Gesso Bowls

This bowl is simply astonishing. Everybody picks it up, expecting it to be made of clay, and surprised to find that it is superlight, delicate and made of paper. I would be happy to display it at any recycled art exhibition. Be grand and explore.

Recycled items:

round balloons

white paper (torn into strips ± 4 x 2 cm)

You will also need:

bowls (to support the balloons)

PVA craft glue

small paintbrush


strong, wide paintbrush

damp cloth

water-based varnish

gold, silver and bronze leaf

size (glue)

sponge brush

1. Inflate the balloons in three different sizes. Place them in bowls to keep them steady.

2. Coat both sides of the paper strips with PVA glue using a brush or simply dipping them into the glue. Cover the upper half of the balloons with these strips.

3. Complete 6—8 layers on each balloon then leave to dry overnight.

4. Leaving, the dried papier-mâché bowls on top of their balloon moulds, apply the gesso with a wide paintbrush. If the gesso is too thick, add a little water to it to make it more liquid. The paper will become wet and heavy, but do not remove it from its mould as it will deform. Leave it to dry. Apply 5—6 layers, leaving each to dry before applying the next.

5. Make sure each paper bowl is dry before proceeding. Test it by tapping it: if properly dry it should sound hollow. Now pop the balloons and remove any debris from the inside of the bowl. Using a polishing movement, smooth the gesso with a damp cloth. Seal it with varnish and leave to dry.

6. The bowls are now ready to be gilded. Follow steps 3—7 , Basic gilding on  CRAFT TECHNIQUES You can gild the inside only, or both the inside and outside of the bowls, for an interesting result. I did inside and outside.

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