December 21, 2015

An Air Dry Clay for All: Creative Paperclay Review

An Air Dry Clay for All: Creative Paperclay Review

Creative Paperclay (for brevity’s sake, I’ll call it CPC) is a water-based, air dry, modelling clay made in Japan. It should not be confused with paperclay, a term typically applied to a mix of ceramic clay and paper fibers that are fired in a kiln to create a light ceramic form.

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

CPC handles similarly to stoneware clay: You can soften and smooth it by adding water, and if it becomes a little too dry, spritzing it with water brings it back to life.

It blends easily, but it’s also stiff enough to allow for gestural work as well as details. It can also be carved and drilled once dry.
Air dry clay sculpture of a fantasy dog
An example of the detail CPC can achieve

While not unbreakable by any means, CPC is surprisingly resilient. Depending on the object, it can survive a drop, which is not something that can easily be said for ceramics.

A strong internal armature increases strength. I use a stronger, but heavier product, such as Apoxie Sculpt, when working on really thin or exposed areas, such as ears.


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

CPC holds details very well (even finger prints), and it has the best adhesion from all the other air dry clays I’ve tried.  It sticks to all sorts of materials including aluminum foil, wood, and Styrofoam.

It only comes in one colour, a sort of off-white, but once dried it can be painted with almost anything. I always use a gesso primer on my pieces to ensure a sealed and even surface.

Creative Paperclay allows for techniques that would not be possible with traditional ceramic due to the requirement for firing. 

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

Where can I get mine?!

In Canada, CPC costs between $12 and $16 for a 16oz (about 450g) package. In the US, I’m assuming you lucky ducks can get it cheaper. It can be found at many art supplies stores as well as big chain craft stores such as Michaels, though it tends to be pricier there.

I purchase my stock directly from the Creative Paperclay company website.

CPC is largely enjoyed by doll makers and craft hobbyists, and many of the possibilities of this air dry clay are waiting to be discovered. Take the plunge to see what you can create.


What's Next?

Discover the secrets of sculpting with Creative Paperclay