How to Make Papier-Mache Bowls

Learn how to make papier-mache bowls out of newspaper and other excess paper with these simple instructions.

| March 2015

Papier-mache bowl

Try using patterned paper for the final layer on these papier-mache bowls for an interesting decoupage effect.

Photo courtesy Trumpeter Books

In Handmade Home (Trumpeter Books, 2009), Amanda Blake Soule offers simple sewing and craft projects for the home that reflect the needs, activities and personalities of today’s families. Our homes are places of comfort, nourishment and love, and the 33 projects in Handmade Home express the sense of making something new out of something old as a way to live a simpler, more connected and more mindful life. The following papier-mache bowls from "Nourish" make lovely containers for found objects and special treasures.

Papier-mâché is one of the most frequently requested craft projects by my little ones. Calvin most of all loves to make these bowls for storing all the special treasures that his seven-year-old self collects—rocks, pinecones, corks, bottle caps, and marbles. He makes a bowl for each collection. By using an existing bowl as a mold, this project is satisfying and successful for even the youngest among us. Don’t let papier-mâché intimidate you—it’s really just a matter of “making a big pile of glue and newspaper and turning it into something!” as Calvin tells me. He’s right. Though, if you’d like more specific instructions, read on.

Pattern Details

• Beginner
• A half-day project (plus drying time)
• Suitable for little hands
• Finished size: As desired

Use What You Have

This wonderful project is perfect for repurposing some of those piles of paper that I’m sure are around your home—mail, envelopes, newspaper, copy paper, and more. Thin paper works best. Heavier paper, such as grocery bags, is a bit more difficult to manipulate. Lightweight paper alone is a little too thin, however, it can make for a nice layer on top of other papers. (The photographed bowls, 8 inches in diameter, are made from newspaper and a final layer of decorative tissue paper.)


• Paper: Thin papers, such as newspaper, cut into 1-inch x 5-inch strips
• Bowl to use as a mold
• Tinfoil or plastic wrap
• Paste (see recipe in the Crafty Tip on page 45, or purchase premade paste at art supply stores)
• Paintbrush for applying paste
• Optional: gesso for smoothing out layers at the end (similar to a primer, available at art supply stores)
• Optional: Acrylic paint for finishing

Make the Papier-Mache Bowls

1. Prepare Materials: Gather all materials and cut the paper to the measurements given above. Prepare a surface on which to work, as the paste can be messy. I keep old vinyl tablecloths around for these kinds of projects. A layer of newspaper also works well.
Prepare your bowl as a mold by placing it upside down on the work surface and covering it tightly with foil or plastic wrap. Smooth out the foil or wrap.

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