How to Make an Inexpensive Papier-Mâché Vase with Balloons

Balloons and paper cups give the vase its shape.

Give the papier-mâché crafts of your childhood a stylish makeover. Create stylish vases using balloons, paper, cups, and homemade paste. These vases owe their ceramic look to an extra layer—a coating of paper clay. Several layers of newspaper and paste ensure each vase is sturdy enough to hold dried flowers, branches, or grasses. Finish the vase with a coat of chalk paint—we chose a sunny yellow color for spring. This easy craft idea requires just a few simple steps and a bit of time to allow the project to dry completely.

papier mache yellow vase on table
Better Homes & Gardens

How to Make a Papier-Mâché Vase

Supplies Needed

Papier-Mâché Paste

  • Water
  • Salt
  • Flour

Papier-Mâché Clay

  • Shredded newspaper
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Cornstarch

Vase Materials

  • Plastic table cover
  • Newspaper
  • Small 9-inch balloons
  • 16-ounce paper cup
  • Pencil
  • Exacto knife
  • Cardboard cereal box
  • Hot glue gun and hot-glue
  • Masking tape
  • Silicone spatula
  • Paintbrush
  • White primer
  • Chalk paint

Step-by-Step Directions

Once you've mixed up a batch of homemade papier-mâché paste, the possibilities are endless. We'll show you how to craft a homemade vase from start to finish.

Step 1: Make the Papier-Mâché Paste

Heat 2 cups of water and 1 Tbsp. salt in a saucepan on medium. In a bowl whisk ½ cup flour with ½ a cup of cold water until lump-free; add to the pan. Gently boil, stirring for 2–3 minutes, until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Allow to cool before using.

Step 2: Form Round Shape

Lay down a plastic table cover to protect your workspace. Tear newspaper into 1-inch wide strips and then tear into short pieces. Inflate two balloons until they are roughly 5-inches in size and tie them off. Coat strips of newspaper, removing excess paste by sliding strips between fingers. Lay vertically until the bottom of each balloon is covered and smooth. Place a layer horizontally. Repeat both layers; let dry overnight. Repeat layering and drying steps until the structure is rigid.

Editor's Tip: Hollow structures require more paper layers than solid ones to ensure they keep their shape.

Step 3: Cut Shapes

Pop and remove the balloons. Measure paper cup and mark 2 ½ inches from the rim. Cut the bottom off of the paper cup. Use the cup to trace a hole around one of the ball openings. Cut out so the paper cup can fit inside. Repeat with the other side of the ball. Cut a hole in one side of the remaining ball, this will be the bottom shape of the vase.

Step 4: Form Vase Shape

Cut a 10 ½-inch by ½-inch strip of thin cardboard. Hot glue ends to form a circle. Attach to the uncut bottom of the ball to form the base of the vase. Stack the two balls and use hot glue to secure them. Add the cut cup to the top and hot glue in place. Secure all the seams with masking tape. Repeat papier-mâché paste newspaper steps for the entire structure to create two additional layers. Be sure to cover the inside of the paper cup. Let dry for four hours.

Step 5: Add Texture

A thin layer of paper clay added to an adry piece makes it feel more substantial. Soak 4 cups of shredded paper in hot water; leave overnight. Use an old blender(one that's not used for food) to mix and shred paper into small pieces. Use a strainer to drain most of the water. Stir in ½ cup papier-mâché paste.

For the porcelain-like finish on the vases, prepare paper clay and add 1 Tbsp. vinegar, 2 Tbsp. salt, and 1 cup flour. Mix with a spoon, then knead to form a sticky, doughlike ball. Place the dough ball on a plastic table cover coated with a mixture of ½ cup flour and 3 Tbsp. cornstarch. Continue to knead the ball until smooth. Apply a thin layer to the entire vase with a silicone spatula and let dry completely.

Step 6: Paint

Add white primer to the outside and inside of the vase and let dry. Paint the vase using chalk-finish paint and let dry. Weight vase with small rocks before adding dried flowers. Do not add water to the vase as the materials are not waterproof.

Have leftover paste? You can store paste between projects for three or four days in a jar in the fridge.

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