Paper mache bowls are very trendy right now and some are very expensive. I will show you step by step how to make a paper mache bowl for under $10. It’s an easy DIY project (but a little messy!).
DIY Paper Mache Bowl: Step by Step Guide
Paper mache bowls are having a moment, they are all over my favorite high-end websites. I’ve seen them everywhere: Pottery Barn, Studio McGee, Ballard Designs, and Restoration Hardware just to name a few. One thing that all of those places have in common is that they are pricey…some close to $200!! Geez, with 200 bucks we could decorate an entire room over here!!
Today I’m going to show you how I made one for about $7! Then we can all go out for lunch and shopping with the money I just saved you…Let’s go!
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Step 1. Mixing the Paper Mache
There are a few different methods for making paper mache that I have read…some with blending newspaper to pulp or using toilet paper. Well, that all seemed like a lot of work so I used CelluClay Instant Paper Mache and all I had to do was mix in water.
For 1 pound of the instant paper mache, you add 32 ounces of warm water.
One important note, when I poured the water into the bowl it created a cloud of paper dust so if I ever do this again I would probably do this part outside. You can see that it got all over my sweatshirt…if I didn’t have my baseball hat on my hair would have been covered too!!
It is a bit of a messy task mixing it together with your hands. I’m not going to lie to you dear readers…it feels a little yucky!!
Step 2. Making The Bowl
To make the paper mache bowl you are going to need another bowl to use as the template (that is not the right word but I’ve only had one cup of coffee and can’t for the life of me think of the correct term…)
You just need to find a salad bowl or serving bowl in the shape you want to create (I’m sure there are bowls at the dollar store that would work too).
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. This will allow the paper mache bowl to release when it’s dry.
Then start covering the bowl with handfuls of the paper mache mix.
What I did was grab a handful and then flattened it out and pushed it onto the bowl.
Every time I grabbed another clump of the mixture I pushed it down so the paper mache overlapped with what was already on the bowl.
Photo credit goes to my son Lucas…I hadn’t thought this part through and my hands were so covered in the paper mache that I didn’t want to wreck my camera. So I ran upstairs and pulled him from his video game to come and be my photographer…only one sigh and half an eye roll, so not bad for a teenager!!!
Most of the designer paper mache bowls had some sort of edging detail on them. So what I did was roll pieces of the paper mache like a snake…just like if you were using play-doh. Then just pushed them onto the bowl and mold them to the shape I wanted.
Using the same technique I made a base for the bottom of the bowl. I turned the bowl over and made sure that the base was even and gave it a slight push.
Now, to be honest, this was the point of the project I thought to myself “Is this going to be a Pinterest fail???”…
I was going for a bumpy kinda look but if I had dipped my fingers in water I could have smoothed out the paper mache for sure.
Step 3. Let the Bowl Dry
Now comes the waiting game! The paper mache takes days to dry completely. Mine may have take longer because I had it drying down on my craft table in the basement and it was pretty cold.
After 2 days when the outside of the bowl started to feel slightly hardened I flipped it over and removed it from the ceramic bowl so the inside could start drying.
I had tried this after 1 day but the paper mache wasn’t strong enough yet and I was afraid it would collapse in on itself.
What I should have done was to bring it upstairs to my warm house and I think it would have expedited the drying time. I did put a small fan on the table blowing in the direction of the bowl for about a day and a half.
So for me it was 5 days until the paper mache was dried out enough to paint it. I’m sure it was 75 out instead of 35 and my basement was freezing it would not have taken so long.
You will definitely know when the paper mache has dried out because it goes from a spongy feeling (it totally reminded me of that Crayola Model Magic kids clay) to a hard feeling.
Step 4. How to Paint the Bowl
First, I painted the entire bowl, inside and out, with a cream colored paint.
Next, I dipped the tip of my paint brush in a brown paint and started dabbing the brush over the bowl. Once I was done this I let it dry completely.
For the second coat what I found that worked perfectly to get that “check out this 1000 year old bowl that I just dug up” look was to crumple up a sheet of paper towel and dip it in the cream and brown paints and dab it onto the bowl
By doing that I really achieved an ancient stone look.
The Finished Paper Mache Bowl
Once I put some greenery in the bowl I really loved how it looked!
I like how old and rustic the bowl came out. I’ve read that after the bowl is completey hard that you can sand down the rough edges with a sanding block.
I’ve noticed that every day the bowl feels a bit harder as all the water is evaporating out of the middle of the bowl.
How sturdy is the paper mache bowl?
Well, the bowl feels strong but I think if I threw it down on the floor it would probably break. It’s definitely sturdy but I will still be careful with it. Definitely more decorative than functional is how I would describe it!!
What can I use a paper mache bowl for?
A few ways that I though of using the paper mache bowl in my home would be for artificial plants and flowers, decorative moss balls, and filling it with large starfish and shells.
paper mache bowls
Some of my other designer dupes…
cottage on bunker hill
Thanks for stopping by today! Being able to share my projects, DIYs, and decorating ideas with you is amazing. Leave a comment below; I love hearing from you!