This post shows you how to make a paper mache bowl and then how to decoupage it with cool vintage images.
My shopping weakness is not handbags or shoes but fancy plates. Especially if they have pictures of animals and flowers on them. I have quite a collection of Lou Rota Nature Table plates from Anthropologie and Rachel Kozlowski ones from West Elm.
Most people seem to use these plates as decorations especially the Anthropologie ones. Not me though, I eat off them and use them every day. I know it may sound ridiculous but I think food tastes better off a fancy plate.
I’m also very much of the thinking that if you have lovely things, then enjoy them rather than saving them for special occasions. Life is too short to only get the posh plates out a couple of times of the year!
My rather extensive fancy plate collection has built up over the years as I’ve treated myself to one at a time when out shopping in London. However, since lockdown, I haven’t visited London since February.
That is why I decided to make my own large paper mache bowl and decorate it too match my fancy plates. This decoupaged paper mache bowl can be used as a bread or fruit bowl to sit on the table.
Not only do I show you how to make a paper mache bowl, but how to decorate it in the style of those lovely fancy plates from Anthropologie.
I gathered the vintage images from the natural history collections on Pictureboxblue.com. You can visit the site for thousands of free vintage images to use with the decoupage. For convenience, I have also provided the collection of images I used for these paper mache bowls.
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What You Need To Make Paper Mache Bowls
- Large bowl to use as a mould. Plastic, ceramic and steel bowls will all work well.
- Cling film/plastic wrap
- White glue or flour
- Gesso White Acrylic Primer
- Mod Podge
- Plain white paper napkins
- Masking tape
- Printer paper
- Acrylic polyurethane sealer
How To Make A Paper Mache Bowl
1. Preparing the Mould.
Decide on the size of the bowl you want to make and then find an appropriate size bowl to use as a mold. The bowl can be made of wood, ceramic, metal or plastic.
It just needs to be firm, also you want a standard bowl shape. If the bowl is lipped and an unusual shape or undulating, it may be hard to remove the paper mache afterward.
Top tip: If making small bowls then you can use a balloon.
Decide on whether or not you are going to paper mache the inside or outside of the bowl. I have done paper mache both ways and they both just work as well as each other.
For this particular craft, I paper mache the outside of the mould. First, I covered the bowl in cling film/plastic wrap. This is to stop the newspaper from sticking to the mould.
2. What Adhesive To Use For Paper Mache
To stick the newspaper layers to the mould there are various different things that you can use as the adhesive.
- 50/50 mixture or flour and water
- 50/50 mixture of white glue (PVA, wood glue or Mod Podge) and water
- Dilluted wallpaper paste
My personal preference is the diluted glue. The glue will not only strengthen the paper mache it is also less likely to rot than the flour mixture.
3. How to Paper Mache The Bowl
Next, tear the newspaper into long strips, about 4cm wide and 12cm long. I used newspaper as it is a cheap, strong and absorbent paper. Which makes it well suited to paper mache. You can experiment with other papers for different effects.
Cover one side of the newspaper strip in the diluted glue mixture and lay it across the top of the bowl.
Top tip: Use smaller strips of newspaper for smaller bowls.
Carry on adding the newspaper strips until the whole bowl is covered in paper.
Leave the paper in a well-ventilated area to dry before adding another layer of newspaper. Paper mache can’t be rushed, it takes time as you need to wait for the layers to dry.
I papered a total of six layers of newspaper. As for this particular craft, I wanted quite a sturdy decoupage paper mache bowl. The more layers of newspaper you add the stronger the bowl.
4. Finishing off the Paper Mache Bowl
When the final layer of newspaper had dried, I carefully removed the paper mache from the mould. Then, with a pair of scissors, I trimmed the edge of the bowl to make a neater edge.
I paper mached one final layer of newspaper around the edge of the bowl. This was to smooth off the cut edge.
How To Decoupage The Bowl
Once all the paper mache had dried, I painted the bowl with white acrylic gesso paint. This was to hide the newspaper print.
Use paper napkins to decoupage the bowl. If you can’t find paper napkins with the images you want, you can print your own. For full details of how to, check out the paper napkin decoupage post.
I selected the nature images I wanted and printed them onto paper napkins. If you want to use the same images as me then just click on the title above the collection you want and it should open as a new tab on your browser. If you then right-click on the image, you can save it to your hard drive to print at a later date.
To decoupage, the paper napkin images to the bowl cut them out from the printed paper. Apply the decoupage glue to the bowl and not to the paper napkin. Then gently press the image onto the bowl.
Carry on adding the images one by one until you are happy with the design on the paper mache bowl. When you have finished adding all the images add a layer of Mod Podge over the top. This will act as a sealer.
Once the Mod Podge has dried seal the whole bowl both inside and out with a spray polyeurthene varnish. Once the varnish has fully dried and cured after several days the bowl will not only be waterproof but also food safe.
When I say waterproof, I don’t mean that you can put it in the dishwasher or in a bowl of hot soapy water. However, you will be able to wipe it clean.
I loved my Anthropologie hack paper mache bowl so much, I made another one. They sit on my dining table as a decoration. sometimes I use them for bread at mealtimes.
Now that you know how to make paper mache a bowl you can use the same technique to make some decorative Nature Table paper mache plates. These plates would be great to hang on a wall.
Did you know you can also Paper Mache with thin fabric scraps too to make fabric bowls?
Almost any shape can be paper mache, like these cute 3D watercolor heart decorations. I’ve made giant paper mache cactus before using a wireframe. I’ve paper mache soda bottles to make some fun Marimekko herb planters too. These images would also look great on the paper mache teacups I made.
You can use the images provided here to make some hand embroidered paper dictionary art too.
There is a collection of more affordable cool adult craft ideas here.
- Large bowl to use as mould
- Mod Podge
- Vintage images free to download
- Plain paper napkins
- Cling film/plastic wrap
- Spray acrylic varnish
- Gesso acrylic paint
- Cover the outside of the bowl in clingfilm/plastic wrap.
- Tear the newspaper into strips about 4cm wide and 20cm long.
- Dilute the glue with water 50/50/
- Brush the newspaper strips in the glue mixture and cover the outside of the bowl.
- Leave to dry and then repeat at least 5 times. Until there are 5 layers of paper mache.
- Once the final layer of paper mache has dried, carefully remove it from the mould.
- With a pair of scissors trim the edge of the bowl.
- Paper mache strips of paper over the edge of the bowl to neaten it up.
- Paint the paper mache bowl with Gesso paint on both the inside and outside.
- Print the vintage images on to paper napkins
- Cut out the vintage images and decoupage them on to the bowl.
- Once dried spray the bowl with the varnish both inside and out. This will protect the bowl and enable it to be wiped clean.
This newspaper craft featured in the A to Z of clever upcycling ideas.
Visit here for more paper mache crafts.