Welcome to the fourth installment of Homemade Gift Ideas 2013! I can’t believe I’ve been working on this series for a whole month already. This week’s project is fun and easy, and it’s somthing you could easily do with younger kids – a tutorial for paper mache bowls made from tissue paper in the super easiest way imaginable! You can make large bowls for decorative purposes or tiny ones for jewelry or other treasures. Best of all, you don’t need to mix up any messy flour or glue paste! How amazing is that? Let’s get started.
Materials for paper mâché bowls
- Round balloons (party balloons or water balloons will work)
- Sheets of tissue paper
- Liquid starch or spray starch (I use non-aerosol spray starch)
- A pair of scissors
- A glass or jar to use as a stand for the balloons
That’s it! Nothing expensive or difficult to find – it’s easy to purchase every one of these items for under $2. Choose your balloon size based on the size you want your finished bowl(s) to be. 9″, 7″, and water balloons are all good choices that I’ve used in the past.
How to make tissue paper mâché bowls
1. Blow up one of your balloons to get a feel for how large it is and how big you’ll need to cut your circles. Use a cup or a jar as stand for your inflated balloon to make your life a lot easier!
2. Prepare your tissue paper circles. I like to cut two or three sheets at at time so I can use them all on one bowl and have it turn out even. You can trace a circular object, if you’d like, but it’s surprisingly easy to cut fantastic circles on your own.The camera didn’t like focusing on tissue paper, but I still managed to get a few photos! To create circles:
- If you paper is rectangular, fold it in half “book style” so the short ends are now touching. If it’s square, just fold it in half to form a rectangle.
- Next, fold the paper “book style” again, once more bringing the two short sides together. If your paper started as a square, it will be square again.
- Now you should have one folded, closed side, two open sides with paper edges exposed, and one side with exposed folds but two separate sheets. Fold these two folded edges to meet the solid folded edge to form a sort of triangle.
- Keep folding these two edges together to form increasingly small triangles until it is difficult to fold any more. For me, this was usually two or three additional folds.
- The folded point will be the center of your paper circle. (The point on the right in the photo above.) Move away from this folded point until you’re pleased with the circle’s radius and cut straight across. Cutting straight will actually give you a better circle – trying to cut in a circle will give you a scalloped edge!
- Unfold the circles and separate the circles.
3. Coat a circle of tissue paper circle with spray starch and carefully lay it in place over the balloon, matching the circle’s center point to the center top of the balloon. Smooth down the sides and fold the paper, as necessary.
4. Re-coat any dry spots with starch and then allow all of the starch to dry.
5. Apply two or three additional layers of tissue paper, allowing the starch to dry each time.
6. After you’re satisfied with the bowl’s thickness, give it one final spray of starch and wait for it to dry.
7. Pop the balloon using a pin or a needle. If you applied three or more layers, the bowl should remain intact. If the bowl does stick to the balloon and crumple a little, you can easily re-form it.
8. Press down lightly and carefully to slightly flatten the bottom until the bowl stands upright on its own.
9. If you want, coat the bowl inside and out with a matte spray acrylic like clear Krylon or a Mod Podge spray for durability.
The circle cutting process sounds much more difficult than it really is, I promise. If you’re unsure about it, just practice folding a sheet of tissue paper a few times before you actually cut it. Strangely, it’s easier to go ahead and practice with the tissue paper because printer paper quickly becomes too thick and difficult to fold!
Have you ever made paper mache with starch before? It works amazingly well and is so much less messy! I had a little bit of difficulty finding liquid starch (and I didn’t trust the ‘starch substitute’ I found at my local fabric store), but I actually found it at my neighborhood Publix. If you can’t find it at a craft store or Target, check your grocery store! If you can’t find it anywhere, the wonderful Amazon has eco-friendly pump spray starch without any petroleum products, atmosphere-harming chemicals, etc.
I hope that you enjoy this project and stop back in next Thursday for the latest installment of my homemade gift ideas series!