So, I think this might be my favorite DIY to date.  It’s just so practical and pretty! A few friends and I decided we would get together once a month for an all day craft day.  Just to create pretty things, simply for the sake of creating.  Weather it be something we wear, or something for our homes, decorations for the holidays, or even little somethings for our babies. I tend to get wrapped up in projects for other people that I fail to do all the projects I want to do for myself!  And although one day a month doesn’t sound like much, at least it is one day I can count on! Not to mention, it’s just a good excuse for girl time!  This DIY was our first of many to come.

We’ve been dying to try out gold leaf for a while now.  And we thought these paper mache bowls would be the perfect application.  Our intent was to use them as jewelry dishes.  Here is what you’ll need to create the shell…

ONE –  To create your bowl forms, you’ll need to start with balloons.  I bought a couple packages in different sizes, so that not all my bowls were the same.  I used 5″,  9″, and 12″ balloons.

TWO – Cut up your newspaper into small strips.  Using your foam brush, adhere the newspaper to your balloon using the mod podge.  Be generous!  The more layers, the thicker the bowl.  (My first attempt was too thin so I had to go back and layer on more.  Apply more than you think!)

THREE – Place your balloons upside down (or right side up, whichever way you want to look at it) inside paper cups and let them dry overnight.

FOUR –  Once dry, pop your balloon and remove the latex.  What you will have left is a bowl mold with imperfect edges.  Just use scissors to trim it down to the depth you want.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  I think the irregular shape is what makes these unique!

Paint your bowls entirely white (or any color of your choice).  It may take a few coats. Let it dry.

I wanted my bowls to have a polka dot pattern within the gold leaf.  If you want this look too, buy a pack of sticker dots and stick them down in a pattern on the inside of your bowl.

After your dots are adhered, brush on Gold Leaf Adhesive all over the inside, over the stickers.  Make sure to use the adhesive sparingly and don’t  leave puddles, otherwise the gold leaf will turn into a sticky mess!

Now for the fun part….carefully place your sheets of Gold Leaf all over the inside of the bowl, securing it to the adhesive.  Overlap is fine.  I used a soft paint brush to adhere the leaf and brush off any excess. This was definitely the trickiest part of the project.  I found that the less adhesive I used, the smoother the finish.  If you notice on the photo above, after I applied the leaf, I could still see the outlines of my sticker dots.  One by one, I went through and carefully removed each dot sticker, leaving the white paint underneath to show through.  The dots weren’t perfect, but the more I did, the easier it got!  Last step is to seal your bowls with Gold Leaf Sealer!

I hope you all have fun with this project!  Let me know if you try it out!  It takes some time, but hopefully you’ll love your bowls as much as I do!



  1. Courtney Kennedy

    I love these bowls! They turned out so great and would be perfect in so many homes. There is a new line at Target in the home section that this really reminds me of. Your projects always come out beautifully and they are thought out so well.

    Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to see what else comes out of your once a month projects!


  2. Jasmine

    Awesome! Reminds me of the bowls from Up in the Air Somewhere…
    I might just have to try this! I need some bowls for my bedside table :)

  3. Sharon

    I agree, the newsprint looks cool too. Maybe with the Sunday Comics or maybe I can get my hands on a Chinese newspaper?

  4. Betty

    Just Beautiful. My sister in law used to make these before she past away….she did flowers, so they were finished inside and out.
    I’m glad you mixed some your time & time with friends & making something beautiful all together!!

  5. Evelyn

    Nice! I’m not needing the gold leaf right now, but you have given me a great idea. When I get around to doing and blogging it I’ll post back to this as the inspiration. :)

  6. CocoJ

    I love this idea! I will definitely need to try this out with various finishes. Would a soft blush make-up brush be soft enough to finsihing the gold leaf?

  7. Ann

    Arrived here via Oh the Lovely Things. Your bowls are so pretty – I love it when paper mache looks elegant… kind of an oxymoron actually! Can’t wait to share your diy on my FB page.

  8. Shavonda

    I LOVE this! Ive never actually used Mod Podge, but I think this will be the perfect project for me to try it for the first time. I always take off my rings by the kitchen sink when om cooking and cleaning and one of these bowls will make a pretty place for them to hang out. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Rachel

    Oh wow- these are GORGEOUS! I can’t wait to try make one for my night stand. I would also love to link to your project if you didn’t mind.

