A New Kind of Bowling

Photo 10

We’re enjoying a few weeks of Camp Mommy over here. What’s Camp Mommy, you wonder? So glad you asked. It’s the four weeks between summer camp ending and kindergarten starting. That’s right, four weeks. We’ll be visiting family for the last week, leaving 3 weeks of carefree, un-programmed family fun.

That worked for the first hour. And then I began frantically populating the calendar with playdates, field trips, and projects. Preferably multiday projects like this paper mache bowl from the Artful Parent. Because when there’s only one camper, there’d better be entertainment.

We once tried making bowls by gluing yarn to a balloon, and that was a sticky and quickly abandoned mess. So the appeal of this version, besides the simple and all-on-hand materials, was that it does NOT involve a balloon for shaping. Instead, the paper bowl is built on a plastic-wrap-protected real bowl. We used an aluminum mixing bowl, but any size and type of bowl should work. Cover it in plastic wrap, with some wrap extending past the rim of the bowl. This will help you remove the dried paper bowl later, trust me!

The paper mache solution is a mixture of one part flour, two parts water, and a dash of salt and squeeze of glue.  The salt and glue aren’t really part of the recipe, but the salt has something to do with preventing mold in humid climates and The Artful Parent added glue for peace of mind and I’ve learned to trust her recommendations.


We tore strips of newspaper about 6″ x 1″, and got to soaking and sticking. On a hot day, the cool paper mache felt great, and it stuck well and was actually a very soothing activity. About halfway through, we decided that the bowl would be a 50th anniversary gift for my parents. To make it extra sturdy and packable, we covered it with about 6 layers of newspaper.  And then we left it to dry.


And dry.


And dry some more. For about 4 days.

Once the bowl was completely hard and dry, I CAREFULLY removed it from the mixing bowl, mostly by pulling the plastic wrap and slowly nudging the bowl off.  I won’t pretend this was easy, it absolutely was not. While it was drying, I pulled the wrap a little bit, which gave the paper bowl a slightly rounded, wrapped edge, and this thicker rim gave the bowl some extra strength. We let the freed bowl dry one more day for good measure and then spraypainted a white base coat.


Using acrylic paints, we painted the bowl together, let it dry, and then sprayed a protective clear gloss over it. It’s a long way from perfect and I wouldn’t eat cereal from it or fill it with liquid, but we had fun and I think it will survive the trip North and be a well-loved anniversary gift. And now we need another project for week two of Camp Mommy!


A few tips if you try paper mache:

  • After we finished, I found these instructions, which suggest that a layer of Vaseline might make the finished bowl easier to remove. Hmmm, maybe.
  • It is very tempting, especially for kids, to add thick layers of multiple sheets of newspaper at once. The bowl will be stronger if you add each strip individually, criss-crossing them randomly.
  • On our bowl, the newsprint isn’t visible because we painted over it.  It might be interesting to use newspaper from a special date, like a birthday, to make a commemorative paper mache project and finish it with minimal painting or just a sheer gloss.

Want more Mess? Visit Melanie’s blog, or drop by her Etsy store, Made by Mommy!