Mother Earth Living

Try This: Pulped Papier Mache Bowl

Recycle old paper into this papier mache bowl project.
By Susan Wasinger
September/October 2006
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Subtle yet striking patterns give these simple-to-make bowls sophisticated personality and style.
Susan Wasinger

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Here’s a recipe for successful paper recycling—just add water. A short soak and a quick purée in the blender turns recycled Yellow Pages and office paper into the material we used to make these cunning bowls. It’s remarkably simple to transform common trash into uncommon treasure.

1. Tear the paper into 1-inch bits and soak in warm water for several hours to soften. The Yellow Pages make a soft, sage-green pulp; office paper, a pale stone gray.

2. After soaking, use a blender to whir the watery slurry into a smooth pulp with the consistency of a thick smoothie. Press the pulp through a strainer to squeeze out excess water until it’s workable like clay.

3. For the mold, use a small, smooth-surface bowl without an articulated base (we reused a plastic take-out bowl). Form the pulp over the outside of the bowl, starting at the center with a little dollop and working outward in bands of alternating color.

4. Pat the pulp in place with your hands, then slap it with the flat blade of a knife or spatula. This smoothes the surface, eliminates air bubbles and works the separate bands into one continuous surface. Let dry overnight. Use the knife edge to carefully loosen the dried bowl, then remove it from the mold.


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