How to Make a Recycled Rolled Up/Glued Paper Magazine Balloon Bowl
How to Recycle Magazines
Pictures of interesting bowls and bins made from recycled magazines are popping up all over the Internet, but very few have useful accompanying instructions. After some experimentation, and lots of glue, I discovered a process for making uniform paper coils and an attractive bowl.
For this project, you can use any type of recycled paper. Magazines, catalogs, junk mail, and left over fliers are all great sources of paper to recycle into a coiled bowl. I used a stack of out of date program schedules from work because I liked the uniform color of the pages, but a multicolored bowl would be cute, too.
How to Cut Paper in Even Strips by Hand
First, you must cut the magazine pages in strips. These strips need to be uniformly wide and have straight sides if you want your finished product to look like a bowl instead of a mess. If you have access to a paper cutter, you can quickly cut 1/4" strips. If not, use a ruler to carefully mark off the page in 1/4" increments. To ensure a straight line, make marks every quarter of an inch along the bottom, middle, and top of the page. Then, use the ruler to draw lines along the marks so you create a series of parallel lines 1/4" apart.
If you would like to make the hand cutting process a little faster, take your lined sheet and clamp it to about five other sheets, as shown in the picture. I used about half a box of tiny binder clips to keep the pages from slipping while I cut, and then cut along the top page's lines. If you attempt to simply hold the sheets in place while cutting, you will end up with uneven strips because the pages will slip.
Glue the Strips into Coils
After you have made a few dozen paper strips, you can begin forming coils. It does not matter if you don't have enough strips for the entire bowl because you need to let it dry in stages so the coils do not simply fall off.
Before opening your glue, blow up and tie off a balloon. I think small round balloons work best, but use whatever shape or size you want for your project - it's yours! Then, place the balloon, tied side down, on top of a glass.
Gluing the paper strips can get a bit messy, so before your proceed, you should protect your work surface with an old grocery bag, or something similar. Then, place a line of white glue down the center of the "wrong side" of a paper strip and spread it evening along the surface using a paint brush or finger. If you are using double-sided magazine pages, you don't need to worry about a right and wrong side, unless you prefer the colors on a side. Then, carefully fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, to form a thinner, but equally long, strip. Apply another line of glue along this new strip and carefully form it in to a tight coil. Place this coil on the top of your balloon as the center of your bowl-to-be. I like the finished appearance created by placing the folded edge out, so I made sure all of my coils were placed with this neat edge showing.
Continue Building the Bowl
All that remains is gluing additional coils around your central coil until your bowl is complete. Unfortunately, this is a little easier said than done. The process is not difficult, it simply takes time - and a willingness to get glue on your fingers! After experimenting with super glue and white glue, I discovered that white glue works better for attaching the coils, you just have to stop every row or two and let the glue dry.
Even though it slowed the drying process, I added a small amount of water to my now partially-empty white glue bottle. The thinner glue had an easier time seeping down into the cracks and gaps, but you can use full-strength glue, if you wish.
You can use these drying periods to cut additional paper strips. Having an idea of how much area strips cover can keep you from devoting hours and hours to cutting far more strips than you need, too.
After the basic shell of the the bowl is dry, you may notice little gaps between the coils. To fill these gaps, cut some of your strips into shorter lengths and make smaller coils to fill in the empty spaces. You can do this while fabricating the main body of the bowl, but I found trying to incorporate small coils from the beginning meant I had to stop and wait for glue to dry even more frequently.
If you love the look but want to use the bowl for liquids, you can purchase plastic bowls covered with paper spirals.
How to Finish the Magazine Bowl
After filling in any gaps and waiting for the glue to dry, remove the balloon. I have seen people suggesting simply popping the balloon, but I was afraid the might leave me with clinging fragments of balloon glued to the bowl's interior. Instead, I suggest carefully rocking the balloon back and forth, cracking the glue. You should be able to remove the balloon, or pop it without fear of clingers.
There you have it! You just created your very own recycled magazine bowl. Now that you understand the process, why not move on to bigger bowls, or maybe even an inventive trash can or storage bin?
If you love recycled crafts, I highly recommend Found, Free, and Flea. It's full of neat ideas and has fantastic pictures, too. When I grow up, I hope I can be as inventive as this book's authors!