Tuesday, 19 April 2011

How to: Recycled newspaper bowl

Oh what to do with those weekend papers forming an endless pile in your living room? 
If you're tired of looking at them, or trying to rationalise that they could double as a side table, this papier mache bowl could be the perfect solution for making use of them. 

What you'll need: 

  • Balloon. I used a giant balloon - but any size is fine. I would, however, suggest starting with a round one (you can try out other shapes once you get the hang of the project).
  • Clag. Again, any water-based craft glue is fine - this was just what I had left at home.
  • Permanent marker
  • String
  • Old newspaper cut into squares between 4cm - 6cm
  • Plastic gloves
  • Vaseline or similar product
  • Clothes horse (not pictured)
  • Paint brush about 4cm wide (not pictured)
  • Pin
  • Scissors (not pictured)
  • Acrylic paint in your choice of colours (not pictured)
  • Small plastic plate or lid to mix paint on (not pictured)
Step 1:
  • Blow up the balloon to the size you'd like the bowl.
  • Attach string to the balloon and hang from the clothes horse.
  • Using the permanent marker, draw a line around the balloon showing the rim of the bowl.
Step 2:
  • Wearing gloves, rub Vaseline onto the balloon from the bottom up to the line you have drawn (rim). This will help stop the paper from sticking to the balloon.
  • Using the paint brush, start brushing some glue over a section of the balloon along the drawn line (rim). Stick a piece of paper to the balloon, coat it in glue and stick another, and so on, until you have paper round the circumference of the balloon.
Step 3:
  • Continue this method until you cover the entire bowl area as shown. Do this twice (two layers).
Step 4:
  • For the third and final layer I chose pieces of paper that were purely black and white text as this was the finish I wanted. If you intend to paint over the entire bowl it doesn't matter which pieces of paper you use.

Allowing the papier maché to dry
As I glued the paper outside (and it wasn't hot) I moved the clothes horse and balloon inside to dry. You should allow up to two days depending on the temperature. Once dry, pop the balloon with a pin. Peel the balloon away and you will be left with your bowl shape.

Shaping the bowl
The rim of the bowl will have shabby edges from the layering of the paper squares (above left). All you need to do is grab a pair of scissors and cut (gently) to neaten the rim (above right).
Painting the bowl
I chose a bright orange paint (I am partial to a splash of orange). Don't mix the paint with any water - you don't want the paper to buckle. I squeezed paint straight from the tube into the bowl and then started using the paint brush (the same brush I used for the gluing - after washing and drying it).
Finessing the bowl
To complete painting the inside of the bowl, I squeezed some paint onto a plastic plate and then carefully painted up to the rim. As I intended to see newspaper on the outside of the bowl I made sure my hands were clean and that no paint got onto the outside. Once dry, I applied another coat to the inside of the bowl.

If you intend to paint both inside and out then you would paint the inside, allow it to dry, then turn the bowl upside down and paint the outside. Once the outside dries, you would apply another coat of paint inside and out in the same way.

Note: You can also finish this bowl by applying a coat or two of water-based lacquer. I like Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish. This will give the bowl longevity. It is important to remember that as the bowl is made of paper it is fragile and cannot be used to hold anything heavy, nor should it be exposed to great changes in temperature as it may affect the form.

Extra note: As the paint dries the bowl will change shape. It will do it organically, so it will suit the style of the project and will not change it functioning as an ornamental bowl, but thought I should mention it so you don't get a surprise. The way to minimise the change is to use thin layers of paint allowing them to fully dry in between coats.