“Making Paper Mache Dishes From Used Napkins”

“Making Paper Mache Dishes From Used Napkins”

I have always loved arts and crafts. Recently, I discovered an easy, fun way to reuse napkins and turn them into beautiful paper mache dishes. In this article, I will walk through the entire process of making paper mache dishes from used napkins.

Gathering Materials

The first step is gathering the needed materials. To make paper mache from napkins, you will need:

  • Used napkins – Collect napkins from home, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Choose napkins made of paper, not cloth.

  • Flour – All purpose flour works best. It will act as the adhesive.

  • Water – Mix the flour with water to create the paper mache paste.

  • A bowl – To mix up the flour and water into paste.

  • Mold – This will form the shape of the dish. Options include bowls, cups, plastic containers, balloons, etc.

  • Paint and brushes – Acrylic craft paint works great. This is for decorating after drying.

Optional materials include newspaper, a work surface protector, and polyurethane to seal the finished product.

Creating the Paper Mache Paste

Once materials are gathered, it’s time to make the paste. This is an important step, as the paste consistency impacts the strength and durability of the finished product.

To make the paste:

  1. Tear napkins into small, 1-2 inch size pieces and place in a bowl.

  2. Add 2 parts flour to 1 part water. The mixture should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.

  3. Mix thoroughly until well combined and smooth.

Note: The paste may seem too thin at first, but the napkin pieces will thicken it up significantly.

Shaping the Dish

Now it’s time to shape the dish! This is done by layering napkin pieces over a mold using the paste as an adhesive.

To shape the dish:

  1. Coat the mold lightly in paste. This helps the first napkin layer adhere.

  2. Dip napkin pieces into the paste bowl to coat both sides.

  3. Apply the napkin pieces to the mold, overlapping slightly and covering completely.

  4. Use your hands to smooth down the napkins and coat all crevices.

  5. Apply 3-5 layers, allowing to dry completely between layers.

  6. Add extra paste and napkin pieces to build up thickness and reinforce thin areas if needed.

  7. Allow to dry fully, at least 24 hours. Gently remove from the mold.

Decorating the Dish

Once dried fully, it’s time for the fun part – decorating! Acrylic craft paint works wonderfully to bring these dishes to life.

Decorating ideas:

  • Solid colors in vibrant hues

  • Patterns like polka dots, stripes, florals

  • Painted images of animals, nature scenes, etc.

  • Metallic accents with gold, silver, copper paint

Apply 2-3 thin coats of acrylic paint. Allow to dry fully between coats. Optional: Apply polyurethane over paint for an extra sleek, glossy finish and added protection.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips for getting great results when making paper mache dishes from napkins:

  • Choose flats sheets instead of textured napkins with embossing. The texture makes smoothing tricky.

  • Thin the paste down slightly if napkins won’t adhere. Add water 1 Tbsp at a time until optimal consistency is reached.

  • Work over a protected surface, paper mache can get messy!

  • Reinforce thin spots like dish bottoms with extra paste and napkin layers to prevent holes.

  • Allow to dry fully between layers, usually at least 3-6 hours. Rushing the process leads to weak spots.

  • Sand gently before painting if needed to smooth rough edges or seams.

With these helpful guidance and tips in mind, you’ll be ready to start making beautiful and functional paper mache dishes from used napkins! Have fun getting creative with shapes, colors and designs. Enjoy this eco-friendly craft.