Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Paper Pottery Bowl Tutorial Part 1

My family doesn't think I should be doing tutorials for things that I sell, but I dunno, you can teach someone to paint and still sell your paintings, right? And it's not like I'm giving away any trade secrets here. Heck, I can even link to two other bloggers that know how to do this. (1, 2) Anyone can make miniatures, but it's the style and skill of an artist that makes them unique collectibles. Besides, most of my paper pottery is one of a kind anyway.

If you know anything about paper quilling or paper beads, this shouldn't be too difficult, but for those that never tried it before, this tutorial will teach you the basics. Granted, I never really did either of those things, but I figured this out by just reading about them, so it can't be that hard to learn. Tiny fingers help...and practice...

Since I'm sort of going to be making this bowls right along with you, this tutorial is getting broken up into parts (it takes time for these to dry) .

What you will need for Part 1;
scissors/something to cut with
A skewer or small dowel
*You can purchase the brands I'm using through Amazon

**Extra Note; Someone on Pinterest has been sharing my tutorial with an attached comment saying to use wood glue. I don't recommend wood glue. It costs more, dries different, has a weird color to it, and it's a messier clean up. Fortunately, I ended up talking to Jennifer of JS Miniatures about this, and she informed me that part of the wood glue comment might be that people in the UK can't get Elmer's glue. So to quote Jennifer (Thank you, btw);

"Alternative to Elmers for the UK would be standard PVA or school type PVA"

So if you can't find Elmers in your country, try that.

I'm using some scrap printer paper here, it's pretty easy to work with, but I've used everything from paper bags to photo paper for these. Different paper has different results, it's fun to experiment. Little tip though: If this is your first time making these, don't use newsprint. It get's mushy and it's much easier learning how to do this using something that will hold it's shape without much work.

Unless you went out and bought quilling paper, you should cut your paper into thin, relatively even strips.
The right batch of strips here are roughly 1cm wide. In miniature, these are really wide. For this tutorial, I'll be working with the thinner batch on the left, but I'm also going to make a bowl out of the wider batch so you can see what happens. Thin strips = Small round bowl. Wide strips = tall steep-sided bowl/vase.

A standard sheet of printer paper is 11 in. long. I need more paper than that, so I glue strips together.

Wrap the paper once around the skewer, and then glue together the loop you just made.
It should be wrapped kind of tightly, but you also need to be able to carefully slide the coiled paper off of the skewer when you're done.

IMPORTANT: Don't glue the paper to the skewer. Glue the paper to itself. 

Another tip: Put a drop of glue onto your wax paper. When you finish "quilling", it's much easier to dip the end of the paper into glue, then it is to try and use a glue bottle while holding the coiled paper in place.

Now that you're done fiddling with the first gluing part, continue wrapping the rest of the paper around the skewer. Once you start, don't stop until you're done. Keep the tension as even as you can. Remember, if it's too loose, it's just going to unravel when you try sliding it off the skewer. And then you'll end up wrapping again, while everything's all gluey.

I broke my own rule here so I could take this photo, don't stop until you've wrapped all of the paper around the skewer. This is to show you that you should be making, well it's basically a flat disc of paper. If the strips of paper aren't, for the most part, aligned it's not going well and you might want to start over. I've never had that problem with printer paper though.

Are you at the end? Don't let go of the paper you just wrapped! Carefully dip the end of your last strip of paper into the glue I told you to leave out, then press down and hold the end of the paper to the coil until you're sure it's not going to pop apart. Might take a minute or two. You don't need much glue for this part.

Now that everything's wrapped and dry, carefully slide your coiled paper disc off of the skewer. 
Is it stuck? Try twisting the disc. Turn it in the direction that will make the coil tighter. You don't want to loosen the coils, your disc could unravel.
You should end up with a disc that has a tiny hole in the center. You glued the beginning and end, so it should stay together.

Evenly push out the center of the disc. I usually use both of my thumbs to do this part, but again, I had to take a picture. If your fingers aren't small enough for the bowl you're making-dowels, toothpicks, Q-tips anything will work. It's just easier to shape things with your own hands when possible.
IMPORTANT: Remember how wide those strips of paper are. They need to be overlapping. If you push the center out too far it's going to unravel.

If you're having trouble making the bowl symmetrical, 
flip it upside down on the table and squish it into the right shape.

Ta-da! A paper bowl...No, we're not done, but it's looking pretty good.

This is the inside,

This is the inside + glue. I used to fill the whole bowl, but you don't need to do that because...

...You can save on dry times, and glue, by spreading it around. Once dry, 
the coils are locked in place-no more worries about unraveling. 
Depending on the paper you're using, you might want to also glue the outside.
When you're all done, set it on the wax paper (some of the glue is going to leak out the bottom over time), and put it somewhere safe while it dries.

Remember those wide paper strips I showed you at the beginning? 
I used those and made the bowl on the left. 
See what I mean about "Wide strips = tall steep-sided bowl/vase"?
Thin strips for bowls people, thin strips...

Congratulations, we are now at the end of Part 1. Now we wait for our bowls (and my weird vase) to dry. 


Looking for more Tutorials and other useful info?

Mini Wire Shelving Tutorial


Wonderful Stuff - Polymer clay, Part 1 

Wonderful Stuff - Polymer clay, Part 2




  1. hi, i make these too1 Your tutorial is great, i can only agree to every step!!! It is a bit "fiddly" to do these, but they always come out great! One can also make a slash into the one end of the stick , the paper is rolled around. Insert the beginning of the stripe and it is then rolled around more easily at the beginning! This is what many use for the paper-beads! Many greetings Anne

  2. Hello Kyle,
    Than you for the tutorial. I agree that even though you share techniques every artist has their own touch. If someone likes your work they will purchase it.
    Big hug,

    1. You're welcome, Giac.
      Glad you like it.

  3. thank you very much for this tutorial, I have never tried to make bowls this way but I will give this a try.

    Marisa :)

    1. No problem, it's kind of fun once you get the hang of it. :)

  4. Cool! Waiting for part 2....and thanks for part 1!

  5. You made it look so simple! I'm adding this to my growing list of things to try.

    1. Oh good, I'm not the only one with a list. XD

      Thanks, glad you like it.