  10. Jadams

    I absolutely love this project! I plan to make several for Christmas presents. One question….how did you remove the sticker dots? Did you just pull up the side of the sticker with your finger nail or did you lift the sticker with something? Like a knife? Thanks!

    • kelli

      I just used my finger nail! It’s a little tricky to get a perfectly clean pull….but just do it as carefully as you can! Have fun :)

  11. maegan

    I am drooling over these! Who says DIY can’t be insanely posh-tastic?! Quick question – I’m new to metal leafing; is there a big difference between the brand you linked to and just ordering the combo Speedball set from amazon? I’d hate to waste precious crafty money…

    • kelli

      This was actually my first leafing project Maegan! So I can’t say I know the difference. What I used worked great though…

  12. Brooke

    Thanks for the amazing DIY project! Started my balloons tonight. So excited.
    Question for you, Kelli: After painting on the gold leaf finish, could the bowls benefit from a layer of glossy mod podge to protect it? Or would that ruin the effect of the gold?

    Thank you!

    • kelli

      Hey Brooke! I think they could definitely use a protective coating….but i’m not sure if mod podge is the best as sometimes it leaves that milky finish…I can’t say I know a good one to refer to you though. I’d ask at the craft store! Good luck!

  13. Stephanie

    Hello! I am in love with these and making them this week. One question, did you wear gloves? Also, how did you cut the edge of golf leaf aropund rim of bowl?? Thank you so much in advance.

    • kelli

      Hey Stephanie…no I didn’t wear gloves. And I didn’t cut the edge of the leaf at the top. I just rubbed it on and it only stuck to where I had the adhesive.

  14. Jessica

    These bowls are absolutely GORGEOUS!! I was looking for something to give my mom for Christmas and this is exactly our style, plus there would be an added bonus in the fact that I personally made them!! Luckily, I found them on Pinterest! Thank you so much for sharing your brilliant and fabulous idea with everyone! I may just have to invite a few of my girlfriends over to make them with me like you did, for an excuse for a girls’ night! I love everything about these bowls!

  15. Alyssa

    Hey! I am in the middle of this project (lots of layers of newspaper and modge podge along with many coats of white paint) and my bowls are still a little flimsy. Did I do something wrong, or is this how they are supposed to feel? Thanks! Can’t wait until the final product!

    • kelli

      Keep going with layers ALyssa! You need way more than you think to get a sturdy bowl! I’m sure you’re not doing anything wrong!

  16. Olivia

    This project looks amazing! Definitely going to get a couple of great christmas gifts out of this tutorial. One question: on step four, it looks like both the inside and outside of the bowl is covered with newspaper. So after applying the newspaper to the outside of the balloon and letting it dry, do you repeat the process on the inside after popping and trimming the balloon?

    • kelli

      No Olivia…you just apply the newspaper to the outside. Once you pop the balloon…you’re first layer of newspaper is what you see on the inside…the balloon completely comes off.

  17. maria

    WoW! I want to try to do it very soon, can you please let me know more details about the paint you use for the inside?

  18. Kjirsten

    Love your blog!! I’m going to make the gold leaf paper mache bowls for my parents 50th Anniversary present. I lost my job in April, so I have to be creative, which is great, because I haven’t been in years. I even already have modge podge, newspaper & brushes! Thank you so much. I’m very excited!


  19. Whitney Schott

    Kelli, thanks for this pretty DIY! I made 4 of these bowls for gifts this Christmas. Few suggestions – Smaller strips of newspaper the better. Do at least 5 layers. Don’t use spray adhesive for the gold leaf! Use the paint on like Kelli did, and less is more. I used turquoise and black paint instead of white and those look nice too. I also gold leafed a little on the outside of the bowls, which I liked. Cheers!

  20. Sheila

    Hi Kelli, I LOVE these and can’t wait to make them. One thing I don’t understand though… how do you remove the stickers if they’re already covered with adhesive and the gold leaf? You don’t scratch through the gold leaf to get at them, do you? Thank you so much!

    Sheila in Oregon

    • kelli

      You kind of do Sheila :) There may be a better method, but this worked for me! You just have to be pretty careful when pulling off the adhesive dots as to not pull off any of the surrounding leaf.

  21. Sheila

    Ok, that makes sense. I just love them! It is so kind of you to get back to me. I love your blog too!

