Guest Post: How to Make Paper Mache Vessels

Get a fast start on your next paper mache project or hand-made gift with Jonni’s easy downloadable patterns for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts. The patterns help you create a beautiful work of art, even if you’ve never sculpted anything before.

Today’s guest post is by Christine Majul, who offered to show us how she creates her beautiful and inventive paper mache vessels. Thanks, Christine, for sharing your techniques!

And now – here’s Christine:

Here are the two finished vessels.  The one thing that I pride myself in, I like to use everyday reusable products for my projects.  I like to use the use and reuse concept.  It helps the environment, saves money and it sparks creativity.  These projects appeal to a wide audience of all age groups.  This would be great for children, and, adults of all ages from 18 to 100.

Materials for Paper Mache Vessels
Materials for Paper Mache Vessels

These are the materials that I used to make these two vessels.  To make the bowl shape for both vessels, I used balloons, the phone book, Kraft paper, cardboard boxes that I had items shipped to me.

If you want to use free cardboard shipping boxes, go to your local grocery store, and ask them if you can get free boxes.  Many stores crush and band their used boxes, but while they are restocking the shelves, they do allow you to take boxes home with you for no charge at all.  I have gotten many a box this way to ship items and to use for craft projects.  I have so many old phone books and the paper is nice and thin, so I use them to begin my projects as they are more pliable and shape better.  That phone book you see in the photo was used for many of my projects, and it is a money saver.

I use about two layers to get the shape and if you like what you have, layer with kraft paper or I found online that one paper mache artist used old junk mail to make his paper mache fox.  That is another resource that I have not thought of.

I use all kinds of reusable items.  The bigger vessel, I used jello cups that I had to use duct tape to add volume to the stem and layers of paper to widen it some more.  For the smaller vessel, I used for the stem an empty container for lemon tea flavored low calorie powder.  I cut about two inches of from the top and attached both base and stem to the bowl using duct tape.

Adding the Kraft Paper
Adding the Kraft Paper

These are the two vessels with the kraft paper layer, but you can see the duct tape at the bottom of the taller vessel.  If you look at the smaller vessel, you can see the cutout design going in and out.  That was not the look I was going for, but that is what I got.

I put small pieces of paper around the cut shapes inside and out and when it dried, it shrank and it pulled the ridges in different directions.  I call it creativeness.  But, what I should have done is layered the outside first with several layers then, do the inside of the vessel later.  It would have formed the ridge outside as it dried.  I am not complaining it was a learning curve and will be noted on future projects.  But I put layers of kraft paper inside and out of the vessel.  That way, it will add strength to the pieces.

Paper Mache Vessels, After Painting
Paper Mache Vessels, After Painting

The smaller vessel I used acrylic paint and the stem and the base I used a dark green paint color with metallic gold and mixed the two together and I got this golden green metallic finish to the stem and base.  I then freehand drew the design on the bowl part of the vessel and with the same gold, green mixture and painted the pink design again freehand.  I used yellow with a very small touch of red to deepen the yellow color.  To get the shine, I used Modge Podge.

The inside of the bowl, I used silver metallic paint, dark gray and white to get that color.  I had some colored paper that was around me for a long time and I wondered what it would look like if I put it on the piece and that is what you see on the taller piece.  I put red on top and I liked what I saw, but I felt something was missing and I realized that the piece was a little blah.  So, I painted the green part in green metallic paint, and the red part, red metallic paint.  It now has that bling and glow to it and looks a lot better.  It is now ready for more adornments should I choose to add to them.  But for now, I am satisfied with the result.  I may change my mind later.

Paper Mache Vessel with Curly Edges
Paper Mache Vesse lwith Curly Edges
Red Paper Mache Vessel with Green Base
Red Paper Mache Vessel with Green Base

10 thoughts on “Guest Post: How to Make Paper Mache Vessels”

  1. The reason I use the $1.00 Kraft paper is that it is cheap and by using the phone book for the first 2 or 3 or even 4 layers, I can make that brown kraft paper go a long way. I prefer to keep my costs low. For me, $15.00 is way to much. I found out that the paper mache hobby if you let it can eat you out of house and home. For shaping and changing features on whatever I am working on, I use the phone book paper, newspaper and cardboard. Wet the cardboard and it makes a great shape maker. I cut plastic containers either to make stems or round features to a paper mache piece. One funky piece I made was I put a row of water bottles and covered it with plastic wrap and paper mached it, it came out with a lot of ridges and it was cute. Now, all I have to do is figure what to do with it. I am sure, I will come up with an idea.

  2. My daughter is decorating for a large event at our civic center. She wants varying sizes of balls. We were thinking we could make them out of paper mache. The smaller balls could have balloons for a base. Do you have any suggestions of what to use as a base for balls with 24″ to 36″ diameters? The function is a fund raiser so the decorations budget is low.

    • What I am thinking of right now, I find that Wal Mart have huge plastic balls that are inexpensive and if you wrap them in cellophane and put 3 to 4 layers, you could cut it out and put the seams together again with paper mache. They could be used over again. Dollar Stores are my best friend right now, and now is the time that you will find toys that are cheap and balls tend to be one of them. That should keep your costs low. I hope this helps.

      • I suggest beach balls as the way to go. When I was doing research last year I found superdairyboy had the best prices, but I was getting a variety of smaller sizes as well. The benefit of beach balls vs. balloons is they’re reusable. Leave 2-4″ circle opening around the nozzle when you mache them, then you can deflate the ball, remove it, and either leave the opening and hang from there, or mache over it. Also, unlike regular balls, beach balls store flat! : )

  3. hey as a note i find if you want a heavy paper for structure check the hardware store they have contract paper its a heavy red paper that reminds me of construction paper large roll runs from 10.00 to 15.00 a roll but if you do the math the same amount of dollar store paper would run you over 50.00

      • Hi Jonni,
        I went to my super WalMart center here in Shelton, WA and could not find the heavy paper that you mentioned. Do you have a brand name and where it could be found? I looked and looked.

        • I don’t think the paper I buy locally has any label at all. It’s just a really big roll of brown paper, that is in the section where they sell the plastic drop cloths for painters. Maybe your store doesn’t carry it.

    • I found your contract paper at our Lowes store for $9.95. I will but a roll next month. That roll should last for a very long time.

  4. I am back to using my flour glue as this does put my cost down quite a bit. I find that the flour glue can be sanded down a lot better then the Elmer’s. I like the Elmers as it dries faster, but the cost of the glue to finish these two vessels was over $5.00. My flour glue would have cost me .25 cents. I only buy Kraft paper from the dollar stores as it is a cheaper way to get quality paper and still save money. Unless you buy over $100.00 worth of groceries and ask for paper bags, stores will not be to happy to give out an endless supply. That phone book can save you lots of money and so can junk mail. I love the internet. I get a lot of good ideas.

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