One-on-One Challenge with Michele: Gift Wrap

Michele is one of my favorite bloggers. I think I have sung her praises before, but I can’t help it. Every time I go to her site I come away with a dozen ideas on what to make next. She is like a sugar rush of creativity. 
A few weeks ago we decided to challenge each other to find new a glorious ways to celebrate something leftover from Christmas. Something wasteful. Something in abundance. What could be better than gift wrap!
The rules of the challenge were wonderfully open ended. As Michele explains 

“We emailed back and forth. Picked a day (today). Decided on a challenge. Created a post with a link to the challenger’s post, and that’s it! Now all you do is check out what I made, check out what Peaches made, and Bob’s your uncle, your work is done! No winners, no losers, just happy happy all around.”

HaHa “No winners, no losers” she says. Michele is diplomatic. It’s easy to be that way when you are clearly the winner. Just wait until you click here to see Michele’s AMAZING Childhood Charms. They are like happy little stained glass pieces made from her children’s drawings. Stunning.

I like my plaid bowl just dandy but honestly, it could not be more plain jane next to Michele’s project. I’m OK with it, but honestly, it has been a long time since anyone has out-glammed me. A LONG TIME. Something tells me I will be eating sequins with supper tonight!

Well, today’s challenge clearly boils down to form vs. function. And while my giant plaid produce bowl isn’t nearly as snazzy as Michele’s charms, it is something I have been hankering to make for years. Years I tell you! I have wanted a giant pedestal bowl to keep on my kitchen table, to hold fruit and veggies that don’t go in the fridge… problem with giant bowls is that they usually come with a giant footprint and take up half my table. No good. Enter paper mache!


  • One old beat up paper lantern 
  • One large chili bowl (you can skip this if you don’t want it to be a pedestal bowl)
  • duct tape
  • flour
  • water
  • carpenter’s wood glue or mod podge
  • A Whole Boat Load of leftover wrapping paper, including some brown craft paper or old paper bags (for the base layer)

This project is messy and takes a while. The kind f thing you do for 30 minutes a day, every day over the course of a week. The goods news is, this project is hard to mess up and kids love to help out. Just be sure they don’t expect immediate results. This one drags out a bit but the rewards are beautiful and will last a long time 🙂

1. Make a paper mache paste. My typical recipe is: one cup flour + two cups water stirred constantly over low heat for two minutes….but you can also buy it commercially or just google up our own recipe.
2. For the base layer, run brown paper under the faucet to moisten. Squish, crumple and tear into pieces no larger than your hand.
3. Put all your pieces the paste pot and beat it around with a wooden spoon (note: kids LOVE this step!)
4. One by one pull pieces from the pot and use your fingers to ensure they are fully coated (Note: kids LOVE this step even more!)

5. Prop your lantern up on an old bowl. Be prepared for a mess. As you can see, I left my kitchen messy to match the craft today. Yeah, that’s it.
6. Lay pieces on the lantern, overlapping heavily. Let it dry thoroughly.
7. Once dry, use scissors to cut the lantern in half.  Now you have your basic bowl shape in place and you can go back and repeat steps 1-4 with wrapping paper, building layers as you go. The more layers, the stronger the bowl. If your bowl is going to be just for decorative purposes, you could probably get away with just a layer of craft paper and single layer of wrapping paper, but since mine is going to hold some heavy duty fruit and veg, I made 5 layers over the course of a week.

8. Cover/Reinforce holes using paper plates and duct tape.
9. Duct tape a chili bowl to the bottom of the larger lantern bowl. Note: Any bowl will do the job, but try to choose something heavy enough to balance the weight of whatever you plan to put in the bowl. 
10. After your final layer of wrapping paper is on and 100% dry (at least 24 hours dry or in the oven at 200F for 30 minutes)…coat your bowl with a water-resistant sealer. I like to use a 50/50 mix of mod podge and water, but I recall my old art teacher saying a 50/50 blend of wood glue and water is a far more thorough sealer. Wood glue can also give a slight yellowy-antiquey finish that is really nice for certain things.
11. And there you have it!  A happy and robust, not to mention PLAID produce bowl you can use all year round! 
With this little challenge project, I have saved space, found storage, utilized some otherwise discarded paper, and had such a fun time working with Michele!  Again, I urge you to check out her AMAZING Childhood Charms and leave a comment on either of our sites. There is no winner here (ahem!) but y’all are certainly welcome to weigh in 🙂  Many thanks to Michele for coming up with this wonderful idea!  Until next time….


