Recycled Crafts: Make a Paper Bowl Tutorial

How to Make a Papier Mache Bowl

How to Make a Papier Mache Bowl

This is a fun, easy project for adults or children. Get creative, think of interesting ways to decorate your bowl or use selected words from a magazine on your first and last layers to make it a word art bowl.

I’ve tried to make bowls using the outside of one as a mold.  I like the idea of using the inside of the bowl better.  The only trick is to grease up the inside of the bowl so that your dried paper bowl will release. My instructions say to use petroleum jelly, however I am looking for an alternative since I don’t want to use petroleum based products.

Here’s how to make a papier mache bowl. 


  • molding bowl(s), plastic works best
  • petroleum jelly substitute (please share your ideas!)
  • torn up newspaper, magazine pages, ruined book pages, calendar pages, wrapping paper, basically any kind of scrap paper you can find
  • eco paste (Put one cup of water and one cup of flour into a saucepan.  Stir until smooth, bring to a boil, stirring, turn heat off and pour into a container to cool.  Apply with a brush).


  1. Grease up the inside of your mold bowl.
  2. Cover the inside with strips of paper.
  3. Brush over with a layer of your eco paste.
  4. Add another layer of paper, another layer of paste and repeat.  You should use 6-8 layers total.
  5. Allow your bowl to dry overnight, then trim around the edges to remove all the paper ends.
  6. Use a butter knife or spatula to gently loosen the bowl from its mold and slide out.

Optional: Now you can paint or decorate your bowl. 

  • Make two bowls and use one as a lid, now you can make an animal or a pumpkin bowl.
  • If you don’t want to paint your bowl, use pretty papers to get effect you want (wrapping paper makes a lovely finished project).

Photo Credit: Bowl for Paper Mache by SuperWife2009 on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

Written by Jamie Ervin

Being green comes naturally for Jamie, a Native Oregonian. Educated at Oregon State University she is now a UofO Ducks fan, but remains true to her Alma Mater, the Beavers. Jamie lives vicariously through her husband, a developer of shoes for little feet, who travels the world over and prays she doesn't blog about him. She is the mother to five children, aged 4-16 and a Registered Daycare Provider. Her long term goals include traveling Asia, completing her first novel, obtaining her Master's Degree in English Lit and Education, in addition, Jamie would love to start a natural household and body product line, or maybe just pour some (organic soy) candles. Visit Jamie's personal blog, Looks Good In Polka Dots where it's not just about mothering, gluten free cooking and socially conscious living.


Leave a Reply
  1. Soap is an environmentally-friendly substitute for the petroleum jelly. Just lather up your hands (with any kind – hand or bath soap, dish soap, bar or liquid – anything that makes suds) and coat the bowl with it before applying the first layer of paper.

  2. You can use any kitchen oil or fat. Such as olive oil, veg. oil, butter, bacon grease. It all does the same thing as petroleum jelly in this instance.

  3. What would be really neat is if you could somehow seal it so that it could actually be used for cereal or something.

    • I melted wax then applied a thick layer to the inside of the bowl. It was water-proof when I tested it, but I only had water in it for about 5 minutes. This could work for a cereal bowl. I’d be interested to see if it could work.

  4. Maybe coconut butter. It’s not usually all liquid (unless it’s really hot)or soy butter. Glad you brought up the no petroleum point. I made mask molds in a class and we used our face and plaster/gauze strips. I’d rather have put butter on my face that vaseline!

  5. You can use Non Petroleum Jelly that you will get in your local health store (works also great against diaper rash) or make from one of the recipes that you will find online.

  6. Love this! I’m going to be trying it soon with the kids. I do a lot of recycled crafts on my blog CraftTestDummies– might I get added to your blogroll? Thanks so much, Jenny

  7. How fun, I love paper mache! I’ll be linking. I’ll have to check out the non-petroleum jelly one of the pp mentioned. I haven’t heard of that.

  8. I work a lot with paper mache and I use soap for my release agent. It makes a great substitue for petroleum jelly, it also doesn’t leave the greasy film which seems to soak into the paper. I have found that liquid soap brushed on works well, but I prefer to save the small bits of left over bar soap in a container. Add a little bit of water and brush on to your surface and dry before paper mache-ing.

  9. I made a huge paper bowl using a large salad bowl as the mold, and did it from the inside as well. I used Crisco as a release, and the paper mache paste was just water and flour.

  10. Hey, thanks for sharing – can you also make squared boxes using this method? Sorry, it’s probably a stupid qwuestion

    As for the jelly substitute, I could also imagine that xanthan works. AT least the result of mixing water with a small amount of xanthan gum (a powder, very cheap, basically used in all kind of food)is a jelly. And it might stain the bowl less than oil/fat

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