Paper Pulp Bowl Project

This paper pulp bowl project can be tackled by lots of different ages of kids with varying degrees of parent help.

It’s so satisfying and sort of magical to make your own paper mache/clay/pulp substance and then form something with it that dries to such a hard consistency. This project is MESSY. Be brave! Dive right in!


  • newspaper
  • big container
  • hot water
  • white glue
  • salt
  • bowl
  • gesso
  • tempera paints

Paper Pulp Bowl Project •

Cut or rip up about half of a newspaper. Cutting it into long strips and then cutting the strips into small squares is much faster, but little kids will have fun getting involved with the ripping part.

Dump the newspaper bits into a big container and cover with hot water- just covering the paper. Let it sit overnight.

Blend it up in a blender for maximum smoothness, or you can just use your hands to mush it around in the water until it’s as smooth as you can get it.

Do this in small batches if you use the blender. It’s very fun and messy to just take turns plunging your hands in the goop, and we didn’t see much difference in smoothness between our blendered batch and hand-mushed batch.

Pour it into a big strainer or grab handfuls and squeeze the water out of them and put them into a new container. (Or at this point you can have a really messy paper pulp fight- I’ll let you decide.)

Add about 3 Tablespoons salt. Now add about 1/4 cup of white glue. Just eyeball everything – you really don’t need to be precise.

When everything is mixed up, line a bowl with plastic wrap and press blobs of paper pulp inside, flattening as you go. It works a little like lumpy clay, so you will be able to mold it, patch up little holes with pieces and sort of smear it around.

Leave it somewhere to dry, away from curious little fingers. Our bowl took about 3 whole days to dry completely.

Tips: placing it in the sun will speed up the drying time, as will popping it out of the plastic wrap when it has set up mostly to let more air get to the bottom.

Cover the bowl with a layer of gesso and let it dry.

Paint it- we used temperas, but you could explore any sort of paint.

Paper Pulp Bowl Project from




12 thoughts on “Paper Pulp Bowl Project”

  1. my 87 yr old mom, makes paper mache bowls and uses them for planters, sticks them right in the ground… keeps squirrels and rabbits from digging up the bulbs. and of course they disintegrate eventually without harming the environment.

  2. DONE–Thanks Lovely! I haven’t had a chance to blog about my experience with this but, it was ‘lonesome, long and fun’! LOL! I had a ton of fun with this project, thanks Jean 😀

    • Hi Kristin- The reasoning for the gesso is that it makes the surface of the bowl nice and white, so the paint will be brighter. Also gesso primes the surface so paint doesn’t seep into the paper bowl, because it’s really porous! I haven’t tried it without the gesso, but I’m thinking tempera might work without the gesso if you paint a few coats on it. (I just added into the materials list- thanks for pointing out that I had forgotten it!)

  3. For the paper bowl instead of glue you can use soaked fenugreekseeds and grind with paper.It will work as glue.It is old technology.My Mom used to do this and she makes the paper bowls for keeping vegetables.This techinic is more than 100 years


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