If you enjoyed the tactile sensation of finger painting as a child, you’ll love putting your hands to work on these yarn maché baskets. Designed by Vicki Ramsey, this fun and easy craft first appeared in our Summer 2012 edition. It’s the perfect project for using up small amounts of leftover yarn, and each finished basket is as unique as its creator!
What You Need:
• Yarn (any type or color)
• Glass or plastic bowls in assorted sizes
• Plastic wrap (such as Saran Wrap)
• Paper maché paste (recipe provided) OR fabric stiffener (such as Stiffy)
• Plastic sheeting or trash bags to protect work surface
• Gloves, if desired
Paper Maché Paste Recipe:
NOTE: Recipe makes about 2 cups of non-toxic, clear-drying paste, which is enough for several baskets. Paste will keep for several days in refrigerator.
• Mix 1/4 cup all-purpose flour with 1 cup cold water in a bowl. Stir until smooth.
• Add 1 cup water to a small saucepan; add a generous pinch of salt. Bring saltwater mixture to a boil on stove.
• Slowly add flour/water mixture to boiling saltwater and return to a boil, stirring frequently.
• Remove mixture from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let paste cool.
1. Prepare paper maché paste using provided recipe; OR, if using purchased fabric stiffener, follow directions on package and pour into shallow bowl.
2. Select a bowl to use as a mold. On a protected work surface, turn bowl upside down and cover completely with plastic wrap (photo 1).
3. Cut yarn into strips of a manageable length. Dip yarn into paste or fabric stiffener and work paste into yarn with fingers. Strip excess paste from yarn with fingers.
4. Starting at bottom of bowl (which is now on top), begin covering mold with yarn; bottom base should have most yarn coverage for stability (photo 2). Continue to wrap, loop, coil and wind your yarn around mold any way you like, adding strips of yarn until yarn basket is completed to your taste (photo 3).
5. With a piece plastic wrap around your hand, carefully press down yarn ends and flatten basket bottom.
6. Let yarn basket dry overnight, or until completely dry; thicker yarn will require a longer drying period.
7. Once dry, carefully remove yarn basket and plastic wrap from mold, and then peel plastic wrap from yarn. If an end pulls loose, repair by wetting end and pressing it to another strand of yarn.
8. Decorate your one-of-a-kind basket or fill it with yarn, lightweight decorative balls or other ornamental items.
Doily baskets can be made using the same paper maché paste or fabric stiffener. Dip handmade or purchased doilies into paste or stiffener and work paste into threads with fingers. Squeeze out excess paste, and then position and shape doily over your selected mold and allow to dry completely.
Yarn and doily baskets may begin to sag over time and in humid climates. Refresh them by placing over the same plastic-wrap-covered mold, thoroughly spritzing with water, reshaping and allowing to dry completely.
For more fun crafts, check our selection of knitting and crocheting project downloads!