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While most people window-shop for clothes or browse the electronics aisle, I stare at racks of art paper. Our local Paper Source store has a dozen rainbow rows of handmade papers, with patterns ranging from candy-colored stripes to watercolor waves. Just the sight of all those deckled edges is enough to make me want to squeal a little. :)

When they stocked some gorgeous new handmade Lokta, I knew it merited a special project. Lokta is a paper made in Nepal from the bark of the Lokta bush, and the strength of the fibers combined with the light weight mean it folds beautifully. There is also something undeniably romantic about folding paper that was crafted in the heights of the Himalayas. I chose a sheet printed with delicate butter yellow and white chrysanthemums on gold stems, layered over a pale aqua background.

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I wanted a project that would really showcase the paper, and my mind immediately went to the piece featured on the cover of Modern Paper Crafts, one of my favorite additions to my art book collection last year. The title features sections on folding, scoring, cutting, pleating, and recycling paper, and this pleated paper bowl was one of the highlights for me.

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I like to practice intricate paper crafts on more pedestrian paper before I attempt the real thing. Because a lot of this project was about perfecting the pleating technique, it made sense to take the time for a dry run and get my hands used to the folding and scoring motions. I made my test bowl from some Alice in Wonderland scrapbooking paper, twice the size of the final 6″-square Lokta bowl I had planned.

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If you examine the underside of the paper, you can see how the base and sides are formed. It required a lot of precise folding, but after one of those weeks that tested me both emotionally and physically, it was a joy to put on some ridiculously upbeat music and lose myself for a focused, rewarding half hour. Forming the final shape took some time, and I am definitely glad I tried it first before attempting it on more expensive, one-of-a-kind paper.

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Other than doubling the Lokta so both sides would be patterned, the second bowl was just a smaller version of the first. It went a little faster at the final stages because I knew what to expect and I was so excited to see the finished product. It made me excited to try out a few other projects that I have had my eye on from the same book. I think I saw a piece of paper with clouds and cranes that would work perfectly… ;)

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(Modern Paper Crafts; STC Craft: 2011; ISBN 1584798661)

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