Monday, February 11, 2013


I recently developed a new recipe for a sculptural material I call “paper mache clay.” This material is so easy to use and so easy to make that I now use it exclusively for all my paper mache sculptures.
It might be a bit more accurate to call this material “home-made air-dried cellulose-reinforced polymer clay,” but that’s way too hard to say (or type!), so for now, let’s just call it paper mache clay.
The first video below shows how to make the paper mache clay, and the second video answers some common questions that I’ve received from readers since I first developed this recipe. Below the videos you’ll find the recipe written out, and a few comments about how it’s used. (This recipe is the basis for my book “Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.”)
I usually make mine fairly thin, so it can be spread over an armature like frosting – but you can also vary the consistency, and make it thicker, like this, when you want more control over the modeling process. A very thin layer, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch is extremely strong, and it replaces the many layers of traditional paper strips and paste.
The clay dries extremely hard when applied in a very thin layer (1/8 to 1/4″ thick) and the clay dries much faster than traditional paper mache pulp. (And it only takes about 5 minutes to make).
Paper Mache Clay on Snow Leopard Sculpture
Paper Mache Clay on Snow Leopard Sculpture
As you can see above, the clay can be modeled into fairly fine details. Using the clay for modeling feels much more intuitive than creating sculptures with paper strips and paste, and once the clay is dry it is a pleasure to paint.
The ingredients are inexpensive, and can be found at your local grocery store and hardware store. You will need:
  • Cheap toilet paper (measure the wet paper pulp, and use 1.24 cups – some rolls contain more paper than needed)
  • 1 cup Joint compound from the hardware store (get “regular,” not “fast set” or “light”.)
  • 3/4 cup Elmer’s Glue-all
  • 1/2 cup White Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Linseed Oil
See the video below 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. (Can’t see the video? See the instructions printed below).
[Edit 2/12/2011 - At least one manufacturer (Dap brand) of joint compound has changed their formula, and this brand no longer works for paper mache clay. If you find that your clay seems "rubbery" instead of smooth and creamy, you may need to use a different brand of joint compound. Any other brand will work. ]

Making Your Paper Mache Clay

1 roll of toilet paper
3/4 cup of white glue (Elmer’s glue-All)
1 cup of joint compound
1/2 cup white flour
2 tablespoons linseed oil
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.
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.


     Australia Day (previously known as Anniversary Day, Foundations Day and ANA Day) is the official national day of Australia.  Celebrated annually on January 26th, the day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.  The hoisting of the British flag there, and the proclamations of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of New Holland.

   Australia Day is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia, and is marked by the Order of Australia and Australian of the Year awards, along with an address from the Prim Minister.
   Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on January 26th date back to 1808, with Governor Lachland Macquarie having held the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales in 1818.  In 2004, an estimated 7.5 million people attended Australia Day celebrations and functions across the country.

     The date is seen as controversial for many Australians, particularly Indigenous Australians, who see commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet as celebrating the destruction of the native Aboriginal culture by British colonists.  Dating back to the 1938 Day of Mourning, there have been significant protests from and on behalf of the Aboriginal community, and the birth of the alternative nae Invasion Day.  Others have begun to use the name Survival Day to highlight that a people and culture that was expected to die out has survived.  In light of these concerns, proposals to change the date of Australia Day have been made, but have failed to gain widespread public support.

   Some of things that happen on Australia Day include family meetings, picnics and barbecuses, parades, citizenship ceremonies, Order of Australia honours, and the Australian of the Year presentation.


   This recipe comes from www.make-it-do.com .  Is there anything that doesn't go great with a bowl of vanilla ice cream?  Maybe a little hot fudge to go on top!

Today is not just Cyber Monday, it’s Green Gift Monday too.  I’m so happy to be joining the good folks at the Nature Conservancy to celebrate Green Gift Monday by making some green gifts for some of my favorite friends.
I’m making Chocolate Fudge Sauce to give in Mason Jars.
Oh, how I love Mason Jars- useful, reusable, and charming.  They were green before green was cool.
Here’s how I’m making my gifts:

You’ll need Mason Jars:  This recipe makes about 1 – 1/2 cups or 3 half pints.  Most of the gifts I’m giving today are going into half pint wide mouth jars.  I’m also making a few pints jars full, like the one I’m sharing here.
For the hot fudge sauce you’ll need:

Hot Fudge Sauce

1/2 cup of butter (1 cube)
1 cup of good quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

In a double boiler over medium melt the butter and chocolate chips, whisking constantly until combined.  Whisk in the evaporated milk and powdered sugar and bring to a boil, stirring often, for 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and add vanilla if desired.  Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.   Keeps for several weeks.

Here’s the step by step:

Add the chocolate chips and butter into your double boiler.
Yes I am a trouble maker and a rule breaker.  I am not patient enough for the double boiler, and I have a lot of hot fudge to make.  I make it right in my sauce pan, BUT  I do not leave the stove, and I have a good stainless steel pan and gas burners, so I can turn it down if things are too hot.

When the butter and chocolate chips are melted and combined, stir in the evaporated milk…

and then whisk in the powdered sugar.

Bring it all to a boil over medium to medium-high heat and cook for 8 minutes, stirring often.  The sauce will start to thicken.  Remove from the heat and add vanilla if desired.

My mason jar and twine is waiting.  Don’t you just love candy cane baker’s twine?

Pour into your mason jars and allow to cool before putting on the lids.

While the chocolate is cooling, I cut the fabric with my pinking scissors.  I cut a 7 inch square for a wide mouth canning jar.  It could be a little bigger, but I’m always trying to waste not.  7 inches is enough.

Here’s one of my favorite tips.  Have you ever tried to add fabric to the top of a mason jar.  One day while I was having the fabric slip around as I was tying the ribbon, I had a brainwave to use a rubber band to hold the fabric in place.
As soon as the ribbon or twine is in place, I slip the rubber band off.  (Just don’t cover it with the ribbon.)

Tie it on with a little tag and a bit of twine… and you have a very lovely gift: homemade, delicious and green.