I’ve been reading for years about making your own paper clay from egg cartons, and wanted to give it a try. I’m a sucker for anything that reduces waste and gives me free craft supplies, so let’s look at how to make your own paper mache clay from egg cartons.
How to Make Paper Clay from Egg Cartons
To make paper clay from egg cartons, you will need:
- Heavy paper egg cartons
- PVA Glue
- Corn starch
- A blender, food processor, or immersion blender (optional: more on this below)
To make the paper clay, follow these steps:
- Tear up the carton. Begin by tearing the egg carton into very small pieces of paper, and immersing them in water (do not cut; cut edges do not break down, so you always need to tear them). While you sometimes see crafters do this with larger scraps of carton, the smaller the pieces are, the smoother your final clay will be.
2. Soak the egg carton scraps in water. Soak the scraps for at least 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When you stir, be aggressive and try to break/mash up the scraps. Eventually, the mixture will start to look like wet oatmeal.
Optional: Use a blender to blend the mixture smooth. To be honest, I did make a batch of this and use my immersion blender to get the mixture much smoother than I could by hand. Technically, a person should have a dedicated blender for crafts, and not use food/kitchen items for non-food projects, but I couldn’t resist just this once. You’ll see the comparison at the end.
3. Press and squeeze out the water. Once you have a pulpy mass, remove as much water as possible. I used a sieve to press out most of the water, and then squeezed out more water by hand.
4. Add glue. Add a generous amount of PVA glue and use a fork to mash up the pulp and mix them together. The amount of glue depends on the amount of pulp you have, but you are trying to create something like a very stiff dough.
5. Add corn starch. The glue will make your ball of clay sticky and a bit unpleasant to the touch. Work in corn starch until you have a smoother, more clay-like feel.
DIY Egg Carton Paper Clay Results
I love that this project is so easy and practically free. The resulting paper clay is somewhat stiff, but easily workable and useful in a variety of ways. Here’s a comparison between blended and non-blended, with non-blended at the top:
You can see that the non-blended version still has visible scraps of paper in it that didn’t break down, so it is rougher and more textured than the blended version. However, both of them are very rough clays; they don’t make smooth, flat surfaces, and I found them unfriendly for rolling or cutting out.
I did mold the blended clay over a bowl, and here’s what it looked like:
Egg Carton Clay Verdict
I think this would be a great project for kids, who may even enjoy tearing up the cartons. It’s a simple and free way to let them make, shape, and mold a lot of different things from household waste.
For adult projects, I think you really need to want that texture. It would work really well in a diorama or something where a rough, earthen texture is what you are looking for. For something smoother, try this DIY air dry clay recipe. This stuff does lend itself to a wide range of shapes and techniques, and dries incredibly lightweight. The tearing and soaking are time-consuming, but I’m happy to know I can whip up a handful of egg carton clay any time I need one.