over the clay again so it’s a double layer of plastic. Twist that closed, put into a plastic tub with an airtight lid, then into the fridge.

    This allows me to use the clay mixture the next day. I may have to add a little water again, but it’s definitely still workable.


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