Saturday, April 24, 2010

Paper "Pottery"

I make my paper pottery from quilling paper. For some shapes I combine card stock with it, such as a "moonshine" jug. The color of quilling paper doesn't matter, you are going to cover it with gesso anyway. Check Micheal's or go online for the quilling paper, use 1/8 inch wide. You can cut paper an 1/8 inch wide, too, to try this out without going out to buy special paper.

I made my tool from a large needle
stuck into a dowel rod. I snipped off the top of the needle's eye to finish the tool.

To start, slip the end of the paper into the eye and start winding. I glued 3 pieces together to make a tight circle of about 3/4 inch in diameter when finished winding. Remember the pot is only as big as the tight circle you make. If you want a large diameter pot you have to wind more paper. Use tacky glue to glue the end when you are done winding. Carefully slip the tight circle off the needle tool. For the pot I'm making 2 tight circles. They can both be the same size or the second one can be just so slightly smaller, this will be the top portion of the pot. This is so one can fit into to other when we glue them together.

Two tight circles.

The next step is pushing the centers out. Some people use beads as forms. I just manipulate the circle with my thumbs and fingers. Don't push too much or it will all come loose.

The circle can be flattened if you don't like the shape and you can try again. This takes a little playing with. You'll learn that just a slight nudge can change the character of a shape. Play with the tight circles first to get the feel of pushing out the centers.
In picture 14 you can see the shape of the pot I am making. The bottom and top are not quite the same. The top is not as tall as the bottom. The final shape is your design, just asking you to look at what I've done to the tight circles.

To make the hole in the top, carefully push out the very center with tweezers. Grab the paper and pull out until you have an opening the size you want.
This step can be done after smearing glue on the inside of the bowl, that's the next step. It depends on my mood what I do, glue or make the opening.

When you have the size of opening you want cut off the excess paper.

Top of pot with opening.

I use Elmer's white glue to glue the inside of the bowls we've made. Elmer's dries hard, tacky glue always stays flexible. I don't want the pots to be flexible. Smear glue on a couple of times. Let the glue dry, it's important, if you don't you can smush your bowl shapes doing the next step.

Sometimes I want a smooth finish on the surface of the pottery. I sand the paper with 120 grit sandpaper. You don't have to sand all the rings off, the gesso will cover up a little bit. Sometimes you want to rings to show, like the potter left the rings in for surface decoration.

Glue the two bowls together. They can be glued edges to edges or if you made one of the tight circles a little smaller, one bowl will fit into the other.

I like to drop a little Elmer's glue inside and roll the pot around to distribute the glue. You will have to roll the pot around a few times before the glue dries.

To make a flared lip I use card stock and trace a 3/4 inch circle, then trace a 1/2 inch circle inside of it.

Cut the circle out.

Gently bend the circle over a dowel rod or pencil to get it to curve without creasing.

Mix dots of tacky glue and Elmer's glue together. Overlap the lip to match the size of the opening in the top of your pot and glue the lip together with the mixed glue.

Glue the lip onto the pot using the mixed glue.

I trimmed the quilling paper a little narrower. You can buy narrower quilling paper, but I just trim for now. This narrow size is for the handles on the pot.
Wrap the narrow paper around a 1/8 inch dowel rod. Secure with the mixed glue, paper to paper to begin with, don't glue the paper to the dowel, then roll around the dowel twice. Cut the paper and glue the end. Slip the handle off the dowel and make another.

For the smaller handle I used a toothpick, that's about a 1/16 in diameter. Make two handles the same as above.

I use gesso to fill in and smooth the surface of the pot a little more than just sanding. Apply a couple of coats, let dry, sand and apply more coats, sanding between until you get the surface you like.

I also stipple using gesso and glue mixed together or paint and glue mixed together. You can use any craft texture product to add surface texture to the pot.
Remember, this is pottery, not china. It's supposed to look hand made, not too perfect.
At this point you can add all sorts of surface decoration. I used flower and leaf paper punches to make an applied decoration. Wire can also be used as handles. You can use thread for ribs, the top edges or as a foot. Fingernail accessories can be used.

