How to Make Paper Clay Art

Written by karen sweeny-justice
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How to Make Paper Clay Art
Any shape can be done in paper clay. (Luxury handmade wedding card element (toned in blue) image by Andrejs Pidjass from

As its name suggest, paper clay is made of a mix of clay and paper. It can be purchased in block form at craft stores or made at home. With it you can create one-of-a-kind works of art quickly and easily. Paper clay can be sculpted for ornaments, jewellery, figurines and three-dimensional pieces, or flattened for use on homemade cards. Paper clay is easily moulded by hand or shaped with tools. It dries to a hard texture without the high heat of a kiln.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Covered work surface or non-stick crafting mat
  • Cookie cutter or craft knife
  • Rubber stamps
  • Clear embossing ink pad
  • Pigment ink or acrylic paint
  • Toaster oven (optional)
  • Fine grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Roll a piece of paper clay the size of a half dollar into a ball between the palms of your hand to condition it. If you want to colour the clay, add a drop of ink. The clay will absorb the colour. Work the ink evenly through the ball of clay with your hands. If you add too much colour, it will make the clay too runny to work with. You can thicken it by adding more paper clay and conditioning it again.

  2. 2

    Set the ball of paper play onto a protected work surface. Using the rolling pin, flatten the clay so that it is about 1/8 inch thick.

  3. 3

    Cut your selected shape out using the cookie cutter or craft knife. Set it aside. Return any unused paper clay to the package it came in or place it in a zip-lock bag. Follow the directions on the package for storage.

  4. 4

    Stamp the rubber stamp on the clear embossing pad. Impress the image onto the paper clay shape. Do not use excessive force when stamping the image; it should be pressed just enough to leave an impression in the clay. Leave the stamp embedded in the clay for approximately a minute. The clear embossing ink will allow the stamp to be removed easily.

  5. 5

    Set the impressed shaped clay aside. Follow the directions for drying that are on the package. Let the piece air dry or bake in a toaster oven on a very low setting. Depending on the humidity where you live, air drying could take several hours. Oven baking a piece this size depends on the type of oven used, but in general should take about half an hour. Using a spatula that is used only for crafting, flip the clay over half way through oven baking.

  6. 6

    Sand any rough edges once the piece has finished drying or has cooled after being in the oven. Using pigment inks or acrylic paints, dry brush the clay where desired. When dry, attach to a card to it using an adhesive that isn't wet; wet glues could distort the paper clay shape.

Tips and warnings

  • Paper clay dries quickly, so return it to a sealed bag when you are done with it. Add water to hydrate a piece that has lost the ability to be shaped.
  • Adding inks or paints to a wet piece of paper clay will cause the colours to run.
  • Wear gloves when adding paint or ink to wet paper clay.
  • Wear a face mask during sanding so you don't inhale fine particles of dust.
  • Any utensil used for baking paper clay should be a crafts-only utensil. Do not use a good kitchen rolling pin, cookie cutter or spatula. If possible, use a crafts-only toaster oven.

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