Pfft. I can do that: Ali Does It turns three!

Papier Mache Bowls 35

Can you believe it?  I’ve been Doing It Myself for THREE FREAKING YEARS now!  Well, it’s been longer than that, but today marks the third anniversary of when I started putting my foibles and failures (and too many pictures of my dog) up on the internet for you to enjoy.  And I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

How to commemorate this, though?  I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, so I didn’t really want to do that.  And because Christmas is over and we’re moving in a couple months I don’t have any real crafty/fixy projects on the horizon.  But.  I saw this back on Etsy a year or so ago and I thought, I could TOTALLY make that myself.  It won’t be as GOOD, mind you, but I could totally do it.  So I’m gonna.  Here goes.

Because I can never do anything in half measures, I decided to make THREE bowls instead of just the one, and they’re gonna be nesting bowls.

Papier Mache Bowls 15

So I needed three bowls of approximately the same shape but different sizes.  Fortunately I have three stainless steel ones that will do just fine.

Papier Mache Bowls 2

You also need a barrier between the bowl and the paste.  You can use plastic wrap but I didn’t want to deal with wrinkles so I used petroleum jelly, which is the only thing I didn’t have on hand and had to buy.

DSCN6313

I still have stacks and stacks of newspapers to use, and so I tore a bunch of those up into thin strips, following the grain of the paper.

Papier Mache Bowls 1

And you need paste as well, obviously.  I went with the same recipe I used for the magnificent and popular papier mâché helicopter piñata I made a few years ago, which is 2 cups flour to 3 cups water.  BAM.

Papier Mache Bowls 3

Make sure to spread newspaper or drop cloths or garbage bags on your work area so you don’t have to deal with errant splashes of dried paste later on.  This, incidentally, is a good project to do while watching movies/television on a bad-weather day.  I curled up with Supernatural, which is not a very good series, but that Jensen Ackles is pretty enough to make it worth watching, and the plot is never too heavy that I have to keep my eyes glued to the screen a hundred percent of the time.

Papier Mache Bowls 5

Start by smearing the outside of your bowl with petroleum jelly.  Try to put it on as smoothly as possible, but make sure it’s pretty thick at the same time.  If you’re using plastic wrap, try to avoid too many wrinkles, and wrap the plastic around the edges of the bowl as well.

Papier Mache Bowls 6

Then have at it, pasting up your strips of newsprint and sticking them to your bowl form.  Do a layer or two, allow it to dry completely, then do another one.  I did a layer, waited an hour, then did another layer and let that dry overnight, then repeated the process the next day.

Papier Mache Bowls 7

This project will definitely take you a couple of days, so make sure to keep your paste tightly sealed when you’re not using it.

Papier Mache Bowls 8

Papier Mache Bowls 9

When the bowl is as thick as you want it to be, and it has dried all the way through, use a thin knife to carefully pry the bowl from the other bowl.

Papier Mache Bowls 10

Wipe off any excess petroleum jelly or peel away the plastic wrap. I found that a cotton tea towel did the best job at getting all the petroleum jelly off.

Papier Mache Bowls 11

Trim the edges of the bowl if you like with a sharp pair of scissors.

Papier Mache Bowls 12

I left mine to cure another day like this, after sealing the open edges with some white glue.

Papier Mache Bowls 14

I flipped the glue over and discovered that it was actually called Troll Booger Glue.  I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I was by that.

Papier Mache Bowls 13

Now, the bowls on Etsy were lined with gold leaf, but I ain’t got the time nor the money for that.  I do, however, have some copper-coloured spray paint.  So I’m going to use that (taking all the necessary precautions, of course).

I couldn’t find my breathing mask so I went with a bandana.  The Pie took one look at me and started laughing so I thought I’d share.

Papier Mache Bowls 21

If you’re using spray paint on your bowls, make sure to do the inside of the bowl first.  That way you can avoid getting the wrong colour on the wrong side of the bowl.

