How to make an Aztec temple for a project

Updated July 20, 2017

Making an Aztec temple out of clay for a project lets you depict each detail by hand without worrying about messing up. The clay can be quickly remoulded to fix any mishaps. You can choose from several approaches to building your temple, but using clay and a wire frame may be the easiest if your temple must be three-dimensional. Aztec temples typically have a pyramid shape with a large stairway leading to the summit and one or more smaller temples at the top. Making the temple out of the clay will allow you to let your creativity blossom with a hands-on project.

Take some time to research Aztec temples and their history. It will give you a better awareness of what your project will need. Cut a piece of wire mesh using a pair of scissors. The temple will require two pieces of wire mesh: one piece that is one foot wide by four feet long, and another piece big enough to cover the top, making a plateau.

Ball up an old blanket and wrap the long piece of wire mesh around the blanket. The blanket will serve as support. Connect the wire mesh ends around the blanket by bending the ends together. Make sure the blanket and wire mesh maintain a pyramid shape. This will make tapering the sides of the temple easier.

Place the smaller piece of wire mesh over the top opening. Bend the four corners of the wire mesh to form the four corners of the temple. Twist the top piece of wire mesh with the edge of the mesh that it is laying on to connect them together.

Cover the wire mesh with modelling clay. Make the clay 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) thick to give more room to cut and mould. You should now have what looks like a clay box.

Use the sculpting knife to sculpt the main staircase in the front of the pyramid (whichever side you choose to be the front). Sculpt the terraced sides of the pyramid with the knife. It may take some time to make it detailed, but the results will be worth it.

Use the clay that was removed to mould and sculpt a small temple that will be placed on top of the pyramid.

Continue to add as many details as desired. These details can include more temples, a stone for sacrifice, a brazier or any idols resembling Aztec gods.

Paint the temple as desired or directed.


Try to make the seam between the top piece of wire mesh and the main wire mesh piece as smooth and flush as you can. This can be smoothed out even more once the clay goes on. If you mess up when you are making the details out of clay, you can smooth the mistakes out with your fingers and start again.


When applying paint, make sure not to bear down too hard. Pushing the clay too hard could cause a hole or a cave-in.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire mesh
  • Scissors
  • Old blanket
  • 4 to 7 kg (10 to 15 pounds) of modelling clay (depending on the size of the temple)
  • Sculpting knife
  • Paint
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About the Author

Sarah Davis has been a culinologist since 1998. She has worked in the offices and labs of Burger King, Tyson Foods and Cargill developing and writing recipes. She currently owns WISH Events in Atlanta. She and her husband also buy homes to rejuvenate and resell. Davis holds degrees from Johnson and Wales University in culinary arts and the University of Georgia in food science.