Things You'll Need
- For the papier mache:
- A bottle with an interesting shape; if you plan to use it as a vase, keep in mind that you’ll want a fairly large opening.
- For finishing the bottle:
- Acrylic or other paints
- Small clippings from old books or magazines (optional)
- White glue (only if you are using magazine clippings)
- Clear acrylic finish
Although this project is simple enough for a grade-school age child to complete with a little help, it is also the basis for what can become a true work of art. Once the bottle is covered with the papier mache, anything from a simple coat of paint or an elaborately planned design can finish it off.
Making a Batch
Start by making a batch of papier mache. You’ll want to have plenty of newspaper on hand as sometimes it takes a couple of tries to come up with the correct proportions.
Shred a couple of sheets of newspaper. Place the shredded paper in a bowl.
Add enough water to the bowl to completely cover the shredded paper.
Mix the paper and water together. Then, using your hands squeeze out the excess water and discard it, leaving the paper damp.
Add flour to the wet paper, stopping to knead the mixture as you add the flour. You should end up with a mixture that is damp but firm enough to handle.
Use the mixture immediately.
Cover the Bottle
Apply the paper mache all over the bottle. Press the mixture in as you work; try for an even amount of papier mache on all parts of the bottle.
Let the bottle dry overnight.
Make another batch of paper mache and proceed as in Steps 1 and 2, completely covering the bottle with a second layer.
Use sandpaper (after the paper mache is completely dry) to smooth out any bumps and prepare the surface for painting. Wipe the bottle with a soft cloth to remove any particles left from the sanding process.
Paint the entire bottle one color to begin with, whether or not you plan to use additional colors. This will give you a base to work from.
When the first coat of paint is dry, add other colors if you wish. For example, you may wish to stripe the bottle (either horizontally or vertically) or you may wish to add large splashes of contrasting color.
Glue on any small pictures you have chosen, making sure to secure all the edges.
Finish the bottle with several coats of clear acrylic finish.
Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.