Papier Mache Bowls 17

Papier Mache Bowls 18

Once the inside is done and dried, flip the bowls upside down and do the outside, being careful to direct your spray so it doesn’t get underneath the bowls.  I used blue, white, and black.

Papier Mache Bowls 23

It took a couple coats to make the lines of print disappear.  I thought I had some white spray paint but it turned out that I only had gesso.

Papier Mache Bowls 22

And the gesso only worked so well so I ended up spraying over it with blue.  After that was fully cured, I gave it a once-over with some spray varnish, for added sheen and protection.

Papier Mache Bowls 24

And that’s it.  Not bad, not bad at all.

Papier Mache Bowls 37

Papier Mache Bowls 41

Papier Mache Bowls 44

Clapboard Coffee Stirrer Wall Art

DSCN3547

I saw this little tutorial over at Make and Do Girl and thought I would give it a try.  You can buy fancy versions of this on Etsy for hundreds of dollars, but I thought I could probably produce nearly the same thing for a lot cheaper. And of course, as is usually the case, I was right.

All you need for this is a frame, some paint, a paint brush, a sturdy pair of scissors (despite the wire snips in this picture, I found a set of poultry shears did the trick quite well), glue of some kind (I ended up using Elmer’s School Glue), and a bunch of wee sticks, like coffee stirrers.

Stir Stick Art

While I’m sure, if you are a regular inhabitant of Starbucks or Bridgehead or one of those places, you may amass a large collection of stir sticks over time, I preferred to get mine all at once and bought several packages at Michael’s, which is also where I bought the frame.  You can also use popsicle sticks for this, but then you have to compensate for the rounded edges.

Stir Stick Art

The first thing I did was paint my frames black, using some acrylic paint.  At first I only did the edges of the frame, but I noticed that the frame showed through the gaps in the stir sticks when I glued them down so I ended up painting the whole frame, even the part that is relatively hidden behind sticks.

Stir Stick Art

Then you need to pick a colour palette.  I had a set of Crayola watercolours that I was going to use, because I wanted the wood to show through the paint.  You can of course use any paint you want.  I made two pieces, so for the first palette I picked a series of greens and yellows, and then the second I went with oranges, reds, and then purples and grays.  Obviously if your frames are small, you should probably go with a smaller number of colours.  My frames were pretty long so I went with 7 or 8 different colours.

Stir Stick Art

Now you gotta paint them there sticks.  I laid mine out along the frame just to get an idea of how many I needed (in the end I had a handful of painted ones leftover so this turned out to be a good idea).

Stir Stick Art

Then you paint.  This took me quite a while as I had to do each stick individually and paint it twice (due to the character of my paint). If you use acrylic or something thicker you could just paint them in a batch, or dip them en masse in ink or a dye … whatever works for you. This is all you.

Stir Stick Art

Then you start laying them out.  I measured the sticks to fit in the frame and cut them accordingly.

Stir Stick Art

Then I cut those pieces up so that I could fit them together like patchwork.

Stir Stick Art

Then you start gluing.  And gluing.  And gluing …

Stir Stick Art

Despite these sticks all coming in a package together, they weren’t by any stretch of the imagination the same.  Some had slight curves, or were cut on an angle, and that made putting them together a little bit more of a challenge.  Because there were gaps between sticks at some points, I chose to apply glue individually to each stick rather than just put a blanket of it down on the frame.  It took longer, but I think it was a neater job in the end.

Stir Stick Art

When I got to the end, my final sticks were a little too wide to fit in the frame, so I just took a piece of sandpaper and filed them down a bit until they fit snugly.

Stir Stick Art

My orange and purple job turned out a little slanty, because some of the sticks I used were really angled, but I kind of like how it messes with your eye that way.

DSCN3539

DSCN3546

And these frames came with hanging hardware on both the short and the long sides, so you can hang them either vertically or horizontally.

DSCN3541

I made these originally as gifts, but they look so good on my mantle that I’m thinking of keeping them. They would make a good frame for my giant squid, once I figure out where to hang him …

DSCN3550