How To Make Your Own DIY Paper Mache Bowl

This DIY paper mache bowl retails for $300, but we're going to make it for just $10!

Paper mache bowls are a huge trend for those of us who love a modern take on vintage style. We’re showing you how making your own set at home may not be as hard as you think. This DIY paper mache bowl retails for $300, but we’re going to make it for just $10!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Recycled Cardboard Boxes or Paper
  • Scissors (or a paper shredder if you have one)
  • Flour and salt
  • Water (and a kettle)
  • White Glue
  • Metal bowl (for the bowl mold)
  • Plastic Wrap
  • 2-3 Colours of Craft Paints (colour of your choice)
  • Large Plastic Container or Bucket
  • Blender
  • Cheesecloth bag or old tea towel
  • Sanding Block or Paper

First off, you are going to collect any old cardboard boxes or white paper you have around that house that you feel comfortable shredding. If you want this to be really cathartic, maybe shred up old credit card statements, tax bills, divorce papers… anything you like. You want it to be in small pieces. 

Next, place all of your shredded paper products in a large plastic container and cover it with boiling water. Let this sit for a few hours.

Tip: Recycled Cardboard will need a full 24 hours to soften enough for this project.

After your paper and cardboard has softened, you are going to place it in your blender. Make sure you fully clean it after this and before you make margaritas – you don’t want paper in your cocktail. Once all your paper looks like porridge, place it in your cheesecloth bag and strain out all the water by squeezing.

Tip: You can use an old cotton tea towel if you don’t have cheesecloth.

Next, you’ll need about 6 cups of this paper pulp to make one bowl. Add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of white glue. Also throw in 2 TBSP of salt to help preserve the bowl.

Now it’s time to mix. Get your hands in there and mix it well. You don’t want it too sticky (if it is, add more flour) or too dry (use a little more glue or even a little water).  Now your paper mache clay is done!  It should resemble a consistency of thick play-doh .

Tip: Working with slightly wetter paper mache is way easier to smooth.

Now it’s time to build our bowl. You want to take a large bowl that you have wrapped and turn it upside down. Now you’re just going to start adding papier mache to your bowl. Lay it on about a 1/4″ thick.

Tip: If you place the bowl on a tray also covered in plastic wrap it will be easier to move while it’s drying.

If you want to, you can add more detail to your bowl like a base and or a thick rim detail. Pinch the bowl base wherever you want to add these details. Now you are going to let it dry for 48 hours. It’s a long time to wait, but you don’t want to move it too early or it will collapse.

Tip: Placing it in a dry, warm and sunny spot will make your bowl dry faster.

Don’t despair if you make a mistake, just try reworking it a little and smooth out the damage. Place it back on the bowl form and let it dry longer. Now to ensure it is perfectly dry, you’re going to bake it a little bit. Bake it for no more than 30 minutes at 180F, and turn it over halfway through.

The final step is to give it a quick sanding and paint it. Do crazy with this part, but a neutral beige is a great choice for a more antique look.

Tip: Apply a clear matte coat sealant to preserve your bowl longer.

And voila! you’re done, and have a beautiful bowl to show for it!

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