Tutorial: Coiled Magazine Paper Bowls

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on October 13, 2010

As I’ve mentioned before-I’ve been fascinated with paper crafts this year.  It really appeals to my frugal nature to make something lovely out of  junk mail, catalogs, old books and magazines!  I already tried making folded paper books, so it was time to try something interesting with magazines and catalogs.

Coiled Magazine Paper Bowls are an attractive, artistic, sustainable craft that anyone can make. They are great as conversation starters, decorator pieces and can be given as gifts.  Since almost everyone has magazines and catalogs lying around they are (practically) free to make!

Magazine Page Bowls

These look even better in person-I'm not a great photographer.

Although this craft will take you some time, it isn’t difficult at all.  Here we go with the tutorial!


Magazine pages
Modge Podge/Glue


Step 1: Fold your magazine slats.

Remove pages from the magazine or catalog.  Although you can use any of them, the more colorful pages will give your finished bowl more color.

Fold your magazine page in half down the middle.

Fold both edges in towards the middle crease.

Fold the new outside edges in to the center again.

And fold the edges in to the center a final time.

Finally fold it in half down the center.

Note:  The finished dimensions of your paper “slat” are important.  If it is too thick, it will be hard to coil, and the finished width of the slat itself effects the look of the bowl.  I personally think that the finished product looks better with a narrower paper “slat”.  You can even cut each page in half legnthwise to make a thinner, and easier to coil, slat.

Tada! A folded slat. Notice by continually folding in to the center you get rid of any rough edges that you may have had from tearing the pages out of the magazine.

Repeat until you have a lot of slats.

Step 2: Tape the slats.

I like to join the slats with tape.  You simply pull off a piece of tape, lay it on your surface, then lay the two slats you are joining end to end and wrap the tape around.

A close up of the taped join.

I like to tape all of my slats together before I start coiling-typically 3 at a time.

So you wind up with a big pile of slats 3 magazine pages long.

Step 3: Coil the slats.

This is the part that takes a bit of coordination & hand strength.  I like to do all my coiling at once-it’s not the kind of project you want to stop in the middle of because it will come unwound.  If you desperately need to stop, try securing it with rubber bands (have those on hand before you get going!)

So just bend the first slat and start coiling.  When you get to the end of your slat, tape a new one on and keep on coiling!

I like to make my coil as tight as I can.  Once I’ve got a bit of coil done, I lay my palm down flat on it and kind of  “spin” it tighter. . .not really sure how to explain that better. . .

Keep going until the coil is as big as what you want the diameter of the bowl to be.  Then tape the end of the last slat down to the bowl itself.

Step 4: Form the bowl.

Now comes the tricky part.  You have to slowly push the sides of the bowl up.  Be careful or you might wind up with this:

Much cussing ensues. Trust me-it is much harder to coil the bowl once you’ve got all the slats joined.  Grrr.

Here you can see the formed bowl from the top (this is how I think they look the neatest).

And here it is from the side.

Step 6: Seal the bowl.

Now you can trim off any little flaps of tape you can see (use an exacto style knife).  Once it is all beautiful it is time to seal it.  I like to use Modge Podge as a sealant, but you could try watered down glue or even some polyurethane.

I give each side 2-3 coats.  It will take quite a while to dry fully-that paper can soak up the glue a bit on the first coat.

Aren’t they pretty?!?

Now I want to try to make a “square” bowl and a long oval mantle bowl.

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Trish October 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Those are amazing! I think I will try this with my son over the holiday break. I am literally LOL on “much cussing ensues,” though of course I’m sure it wasn’t funny at all when it happened. :-)


Drew @ How To Cook Like Your Grandmother October 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm

This is perfect! My wife is a Girl Scout co-troop leader. We’ve been looking for a way to put that free labor to work for us. Time to start an Etsy shop.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate October 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Well, they are selling similar ones on Etsy for about $30 ;) http://bit.ly/afjT8R


Laurie Ashton Farook October 14, 2010 at 8:18 am

That’s cool!

