DIY Hybrid Art Clay {crafty recipe}

Clay Update: 6/5/2012

I just wanted to pop in and let you know how the clay is holding up. I left a bag sealed in my basement craft room and it started to get some mold on it at 5 weeks so don’t make more than you can use in a month. However in the bag I was opening up and taking clay from regularly it did not mold. I reckon keeping it in the sun, like on a windowsill would also prevent the mold. I think 4 weeks of non-moldy clay is a success!

The clay shrinkage seems to be about 15% and the clay is very porcelain like when fully dry. It takes paint very well, similar to ceramic, it does not absorb the paint. I recommend acrylics.

End Update

I like clay. I recently tried the new Martha Stewart clay and I loved it so of course I had to see if I could make something that was just as good for pennies.

This rose was made from my homemade clay tinted with acrylic paint. The clay is still wet, the petals will get thinner as it tries. It kinda looks like a frosting flower!

I say just as good but not the same. The MS clay feels more foam like when dry then my homemade version but my homemade version could pass for porcelain or bisque once it is dry yet it is still lightweight. My homemade clay is strong even when it is rolled out thin and has a wee bit of flex due to the polymers in the glue and the joint compound. It has a smooth matt porcelain like finish when dry. So, do you want to make some clay?

This flower was made with my homemade clay, it is dry and feels like porcelian and is very durable.

Lindsay’s Hybrid Polymer Paperclay

1/2 cup toilet paper (any brand, the cheap stuff is fine)

1/2 cup joint compound (I used SHEETROCK® Brand Plus 3™ Lightweight All-Purpose Joint Compound)

1/2 cup white glue (Elmer’s Glue All, PVA glue , not washable school glue)

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 Tablespoon white vinegar (this is a preservative – if you plan to use the clay in a day or two you can skip it)

Baby oil (aka mineral oil-any brand)

Liquid Starch (I used Sta-flo brand but you can make your own from cornstarch and water, recipe here)

You will also want a 1/2 cup measuring cup, a tablespoon, a kitchen mixer and a microwave safe bowl with rather high sides that you can mix in (I used a 1 quart Fire-King glass measuring cup to mix and heat in), a rubber scraper and a gallon ziplock bag. You will also be using the microwave. I made a satisfactory clay without cooking it but it still had that “wet toilet paper” quality that I did not especially care for, they clay looked more like a paper casting and you had to leave the clay in the mold to set up. I wanted to be able to press it in the mold and remove it so I could make a batch of embellishments at once. Cooking solved both problems and I ended up with a smooth stretchy clay that captures fine details. See this example of the clay that was cooked vs. the same clay that was not:

IMPORTANT: Read ALL of the instructions before you even try making this. This will take about a half hour to make and will yield 2 cups of clay. Remove any rings or bracelets before you begin.

  1. Unroll about 1/2 of a spool of toilet paper (if a standard roll, 1/4 if a double roll) and place in the bowl and fill with warm water. Let this soak for a few minutes and stir to break apart the fibers so you have a paper soup. Now you need to remove as much of the water as you can, you can strain it into a sieve but I just poured as much of the water off as I could then gathered the pulp in a ball and squished it, using a sieve is probably easier. squeeze out as much water as you can and press into a measuring cup. You need 1/2 cup. *Don’t dump the leftover water down the sink but you can flush it :)
  2. Add the wet toilet paper, joint compound, cornstarch and glue into the bowl and stir with the scraper to get it to mix. Beat the mix with the electric mixer for 2 minutes. It should look like a thick cake batter with few lumps.
  3. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds on high. Remove from the microwave and add 2 tablespoons of  liquid starch and 1 tablespoon of baby oil. Mix again with the electric mixer for 1 minute. It will have thickened slightly.
  4. Heat the mixture in the microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir with the scraper, it will be hard to stir and look like mashed potatoes.
  5. Coat your hands with baby oil and reach in a knead the mixture. Be careful, it is probably hot, you can let it cool a minute if needed. If it is a nasty sticky mess you are doing it right! Knead for about 1 minute.
  6. Put the bowl back in the microwave and heat for 30 more seconds on high. The clay will be much firmer now.
  7. Coat your hands liberally with baby oil and squirt some oil on the clay as well. Now you need to knead the clay for about 5 minutes. It will become quite stretch and smooth.  Mix the clay well by stretching the clay out and smooshing it back together. As it cools it will become stiffer.

You can use the clay straight away or store it in a sealed ziplock bag after it cools. I’m not sure how long the clay will keep, I made my first batch on Saturday and it is fine so far but I have a feeling that it might spoil eventually so make a batch, use it up, and make some more. This is air-dry clay and will NOT need to be baked like traditional polymer clays do.

Clays and Shrinkage: This clay will shrink about 10-15% when it dries. It shrinks as the moisture evaporates leaving the molded item lighter and slightly smaller.

To tint the clay take the amount you need and add a small dab of acrylic paint on the clay and mix it in like you are pulling taffy. If the paint makes the clay too sticky you can add a bit of corn starch.

Here is the clay I tinted moulded into a rose, the acrylic paint mixes in quite well!

You can also stamp the clay with rubber stamps. Experiment with using the stamps inked or uninked for different looks!

I had a play with the Martha Stewart clay again after making my homemade clay and I am thinking that her clay feels more like lightweight spackle so maybe if I experiment with spackle, glue and toilet paper I might be able to create clay more like hers.

To show you a comparison of my homemade clay and the Martha Stewart brand the pinker rose on the left is MS clay while the more coral one on the right (and all the other examples) are made from my homemade clay. Also the 2 green leaves on the left were painted after drying while the 3 green leaves on the right used clay I tinted with the same green paint while the clay was wet. The cameo was hand painted using a mold I made in a previous post.

When researching my clay project I came across 2 recipes that were influential in coming up with my recipe. First was Ultimate Paper Mache Clay and the second was Cold Porcelain Clay.  My clay is a hybrid of the two. I wanted the lightweight clay that was durable and captured fine detail and I got it! Thanks to the above bloggers who shared their recipes with the world so I could come up with my recipe, gosh, isn’t the internet great!

If you make this leave a comment and let me know what you think! Likewise if you have any questions, I’m happy to help. I think this would be awesome to use with kids because it is cheap to make in large amounts. BTW if you are wondering if you can double the recipe you can however the cooking times will differ so I recommend dividing up the clay when you nuke it. I would not make more clay than you will use in a week or two. I’m keeping a bag set aside to see how long it will last before getting moldy and I will edit this post when I find out :)

Edit: the clay molded 1 year after I made it, I kept it in a ziplock bag in a drawer I often get into. A year shelf life is pretty good I think!

BTW if you want to read my tutorial for making your own molds it is here.

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post and til next time happy crafting!

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