i’m obsessed with bowls right now. since the functional felt swap ended, i’ve knitted 3 bowls, and have more in the works. last week i posted the little bowl, made with paper and pva, and promised a tutorial if there was interest. and yay! you liked the bowl, so after the jump, how to make your own!
first, i must say i love that papier-mâché is french for chewed up paper (according to wikipedia). isn’t that awesome? second, i just wanted to note that i’m using a pva/water mix, rather than flour/water. i think the pva makes for a stronger hold, but feel free to modify the mix.
let’s get started! base supplies include plastic wrap & tape, pva, bowl for mixing pva & water, gel matte medium (optional):
then, gather your paper materials and bowl(s):
i found the above bowls at ikea. the bowl material shouldn’t matter (wood, plastic, metal), as long as the bowl that does not have a “foot”.
for paper, i use text pages from old books: a german art history book, and a book of english essays are my favorite. thanks to design*sponge, i’ve been saving the security envelopes from my bills, which make for great decorative pieces. i also pulled some sheets of painted paper, and an anthropologie catalog. other options: paper bags, wrapping paper, tissue paper, receipts, take-out menus… the list goes on and on.
step 1: wrap your bowl & prep your paper:
when wrapping your bowl, i recommend starting with plastic wrap, which you will need to tape down in the inside of the bowl. press out the extra air as much as possible. for my first bowl, i thought that using press & seal wrap was a great idea: it adhered to the bowl, with less work. but then removing the bowl at the end was difficult — i had forgotten how much the sticky stuff would adhere to the bowl. after sticking it in the freezer for a few hours, i was able to gently pry the piece off the bowl, but it wasn’t easy. another option is wax paper, but it’d be pretty tough to wrap the entire bowl without major creases. so start with plastic wrap.
prepare your paper. rip or cut the paper into small pieces, no bigger than 2 x 2 inches. if your pieces are bigger, you may have to fold or crease them to fit the bowl form, which may not give the bowl a smooth surface. smaller is better.
step 2: mix the pva with water, add paper:
i used a 1:1 ratio of pva to water. you really won’t need much, start with about 1/4 cup of each.
place some plastic down on your work area, then put your paper into the pva/water mix.
step 3: apply the paper to the bowl:
it helps to “prop” your bowl upside down using a can, glass, or container. again, place some plastic wrap over your working surface, as you will drip.
remove a piece of paper from your pva/water mix. using your fingers, squee-gee the paper a bit, as it doesn’t need to be sopping wet. then place the piece on your upside down bowl.
i’ve worked from the bowl bottom to the edge, and vice-versa. either place you start is fine.
step 4: continue to add paper:
keep adding paper, working around the bowl, overlapping edges to making sure that you do not leave gaps. if your paper is thin, you may want to overlay the paper so there are 2 layers.
step 5: add decorative elements:
once i covered the entire bowl, i added 3 small circles, cut from security envelopes.
step 6: let dry:
let the bowl dry at least 18 hours at a minimum, in a cool, dry environment. make sure the surface you’ve set the bowl on is covered, as you may get a few drips. resist the urge to pry the bowl off its form! if you need to, place it out of sight. (i get antsy sometimes!)
step 7: coat with gel matte medium (optional):
once the bowl is dry, i like to add a layer of gel matte medium. one, i like the matte effect, and two, it helps to re-enforce the structure. let dry for a few hours.
step 8: remove the bowl! sorry, i only have 2 hands, so no pictures… first, un-do the tape, then gently pull the plastic wrap from the bowl form. you can use a butter knife to encourage movement, but be very gentle, as it’s easy to rip the paper. keep working away, and eventually your bowl will pull away.
remove the plastic wrap, and you’re done! you may see some clear, dried pva along the top edge of your bowl. you can either leave it there, or use a razor blade, scissors, or exact-o knife to remove it. peeling it could do damage, be gentle…
note that your bowl is fragile, and should not be used for storing or eating food. (it’s not that pva is dangerous, but your bowl probably won’t hold a peck of apples.)
the bowls i made last weekend:
the bowl on the left was made with 1×1 inch squares from an anthropologie catalog. the bowl on the right was made with the shiny pages containing paintings from the german art history book.
if you have any questions, please leave a comment. have fun!