How To Make Paper Clay Without Joint Compound – 7 Step Guide

Making paper clay/paper mache is an economical and environmentally-friendly way of creating beautiful sculptures and other artworks.

Homemade paper cache tends to have a short shelf life, and you’ll have to use it within two weeks. If you store it for longer, it will start degrading and decaying.

Although most paper mache “recipes” require you to include a joint compound, it can hinder the mixing process and cause the clay mixture to be too sticky.

Therefore, sometimes it’s better to make paper clay without including a Joint compound. Here is a step-by-step guide on making such paper clay.

1. Begin By Assembling The Required Materials

Before you can make paper mache, it would be best to assemble all the necessary supplies to ensure you don’t forget to include any material that may affect the clay’s outcome. If you want to create a smooth, moldable clay, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 24g of old newspapers or one roll of toilet paper.
  • 130g of PVA glue, which is approximately half a cup.
  • About 220g of powdered marble (calcium carbonate).
  • 20ml of body milk lotion
  • 130g of corn starch, which is roughly half a cup.
  • Measuring cups
  • An electric blender 
  • Kitchen scale (optional)
  • Plastic bag
  • Electric mixer

The only material that may seem hard to find is powdered marble, but you purchase it from online retail shops such as Amazon.

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2. Cut Up The Paper Into Small Pieces And Soak Them

Start by taking the newspaper and shredding/ cutting it into tiny pieces. This process helps the newspaper pieces to absorb water better. Once you’ve shredded the newspaper, place the pieces in a bowl and add warm water.

Ensure all the newspaper pieces get entirely soaked and stay submerged. For optimal results, allow the paper to soak overnight.

If you are using tissue paper, begin by removing the roll and placing it in the large bowl. Afterward, you can add warm water to the bowl until it’s saturated. You can use your hands to completely immerse the tissue paper in the water to ensure all of it gets soaked.

3. Use An Electric Blender To Create The Pulp

Once your soak your paper sufficiently, you can now prepare the clay pulp. Place about a third of the soaked paper into an electric blender and add plenty of water without exceeding the maximum allowed volume. Close the blender jug’s lid and blend the pieces until you get a virtually homogenous pulp.

By placing only a third of the paper, you can quickly get a pulp without some paper pieces sticking at the bottom of the blender, which makes the whole process easier. You’ll also have to repeat this procedure for the remaining two-thirds of the soaked paper. 

4. Decant The Paper Pulp 

Take the blender jug filled with paper pulp, gently decant and sieve it using a fine-mesh strainer or a strong net placed inside a colander. Ensure you conduct this decantation over a sink to avoid spilling water on your workbench.

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Using a sturdy net as the sieving tool is preferable because it allows you to quickly squeeze out water from the paper pulp and collect it easily. The resulting final pulp should ideally weigh 120-125 grams.

5. Place The Paper Pulp Mass In A Dry Bowl And Add PVA Glue

Transfer the paper pulp mass into a separate dry bowl and add the half-cup of PVA glue. Start mixing the pulp and adhesive until they become a homogenous mixture. Kindly consider slightly diluting the PVA glue if it seems too sticky and impairs the mixing process.

Leave the pulp-glue mixture to rest in the bowl for a few hours as it helps the paper pulp absorb the glue while also preventing the formation of lumps. Also, cover the bowl with an airtight material such as a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out.

6. Add The Remaining Paper Clay “Ingredients” And Homogenize The Clay

Remove the airtight cover from the bowl and add approximately 220 grams of powdered marble (calcium carbonate), 130 grams of corn starch, and 20ml of body milk lotion. This final additive helps to provide the paper pulp with a smooth texture while improving the binding process.

Use an electric mixer to homogenize the clay mixture while avoiding the formation of lumps. Once the pulp mass gains a homogenous appearance and texture, place the electric mixer aside and use your hands to knead the pulp into a dough-like clay.

If the clay feels too sticky, sprinkle a little corn starch on it, apply some body milk lotion on your hands, and continue kneading the clay until it develops the preferred consistency. 

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7. Use Or Store Your Homemade Paper Mache

Once you’ve completed the previous procedure, your Paper-made clay is ready for use. You can use this clay in any artistic project of your liking. 

For instance, you can mold it into a sculpture. Here is how to create quickly create a homemade sculpture using your paper clay.  

  • Begin by creating the sculpture’s rough form, to which you can then add your paper-made clay on top. 
  • Slowly start applying the clay on top of your sculpture form while spreading it using your fingers or a flat tool such as a knife and ensure the clay has a smooth finishing. If you want to include several layers, allow the inner one to dry off first before adding other layers.
  • Add detail to your paper-made clay sculpture by using sculpting tools and paint. Always ensure your clay dries well before introducing any paint.

When it comes to storing your homemade paper clay that doesn’t contain any joint compound, it would be best to place it in an airtight zip-lock bag or container. This way, the clay can stay fresh for a few weeks. Some individuals even refrigerate their paper-made clay to ensure it has a longer shelf life. 

Making paper clay without joint compound is a relatively straightforward process if you have the appropriate materials and procedure. Since this clay is perishable, it would be best to use it ASAP and store it well. Some individuals even refrigerate their paper-made clay to ensure it has a longer shelf life.