Are the bowls washable at all? I haven’t worked with hodge podge before, so I have no idea what it’s like… :)


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate October 14, 2010 at 9:16 am

Well-I used both regular & gloss modge podge on my bowls. You could probably wipe them down with a damp sponge if you needed to, but I would not wash them. They do make outdoor modge podge now (who knew) so that might make them more water resistant-after all, it is supposed to be left out in the elements. Again-I wouldn’t use for food or really expect it to be more than slightly water resistant.


Amyrlin October 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

I love how pretty the bowls come out, thanks for a great idea for my presents to coworkers, I envision several who would love these bowls!!!


Teri Su October 14, 2010 at 11:34 am

Sorta similar to the trash can i made in the 70s. Roll up magazine pages longwise and paste them to a commercial size ice cream container. My mom had that thing around the house til I was well into my 30s. Haven’t seen it for a few years now. I’ll have to ask her where it went! LOL!


Domestic Diva October 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I don’t typically buy magazines anymore but this looks awesome! I might have to dig around the house to see if we have any left. I definitely want to try this out.


Stephen June 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Go to any public library. They will always have tons of magazines for sale for about 10 cents each or less.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate June 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Great tip Stephen!


Sihui October 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I love the thought of this, I’ve seen a mirror done this way as well. Thanks for sharing the tutorial, I’d love to share this with my readers! :]


smiley January 9, 2011 at 4:05 pm

oo! cool! you just gave me an idea! THANKS!


Becki November 19, 2010 at 9:47 am

I’m trying this today! Any ideas on how you would go about making a square one? I’m going to make a set of three nesting circular ones, if all goes well.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate November 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

I’ve been meaning to try a square one and a long oval one. . .I think for a square I’d make the initial coil about the size of a silver dollar or so, and then sort of squish it into a square. . .


Becki November 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm

You ended up being more of a paper genius than me. Just can’t get it to go into a bowl shape! I’m going to cheat a little and layer the strips with glue.


Kathy November 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm

On average how many slats does it take to make a medium size bowl?


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate November 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Well, I didn’t actually keep track. But my initial bowl was made from a full Coldwater Creek catalog.


smiley January 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm

oo! never thought about CATALOGUES! what a GREAT way to recycle!!!


smiley January 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm

ive seen a few tutorials on how to make these. this one seems the least messy and might yield the best results! cant wait to try it out! thanks!


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate January 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Smiley-thanks, I’m glad it seems useful to you. I hope yours come out great!


Heather March 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I’ve made a small one using your instructions, and it I’m thrilled with it. Just wondering if you’ve made the square or oval ones yet, and if so, how did you shape them?


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Heather-so glad your turned out well! Woohoo! I haven’t tried the square or oval ones yet-it’s on my list of “things to do” :) You have one of those, right? I will post about it when I eventually get around to it though. Promise pinky swear.


Cheryl June 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I have my bowl all wound. Bought something called Collage Pauge today. I’ll try it out tomorrow. I also made a purse out of woven magazine pages. Yes, my non-crafting frinds think I am nuts. They do, however, save their old magazines for me.


Cheryl June 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I will send photos if you explain how to do this.


ShirleyAnne August 2, 2011 at 5:11 am

I have started to coil my first magazine bowl…I have found that if I need to stop, which I seem to have to do often when I remember yet another job that needs doing NOW :), that the use of a mini bulldog clip is just right. (I have just noticed, they are also called binder clips) The clip is also useful when attaching the next set of slats.
Hope this helpsx


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate August 2, 2011 at 6:56 am

ShirleyAnne-that is a great tip-thanks for sharing! I hope your bowls are coming out well :)


Barbara Farland March 8, 2012 at 7:00 am

My friends and I tried our hand at this last night. We’re still doing our tearing and folding, and look forward to coiling next time. Thanks much for the tutorial!

p.s. I blogged about the experience relative to repurposing and writing. Take a look if you like.


Leigh March 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Just found your site through Pinterest, and I love this idea! I’ve seen bowls like these for sale at markets and craft shows, but they’re way too expensive for my frugal student budget. Now, I can make them myself out of junk mail (which is just the right price – FREE)! That’s two solutions in one crafty project. Thank you so much!


