December 21, 2015

An Air Dry Clay for All: Creative Paperclay Review

An Air Dry Clay for All: Creative Paperclay Review

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Creative Paperclay (CPC) is a water-based, air dry, modelling clay made in Japan. It is distinct from traditional paperclay, which combines ceramic clay and paper fibers, fired in a kiln to create lightweight ceramic forms.

CPC is non-toxic, air-dries to a hardness similar to soft wood, and can be sanded to a silky smooth finish. It dries lightweight and is archival, ensuring that art made from this material can last over 100 years.

Similar to stoneware clay in handling, CPC can be softened and smoothed with water. It blends easily while maintaining its shape and texture, making it suitable for gestural work, carving, drilling, and intricate detailing.
Air dry clay sculpture of a fantasy dog
An example of the detail CPC can achieve

Surprisingly resilient, CPC can even survive accidental drops when properly supported by a strong internal armature. Ceramics of a similar structure are a lot more brittle. For increased strength in thin or exposed areas, a heavier product like Apoxie Sculpt can be used.

Although Creative Paperclay has a slight texture, it is exceptional at capturing details, even as fine as fingerprints. For those seeking an ultra-smooth clay, Activa La Doll or Activa Premier air-dry clays are excellent alternatives that offer a smoother finish.

Gesso air dry clay horse sculpture
Spray gesso ensures an even and sealed surface

CPC adheres well to various materials, including aluminum foil, wire, wood, and Styrofoam, which is important as a strong internal armature is key for long term structural integrity. Though only available in off-white, it can be painted with various mediums after drying, ideally after applying a gesso primer to ensure a sealed, even surface.

Creative Paperclay allows artists to explore techniques not possible with traditional ceramics, as you can create thin strong forms and mix media in unconventional ways.

unique wire and air dry clay horse sculpture
Air dry clay opens new doors in sculpture

Where can I get mine?!

As of writing this, in Canada, CPC costs between $15 and $18 for a 16oz (about 450g) package. Which is not super cheap. Prices vary in the US, with availability at art supply stores, big chain craft stores like Michaels, or from Amazon if you just don't want to have to search.

Popular among doll makers and craft hobbyists, the full potential of Creative Paperclay has yet to be uncovered. Why not give it a try and see what you can create?


What's Next?

Unleash your creativity with my guide to sculpting with Creative Paperclay

Explore the Possibilities of La Doll Air Dry Clays