Ancient Egyptian art projects for children allow young artists to explore the rules of Egyptian art and create their own pieces in the same style. Tradition demanded strict adherence to artistic traditions and approved forms. Change and individuality was neither welcome nor encouraged. Most ancient Egyptian art held religious significance and was intended not for public admiration but to preserve life and cultural memory. Clarity was more important than realistic accuracy, which accounts for the geometrically distorted images that characterise ancient Egyptian art.
Ancient Egyptian sculptors formed figurines and statues from acacia or sycamore wood; stones such as limestone, sandstone, red granite; metals such as copper, iron, gold and silver; and Nile River mud. While stone and metalwork require specialised tools, modelling clay will suffice to create miniature replicas of the ancient Egyptian monoliths. A more ambitious option is to whittle a monolith from a block of soft pine or balsa wood. To create the appearance of stone or metal, spray paint the sculpture with stone texture or metallic paint. All painting and whittling should be done under adult supervision.
Traditional Egyptian painting depicts the head in profile, but gives a frontal-eye view to make every feature as recognisable as possible and avoid confusing or limiting the spirits in the afterlife. To create an Egyptian-style painting, select a subject and research the correct forms for portraying that figure. Egyptian gods had to be pictured as their animal icons and seated figures with hands on their knees. Men's skin colour was shown in darker colours than women's. Outline the basic form with charcoal pencils and then add painted details.
The richly ornamented artefacts found in royal tombs distract children from the fact that ordinary Egyptians depended on clay to make bricks, tableware, figurines, jewellery, toys and games. Clay pots and dishes served as storage for food, water and household goods as well as idols and ceremonial objects for temple rituals. If a pottery wheel is available, children can throw a pot. Otherwise, form modelling clay into bowls, plates, jewellery or games such as knucklebones, a form of jacks, or mancala, a board game. Common items were not usually decorated, but if desired, etch designs in the soft clay or paint before air drying.
The arid desert of Egypt meant that wood was in short supply but sand, stone and Nile River mud were readily available. Therefore, commoners built their one-room homes from mud bricks. Nobles built sturdier stone homes with tiled floors and wall paintings. Flat-topped homes with ladders or staircases to the roof allowed families to relax or sleep on the roof to escape the hot air below. Most homes had a courtyard in the front where people would cook, eat, spin cloth and keep animals. Form miniature bricks from modelling clay and dry; or collect enough small rocks to simulate a wealthy home. Arrange the bricks to create ancient Egyptian home model using glue, more clay or plaster of Paris as the connecting mortar. Craft sticks or short pieces of dowelling can serve as the timber posts that helped hold up the flat roofs.
- Portland State University; Egyptian Painting; Karen Carr; 2011
- Portland State University; Egyptian Architecture; Karen Carr; 2011
- DLTK Kids; Egyptian Activities for Children; 2011
- Lost Civilizations: Egyptian Art and Architecture
- King Tut: Ancient Egyptian Home
- Oracle Education Foundation ThinkQuest: Arts and Crafts