Papier Mache Greek Vases in Grade Seven

This has got to be one of my favorite papier mache projects ever! It took a while to complete but was so worth it. Besides, I love long projects and think it’s a great opportunity for kids to slow down and take their time in this rush rush world!

Basically, my grade seven girls were learning about Ancient Greece and I jumped at the chance to create black or red figure inspired vases with a myth as the central image. The myth of course was written in their social studies class. Great way to integrate subjects don’t you think?

The ‘plan’ started out on paper, after a lengthy discussion about ancient Greek vases and an extensive image search on Google.

From the plan, the idea went onto scratch paper. This was fun and the designs were gorgeous. I like to use this paper in class and I made sure to pick out the papers with a red background. The girls loved this because their plan was starting to come to life!

Taping the base onto the balloon

Layering the paper strips

Next was  the construction of the vase using a large balloon, my favorite recipe for papier mache paste, recycled cardboard pieces for the stand, neck part of the vase and handles. Once complete,  we used acrylic paint for the vase, details and myth. It is important you use good quality balloons because you run the risk of them popping too soon as the strips dry. If this happens, you’re back to square one!

Adding the handles

Ready for painting!

Adding the coppery/reddish base–love it!

Adding the geometric details–almost done!

My girls were amazing and I am in love with these incredibly gorgeous vases! What do you think?

Here is the paper mâché recipe I use:

Combine 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 2 cups cold water in a bowl.
Add this mixture to a saucepan of 2 cups boiling water and bring it to a boil again. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar. Let it cool and remember it will thicken as it cools. Once it does, it’s ready to use.

You can double this recipe and leave in the fridge for no longer than 3-4 days. Just add warm water before using it to get it back to the mâché consistency.

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38 thoughts on “Papier Mache Greek Vases in Grade Seven

  1. These are wonderful! What a fantastic project. I like the idea of using scratch paper to plan their designs. Can I ask how many layers of paper mache you used and how long it took to dry before painting? I’m doing a Around the World themed mini art camp this summer and would love to give this a try.

    • I think we used 4 layers of newspaper and then 2 layers of white paper towel paper so it would be easier to paint. Drying between layers was very quick as the papier mache paste recipe I use dries super quick. Have fun with your camp.

    • We took at least eight lessons–taking into account the planning, building the vase, painting etc.. This is a long project so plan accordingly if you want to do it. It’s also sooooooooo worth doing too! 🙂

      • These were fabulous!!! Made a few changes, which gave a little variety of shapes: cottage cheese container on bottom, balloon in middle, topped with a plastic dessert-sized bowl. We couldn’t use acrylic paint, so I sprayed (clear acrylic) them after painting, then used sharpies to do the designs. We used Elmer’s Art Paste instead of paper mache paste. It is a wonderful product which doesn’t spoil over time, just a powder you mix with water and very inexpensive (less that $4.00 makes a gallon). Our 6th graders study ancient Greece so I did the project to coincide with this. Because I only see them for Art once a week, I was able to see them during a couple social studies periods so it didn’t drag on forever. The kids LOVED it and I really enjoyed doing a new project. THANKS!

  2. I absolutely love these and my 7th grade is also learning about Ancient Greece. I have two 7th grade classes of about 24 students each for only 45 mins once or twice a week. I really want to create these but I am nervous about the size of my class and the size of the vase. I am wondering if I could scale them smaller and have them still come out successfully? Any thoughts?

    • Hi Amanda! Definitely scale it down. Just make sue you use smaller balloons so the vase is smaller. The balloon will determine the final size of your vase. You could also do this project in pairs however they are so beautiful that everyone will want their own. Have fun with this and I would love to see how they turn out.

  3. I am doing this with my 4th, 5th and 6th grade class (it’s a Montessori school so they’re grouped together). We’ve been working on them for 4 sessions so far – some of them are ready to paint today. Everyone loves them! Thanks for the idea! I’ll try to post photos.

  4. Hi – these are lovely – I would like try something similar with my students but have a few questions…how long does the balloon stay inflated and did you pop and remove the balloon or leave it in the center?


    • Hi Amanda. The balloons popped quite a few times which was the challenge however there is always,a solution right? The trick is to keep the first layer ‘safe’, meaning no pops. This is generally the case but remind your students to go easy on the paper mâché for the first layer. The next few layers the balloons might pop and if they do, just get a new ballon and place it into the paper mâché shape which is dry and blow into this. This will instantly fill the area again and you are set to go! Enjoy the lesson!!!! We all loved it!!

  5. I am having to make a Greek Vase as the programme for a music competition that is coming up because we are doing a Hercules song. This has really helped me as I was starting to panic because I had no idea were to start!

  6. I am having a difficult time with getting the handles to stay on. The tape does not seem to stay on the papier mache. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Chrissy. Make sure the vase is dry when taping the handles. Then paper mâché gently around the handles towards the rest of the vase and up the handles. Try using less paper mâché paste on the handle section where it connects to the vase so it doesn’t get too wet and un sticks the tape. Try that and let me know how it goes.

  7. Hi, I’m a brazilian teacher in public school and I founded your work. I loved!!!! And I will try to do this with my 2 classes, but only after July when they will study Ancient Greece. I’m a History teacher. anyway, When they are ready I’ll show you the photos. I loved the idea!!!! Thanks to share!!!

  8. Hi,
    These look great – thanks for your post! I want to do these with my class, can you please tell me – what did you attach to the top and bottom of the vase to make the stand and lip?

  9. Pingback: Greek Vases…6th Grade Olympics | sterlingstudentsartroom

  10. Thank you for these wonderful ideas. My son is older, but he’s more of a hands on learner. It’s hard to find hands on for older kids. Some people have forgotten that hands on is not only for smaller children. Love it!

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