Wondering what to do with grandma’s doilies? Why not make a plaster of Paris bowl. It is a fun and easy craft project and these DIY bowls are so pretty and useful.
I have a little confession to make…
I am obsessed with pretty crochet doilies. Whenever I spot them in the thrift store or at a flea market I have to snatch them up.
I have a large collection of lace doilies now in all shapes and sizes and I love them all.
Which of course brings up the question: what to do with old doilies?
Well, today let me show you one of the ways I have used vintage crochet doilies in my home.
I turned my fabric doilies into pretty bowls with a fabric stiffener that gives them a sculpted look: plaster of Paris.
An old vintage crochet doily turned into a candle holder with some plaster. Don’t you think this looks lovely? It looks even better at night when you can see the candlelight shine through all the little holes.
How to Make a Plaster of Paris Bowl
Want to make one too? Ok then, here is a tutorial for you.
Step 1. Find a nice (old) doily, to shape into a bowl
You can find doilies plentiful in thrift shops, at garage sales or flea markets, in craft stores, and sometimes at the dollar store. Of course, if you are good at crochet, then you can make your own doily too.
For my lace doily bowls, I choose a round doily and an oval doily. Both worked great, and both had their own magical outcome.
This doily had been stiffened before, but I just rinsed it in some water and it was fine to use.
Even if your doily is not stiff, still rinse it in some water to make the next steps easier.
Step 2 Find a mold to fit your doily
To make a plaster of Paris doily bowl you need a mold to drape your lace doily over. This is the step to do that. It is much easier to try out the proper form if your doily is only wet with water than when it has been dipped in plaster.
Try finding a bowl that is slightly smaller than your doily, so that your doily will fit over it comfortably.
Step 3 Mix up your plaster and dip your lace doily.
Add just enough water to your plaster of Paris to give it the consistency of yogurt rather than milk. The plaster should run off the back of a spoon slowly. If it runs off in a fast stream add a bit more plaster, if it clings to the spoon add a bit more water.
And then soak the doily.
See, actually right after I took this picture I added a little bit more water because the plaster was a bit too thick (it is easier and cheaper to add a little water when it is too thick than to add plaster to get it to thicken up).
When it is thoroughly soaked drape it over a form. I used a bowl from my mother’s Sunday china because I knew it would be fine.
If you are worried about your china then you could also first wrap it in saran wrap. This will protect your bowl and it might help get the plaster bowl loose from your mold.
As you can see I filled up the bottom with some extra plaster. My doily has a very open weave and I wanted it to have a proper bottom. If your doily has a more tight pattern you will not have to do this.
In the image above you can see that even more clearly.
This oval doily fit right over my bowl. For the little project I showed on top, the cup was smaller than the doily so I draped it with pleats.
Remember everywhere where the inside of your doily touches a surface it will probably dry up flat (the crochet texture will not be visible). So if you want the crochet look on the inside too, use as many pleats as you can or let your doily hang loose.
Step 4 Let your plaster of Paris dry
Now you need a little patience. You will have to wait for the moment when the plaster is dry enough to give the doily stability, but not so dry yet that you can’t wiggle it anymore. For this project that was about an hour of drying time in my living room.
Step 5 Remove your plaster of Paris bowl from its mold
When the plaster of Paris is dry to the touch but not completely set and hardened it’s the right time to remove your lace doily bowl from its mold. To pry it loose, you have to have a little patience.
First, start to loosen the edges of the doily from your form carefully. Then turn it around and wiggle with the form. You will panic here! Because it might seem as if you can’t get the doily bowl off the china, but just be patient, have faith in me, and keep fiddling with it carefully. Because at the exact moment when you think you will have to ruin your project or you will have to break your precious China, magically it will come loose.
At this time you can make some tiny adjustments (open up some holes that have filled up and remove some excess drippings) and when it feels right, put your DIY plaster of Paris bowl down and let it dry completely.
Step 5 Decorate with your lace doily bowl
And then you have a DIY bowl that you can fill up with anything you like. These plaster of Paris bowls are quite sturdy and are strong enough to hold anything. Use them to collect your keys, present sweets, turn them into a candle holder (like I did), or add some decorative elements like seashells, balls, ornaments, or flowers.
The plaster can shed a little. If you want to stop it from shedding a light coat of white spray paint will seal it nicely.
More fun things to do with plaster of Paris
If you have some plaster of Paris in your tub left then you might like this idea:
I am really happy with how my lace doily bowl turned out. I love working with plaster of Paris it can give the most mundane thing a sculptured almost ceramic look.
More Crochet Craft Projects
My lace doily bowl project is part of this month’s International Bloggers Club.
The theme of the month was ‘crochet’ and I cheated a bit and used a ready-made crochet doily. My fellow bloggers have come up with some beautiful projects so be sure to visit them and admire their creativity.
I hope you liked all of our crochet projects. If you will try and dip a doily or two in plaster yourself, be sure to tell me!
I would love to see your old doilies turned into lanterns and bowls.