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Why use Paperclay?

Ideas to use paper pulp as an additive to clay in hand-building ceramic sculptures or functional items.

What is Paperclay? A clay body to which paper pulp is added.

Why use Paperclay?

1. Very strong when leather-hard to dry

This means you can build shapes that you just can’t structurally manage with regular clay

  • thinner

  • extensions that wouldn’t hold weight in regular clay

  • larger

2. Less cracking

  • Still cracks under some conditions, but not as much

  • Stress cracks during drying lessened significantly

  • Imbed stuff into clay, stuff that fires out or doesn’t fire out, like straw, grass, fired clay pieces, metal.

3. Build wet on dry

  • More flexibility in working methods

  • Expanded shape library

4. Lighter-weight after fired

  • An advantage for larger sculptures (testing showed 12-15% lighter after fired)

5. Single-fire

  • Saves on firing costs and effort

  • Unfired dry paper-clay absorbs glaze without breaking piece.

6. Build faster, more freely, and more spontaneously.

  • Many artists report expanded vision and creativity.

7. Break the rules and still have success

  • Joining methods less critical

  • Break off pieces after dry and re-attach somewhere else

  • Mend pieces after dry or bisque, even fired to temperature

  • Thick and thin don’t crack

  • Force-dry to facilitate building faster and bigger

8. More porous after firing

  • Can file, carve, drill or saw more easily

  • Post-firing surfacing of all kinds can work better

  • Absorbs glazes well, even if bisqued to higher temperature

9. New methods and techniques

  • Fired or unfired

  • Combinations of materials not possible with regular clay, fired or unfired

  • Different ways of working, use like wood, castable sculpture material, many other ideas possible.

10. Transportable

  • More easily transport to kiln in remote location, stronger

  • More easily transport large, fired pieces (lighter)

Subsequent posts cover techniques for working with paperclay, hyow to make paper clay and references.

Here is a pdf of the entire handout.

Download PDF • 271KB

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