Creating your own decorative vase is a rewarding way to express your creativity and unique style. A large vase can make the perfect accent for a wide mantel or the corner of a room, while giving you the opportunity to display sunflowers, large bamboo rods or other items too tall or unwieldy for smaller vases.
Things You'll Need
- Bucket or garbage can
- Masking tape
- Plastic bags
- Plastic wrap
- Marine varnish
- Wire cutter
- 12-gauge craft wire
- Acrylic paint
Sketch the shape you want your vase to have on a piece of paper. Draw a horizontal dotted line at each point where the shape starts narrowing or widening at all of the widest and narrowest points of the vase. You will need to make the vase in separate segments as indicated by the dotted lines, then fuse them.
Turn a bucket upside down. Crumple newspaper and stuff it into small plastic bags, then tape the bags to the outside of the bucket to form a mold in the shape of the bottom segment of the vase. Leave the bottom of the bucket flat, since it will form the base the vase stands on. Cover any exposed parts of the bucket with plastic wrap and masking tape.
Mix equal parts flour and water to create paper mache paste. Tear newspaper into strips about 2 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches long. Dip newspaper strips into the paste and layer them onto the mold, allowing the paper mache to dry thoroughly after every two to three layers.
Remove the dried paper mache vase segment carefully from the mold when it is thick and sturdy enough to support itself without collapsing. The necessary thickness will vary based on the size and shape of the vase segment.
Paint the inside of the segment with marine varnish, all the way to the edges, and allow it to dry thoroughly. If desired, add a second coat for additional waterproofing.
Repeat the steps to form each additional segment of the vase. Unlike the base, the rest of the segments should be open at the top and bottom. Make sure the ends of adjacent sections match each other in size and shape to ensure a smooth fit.
Put the segments together to form the shape of the whole vase. Cut lengths of 12-gauge craft wire long enough to run along the full height of the vase. Attach wire vertically at 8- to 12-inch intervals around the base segment using masking tape. Stack the second segment on top of the base segment and tape it in place to secure the wire pieces. Continue in the same manner until all the pieces are in place and held together by wire and masking tape.
Layer paper mache on the outside of the vase, paying special attention to securing and masking the seams between the segments. Leave the wires uncovered for the first few layers to avoid protrusions on the surface of the final product. Allow the paper mache to dry after every two to three layers. Continue until the vase reaches the desired thickness.
Decorate the exterior of the vase with acrylic paints. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly, then paint the exterior with a layer of marine varnish. If desired, add a second layer of varnish.
Tips & Warnings
- If you don't have buckets in the right shape, you can use garbage cans, large drink bottles or other items that match the shape you want for segments of your vase.
- If you have enough buckets of the right sizes, you can make all of the segments at once. If not, re-use the same bucket after unmolding each segment.
- Remember to varnish the bottom of the vase.
- If you intend to leave water in the bottom of the vase more than occasionally, it is a good idea to glue a waterproof container or small bucket inside the base before you put together the segments. Marine varnish will provide some protection from water damage, but it is not suitable for continuous long-term exposure without periodic revarnishing.
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