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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48 Responses

  1. This is so great! Thanks!! I’ll watch for updates, too. My grand daughter and I are spending a week just crafting together in June, and this will be great for that! I haven’t made my own clay in years. I remember it was fun, don’t know why I haven’t made any in so long. Got distracted with other crafting, I guess. So many crafts, so little time! Lol!!

  2. I had to laugh while I was reading this, only Lindsay would know that Marthas feels more like spackling! You are so very clever and you totally know your crafting stuff. I have never used or made clay, closest I ever came was play dough for my daughters classroom. I can relate though, if my son brings home food from a resturaunt and asks me to make it I usually can. He laughs at me when I tell him I think this has oregano and asagio cheese, lol. BTW, your roses look good enough to eat!

    • I’m sure my husband would prefer it if I could recreate restaraunt food LOL! Instead he gets sent to Lows for joint compound…

  3. Lindsay, I just can’t get over how crafty and ingenious you are! Thanks for posting your discoveries with us. I’ll try this when I have room on my craft table :)


    Carmen L

  4. You are amazing. I must admit I am a bit overwhelmed by all the steps but eventually I will have to try it. Thanks!

  5. I’m sitting here trying to figure out how in the world you figure out all of the incredible things you do, like how to make clay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad that you do, but my mind would never even go in that direction. You continually amaze me!!! Thank you for another marvelous idea to play with. :)

  6. When I saw Martha’s clay’s and molds at CHA this year I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I am so excited you shared this tutorial. I completely forgot that clay is pretty much sheetrock material. My DH delivers sheetrock and he makes mud/spackle and theyother clay components for his company. His boss is an angel and always lets me have these items. I can basically make clay for free now. Big thank you for sharing. I guess I have more money for molds now. I know I can make the molds too. Martha released some pretty molds that are tempting. :)

    • I plan on getting some of the Martha molds, I got the nature set with a 50% off coupon at acmoore and they are lovely!

  7. Great! I can’t wait to try it!

  8. Neat to do it at home on your own…that rose does look like it belongs on a cake!

  9. Wow, I want to try this sometime, Thanks for the great tutorial.

  10. Lindsay, you are amazing. Thanks for this fabulous recipe for clay. My polymer clay always dries out before I ever use it. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  11. How fun is this!!! I really enjoyed reading about your latest adventure. I’m going to have to try this. Thank you so much.

  12. this is soo cool, my greatgrandmother had a recipe that used stale bread, elmers glue and baby oil, and she made these roses from them 35 years ago. i still have them too. I pinned this post, thank you very much, im going to have to try this one!

  13. This is great Lindsey. I am making my own from now on. Love the molds and buttons too. Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. This is the second batch I am making and it wont thicken, what could I be doing wrong. I did use a different joint coumpouind. Is that it maybe?

    • Hi Diane, I used USG brand jointcompound. The paper mache clay lady said do not use DAP brand for her clay, I’m not sure why. It is the glue-cornstarch combo that causes the thickening though. Here are my thoughts on why it is not thickening:

      You did not cook it long enough, if you doubled the batch it will take longer to cook. Id try cooking it for 30 more seconds in the microwave on high and then knead it, there were 3 bursts of cooking for the clay, did you do all 3?

      Too much glue or the toilet paper might have been too wet. Add more cornstarch to correct this.

      Also let me add not to give up on the batch, I think it can be fixed by more cooking and/or kneading in more cornstarch. If you live ina very humid climate it might affect your clay but it is not ruined, just add more cornstarch. If you are still worried about the joint compound try making it again without the joint compound and see how it works, It will be a lovely clay but the tecture will be more paper/plastic and less ceremic like. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any more questions:)

      • thanks, not that joint coumpound, i have added lots more corn starch and am cooking at 30 second intervals till it gets thick. I WANT it to work


      • that should do it, it is amazing how cooking it changes it from sticky mashed potatoes to fine art clay LOL!

  15. I really like what you wrote. I have been trying to find out more about this. Can you tell me what kind of molds you use? I would appreciate it so much. Thanks for sharing. Edwina Brown

    • Hi Edwina,
      I prefer the sillicone molds. The new Martha Stewart ones are made of sillicone. I also have one I used in the tutorial that is made by Wilton (you get it in the cake decorating isle at walmart or acmoore) I like sillicone because I can also use it with other mediums such as friendly plastic and hot glue because it will not melt. Rubber molds by Amaco or sculpy are great too and I make a lot of molds using leftover pieces of polymer clay. I knead it for a few minutes and press a bead, button or charm in it then bake it and I have a great mold! Also you can use the kid’s play-doh molds and rubber stamp on the clay. Be creative!

  16. I finally got the recipe to work for me. Changed in gredients a tad, different elmers glue and vinyl spackel. I think it will stay pliable when dry. I would like to upload a pic, can I and how do i. Made a flower.

    • you can upload a pic to a flickr album or wherever you share photos and copy and paste the link here:)

    I hope this works, dont know if I did it correctly or not. Made this with some glitter glue to add sparkle. Later I may spray with a gloss. And it is pliable after 24 hours drying. I will go out today and get the compound you used and more glue and do it again. This has been great fto do and I think my last batch may make good bendable molds. Thanks for the fun,

    • Diane, that is gorgeous! I love how it turned out! The joint compound will make it more like ceremic. I have kept my fist batch in a baggie for wee weeks and it is still good!