    Sheila in Oregon

  22. Kate

    These are so great :) I’ve been looking for a new project and I think I actually have all the supplies on hand! I love the poka dots with the gold… must have been tedious to get those stickers off!

  23. Kalie

    Instead of using the stickers under the gold leaf to get the white polka dots, couldn’t you use those little circle page reinforcements to paint them on top of the gold leaf with acrylic paint and then seal it using something?


        Coral, we couldn’t agree with you more! Especially about growing as a person. I think you really reveal layers of yourself through experiences that challenge you- layers of strength, fortitude, creativity, patience and generally overcoming of negative thoughts and behaviors. Your advise is so good: breaking things down and moving out of your comfort zone. Tomorrow we’ll have a video with a special guest and he has so cool thoughts around risk taking that I think will be right up your alley! Thanks for sharing. – Jen

  24. Betty

    Kelli, What a beautiful project!!! Your instructions are excellent and easy to follow! BTW, found my way here by way of Etsy!


  25. mary

    Hi–Can you please help me? I was thinking about this project for a kids two hour art workshop (ages: 8yrs to 12yr olds) for 12-15 kids. How long does the whole project take?
    How long did the Modge Podge take to dry?
    How many pieces of gold leaf did you use per bowl?
    How much Modge Podge did you use for each bowl?

    I hope you can help.

    Saudi Arabia

    • kelli

      This took a lot longer than two hours.
      I had the mod podge dry overnight.
      I used about 5-6 sheets of gold leaf per bowl.

  26. Annabelle

    Kelli these are so beautiful! I started my project last night and just have a few questions. How many layers do you think you did and did you use strips or more random shaped pieces? Mine seems thick in some spots and a little thinner in others, it was difficult to keep track of putting down the layers. Did you find that you had to use your fingers to smooth down the newspaper?

    Thanks for your help!!

    • kelli

      Hey Annabelle! I used WAY more layers than I thought I would! I just kept going until I thought it was study enough. I used more random tears….not necessarily even strips. I would just add more to the spots that you feel like are too thin. It’s better too have it thicker than too flimsy. I didn’t add anything to the bottom so they don’t lay perfect. But I liked it that way. They don’t roll around when I have jewelry in them.

      xo Kelli

  27. Annabelle

    Sorry one more question, did you do anything to the bottom to keep the bowl stable? I used a quarter on the last layers of mine but I miss judged the center so I think I want to try another one without it. Just want to make sure it doesn’t roll around with my jewelry in it.

  28. Lucinda

    Thanks for posting this!! I made them and they came out beautifully! I will give them as gifts. Thank you so much for your inspiration and beautiful creativity. xo

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    wonderful project wish i can join you kelly once a month i am overseas though. we should figure a way to work and share online.


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  31. Blair

    It’s properly called papier maché. There is no reason to call it paper mache. Google it.

  32. Ananasa

    Absolutely beautiful! We love this idea, so much fun and so beautiful to really hold anything in your home with elegance.

  33. Laurie

    I made these for my boyfriend’s mom as a Christmas gift! She absolutely adored them! Instead of using gold leaf, I just painted the bowls! This diy definitely takes a lot of patience and time. Overall, it took me two days! Thank you so much for posting this tutorial. :)

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  37. angel

    Beautiful ???? just wondering, what is the cost of using gold leaf? Would it not be rather expensive? I do like the idea of it though! Absolutely gorgeous.


    These bowls are lovely! I’ve worked with gold leaf before, but never gilded a bowl. Such a nice idea.

    To answer ANGEL’s question, 23K gold leaf can run $35-$90 and above ,depending on the vendor. It helps to shop around. You’ll also want to buy loose leaf, also known as surface leaf, rather than patent leaf where the sheets of gold are attached to a pice of waxed tissue paper. Imitation gold, or Dutch gold, is a cheaper alternative to 23K.

    To add a few more suggestions, for a richer gold look, the surface of the bowl can be painted red (or black for a different look). Also, a second coat of leaf can be applied. You have to be sure the first surface has dried completely before adding the second coat of size on top of the first layer of gold.

    To protect your gold, it’s a good idea to top coat and seal. Gilded surfaces are delicate and can be easily damaged with regular daily use . Top coating will dull the shine a bit, but it will still be gold and shiny for a lot longer time.

    Hope this was helpful information.

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