Making a Mini-Bar with Cardboard and Paper Mache Clay

Our friend Ken H. wrote this wonderful guest post showing us how he made a mini-bar with cardboard and paper mache clay. What a great project! Thanks, Ken. 🙂

© 2020 Ken H.

Paper Mache Mini-Bar

God where do I start.. my fascination with paper Mache came from Jonni’s youtube channel.. as I sat mesmerized watching an elephant come to life all using paper Mache. It caught my eye.It was love at first sight. My first thought was I would try and make a rabbit.. I downloaded the pattern.  I was sure that would be what I would make.

The more I would look at the pattern the more I would hesitate.. it was one of those things.. what if I make a mistake. Jonni sure makes it look easy.. so the project was put on the back burner..

Then one day my grandson was talking to me about moving into his own place and just how expensive it was for furniture.

I said.. why not use cardboard boxes. His first expression said I was insane. So the challenge was set.

His parents had just gotten a freezer and I asked for the box.

Cardboard mini-bar - the box
The original box.

The box was fairly large about six foot long with a lot of Styrofoam inside as packing material.. I was going to make something out of this.. the first thought was to make a dresser.. but then I was in a hurry. The grandson was mid twenties and pretty much a social butterfly and a college student. What could be more fun than a mini bar..

Starting on the cardboard mini-bar
Starting on the cardboard mini-bar

I laid out my basic design and thought there we go.. notice at the top of the box.. I was in a hurry and didn’t square up the top flaps..that was my mistake.. the biggest one. I went back and watched more of ultimate paper mache to see what jonni did.. after she created the form she started to fill in.

Filling in Shapes on the cardboard mini-bar
Filling in Shapes on the cardboard mini-bar

So that is what I did.. I added.. then glue added then glue.. once I had the walls so they were sturdy then I would make paper mache clay and coat it.. I used putty knives and butter knives etc.. the stronger it got the better I felt and the more excited I was. I was concerned about the wine bottle holder.. and I took a couple of small one inch pieces of wood to staple the pieces of cardboard to..

I was amazed at just how hard the paper mache clay gets to.. at times I caught myself treating the whole project as if it was made out of wood.

A few things I would do different though..

papermachet clay on the four posts
papermachet clay on the four posts

At this point here.. instead of just cardboard and Styrofoam packing.. I would have taken a couple of pieces of wood blocks and glued them in the cardboard.. that way when I screwed the wheels on it they would have been anchored in to wood instead of cardboard. The screws were two inches long and I covered them with glue the same thing with the bottom of the anchor plate to the wheels.. at that point I was terrified that when I put it on the floor the wheels would just fall off.. it is cardboard.. but they held just fine..

The cardboard door.
The cardboard door.

the other thing is I would have put a piece of one by two for the door edge.. when I made the cardboard and paper mache clay door.. the first thought was I would use refrigerator magnets for it.. the side where the wine bottle are.. looked open and I thought instead of just putting a small trash can in there I would put a drawer.. ( the gap in the flaps.. ) that is when I realized that when I left that small quarter inch gap at the top of the original layout made a difference. Yup the drawer was a quarter inch out of square.. to put a little color in the drawer I used an angry orchard ale box as a header.. when I realized refrigerator magnets wouldn’t work I had to get a set of hinges.. the hinges came with small half inch long screws.. LOL this was a funny part.. I hung the door was standing back admiring it and went to open the door and wop the door fell off.. LOL so I got some two inch screws did like I did with the wheels and covered them completely with glue and filled in the holes with paper mache clay.. then screwed it all into place.. and I let it dry..

Painted the unit with a spray paint.. I used an appliance epoxy spray paint.. then let the little grandkids decorate the bar top and counter top..

I picked up some epoxy pour on finish and that is the coating on the counter and the bar top. For the case I took a cheap foam brush and very thin coats of epoxy to the outside to stiffen it up and make it a little more water proof.

Elmers glue and franklin wood glue was used in the paper mache clay and the gluing of everything together. The paper mache clay gave the counter top and the bar top a great deal of strength. I had put several gallons of stuff on top of it just to see if there was a give.. I did do some rib work.. like egg cartons to give it all strength..

A three inch document tube and a toilet flange made the tap tower.. a toilet paper tube was used for the tube access to the cooler..

Finishing touches on the cardboard mini-bar
Adding details...
Mini-Bar almost done
Mini-Bar almost done

Now that I see just how great paper mache clay is and the versatility of cardboard and paper I have many more projects.

