An Intro to Fiber Paste and Paper Clay

I have a message for Darlene Olivia McElroy: Mission accomplished.

In the newest Art Lesson (Vol. 11), Darlene tells us that she wants viewers “to be first pulled into the visuals of the art, and then wonder how it was done.” Take a look at her mixed-media art below and I think you’ll agree that the images give you reason to pause, to think, to wonder. But we’re here because in addition to being viewers, we are makers. In this download, Darlene explains how to use fiber paste and paper clay to make art that’s rich in texture and a delight to behold. ~Cherie

Paper clay and fiber art ideas | Darlene Olivia McElroy
White Dreams (mixed media, 12×12) by Darlene Olivia McElroy

Art Lesson Preview: Fiber Paste and Paper Clay by Darlene Olivia McElroy

I’m an explorer, a mad scientist, and an artist in search of new ways to use techniques. There is magic in the layering of techniques that adds to the narrative of a piece of art.

I have a passionate love for fiber paste and paper clay. Perhaps it really is an obsession. They both can be cast in molds, layered, deconstructed, shaped, colored, stamped, and so much more. Because I’m always finding new textures that I can make a mold of and then cast, there are always containers of two-part molding compound in my purse or car. I’m always prepared to add another tool to my art arsenal of texture plates, stamps, silicone, and latex molds. As a narrative artist, these allow me to add words and dimensional texture to my art. Often it’s a small element such as a word or cast object, that finishes off a piece. When there isn’t enough time to paint, there’s usually enough time to cast an object or texture a skin. Did I say that I love this stuff?

There are two kinds of paper clay. One is used in ceramics and fired in a kiln; the other air dries to a hard finish. In this Art Lesson, we’ll use the second type. Paper clay is easily cast in a silicone mold, stamped into, or shaped. It has wonderful adhesive qualities that make it simple to apply directly to a hard surface, and it can be trimmed when still moist or when it’s completely dry.

Fiber paste is a polymer paste that has fibers embedded in it. It dries with the look of handmade paper. A skin is a sheet of polymer paste, gel, or paint. The beauty of fiber paste skins is that they can be cut, shaped, sewn, burnt, and printed on. They can also be tinted, painted, have paper or thread embedded, and be used as a collage embellishment.

Paper clay and fiber art ideas | Darlene Olivia McElroy
Garden Camouflage (mixed media, 12×12) by Darlene Olivia McElroy

My paintings are created with very thin layers of paint, collage, and transfers. I like enhancing the narrative of the painting by adding dimension to my pieces with cast objects, stamped paper clay, and found objects. this treasure hunt for texture is what makes art so much fun for me.

Paper clay and fiber art ideas | Darlene Olivia McElroy
Pretty Boy Dandy (cast and stamped paper clay, 18.25×12) by Darlene Olivia McElroy

Because this piece is painted on a vinyl tile, I was able to cut out an area and fill it with paper clay. A story was then stamped into the clay. Once cured, the clay was painted with red oxide, and later a gold rub was applied to the dry paint. Click to continue reading when you download this Art Lesson…


3D Art and Assemblage, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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