How to Make Paper Clay

Paper clay is exactly what it sounds like. Clay made out of paper. It’s easy to make and dries fairly hard and durable. It’s good for making beads, small sculptures, bowls, and other things.

To make paper clay, you’ll need:

  • Paper – I like to use scrap paper that I’ve shredded in my shredder.  However, you can just tear up pieces of scrap paper into small pieces if you don’t have a shredder.  Use colored paper (construction paper, tissue paper, etc.) if you want your clay to be a certain color and you don’t plan on painting it.
  • Warm Water
  • Kitchen Blender
  • Small Container or Bowl
  • Strainer – The finer the mesh, the better.
  • Binder: Homemade Paste OR Store-bought Wallpaper paste – If you are working with children, you’ll probably want to use the homemade glue for a completely non-toxic clay.
    See my tutorial on How to Make Homemade Paste.

Paper Clay Instructions:

Make the Paper Pulp

  1. Put several handfuls of shredded or torn paper into the blender.
  2. Add enough warm water to cover all the paper.
  3. Let sit for a couple of minutes to let the water start to soak into the paper.
  4. Using the blender’s pulse function, blend the paper and water together for a couple of pulses.
  5. Let sit for 1 or 2 minutes to let the water soak more into the paper.
  6. Blend continuously on low for about 2 minutes – Check the texture of the paper pulp occasionally.  You want it to be smooth with not a lot of recognizable pieces left.

Strain out the Water

  1. Pour a small portion of the paper pulp into a strainer with a small mesh to drain out of the water.
  2. Press the paper against the strainer’s mesh to drain – You want to get out as much of the water as possible.
  3. Squeeze the paper pulp clumps with your hand and put them in the container.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the wet paper pulp until everything has been strained.

Add the Binder

  1. Add about a teaspoonful of the Homemade Paste or Wallpaper Paste to your mixture
  2. Squeeze the pulp and binder mixture to distribute the glue thoroughly . Add a little more, if necessary. You want enough glue to make it stick together well, but not so much that it gets very gloppy.  If you can made a ball that doesn’t fall apart, you’ve added enough. (You may want to use gloves if you are using the wallpaper paste.)

That’s it! You’ve made Paper Clay.

You can use it much like regular clay.  If needed, add a little more glue while you are sculpting to help smooth pieces or if there are areas which didn’t get enough glue for the paper pulp to bind together.

Drying paper clay: When done creating your masterpiece, either let dry naturally or you can put it in the oven at 220 degrees F for about an hour for small projects like beads.  You can also let it dry and then add layers of more paper clay to it.  I’ve found that painting with stiffeners like Paverpol after the project dries also help increase durability and water resistance. Once dry, seal with something like modge podge and then paint.

Storing paper clay:  Store unused paper clay in your refrigerator in a sealable container.  It will last several weeks.  If you used wall paper paste, it will last longer than using homemade glue.

Note: If you use homemade paste but don’t seal your project, it will eventually dissolve when exposed to water.  This could be interesting if you want to try something like putting seeds in the clay and making a biodegradable art project that will grow when planted.


 

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