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Trying to remember how to make paper modelling clay

#1 2014-09-26 15:15:38

misplacedhomesteader
Member
Registered: 2014-09-26
Posts: 3

Trying to remember how to make paper modelling clay

When I took an arts & crafts class in 7th grade back in the early 1980s I made a marionette puppet.  The body, arms and legs were made from newspaper.  The head was a ball on newspaper covered with gesso. The nose, ears, hands and feet were made from a paper modeling clay that the teacher made by mixing shredded newspaper with the cheapest, wateriest liquid dish detergent she could find.

I didn’t see the whole process so I don’t know everything that she did, and I have never been able to duplicate it.  I remember that it had the texture of Celluclay, but I don’t remember that the detergent was noticeable once the clay was made.  It got rock hard once it was covered with gesso, and held up even in the humidity here in Florida.

I want to make either some Dickens marionettes or some kind of figurines that I can display in my public library, so I would appreciate any help anyone here can offer in filling in the blanks about how to make this modeling clay.

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#2 2014-09-26 20:53:22

CatPerson
Moderator
From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1308

Re: Trying to remember how to make paper modelling clay

I don't know about that particular mix -- there are almost as many recipes as there are PM artists.

One recipe that many artists have been having good luck with is one created by Jonni Good at her Ultimate Paper Mache website.  This makes about one quart/litre of PM clay:

* Cheap toilet paper (1  2-ply roll of Angel Soft brand contains just the right amount, others may have more or less. You want 1-1/4 (1.25 cups/300 cu ml) of wet paper, squeezed out and pressed into a measuring cup)

* 1 cup premixed joint compound (not dry) of the "regular" type; DO NOT use any of the DAP brands, as they include an ingredient that causes the clay to fail)

* 3/4 cup Elmer's Glue-All (White, PVA glue)

* 1/2 cup white flour

* 2 Tablespoons Mineral Oil

You'll need a large, deep bowl, an electric mixer, a measuring cup and a measuring tablespoon, and an air-tight container for storing the clay.

Almost fill the bowl with warm water, and put the roll of toilet paper in the water (remove the inner cardboard roller), wait until it's completely wet; add more water if you need to.

Pick up the paper and squeeze out as much water as you can.  Empty the bowl and put the squeezed paper back in it.  Break it into 1" (2.5 cm) chunks.

Add all the other ingredients to the wet paper and mix with the electric mixer for at least 3 minutes to completely combine all of the ingredients.  If you see any lumps, stop the mixer and break them up with your fingers, then continue to beat with the mixer until there are no lumps.  It should look like cookie dough.

If you're not using it right away (or if you have leftovers) put it in the airtight container to keep it from drying out, where it will remain usable for at least 5 days.

This papier mache clay will air-dry.  The thicker it is, the longer it will take to dry.

Sue

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#3 2014-10-02 12:16:14

misplacedhomesteader
Member
Registered: 2014-09-26
Posts: 3

Re: Trying to remember how to make paper modelling clay

I have a craft book on how to make Dickensian salt dough Christmas tree ornaments.  I know that salt dough won’t work here in Florida’s humidity, but I think I’ll try to make them out of this clay.  Maybe the plaster will stabilize the clay enough that it won’t become a sponge.

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#4 2014-10-02 19:40:23

CatPerson
Moderator
From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1308

Re: Trying to remember how to make paper modelling clay

We have the same problem here in the Pacific Northwest:  everything either molds or rusts.

I bought one of those tree ornaments several years ago, and despite being sealed, it did absorb moisture, and got soft and moldy.  I think the recipe above will do better with the PVA/white glue.  The next time I try it, I think I will make a batch replacing the flour with calcium carbonate (chalk, cheap at feed/garden supply shops) and see what happens.

Sue

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