Imagination is the name of the game here.

To paint I use acrylic craft paints. Sometimes I will top this with glass stain, like the pot holding the pink tulips. Glass stain can be very useful for different pottery glaze effects, experiment. I generally top it all off with a very shiny, hard varnish. I like Delta's Perm Enamel Clear Gloss Glaze or DecoArt Triple Thick Gloss Glaze.

Nesting bowls painted to look like 1950's and 60's Pyrex bowls with the white inside.

Pot holding pink tulips with brown glass paint used on the top portion of pot.

I love big pottery and mini pottery. I hope you all try making some pots and bowls.



  1. A fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing. I've got some quilling supplies but I'm very unlikely to ever use them for their 'intended' purpose so this is perfect for me :)

  2. This is amazing, Kris. Thanks so much for posting this tutorial.

  3. Thank you for another usefull tip. They are really "real". I'll try, Rosanna

  4. Thank you so much for this fantastic tut. I can't wait to get some quilling paper & give it a try x

  5. How clever. Thank you so much for sharing - beautiful 'pottery'. Carol xox

  6. I am absolutely blown away. What an exciting technique!


  7. Te ha quedado genial!!!!
    Parece mentira que con papel, puedas hacer esas preciosas jarras.
    besitos ascension

  8. Hi Kris,
    Thank you very much for tutorial!
    one month ago a neighbor gave me bag full of paper quillings.
    I also make.

  9. Thank you for great tutorial! I must try it:)))

  10. It's an amazing tutorial! Thank you very much!

  11. Wonderful. I've made these before but not for a long long time. I must grab some paper and have another go.

  12. Just found your blog and have had fun reading thru some of your old posts this afternoon. I love this tutorial about the paper bowls. Thank you for sharing all that info. I'd like to try my hand at these myself some time!

  13. ¡Que maravilla de Tutorial!! En un tiempo que pueda lo voy hacer ( = ¡Muchas gracias!!

  14. Oh these are just delightful! Thanks so much for this post, i can't wait to give it a try!

  15. Wow what an inventive way to make pots and bowls!!! And thank you so much for sharing! I will have to try and make some! I am very excited, thank you again for sharing (=

  16. Karin ... I am so 'clay-brained' that I rarely think about using other mediums but I love your paper pottery and I may just have to go drag out my quilling paper from a decade ago, lol!
    You have done an amazing job with this tutorial ...thank you so much for sharing such a neat project!
    hugs, luny from COC

  17. maravilloso ,realmente alucinante , gracias por compartir.
    Saludos Loly

  18. Great tutorial, thank you for sharing! :D I already made pots with quilling method some years ago (some bowls and a teapot with a working lid) but I used PVA glue and not gesso. Gesso is a great idea :) wonderful works!!!

  19. Kris, thank you for your blog! I take a lot of help and ideas to create my miniatures from you. I like papper pottery so much - I try and try it again!

    Love, Katy

  20. Great idea. Thanks a lot for sharing

  21. I made a couple of these. They do don’t come out as smoothly as I thought they would. The outermost layers separated when I got to that part. I couldn’t seem to get the tension any tighter without ripping the paper, again. 🤔 But, all in all, I can live with how they turned out. Ty for the tutorial! 👍🏼😁

    1. Maggie M - If they're still bumpy, it just means your'e not finished yet - they can get as smooth as glass with time & practice, but remember it's supposed to be like a solid, durable pottery item, not fine & translucent like porcelain or china. Gluing inside will help keep things together better & like Kris, I strongly believe in the importance of sanding often & in between layers of product (glues, fillers, primers, paints, gloss/varnish etc) when working on miniatures. Best wishes :)

  22. I love this tutorial you did a great job 👍. The only thing I can say is that the pictures weren’t there . The first couple pictures we’re showen but a lot were not showed . I don’t know if it happened to everyone. Like I said great job 👍😍

  23. This is so great! I am getting some quilling paper to give it a "go". Thank you for keeping all these tutorials through time. It gives me a chance to do the things everyone else has been doing for a long while.

  24. I'm speechless! Pots made from paper! Wow, can't wait to try.