I’d been thinking of making a small tray that would hold not only my car keys, but also arbitrary jewelry items like the hair clips that I regularly use, or small accessories (like said clips, earrings, bracelets…) that I’d pick out for wearing the next day. So I recently made one using papier mâché. Technically, this one’s a bowl and not a tray, but who cares, right? 😛
I didn’t click pictures while I was making it 😦 so I’ll just verbally recount the important steps. I first selected a plastic bowl as the base to use in shaping the tray. I then prepared a flour-based glue. For the paper, I tore up newspapers randomly. Hand-torn is preferred (instead of clean-cut) because it helps the pieces form a more seamless surface.
Then came the construction of the tray — this took a while because the paper pieces need to be stuck in multiple layers, and every layer has to dry out before the next layer can be worked on. For the first layer, I spread some paper glue on the base surface and stuck a paper piece on it, brushing some glue on it. Then another piece followed by a coating of glue, then another piece and so on. When the layer was done, I set it outside for air-drying. Another layer followed, then another, until the structure was strong enough to independently hold its shape — that is, without the plastic bowl base — while I work on the next layer over it.
At this point, I removed the plastic bowl; it came off pretty easily after the first few nudges at its rim. More layers followed, both on the inner surface and the outer, until the tray was thick enough. I finally made the rim neater (but still kinda uneven — I liked how the uneven rim looked) by adding folded strips over it. That was the paper base done.
I then borrowed my sister’s gesso to prime the bowl for painting. After letting the gesso-coated tray dry, I painted it a rough, uneven gradient of yellow, orange and red acrylic colors. Finally went a couple of coatings of Mod Podge to give it a nice finish.