  1. says

    I love this idea! I’m a big fan of paper mache, so this is definitely added to my to-do list!

  2. says

    Really, must it come to virtual fisticuffs? I disagree entirely. I don’t think I am the winner. When’s the last time you saw such a pleasing and pretty PLAID pedestal bowl?! I love your choice of paper: it would make the perfect centerpiece for a fourth of July celebration (you’ll definitely have to bring it back for that), or anytime for that matter! I think my charms are great and everything, but are they winning? That is certainly debatable. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s a tie. And stop calling me diplomatic, we both won okay?!!! Glad that’s settled…


    xox Michele

  3. says

    That is fantastic. I love the paper, and what you turned it into.

  4. says

    Oh, love this to tiny bits of wrapping paper! First: you and Michele are perfectly matched and I was super excited to learn of this one-on-one. Second: I loved the first bowl pic and assumed I knew how you made it. But then was COMPLETELY STARTLED to see the tutorial. A paper lantern!!! Never ever would have seen that coming. I am just in love with how it gives your bowl ribbing. Third: wonderful tute, such great detail and tips – I wouldn’t have known to have a heavy bowl at the bottom for weight, but now you point it out – obvy! Fourth: the plaidness of it – squee! Fifth: the small footprint idea is such a great thing. Sixth: how high can I count? Yay to both of you crazy artistes.

  5. says

    Hello! I am visiting via Michele’s space. I love your bowl and this is a wonderful project with lots of ooey and gooey applications! I can wait to poke around your blog some more.

    PS Coincidentally I posted about a little gift wrap reuse today as well.

  6. says

    Bravo!! *standing ovation* This is so much fun and I honestly love the practicality of your bowl! Thank you for reminding me how much fun paper mache can be and the pretty things you get as a result!

  7. says

    This is wonderful! I love that there was a show-down to see who could re-use the useless better. It’s funny that you both used giftwrap. I was in a similar state of mind last week. I didn’t really feel like tossing my Christmas lights into the garage, so I stuffed them into a ball of twigs, and called it a light.

  8. says

    LOVE your bowl! Anything to get your hands dirty and still be creative is great for me! Tutorial is clear as mud too. We’ll be seeing this bowl again on the 4th, with all kinds of things popping out of it, I”m sure.

  9. says

    Really a cool bowl! I am really into the look… !(and think I have to get muddy too ^^)

  10. says

    Wow!! What a beautiful bowl!! I just love it! I like the idea of using an old paper lantern for your shape. It really turned out beautifully. Hugs Ariane

  11. says

    I love the challenge! And it does not surprise me that you two would be like a match made in heaven. You uber-talented-eco-friendly-crafty=little-minxes you 😉 Your pedestal bowl is fabulous, any Scotsman would be proud to eat their oatmeal out of it!

  12. says

    Your bowl is fabulous, Michele and you do seem to be perfectly matched! and I really must make some paper mache with my kids one of these days!

  13. says

    This is amazing, and so trendy, did you know plaid is back? Wow, and love the photo with the book pages….and you know plaid is always glamorous…with some pearls and maybe some nice leather gloves….you definitely were not the looser, both projects were great! Thanks so much for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!


  1. […] that predates the wheel pretty sure. So let’s get this show on the road why don’t we? WHAT AUNT PEACHES MADE {CLICK HERE} WHAT MICHELE MADE {KEEP READING} Tutorial: Childhood Charms Every one of my three kids loves […]

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