Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oil Clay Recipe

While searching for information about different kinds of modeling clays, I came across these recipes for home made oil clay. I have not tried any of these, but they look very similar to the recipes that are in some sculpture books I have.

Here is the recipe, Imperial Measure.

Making your own oil-based clay

10 lbs Micro-crystalline Wax
1/2 gal Purified Mineral Oil
4 lbs Vaseline
25 lbs Clay Powder

Melt wax, oil and Vaseline together in an electric frying pan; stir clay powder in slowly once melted. Mix thoroughly and pour into shallow microwave-safe plastic containers. You can also use a portion of beeswax for part of the wax component for an even smoother clay. Don't use too much though, as it can become too sticky.


this is a recipe that does not use clay, it works well.

480 g bee wax or Micro-crystalline Wax is less sticky
200 ml purified mineral oil
192 g vaseline
1200 g talc (white)
In an electric fry pan ( 60 C don't get it too hot to let wax smoke) mix beeswax + mineral oil + vaseline. Before they become entirely liquid, mix in the talc) you can play around a little with the amounts, mix the types of wax.

Plasticine Recipe

(You need two old pots for melting everything - not to be used with food ever again)


1 A4 sheet 100% beeswax (70g-100g)
6 teaspoons mineral oil (baby oil)
optional - 1 tablespoon liquid paraffin
4 tablespoons petroleum jelly (vaseline)
2 tablespoons 100% coconut oil / linseed oil
3/4 cup limestone powder (calcium hydroxide ie. hydrated lime)

Purpose of ingredients
According to Wikipedia, the original recipe by William Harbutt in 1897 is kept secret. But then lists the ingedients - "Plasticine is composed of calcium salts (principally calcium carbonate), petroleum jelly, and long-chain aliphatic acids (principally stearic acid)."
Beeswax is the binder and helps the dry and oily ingredients to stick together.
Coconut oil and linseed oil both contain 8% stearic acid which helps the stay smooth in a way the mineral oils and petroleum oils do not
Liquid paraffin - preservative (optional I do not personally use this in this recipe, because of the fumes, I believe beeswax to be safer)
Limestone powder gives bulk and body to clay

Melt ingredients

1 A4 sheet 100% beeswax (100g)
6 teaspoons mineral oil (baby oil)
3 tablespoons petroleum jelly (vaseline)
2 tablespoons coconut oil / linseed oil
1/2 cup limestone powder

Place some water in the larger pot. Bring to boil.

Place the smaller pot inside.

Break beeswax into smaller pieces. Melt at medium heat.

Add limestone powder and oils
Stir in 3/4 cup of limestone powder. Stir until all lumps are smoothed.

Add baby oil, coconut oil / linseed oil and petroleum jelly last 30 seconds of stirring well before turning off heat.

Quickly pour onto trays / plates lined with aluminum foil.

It will harden quickly - in around 10 minutes. Check the texture by rolling with your hands.

If the texture is too firm place modelling clay into double pots again, reheat on low and add more lime powder, petroleum jelly and mineral oil. Cool again.


Too crumbly - Increase the amount of wax and oils to increase stickiness and soften texture of overall mix. The mixture should become more malleable and thinly rolled sections will no longer fall to pieces.

Too firm - Add more oils and limestone powder. It should become more sticky. If the ratio of beeswax is larger compared to the other ingredients, the modelling clay will be quite firm. This is perfect for finer sculpting.

PS. Its possible to experiment with turpentine and linseed oil for softening or thickening your mixture - but away from the stove for safety.

Colour your plasticine
Ideas for colouring your modelling clay -
Add turmeric for bright yellow.
In the pictures above I added 1 tablespoon of dried colour pigments to my mix
You could experiment with oil paints for colouring.
Store in an air tight container.

It's interesting to note that oil paints contain the same ingredients in this experimental plasticine recipe with the exception of whiting or lime powder (calcium carbonate).

What you can do with plasticine?
Check out this instructable for modelling tips which will help greatly with creativity.

Animation, casting, stop-motion, jewelry, plasticine paint-by-numbers gifts - possibilities with plasticine are endless!

Here's a quick tip on warming a cold lump of your modelling clay easily.
1. Tear clay into small sections. Wrap in plastic wrap.
2. Place boiling water inside hot water bottle. Cover with plastic bag.
3. Place small clay pieces around plastic bag. Cover again with another plastic bag and wrap tightly with towel or other material.
4. The clay lumps will soften within 5 minutes.

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  1. very useful, thanks for post these recipes, I would like to try...

  2. If you do try any of them, and they work for you, please let me know! Thank you.

  3. Hi I changed the recipy a bit to try have a workable but firm claywax.
    1kg Micro-crystalline Wax /200 ml Johnsons baby oil
    480 g vaseline jelly
    1600 g talc (white)
    800 g white wash powder
    The wax clay that I now have is perfect, not sticky keeps it's shape can hold fine detail , a few seconds in your palms and it turns from firm to kiddies clay like softness

  4. Thank you very much for sharing your oil-clay recipe, Anton.

  5. Hello, I live in Myanmar which is very hot in day time. Around 39 to 42 C. How can I make my clay hard?

    1. Try adding some harder waxes, such as carnauba wax (melting temperature 180 F (82 C)), or hard paraffin (melting temperature 160 F (72 C)). Do not use soft paraffin (used for canning food). I do not know the proportion you should add. Experiment with small batches. (^_^)


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