The addition of finely ground paper to clay has been tried before but it is only recently that techniques have been mastered which allow for the production of a product that breaks nearly all the rules of claymaking.
It is now possible to hand build forms of any size, attaching clay at any time without the need to keep the whole form moist. Bone dry clay can be fixed to wet clay and fired without cracking, hard surfaces can be plastered and modelled on with wet clay, prefired ceramic objects can be inserted and the whole fired with no ill effect.
This unique product is known as paper clay and this ability to stick to itself and other objects without cracking is due to the cellulose fibres that make up paper. When broken down finely enough paper reverts to a mass of cellulose fibres that look and behave like minute straws, sucking up the even smaller particles of clay slip thus forming a matrix of interlocking clay-filled tubes with far greater strength than clay alone.
The accepted method of creating paper fibre is to finely shred tissue, egg cartons, newspaper etc soak in water and then slowly mash into a pulp. PCP cellulose fibre is unique in that it can be used without any time consuming and laborious breaking down and soaking.
Simply place the required amount into a bowl, (anything up to 1:1 clay to wet paper by volume; although we recommend 4:1 as a starting point) pour in a small amount of hand hot water and press into the fibre until all it all becomes a uniform dark grey. Agitate the pulp with your hands to break up any dry balls of fibre and you should be left with an evenly distributed damp product.
Finally slowly add the paper to the clay slip, (PCP can be used with any type of clay), stir the final mixture by hand, slow mixer or blunger until an even consistency is achieved, then either spread out to dry on plaster bats or use in moulds for slip casting.
Paper clay made with PCP 20 Fine can be used for all forms of hand building; coiling, slabbing and pinching as well as imprinting and turning if of a reasonable consistency. When fired it can be glazed and treated as any other bisque ware.
Paper clay made with PCP 30 Superfine is 50% finer than PCP 20. It's formulated for throwing and fine sculptural work.
Ross on Wye
Baby Rhino - Nick Mackman