Start with a basic doily pattern. I like the one used in this blog article (http://debiscrafts.blogspot.com/2014/10/spoke-doily-variation.html), The reason I like it is that is works up pretty quick, it has nice open spaces but is solid enough to function as a bowl without most things falling through the traditional doily loops.
Here is the flat doily I made using the pattern in the above link. I used standard size 10 crochet thread and size 7 crochet hook. The width is about the size of my hand from palm to fingertips.
Using a product called "Stiffy", I coated the doily and placed it on a saran-covered overturn bowl. Smooth the doily out flat and smooth over the bowl and let it dry. It takes about 45 minutes (but I just do mine and then go to bed).
The finished bowl is a great candy dish. I took this one to school and keep it on my desk with paper clips in it.
This Victorian Pink bowl is made with size 3 crochet thread and a size "1" crochet hook. It turned out a bit bigger. I think with this one, I would stop at the white stripe at the top or make a different border ... and by "different" I mean "smaller".
I can whip one of these doilies out in about three to four hours, a nice evening project while watching TV. These make great gifts for teachers, casual friends, gift exchanges at work.