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What is a rolled newspaper container?

It is a handmade bowl, container that is formed from rolled up newspapers and covered with handmade papers and other decoration. It is very sturdy, simply to make, and is unique and interesting.


Newspapers- For a medium size container you will need three full newspapers

Masking Tape- 1" wide is fine

Wooden Dowel- 1/2" in diameter and three feet or so long is OK

Paper- Decorative handmade or mulberry papers (a couple of colors is more fun)

Liquid Starch- The best brand is Vano Brand but it is hard to find. Other brands will work, but it must be liquid (spray will not work)

Decorative Materials- Dried flowers, dried leaves, dried moss, dried anything

Stamp Stuff- You may want to stamp images on the handmade paper and apply them to the bowl. If you do this I recommend using permanent ink, fabric ink or metallic inks. Or you can stamp in anything and then emboss it to set the ink.

Step One:

First off you will need to roll up 25 sheets of newspaper. The way you do this is to fold the sheet in half along its fold so that it is closed (double thick). The single sheets will not work and should be put aside). Then put it down on a table and lay the dowel down on top near the edge. Take the paper and fold it over the dowel and start rolling. When you have rolled it all the way up you can tape it in the middle and near the ends to keep it from unrolling. Once it is taped you can slide it off the dowel. Note: for a larger container you would simply roll more newspapers. For a huge container (several feet high) I would recommend using a large dowel, 1" or more.

Step Two:

Once you have rolled all twenty five rolls you can begin coil them up. This can be a little tricky so go slow. The first step is to take two of the rolls and tape them end to end. An overlap of an 1 1/2" is fine. (see diagram 1)

Step Three:

Then begin to roll them up like a coiled snake. Keep adding new rolls to the end of the coil. Roll them up very tight. When the coiled "wheel" begins to get larger it is important to hold it down on a table to keep it from falling apart. (see diagram 2). Note: Be careful when you do this step as the wheel can sort of explode and you have to start coiling all over again. If you have trouble with this grab a friend and use them to hold it down while you add on the new pieces.

Step Four:

When you have coiled up all twenty five rolls you can tape the end down flat against the side. Tape the end very securely. (see diagram 3)

Step Five:

At this point you will need to decide what shape you want your container to be. You can play with different shapes by carefully pushing down in the center of the coiled wheel while you pull up on the edges. As you do this you will want to watch the overlap of the different coils. By manipulation of the coils you can create a bowl that is high and deep or low like a platter or even raised in the center or even high on one side and low on the other. (see diagram 4) Note: This is the fun part as you get to play around but it is also a time to be very careful as you coils can fall apart. As you experiment you will see what I mean.

Variation: If you want to have a covered container or a vase you can simply create another coil like the last one only instead of starting the coil closed you can leave an opening by taping it open and coil around the opening. When it has reached the same diameter as the base stop coiling and mold it into the shape you ant for the top. Once you have done step six below you will then tape the two together at the joint. (see diagram 5 and 6).

Step Six:

Once you have decided on a shape you should take long strips of masking tape and place them down the sides of your container to hold the shape. Also, place them down the inside of the container. Put enough tape on so that it will hold the shape while you are covering the container. However, don't feel like you have to use too much tape as the outside paper will hold the whole thing together once it is dry.

Step Seven:

Once you feel that your container shape is stable you can begin to put the first layer of paper on. Because handmade and mulberry papers can be expensive you may want to do a first layer in a cheaper paper such as thin butcher paper of school grade paper towels. This layer also helps to hide the newsprint pattern and protect the handmade paper layer from ink seeping through.

"Paper Mache"-

In this project I like to use liquid starch to put on my paper. This is not traditional and is not really paper mache in the true sense at all. However, as there is not a word that I know of to describe wetting paper and putting it onto a surface I will have to use it for now. I like to use liquid starch as it is clean, easy to clean up, doesn't smell and it is perfect for handmade paper as it does not alter its color or consistency.

Take some liquid starch and place in in a shallow bowl. Tear up your under paper (thin butcher paper or school grade paper towels) into pieces about 1 1/2" wide and 4" long (tear it don't cut it as the torn edges feather and don't leave hard lines. Next, dip the paper into the starch and place it on the surface of the bowl. Do this over and over until you have covered the entire bowl. If the newsprint shows through a lot then do another layer. Note: You will need to place the container down somewhere while it is we. I recommend putting it on wax paper as it wont stick to it.

Step Eight:

Let the first coat dry a little bit so that your second layer doesn't become too heavy and pull the first layer off. There is no need to let the first coat dry all the way unless you want to.

It is now time to apply the decorative layer of paper. Tear up the handmade or mulberry paper into similar size pieces as the first paper layer. Dip them in the starch and apply it to the container. Do this in the same way as you did the first paper layer. If you have more than one color you can have a great time alternating papers and make creative designs. Note: Make sure that you tear the paper as the edges will tend to melt into each other and it will look seamless.

Note: Stampers- For those of you who are rubber stamp addicts now is the time for you to get out the stamp kit. If you stamp an image onto your handmade or mulberry paper in permanent ink you can dip it and apply it to the surface of your container. If the paper you use is the same as the container it will appear that you stamped it on the bowl directly as the edges will melt into the surface of the bowl. If you do not have permanent ink you can emboss your images and apply it in the same manner. Cool!

Step Nine:

Note: This step should be done when the container is still wet.

You are now ready to decorate the container. Some people like to leave the container plain without decoration. If you are one of those then you are done. If you want to decorate you will want to get out your dried materials and begin to attach them to the inside or outside of the bowl using paper bridges. What is a paper bridge? It is something that you can use to attach your decorations without the ugliness of hot glue etc. To make a paper bridge you simply take a strip of the same handmade or mulberry paper you have been using to cover the bowl with and dip it into the starch. In your other hand place the dried flower (or whatever) stems against the bowl in the area you want it to be. Then take the paper bridge and place it over the bottom of the stem so that the bottom is hidden. Push the edges of the paper bridge down against the side of the container until it is really attached well. If you flowers are really high you may need to use a couple of bridges to hold it on.

For decoration you can use dried materials, feathers, string, raffia or anything you like. The possibilities are basically endless.

Note: You will want to let this dry for at least 24 hours. If it can be outside (but not in the sun) where it is warm that is perfect. Anywhere where it is dry will work fine. If you wind when you are done that you have a pool of starch at the bottom of the bowl simply take some paper towels and dab it out.

Note: If your old bowls are looking a little shabby or you really don't like the color or decoration of your bowl you can go back in even though it is dry and put another layer of paper on. The old paper will juice right up when the starch hits it and you can give your bowl a little face lift.

See below for photos of finished bowls-


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