Use this bowl to hold the Mazao (or
fresh fruits and vegetables) which will be placed on the Mkeka
(mat) of your home Kwanzaa table
Pottery has documented the lives and cultures of people all
over the world for thousands of years. While clay bowls and
other vessels served a practical purpose, the craftsmen who made
them recorded events
and expressed ideas by decorating the surfaces with designs, symbols and
drawings called pictographs. Archaeologists can learn a great deal about
ancient peoples by studying their pottery and these designs.
You may not have clay or a kiln in which to bake finished pieces, but
we can make something that looks like pottery using the papier mache
technique, a craft in which layers of paper are pasted together to make
a form. In this activity, we'll create a bowl and invent our own
pictographs to use as surface decoration. By recycling newspapers and
bags as art materials, we can help save natural resources and landfill
You Will Need:
Black or brown acrylic paint
Lightweight, brown paper bag
Small glass or ceramic bowl
Plastic container for paste
Paint brushes and pan
Protect the table with newspapers, and work on a sheet of wax paper.
Cover the outside and rim of the bowl with plastic wrap. Smooth it, pull
the wrap tight, and tape it to the inside of the bowl. Place the bowl
upside down on the wax paper. Mix the wallpaper paste according to the
The brown bag is the first layer of paper applied to the bowl. To
help soften the bag, tightly roll the paper into a ball. Smooth it out,
and tear it into small squares or rectangles. Dip a paper strip into the
mixture, and remove the extra paste by running the strip between your
fingers and thumb. Starting at the bottom or rim, lay the strip onto the
bowl and smooth it. Repeat with another strip, being careful to slightly
overlap the first one. Continue pasting the paper in this way all around
the rim of the bowl. When you've finished, cover the rest of the bowl
with strips of brown paper.
Now apply a layer of black and white newsprint starting at the rim,
as before. Next paste a layer of the colored comics to the bowl.
Continue alternating between the newsprint and the comics until you've
pasted at least four layers of each to the form. Using the two kinds of
newspaper will help you keep track of the number of layers you've added.
Finish the papier mache by applying another layer of brown paper. Allow
the bowl to dry for at least twelve hours. Remove the bowl from the
papier mache form, and finish the rim by pasting brown paper all around
the edge. When the bowl is completely dry, you're ready to paint it.
You can invent your own pictographs to use in decorating your bowl.
Make symbols or designs to represent important ideas or to record events
in your life. Use pictographs to express who you are, where you live,
and what you like to do. After you've created a few symbols, draw them
on the outside and/or inside of the bowl. Use acrylic paint to fill in
the outline. When you've finished painting, set the bowl aside to dry.
Tips and Tricks:
When working with papier mache, it's better to tear the strips of
paper, because torn strips lay better than cut ones. Also, the fibers in
newspaper run in one direction, so tear the paper along the
"grain" to obtain long strips. If you'd like to make a heavier
bowl, just add five to ten more layers of papier mache to the form.
While the bowl is strictly decorative, you can help protect it with a
coat of acrylic varnish.
Can you imagine painting without a brush? People living in ancient
times had to make their own brushes and tools to apply paint. Challenge
yourself to decorate your bowl without using modern art tools. Try
creating your own brushes, or sharpen a twig, dip it into paint, and
make marks on the surface of your bowl.
The aborigines of Australia have been painting beautiful dot designs
with sticks for thousands of years! You can try your hand at stick
painting by using short lengths of dowel rods, cotton swabs, or similar
materials. Dip the stick into paint, and apply it to the bowl. Repeat
until this area is covered with a design.