      • thanks, do i need to have the brand you got or just make sure it is light weight joint compouind because I can not find it in a small container, but there are other in small containers

    • I don’t think the brand matters, the lady who makes paper mache clay said don’t use DAP so maybe avoid that brand.

  18. Hi. Awesome idea but I’m wondering, since I don’t have any Elmer’s Glue All on hand, will Mod Podge be ok to use for this? I’m going to Micheals tomorrow and I could pick some of the Elmer’s up but.. I want to make this now lol :)

    • it should be fine because I think Modge Podge is also a PVA glue:) You also could use wood gluew but it will effect the color of the clay:)

  19. Hi there Frugal crafter,
    What about using Linseed oil instead of baby oil..for the mould problem?
    I have used this in papier mache before to prevent worked..just a thought..Cheers Janice

    • you can use either:) I figured that more people had baby oil though. The oil is not the moldy problem, it is the corn starch that wants to mold eventully, I must say though, if you are opening the bag and using it regularily it does not seem to mold at all:) Are you using boiled ot raw linseed oil? Bouled might make the clay a bit tougher.

  20. Does this mixture have any tendency to crack as it dries? How strong is the final dried product? Does it take details well or do they tend to “fill in”? Lastly, how lightweight is the final dried pieces? I’m looking for light, but not too light. Something comparable to polymer clay in weight. Thank you for your time! :)


    • Hi Jesse,
      The clay is lighter than polymer clay but heavier than paper clay. It dries very hard, like bisque. I have not had it crack but I think it would if it was wrapped around a stiff armature or around a bottle or such because it shrinks about 20%. If your piece is thin and flat it likes to warp a bit. The clay is extremely durable although i have not submerged it in water or tried drilling it. I think it would be fine to drill. It paints well, it can take moisture but remember it is made out of toilet paper LOL! It keeps it’s details very well!

      • Thank you so much for the fast reply! So, it doesn’t crack at all while working with it, either, like some air dry clays do? How do you mean it can warp if there are flat, thin pieces? So, it might not be good for things like character fingers, toes or wings? One last question and I promise I’ll leave you alone! Lol… How long is the working time before it starts becoming too stiff to work with?

        Thank you, thank you, thank you!


      • it will be fine for toes and fingers. I was meaning rolling out a large slab, like a plaque. I made a 2″x3″ and 1/8″ thick plaque to stamp and it warped bit when drying. It was the one with the butterfly on it on the post. I was able to heat it with a heat gun and flaten it. The clay is workable for quite a while before drying, a couple of hours anyway. It takes about 2 days to fully dry, more it is is really thick. It dies not crack while working, the glue keeps it supple and strechy.

  21. Thank you so much for all of your help! I can’t wait to make this! :)


  22. Love the tutorial. I do not own a microwave, though. I always use a toaster oven. Have you experimented with a stove top? Or can you add what to look for (what it looks like) at the end of each heating? That would help to know when heating each time would be sufficent.
    Thank you so very much! Sandy O

    • Hi Sandy, yes you can use the stove, keep the heat at medium and keep stirring, when it looks like thick mashed potatoes it is ready to knead. You might want to use an old pan because it is a nightmare to clean:)

  23. Let me 1st say that I will defintly try to making your clay.. I have tryed both of the 2 recipes that you took your idea from..
    I have tryed alot of homemade polymer’s and paper mache but none of them come close to my polymer clay…
    And I would love to save money on doing what I love to do…
    In your recipe you show some that is baked in the oven,
    and some that air dryed.
    You didnt say what tempture for the oven and how long to bake it?? (OR) Did you still follow polymer clay direction’s???
    thanks Sharie

    • Hi Sharie, I did not bake the homemade clay after molding it. I heated the clay in the microwave for 30 second intervals while I was kneading it to make a smooth elastic clay like the store bought polymer clay. You let it air dry after that, it will take a couple of days. That is what the photo shows, the difference between clay that I did and did not heat in the microwave while kneading. Good luck and let me know if you need anything else:)

  24. I know this post has been around for awhile, but have you tried making this using talcum powder instead? I guess I could give it a go and see if it makes a mess or a masterpiece, huh?

    • I bet it would work and it would probably last a long time. The clay will last for about a year (wet) before it molds, if you use and and let it harden it is permanent. I’m not sure what talc is chemically so be careful of fumes when heating. Please let me know how it turns out;)

  25. Hi I seen your recipe for the clay I make something even better a Brazilian biscuit with American supplies available here for more info go to The artful crafter and click on the blog

  26. Hi,thanks for the recipe,I tried your hybrid version , but on a stove rather than on a microwave.and it turned out to burn the vessel base.
    Can you please suggest a Stove version .
    Thanks in advance

    • I burnt mine on the stove as well, I think if you do a double broiler you will be OK. take a large pan and boil water in it and put a smaller pan with the clay stuff in that. That way the pot with the clay is not touching the burner.

      • Thanks for the Quick reply,Do the microwave time stand good for this water boiling also?

      • I think it should be about the same:) It might take a little bit longer on the store, you will know it is right when you have a very elastic smooth clay, I kneeded it, cooked it, kneeded it until it was right.

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