What is “Joint Compound” Called in Your Country?

You may be able to help out our growing international online artist community. We need to know what joint compound is called in other countries.

The home-made paper mache clay recipe I created (recipe here) is made with premixed drywall joint compound and Elmer’s Glue-All® as the main ingredients, along with toilet paper and linseed oil.

At least, that’s what they’re called at my local hardware store, here in Oregon.

But joint compound is called something else in other countries, and the Elmer’s brand isn’t available at all in some places. So – I’m hoping you can help out your fellow artists and craftpeople wherever you may live, and help me put together a list of product names for locally available materials that will work to make paper mache clay.

On another note, the DAP brand drywall joint compound will not work in the paper mache clay recipe. An ingredient in their formula causes the mixture of glue and joint compound to get rubbery or stiff. I like the ProForm joint compound that is sold in the paint department at Walmart.

So far, the translations we have for the joint compound are:

  • Drywall joint compound” in the United States (guys in the construction industry call it “mud”)
  • Drywall filler” in Canada
  • Joint filler” in the UK
  • Fugenspachtel” in Germany
  • Joint finish” in Australia
  • Voegenmiddel” in Dutch, according to one reader – but Elizabeth says the correct translation of joint compound in Dutch is gipsplaatvuller.
  • In India I believe it’s called “wall putty
  • In Guatemala joint compound is known as Pasta de Tablayesero
  • In Portugal, joint compound is known as ” Massa de Juntas”. Em Portugal é massa de juntas, a massa que é utilizada para unir placas de Pladur. Vende-se/sells at Leroy Merlin and AKI.

The product is normally used to fill in the cracks between two pieces of drywall (also called wallboard, sheetrock or plasterboard) when new walls are built or old ones are repaired. The primary ingredient in join compound (in the US) is calcium carbonate. Pure calcium carbonate in dry powder form is sold in art stores as “powdered marble.” But we don’t want the powdered stuff, we want the kind of joint compound that is already mixed up and ready to use. It’s sold in a plastic tub, usually one or five gallons. In the UK the primary ingredient is another form of calcium called” gypsum,” which seems to work just as well.

Just a bit of history–the recipe for paper mache clay happened because I started using a recipe for home-made gesso, which uses Elmer’s Glue-All and powdered marble. The gesso dries very hard, but you can still sand it perfectly smooth. I decided to see what happens when you use a cheaper form of calcium carbonate (the joint compound) and add fine paper (toilet paper) and linseed or mineral oil. Voila–paper mache clay was born, a new sculptural medium that’s cheap to make and easy to use.

Just in case you’re wondering, the paper mache clay can be used on any of my animal sculpture and mask patterns.

The glue can also be difficult to find. Elmer’s Glue-All makes wonderful paper mache clay. But Elmer’s Carpenters glue doesn’t work, and their ‘school” brand doesn’t work either.

Laura from Canada tried Lepage White Glue and it did work. What you’re looking for is a PVA glue —but do buy the smallest container you can find and experiment to make sure your brand will work.

Just so you know why it’s important–if you use the “wrong”  glue, the clay looks curdled or dry or flakey, and you can’t use it.

So–can you help us out? Know anyone in the construction or remodeling industry in your country who might be able to come up with the local name for “joint compound?” Your help will be much appreciated by frustrated sculptors everywhere. 🙂

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