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Hope they work out well for you Leigh!


Carolyn Weinert June 24, 2012 at 6:55 am

I have seen bowls like these for sale at art fairs and gift shops, but never dreamed they were made from recycled magazines. I immediately grabbed some old magazines and started the process. It’s a great craft to do while watching TV. The process went much faster than I first thought it would, and after about four hours of TV, I was ready to begin coiling. My bowl is finished, and I love it, probably about 6″ in diameter. I made my last few slats from pages that were mostly black or very dark, which made a nice top rim for my bowl.Thanks for sharing this craft with us!


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate June 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm

They are so fun to make, I’m glad I was able to encourage you to try it!


Nina October 19, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I love the idea for these bowls. I have not glazed mine yet. Does that make them really tight/secure/durable? Mine are so flimsy right now. I just worry; it seems every time I move them a tad, they fall apart (hence the cussing part).


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate October 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Yes-glazing them makes it into a single solid object :) I did several layers of glaze letting it dry well in between.


Jamie Brock November 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm

These magazine paper bowls are amazing.. thank you so much for taking the time to post this tutorial! I’ve just finished a frugal crafts round-up and hope it is okay that I featured your amazing magazine bowls. You can see it here: http://jamiebrock.hubpages.com/hub/Frugal-Crafts-15-Easy-Craft-Ideas

Thank you again.. I love crafts like this using things we have around the house like paper,etc.. and making them into something amazing :)


Sophie December 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Thanks so much for this great tutorial! What was once a Pottery Barn catalog is now an adorable bowl that I am gifting for the Holidays! I used watered down craft glue and that worked great as a sealant. Can’t wait to make a bunch more!


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate December 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Yay! So happy you enjoyed the project-I hope that your gift recipients appreciate your work :)


Jan January 6, 2013 at 1:41 am

I made a square one and an oval one. I just started with a round coil about 4-5 inches in diameter. Then I pushed all four sides repeatedly till they stayed in a square shape, or shaped them into an oval. Then as I built up the walls with repeated strips about 1/8 inch from the previous one, I creased the corners for the square one and molded the oval into the shape. Hope this makes sense. I can send photos!


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate January 7, 2013 at 11:26 am

I’d love to see pictures!


Patti February 21, 2013 at 11:29 am

Just wondered how many magazines I can expect to need for this for a medium size bowl.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm

1 magazine should be more than enough for a bowl


Bonnie February 26, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I bought a folded paper bowl, a swan , and a lidded bowl at a fair years ago. It is made with smaller folded suares- triangles that fit into each other similar to the way gum wrapper creations are made. I do fine until I try to connect a row. At that point everything explodes into a pile of separate folded papers. People make replicas of buildings, bowls etc out of this craft. I sure wish I could go further than just folding the paper and making a straight line. Anybody out there have some words of wisdom to help me out of this dilemma?


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 27, 2013 at 9:15 pm

I’ve seen those kind too-they look great! Unfortunately I don’t know how to make them. I’m a straight up coiled paper kind of gal.


Liz March 21, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Hello and thanks for the great tutorial! Just a quick question, after you’ve folded the slats do you tape the individual slats so as the don’t pop open or is the only time you use tape is when taping the slats together to form the longer slats? I hope that makes sense!


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 22, 2013 at 8:51 am

Liz-so glad you enjoyed the tutorial! I waited until I was joining all the slats together to use the tape. I figured it was easier, and more frugal :)


Roberta August 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Thanks for your very clear instructions. I just love these bowls. Now that I’ve made my first five bowls I’d like to make two suggestions. First, when I fold the two sides to the center, I don’t go exactly to the center,. This leaves a small gap – about 1/8 inch. With each additional fold I keep the gap open. This makes the last fold easier, and keeps the strip flat. Second, I now thin the Mod Podge with water. This makes it easier to apply the sealant with a regular paint brush.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate August 19, 2013 at 9:46 am

Thanks much for the additional advice!


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