My pre-soaked cellulose papercrete formula wasn't working out. There was just too much slump. The crete would not stick to the upright armature. So, instead of my usual sculpture mix, I mixed three 2-pound coffee cans of dry cellulose insulation and one can of Portland cement, then added water until it was a damp, thick paste. Then, instead of the powdered joint compound I've been sold on, I added (a big gob) of premixed joint compound.
The result, when well mixed by (rubber-gloved) hand, was truly clay-like and stuck well to the chicken wire and hardware cloth.
Hope to work more on it tomorrow.