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NATURAL CONTAINER MAKING
You will need the following materials:
1. One kitchen mixing bowl (any kind will work, although a plastic one is ideal)
2. Sheets of handmade paper. If you are on a budget you may want to use butcher paper, craft paper, or other non-pigmented paper. All of these alternative papers will need paint or coloring. The handmade paper does not. You can buy beautiful Thailand Mulberry papers from us (or Washi paper for accents). Click on the Shopping Menu above to be taken to the products section of our site.
3. For decorating the bowl you may wish to purchase the following items: dried flowers, raffia, paper raffia, dried moss, feathers, dried herbs, or other dried materials.
4. Liquid starch- Vano brand is the best but very hard to find.
5. A shallow bowl for the starch.
The first step is choosing the bowl. Any size or shape will work. A plastic one makes it easier to remove the container from the bowl once it has dried.
The next step is estimating the amount of paper you will need. If you are making a very large container, say 1' across and 8" deep, you will need approximately one square yard of paper. If you are making a small container approximately 7" across and 4" deep, you will need about 18" square. Once you have determined the size of your container, you can begin tearing up the paper into pieces approximately 2" x 4"
Pour some starch into the starch bowl, then dip one piece of paper into the starch, making sure it is completely covered. Wipe off excess starch with your finger. Lay the piece onto the inside wall of your chosen bowl. Repeat this process until you have done two or more layers over the entire inside surface of the bowl. As a nice effect, you may wish to create a rough edge at the top of the container by extending the pieces past the edge of the bowl 1/4" to 1/2". If you want a neat straight edge, wait until the container is dry, then cut the edge with scissors.
You are now ready to decorate the paper container. You can decorate the container with any material, as long as it is dried. You attach the decorative materials to the inside of the container while it is still wet with something called a "bridge". A bridge is simply a piece of the same paper you used to make the container. Generally bridges will be 2" x 4" or larger. The size is decided by how much material you are trying to attach.
This is an example of how you use a bridge: Take a sprig of dried flowers and place them inside the wet container sticking up past the rim. Take a bridge and place it over the stem and press it into the sides of the container. Put as many bridges over the stem as needed to hold it in place. Allow the container to dry in a warm place overnight or longer depending on the thickness of the paper.
You should be careful not to use too much starch. If it begins pooling in the bottom of the bowl, you should use a paper towel to soak up the excess starch. It is equally important to not use too little starch, or your bowl will not hold together.
When your container is dry, you can begin to loosen the edges and remove the container from the bowl. If you have trouble with this you may wish to let the container dry longer or run a thin piece of metal down the sides of the bowl to loosen it up.
Pop the container out of the bowl and decorate the outside if desired, using the same bridging technique. If for some reason your container has decided to stick to the bowl, go ahead and pull it out as best you can. Handmade paper is very forgiving, and you can generally patch up the container after you have removed it. If your container seems slightly bent, you can usually push it back into shape after it is dry.
If you have chosen to use plain paper and wish to paint your bowl, you should do so after you have decorated it and not before. The bridges will not stick to the paint and you will have to glue the decorations on instead.
Here are some tips on where to purchase materials:
- Liquid starch can be purchased at most grocery stores or discount stores. It usually comes in 1/2 gallon containers. You will need a fraction of this for one container.
- Good quality handmade papers by the roll 25" x 36" can be purchased at from us on-line. Click on the Shopping Menu link at the top of this page.
- Dried flowers and plants can be purchased at a crafts store, or you can save money by drying them yourself.
- Be creative with your decorations; go for striking colors or subtle textures. This is a free-form project that is simple and elegant.
Reeds attached to outside of pot using paper bridges Example of a painted container with raffia being held on by bridges Example of a rough edge at the top of a container Example of a smooth edge with dried flowers and raffia as decoration Example of a container decorated with a feather Example of a different shaped container
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