Journey to paper clay

Damn that title sounds a bit more epic than this will actually be.

Paper clay is a fantastic recipe from Jonni at She has a ton of videos and articles, as well as guest articles. I don’t remember how I decided to make the paper clay, I simply remember deciding to do paper mache because it was cheap and easy. Paper clay just kinda came along for the ride. Somewhere along the line, paper mache became the second option, with paper clay being my favourite.

In the beginning, the clay results were … mixed.

Torso - Fooling around

I have zero clue what I was even doing bros.

In this, you can see the results of several different attempts – from this clumpy dry stuff, to a weird smooth one that had a ton of lumps in it. The reason for this was my misunderstanding of how to make the stuff.

So, the actual recipe calls for: 24 g of toilet paper, soaked and squeezed to become 110 g of wet toilet paper, 1/2 cup each of flour, cornstarch, school glue, and drywall compound, and 2-3 tablespoons of mineral oil, with flour added in to get your desired consistency.

However, when I started creating it, I somehow got the impression that the toilet paper was a full roll.

This is so not right. So very much not right.

24 g of dry toilet paper is a fairly sizable clump. About 7 pee’s worth, let’s say. But it’s about 75 sheets of cheap dollar store TP which is much thinner than the nice stuff. So with a whole roll being approximately 175 sheets, the mix had these giant clumps that would not blend or play nice. Getting the amount of TP figured out helped immensely.

Next thing that changed it all was the method. So, beforehand I was trying to use a blender to get it to what I assumed should be a cake batter-like consistency. What happened was I found this video that helped me figure out what I was doing wrong.

(Chezlin’s Paper Clay video)

Basically, once I got it all mixed together, I was to pull it out and knead it into more of a bread consistency, which fixed the last of my problems! Now I have a nice mix that I can make in about half hour including cleaning time. I keep it pretty sticky, preferring to use water to smooth it onto things. I tried adding extra flour to part of a batch so I could roll it out into fins for my angler fish; I quite liked the results, and will probably use this for items that aren’t being smeared onto a body.

In order to apply my smearing clay, I wet my hands to prevent sticking and to help squish it into place. It’s dirty and so satisfying. I have been slowly using tools to try new techniques, but often feel a little lost at what to do – I never really was into clay and the like, finding it difficult to mould and a pain in the ass. Plus, with the need to fire it (or hope it doesn’t crack and fall apart when dry), it became difficult for me to even want to explore the medium of clay too much. Paper clay seems to solve those issues!

So far, I’ve done a lot of playing around – a foot, genitalia, some weird teeth thing, the torso up there, and finally my angler fish lamp, of whom you’ll see a lot.

 Angler Fish lamp, in progress

One of these days, I’ll make a video showing how I make and apply my version of the paper clay.

Today’s Footnote 

How much does my paper clay cost me?

Toilet paper: I buy 4 rolls at $1.30; each roll is 175 sheets, and I’d say I’d use not quite 1/2. So, the one package creates 8 batches. $0.16 for each batch.

Mineral Oil: I use 2-3 tablespoons, which is approximately 30mL to 45 mL. One bottle of 500mL costs … $12? Sure. $1.08 for 3tbsps, per batch.

Drywall compound at $15 per 3.5L or 3500mL, with 1/2 cup coming to about .11L. … I think my math says 0.50 per 1/2 cup, so sure.

School glue 3.8 L for $30. Eh, we’ll double the price of above, so let’s say $1.

Flour $1.25 for 907 grams, with 1/2 cup being 64 grams. 0.09 per 1/2 cup – usually I’ll add about 1/2 cup more, so let’s say 0.20.

Cornstarch $1.25 for 2 lb with 1/2 cup being 94 grams. 0.13 per 1/2 cup.

All together: Approximately $3.05 per batch.
Unless my math is wrong, which to be honest it probably is.


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