The grandson couldn’t believe that it was that cardboard box.. his first response was.. dam you made that out of wood.. nope it is that cardboard box that was to go to the garbage.. then he asked.. can you make me a couch and some chairs.. well we sure can but this time you make it I will help..

The grand daughter asked me if I could make some dressers for her girls. And I am looking at that rabbit even more now.. the other thing I want to make and am thinking about.. Is I want to make a violin.. all out of paper mache clay and cardboard.. I know I can do it.. just to figure it all out first..

So don’t hesitate.. just jump in if I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have been so hesitant..

28 thoughts on “Making a Mini-Bar with Cardboard and Paper Mache Clay”

  1. This is truly genius! I’m amazed with technical skills that come together in this project. Well done! 🙂

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  2. Fantastic! And with the way the price of wood has skyrocketed…… The ol’ brain wheels are spinning here

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    • This is truly amazing. I’m incredibly impressed, not to mention inspired!

      I’m going to use some of these techniques in a sculpture I’ve been working on for quite some time, which was delayed due to moving etc. This gives me the push I needed to get back to that sculpture! Bloody impressive! You could start an entire corporation & employ many people making furniture like this out of the rubbish we all contribute to with packaging etc.

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      • This is just fantastic! And yes, this clever man could go into production and / or show others how! My mind is ticking over too on what I could make. There are so many really solid cartons around these days. I look forward to seeing what others make! The violin sounds wonderful. It could have a whole new sound.

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  3. Bloody fantastic..well done U ?
    I felt the need last Christmas for a fireplace lol..don’t know why coz here in Oz it’s usually 35° to 38° around Christmas.
    Cardboard boxes…layering of paper and glue…sadly not Jonni’s miracle mache but it turned out ok and gets used year round for displaying other crafts I’ve made. Good ol cardboard boxes eh…fantastic resource ?

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  4. Wonderful job 🙂 Good luck with all the others projects you plan, I made a paper-mache violin mask years ago as a gift for a friend very inspired after a visit to Venice. I am looking forward to see photo’s of yours 🙂

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  5. Fabulous, just fabulous! How in heavens name did you get it to not warp? You have lucky grandchildren! You know, the Japanese have built paper mache furniture for centuries. Google some for interesting thoughts and inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

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    • Speaking of warping it’s the paper mache clay.. it gives the cardboard strength..
      Now I’m going to see if I can make a paper mache fruit bowl

      Reply
  6. I don’t believe it! That is one of the biggest thinking outside the box that I can think of. I am amazed by your visionary status. Great work, and thank you for showing us. (Now, I’m going back to my apple!) What a great story to go with it.

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  7. so inspiring really …. one thing about creativity is that you don t know what will come out just go with it … dive in. Want a Rabbit ? dive in to” your “rabbit ,it may be different from what you expected but it will be an “original” Have Fun

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  8. Amazing! How long did it take from beginning to finished product? It blows my mind. Not only did you do it, you made it look really good. Do you know how much weight you can put on the counter?

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    • Speaking of warping it’s the paper mache clay.. it gives the cardboard strength..
      Now I’m going to see if I can make a paper mache fruit bowl

      Reply
    • It took four months. But that wasnt the construction part. The reason it to so long was my hesitancy to move forward. I was afraid it wouldnt work.. so I let it sit for a bout three months of that then spent an hour a day week so the whole thing came together in about eight hours total construction.. I want to try and replicate a four poster bed frame and the great grand daughter a dresser withabuiltin doll house

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      • Amazing, that it only took about eight hours to construct. Great job. Wow, and now a four poster bed frame and a dresser with doll house. One lucky granddaughter. Can’t wait to see pictures. Please do post them. Mary

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  9. Wow! A piece of furniture! That is such an inspirational project! It shows how you can create just about anything you can imagine from Jonni’s paper maché recipe!

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  10. What a lovely piece of furniture!!! Love the extra details you added. Amazing what can be made with incentive and creativity!!!

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  11. I can’t believe you were hesitant on a rabbit and created that!!! I’d say you can do pretty much what you set your mind to. ?. Please post pictures of your other projects when they’re done. I can’t wait to see what else you come up with!!!

    Reply
  12. I’m blown away by this one! Terrific work… I love doing furniture re-do’s (upholstery, paint, etc) and now I’m REALLY inspired 🙂

    Reply

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