Friday Craft: Paper Mache Bowls

I have been working the kinks out of our schedule, and as we are settling into our routine I have realized that Friday is going to be our craft day.   I am not sure if I will do this every week, but hopefully at least every other Friday. I plan to share our Friday craft session here when I do.  My plan is to try and stick to crafts that don’t require a trip to Michael’s.  So far, so good.
Somehow I’ve  made it to age 31 without ever doing paper mache, so I joined the kids on this one.  I really loved this project. I got the idea and instructions from Handmade Home.
The night before, I hunted down four bowls.  One for me to share with Larkspur, and one for each of the big boys.  Each was covered with two layers of foil.  One would probably be enough, but I kept ripping my foil.  The inside of the bowl doesn’t matter, you are only using the outside as your mold.
I also cut the paper strips the night before.  I used a rotary cutter and cutting mat, so this was quick and easy, but obviously regular scissors would be fine.  The strips were approx. 1″ by 4 or 5.”  I cut a bunch of newspaper, some white copy paper, and some colored tissue paper (the tissue paper strips were all different widths and lengths), then bagged it all separately.  I am not sure if you can really see that in the above picture since Willy thinks he needs to be in the middle of everything.
There are the newspaper strips and there is Gabe.  Gabe who teases me for taking pictures of everything, but who then tries to get in every picture. Hmmmm.  Anyway, each of us had our own jar of newspaper strips to prevent a bunch of reaching across, shoving, arguing and all those other things that boys do.
There’s the homemade paste.  I made it the day of, letting it cool before pouring it into individual jars as well.  Here’s the recipe from Handmade Home:
1/2 cup white flour
2 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp salt
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened and paste-like, stirring frequently.  According to the book, you can add a drop of clove oil to prevent the paste from getting moldy.  I am guessing this is if you are going to store the paste, so probably unecessary if you are using it the same day.  I had some on hand, so I added it, just to make the paste smell yummy.  Of course my kids thought it smelled gross.  This recipe made enough paste for four bowls, and possibly a fifth if your kids can restrain themselves from really globbing it on.
Willy, wondering where his bowl is.  No, really he’s wondering if the paste tastes good.
First you paste about four layers of newspaper to your covered bowl.  Brush the paste on the strips and just keep laying them on until you think you have four layers or so.  Each of my kids did this their own way.  Keats was very careful and methodical, Gabe moved slowly and managed to use up all his paste in about five minutes, and Seth was under the impression that we were competing to see who could finish the fastest.
Of course you could stop here with just the newspaper and just paint it after it dries (optional:  apply a layer of gesso and then paint it).
We added a layer of white copy paper to add strength, and to block out the newsprint so that the tissue paper would look all pretty.
Because the tissue paper is so thin, you can’t paint the paste directly on the strips or it will rip. Your bowl is probably pretty wet with paste at this point anyway.  We just pressed the strips on, and then added paste on top to the dry spots.  Be very careful, because the tissue paper rips really easily.
Our bowls were ocean themed in honor of Flipper, whom we’ve been watching lately, thanks to Netflix.
We let them dry on the table for a few hours, and then, because I am impatient, I went ahead and carefully removed them from the molds to speed the drying time.  I layed them on our outdoor drying rack to dry for the rest of the day, but brought them inside that night.
They were still damp the next morning, so back out to the drying rack they went.  By the end of that sunny day, they were dry.
Mine is now holding sewing notions and ragdoll parts.  I’m pretty sure Seth’s is already full of bottle caps.
Easy fun project with great results (from a great book I might add).  You should try it!  What should we make with paper mache next?


  1. I’m 43 and (shhhhhhh) never made anything with paper mache! But I’d love to try it. I have no newspaper at home but do have a set of 2.5 year old WILD twin boys s0 a casual trip to the store for newspaper aint happening! Was wondering, would pages from a magazine work? I know it’s got a glossy finish whereas a newspaper has a porous finish. Just wondering. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks 🙂

  2. So fun!

  3. My goodness you've been busy! Lots and lots of beautiful pics from Sat's trip, to adorable angels, to handmade bowls, and to chickens in the kitchen! (And I don't mind a couple chickens in the kitchen either. I mean it's not like they're there all the time.) Anyway, you are a terrific mother, teacher, wife, and friend! Loved Bea Rose's new pants and the shiner looks like she may have cried (screamed?) for quite some time after that one. That had to have been a big owie for her. Some times I wonder how any of our children make it to adulthood what will all the things that can go wrong often going wrong. Do you cook the fish the kids catch, or throw them back? And I'm absolutely thrilled that Ezra and Lark are getting along together so nicely. They looked so cute in their wings and halos. But then that was before the haircuts, right? I don't know what it is with kids, but they will cut hair every chance they get. My son did it numerous times and Jamie (my granddaughter) did it numerous times too. I think it's a rite of passage or something. I really, really love your blog! One more thing, I may not have chickens in my kitchen but I had a Mario cat on my table while I was eating dinner tonight. (This has become a habit, I'm afraid.) We had BLTs on wheat bread followed by cantaloupe and Mario was very interested in my sandwich. He ended up eating several bites off it. Oh, my dear mother must be rolling over in her grave about now!!Just keep doing what you're doing because you're doing a tremendous job!!! God bless you!!!

  4. I think I made a mask out of Paper Mache ones using a balloon as a base or maybe it was my sister, who actually did it.I should get organized and pre-plan few activities like this one to do on the rainy days with my daughter.

  5. We always just hand-tear our papier mache strips too! Yours are much prettier because of their uniformity. The boys and I spent the month of Sept 2007 making Darth Vader helmets (for Halloween costumes) out of papier mache. Very long story, but turned out great and are still standing despite their frequent use in all sorts of dress-up. Your bowls are gorgeous.Further possibility for your car trip that I just remembered: Do you know the Bop-It toy? (I assume you can still get them — we got ours years ago.) It is fantastic and fun. Our boys spent much of a recent long drive exchanging 5-minute turns on it, with me thrown into the rotation whenever I got the chance. You may want a pair of cheapo headphones to plug into it in the confines of the car.

  6. Lori-I don't think I could handle that. Besides the directions said to cut and I couldn't possibly deviate from the directions!

  7. lol. It's just funny because I've done a lot of paper mache and we always just TORE the paper– like with our hands!!!! hehehe

  8. Lori, that made it possible to cut lots of layers of newspaper at once! I stared with scissors and lost patience.

  9. Carmen Rigby says:

    I am SO going to make these paper mache bowls with my kids!! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  10. These look wonderful

  11. you are such a good mommy! I will do this one for sure. I can't believe you never did paper mache anything! I also can't believe you cut your strips with a rotary cutter. =)

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