Some friends and DECO readers are asking how I made the papier-mâché vessels on our latest cover, Issue 84.

Want to do something interesting and artsy this weekend? Try one. Papier-mâché pottery, sculptures and vessels are easy, therapeutic and always more surprising, in the end, than what you had planned. (We all made a piggy bank with a balloon in kindergarten).

What they are: non-functional in beautiful way, momentary, fragile, flimsy, lop sided, ephemeral, surprising, ridiculous, props, spontaneous.

What they could be: the start of a beautiful personal collection, or a simple gift that lasts much longer than a bunch of flowers or chocolates.

You’ll be needing

Empty plastic container (size will determine the size of your sculpture)

Wire (make sure it is thin enough to bend easily)


Wood glue (thinned down with water, keep some extra water to thin down as you go) – alternatively you can make a mixture of flour and water (the gluten acts as the glue). Make sure you let it stand or you can cook it for a bit. It should be thick and sticky.

Paint brush

Unprinted newspaper and tissue paper (for colour)/water based paint available at your local art shop.

Get going

Draw a few designs on a sheet of paper…rather more than less…what I then do is cut out the elements I like most and “stitch” a new design together. It is all about turning it into a sculptural piece, so experiment with scale and interesting details (handles or a neck of a pot or even a pouring spout). Take your favourite pots, bowls, jugs, vases, etc. Combine them to create your own original sculpture. Shape it as you go along. Forget about doing ‘layers’ in stages. Just keep going.

While it’s soggy, it’s easier to shape.

When dry, you might want to paint it. White looks wonderful.


Posted by Hendrik Coetzee, Elle Deco stylist