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Paper Clay DIY – The Ultimate Eco Friendly Art Material!

Paper Clay DIY – The Ultimate Eco-Friendly Art Material!  

It is Cheap, Easy and Versatile too!  

I cleaned my studio.  What does an artist do when they clean their studio?  They rummage thru all their art materials and create something from it!  I collected a whole big stack of paper when I cleaned.  I have a paper shredder so I shredded it….and thought there has got to be SOME WAY I CAN USE THIS paper?

I found several paper clay recipes on Pinterest and will share an ‘official recipe’ down below. I basically hate to measure and made this clay over time as I cleaned my studio.

What I did was;

put my paper shreds in a large bucket.

Add hot water to cover.  Once cool enough to handle swish, mash and generally have a great time (avoiding actual cleaning and organizing…) and let sit overnight if possible.  What this does is allow the paper to break down sufficiently.

Once the paper has sat and soaked in the water (or you are done playing with it) squeeze out excess water.  It does not have to be bone dry but the more you manipulate it, the more it is being broken down.

Add glue, cornstarch and some kind of preservative- I used alum, an additive to food used when canning I believe… I just had some left over from when I made clay with my kids.  I think you can find it with pickling and canning supplies.  You can also add bleach.  To see measurements, look below at an actual recipe.  🙂  I added a splash of bleach for good measure.  Obviously, you don’t need to be super precise because I wasn’t and it worked out fine.

Squash, mash and play again while avoiding housework….

I added some glitter and colored paper flecks just cuz I liked that.

I then had to wrap it up and put in my refrig. while I adulted for a while.  😦

I have been grabbing chunks of it as I want/need and am having a great time with it.  Can’t wait for my grandkids to come over and play with it too.

You can bake this on low heat 250 degrees and quicken the drying time.  Or just leave out and allow to dry over time.  It dries hard and can be sanded, painted.  I am using old wire hangers for the amateur of little bird sculptures.  It is really fun.

Paper Clay DIY

This is what my paper clay looked like after I had it in the hot water and squeezed out the excess.  

Paper Clay DIY

Paper Clay ready to use or store. 

I use the wire (wire clothes hangers work great for smaller sculptures!!) and ball up some non flammable trash, wrap in alum. foil and use the wire to give more structure.  I then put a thin layer of clay on the body to begin building it up.  If your clay is still on the wetter side, and you find it falls off, try adding it in a thinner layer and to one side at a time.  My plan is to get the clay on, smooth it with fine sandpaper, paint and add embellishments.

Paper Clay Bird sculpture wip

I will post the finished product on this blog when done.


From Jonni Good’s website.. link below.

The Recipe for Paper Mache Clay 

The ingredients  are inexpensive, and can be found at your local grocery store and hardware store. You will need:

  1. Cheap Toilet Paper (measure the wet paper pulp as instructed in the video, and use 1 1/4 cups – some rolls contain more paper than needed)

  2. 1 cup Drywall Joint compound from the hardware store or Walmart. (Get premixed “regular,” that comes in a plastic tub, not the dry powder form.) Note:  The DAP brand does not work. It will turn your pm clay into a rubbery mess. All other brands will work just fine.

  3. 3/4 cup Elmer’s Glue-all (PVA glue)

  4. 1/2 cup White Flour

  5. 2 tablespoons Mineral Oil or Linseed Oil. I now recommend Mineral Oil (Baby Oil) because it’s easier to find, and it’s safer to use if kids are helping with your project. Can’t find either one? Just leave it out. The recipe works just fine without it.

See the video above for details on making your clay. And if you try this recipe, please let us all know what you think of it–and also please share a photo of your finished work. We’d love to see how it comes out.

Making Your Paper Mache Clay


You’ll also need a large bowl, (use one with high sides so you don’t splatter clay on your cupboards), an electric mixer, a measuring cup and a tablespoon measure. To keep t he finished clay from drying out, you’ll need an air-tight container. The recipe makes approximately 1 quart of paper mache clay.

Note about Toilet Paper:

Unfortunately, the people who make toilet paper don’t expect us to turn their product into great works of art, so they see no reason to include the kind of information that would make things a lot easier for us.

I use a brand called “Angel Soft,” in the “regular” 2-ply rolls. I buy it at my local Wal-Mart. Each roll contains approximately 1 1/4 cup of paper, which I measured by wetting the paper, squeezing out the water, and then firmly squishing it into a measuring cup. They change things sometimes, so you’ll still want to measure the wet paper. And if you find a brand that’s cheaper, go ahead and buy it – the brand doesn’t matter at all.

Since brands differ so much, the first time you make this recipe you should take a few minutes to find out how much paper is in the first roll. Then adjust the recipe if your brand don’t contain about 1 1/4 cup of paper. Fortunately, this is not a chemistry experiment or rocket science – if your mixture contains a little more paper than mine, or a little less, your sculptures will still be stunning.

Step 1. Fill a high-sided bowl with warm water. Remove the toilet paper from the roll and throw it into the water. Push down on the paper to make sure all of it gets wet.

Step 2. Then pick up the paper and squeeze out as much water as you can. Pour the water out of the bowl and put your paper mass back in.

Step 3. You will want to break the paper into chunks about 1″ across. This will allow your mixer to move around the pieces and break them apart.

Step 4. Add all the ingredients to the bowl and mix, using an electric mixer. The mixer will pull the fibers of the toilet paper apart and turn it into pulp. Continue to mix for at least 3 minutes to make sure all the paper has been mixed in with the other ingredients. If you still see some lumps, use a fork or your fingers (with the mixer turned off!) to break them apart, and then mix some more.

Your paper mache clay is now ready to use. It will look a bit like cookie dough – but don’t eat it!

If you don’t plan to use your clay right away, place it in an airtight container to keep it from drying out. The clay should stay usable for 5 days or more, if you keep it covered. The recipe makes about 1 quart.

Important note:

I’m often asked if it’s possible to waterproof a sculpture made with this recipe, so the sculpture can be left outside. I’ve tried a lot of products to see if I could find one that would work, and they have all failed miserably. This recipe is intended for use inside only.

For outdoor sculptures, I recommend the use of epoxy clay. Watch this video to see how I made a made of a squirrel sculpture that has been sitting outside in Minnesota weather for a year now, including unrelenting weeks of rain and -30° winter temps, and it’s still doing just fine.


Thanks for stopping by!

Sue Steiner animal artist

If you, are anyone you know, are interested in a pet portrait or painting of your horse, please take a look at my work and website. I would love to talk about what you have in mind. I specialize in dogs, cats, horses, horse and rider, pet and owner, farm animal and wildlife paintings. I work from small custom stall signs to Life-Sized!

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