What is paper clay? Paper clay is “any clay with processed cellulose fibre added” (1). Paper clay can be purchased with fiber already added, or the fiber can be beaten and added to already processed slips. There are many benefits of using paper clay over regular processed clays. A few of those benefits may include overall structural strength, less changes of warping, as well as the ability for it to be pushed super thin, aiding in creating translucent porcelain. The best part, paper fiber can be added to any type of clay, earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. But is most effective when added to porcelain due to its ability to reduce warping at such a high scale, and is used most for repair and attaching parts.
To make paper clay, a cellulose fiber is required. Most paper fibers will work just fine. Recycled paper such as newspaper and regular printer paper can be used, even purchasing a sheet of cotton linter or already processed fiber works just as well. One advantage of using purchased cotton linter is the lack of printer ink or dye that may be added to recycled papers, they also do not rot the clay as fast. Since fiber is a natural material, rotting can/will occur. Using types of paper such as toilet paper will result in rotting of the clay in as little as a couple hours, this is due to the starch that is added to toilet paper, with promotes the growth of mold. Although, the mold can be killed with a small amount of bleach added to the mix. It has been recommend to use spay insulation due to its strength, and due to the way it is sold, it will help cut down on time that would be required to break down the fiber yourself. (2) Although, these cellulose fibers that are within spray insulation contain borax and boron, which is used to reduce the fire hazard from home insulation. Borax acts as a flux, which helps to reduce the melting point in most glaze chemicals, but when added to a clay body, reduced the maturity point of the fired clay (1). This often resells in slipping of the form. After the paper and slip mixture is created, it is added to plaster to help remove access water and dry out to the point of use. This method of creating paper clay can easily be applied to crating a casting slip. Since you would already be making a slip prior to adding any fiber. This fibrous slip can be poured directly into a plaster mold and cast to create a very strong and thin form. (2)
To my surprise, there are quite a few artist who work with paper clay. It does not come as a suprise to me to find that these artist also have worked with paper processes such as hand made paper and book arts. Carol Farrow is one of those artist who worked with both making paper and paper clay. Her work with paper very closely resembles her work with the paper clay.
Jerry Bennett has created a way of making paper clay that is very simple and has been made available to the public. This is his website: http://jerrybennett.net/category/blog/. Also, here are some more images of paper clay works by artist: Sara Ransford, Angela Mellor, Nathalie Domingo, and Jerry Bennett, as well as others.
Overall, I believe paper clay can be a very useful material. With paper clay making porcelain a stronger clay, with less of a chance or warping, I can see many applications of this and possibilities in the future. Thought my research I have discovered a love for paper clay and a desire to work with it myself. With my background is ceramics and my familiarity with paper making, this might be something I see myself doing in the future.
(1) Http://www.grahamhay.com.au/paperclay.html. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.grahamhay.com.au/paperclay.html#.W-ulDXpKjMI
(2) How to Make Paper Clay. (2018, August 02). Retrieved November 13, 2018, from https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/daily/ceramic-supplies/pottery-clay/make-paper-clay/
Tardio-Brise, L. (n.d.). PAPERCLAY. Retrieved November 13, 2018, from http://www.terrepapier.com/paperclay-en.php
Carol Farrow: http://www.carolfarrow.net
Sara Ransford: http://pyrogirlaspen.com
Angela Mellor: http://www.angelamellor.com
Nathalie Domingo: http://nathaliedomingo.com
Jerry Bennett: http://jerrybennett.net/
Chris Campbell: http://www.ccpottery.com
Thérèsa Lebrun: http://www.wcc-bf.org/membre/lebrun-thérèse