Q: What types of paints and other materials can be used to color and finish paper clay?

There are many possibilities in finishing a Paperclay sculpture.  It can be finished with almost any type of material that you would use on paper. One primary material used is acrylic paint. 

You first want to prime the sculpture with a good coat of gesso before applying any paint.  Then build up layers of the paint after allowing each layer to dry completely.  

You can also coat the piece with a layer of matte medium sealer or acrylic varnish between layers of paint.  This way you are able to easily remove subsequent layers of paint if needed before the final sealing.  

Paperclay can also be finished with chalk pastels, water colors, oil paints, markers, inks, and makeup. 

Since Paperclay is water based, just be cautious with the amount of water you use when applying paints.  If the clay gets too wet, it can end up moving the clay around, affecting the details of your sculpture.  

Whatever you choose to use to color and finish your pieces, be sure to give your piece a final seal.  

Explore the possibilities!

Q:  What is used as an armature under paper clay?

Paperclay sticks to a variety of materials, many things can be used as an armature.  Cardboard is very common.  You can cut from cardboard the shapes that you want and build on top of it with aluminum foil to bulk out or add up before covering with paperclay. 

Although not absolutely necessary, it is a good idea to cover any aluminum foil with masking tape before covering with paperclay.  This helps the paperclay adhere better and also makes for a smoother surface to apply it to, eliminating any areas of aluminimum foil that may tend to stick out.  

Styrofoam is also used, which can be carved into a foundational shape. 

Wire is a fantastic material to use for building armatures.  Like the aluminum foil, it is best to cover the wire with masking tape before applying the clay to help it adhere.  Painting a coating of craft glue over the wire also works well for adhesion.  If you coat wire with craft glue, you can also dip the wire into a paper clay liquid (mixing water and clay to make either a "mashed potato" or "gravy" (terms I like to use - depending on the thickness desired).  This lends itself to creating very fine clay pieces.  The wire can also be bulked up by wrapping cotton battng or fabric around it.

Whatever you choose to use as an armature, keep in mind that paperclay does shrink by a small amount as it dries.  So the harder the armature is, the more prone the clay will be to crack when it is dry.  (But don't worry.  Cracks can be easily fixed, An example would be if you are using wood as an armature (it sticks well to wood) versus cotton batting, there can be more cracking of the clay with the wood as it has less give to allow for the clay's shrinkage.

A thought to leave you with:  Remember that although building an armature may not seem like the most fun or rewarding part of creating a sculpture, it is important to take the time to do it correctly, as a sculpture is only as strong as its foundation.  

Feel free to email me at info@jennfersher.com or use the Chat at the bottom right to ask any questions. The answer will be added to this page. 

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Jenn Sher 🌀💟