How to Make Papier-Mache Bowls

A pink papier-mache bowl

Dave King / Getty Images

Overview
  • Working Time: 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 15 hrs
  • Yield: 1 set nesting bowls
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

An interior space often doesn't feel fully realized without a few careful accents. It can be tricky to source meaningful tchotchkes, so why not create a few decorative items yourself instead? Papier-mache gets an adult update with a chic set of nesting bowls.

The options are endless when it’s time to decorate your papier-mache nesting bowls, so consider how you’ll use them in your home to draw inspiration. If you plan to keep them in your kitchen as produce holders, go for vibrant, bold colors and designs. Considering adding your bowls to a foyer or side table? Opt for a chic pattern and a pop of metallic to complement your living area.

No matter how you decide to decorate your nesting bowls, acrylic paint and regular paint brushes work perfectly well. To create your own set of these budget-friendly accent bowls, gather your supplies and follow the easy steps below.

Supplies for papier-mache bowls
The Spruce / Megan Graney

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Glass nesting bowls
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wire whisk
  • Aluminum foil
  • Scissors
  • Paint brushes
  • Drying racks

Materials

  • Flour
  • Water
  • 1 inch Strips of paper
  • Cooking spray
  • Acrylic paint (white plus decorative colors)
  • Fine grain sandpaper (optional)
  • Clear coat finish brush-on or spray
  • Non-toxic clear coat finish (optional for food bowls)

Instructions

  1. Mix the Paste

    This recipe calls for a non-cooked paste, which can be easier to handle than cooked glue.

    1. Pour two parts water to one part flour into the mixing bowl and combine well using a wire whisk. The consistency of the mixture should be similar to a pancake batter.
    2. Whisk until all lumps are gone.

    Flour Paste Aroma

    If the smell of the flour paste is too unpleasant (or your crafting area is small and enclosed), add a few drops of essential oil to the paste for a more enjoyable creative experience.

    Mix the Paste
    The Spruce / Megan Graney
  2. Cover Glass Bowls With Aluminum Foil

    To help remove your papier-mache from the bowls easily, cover them first with aluminum foil.

    1. If you’re looking for a smoother texture in your final product, cover carefully and smooth the foil down with your fingers as much as possible.
    2. Or, embrace a bit of the natural roughness in papier-mache and don’t worry about the small crinkles.
    3. For easier papier-mache removal later, hit the foil-covered bowls with a quick coating of cooking spray.
    Aluminum Covered Bowl
    The Spruce / Megan Graney
  3. Adhere Newspaper Strips to Bowls With Paste

    1. Dip one strip of newspaper at a time into the flour mixture.
    2. Remove the excess glue by sliding the strip of paper between your fingers, then paste it on the foil-covered bowl.
    3. Criss-cross the strips until most of the bowl is covered.
    4. Then reinforce the strips by encircling the bowl with horizontal pieces.
    5. Smooth things over with your fingertips once the entire bowl is covered.
    6. Repeat these steps for each bowl you are making.
    Cover Bowl with Newspaper
    The Spruce / Megan Graney
  4. Let Dry Overnight

    1. Carefully shift the newspaper-covered bowls to wire drying racks.
    2. Place racks in a cool, out-of-the-way area to set.
    3. Leave them undisturbed overnight to dry.

    Drying Time

    It may seem your papier-mache has dried and set after a few hours, but to ensure a sturdy project, leave the bowls unmoved for at least 12 hours.

    Let Dry Overnight
    The Spruce / Megan Graney
  5. Remove Papier-Mache From Foil Bowls and Trim Excess

    1. Once the papier-mache has dried, carefully remove it from the aluminum foil.
    2. Trim any excess newspaper from the edges of each bowl with a sharp pair of scissors for a nice, clean edge.
    3. Decide if you want to finish or change the texture of your bowl (see Tips box).

    Choose the Finish of Your Bowl

    If you’re looking for a smooth, refined finish, sand your papier-mache gently with a fine grain sandpaper. Or, embrace the natural texture and unfinished edges of your bowls for a more rustic finish.

    Trim Excess
    The Spruce / Megan Graney
  6. Prime the Papier-Mache Bowls

    1. Give each bowl a quick coat of white acrylic paint to ensure your colors really pop later on.
    2. Let it dry.
    3. Apply a another coat of paint.
    4. Allow to dry completely.
    Prime the Bowls
    The Spruce / Megan Graney
  7. Paint and Decorate the Papier-Mache Bowls

    1. Paint the inside and outside of your bowl.
    2. Seal everything with brush-on or spray clear coat finish.

    Fruit and Veggie Bowls

    Be sure to use a food-safe, non-toxic clear coat finish option if you’ll use your bowls to hold fresh fruits and veggies.

    Paint the Bowls
    The Spruce / Megan Graney
  8. Display Your Papier-Mache Nesting Bowls

    Find the perfect space in your home for your DIY nesting bowls. They can be practical (think: a place to drop keys or jewelry) or purely decorative, so it's worth trying a few different spots to see where they work best.

    Display
    The Spruce / Megan Graney