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How to make canopic jars out of self-hardening clay

When Egyptians king died, they were mummified and their internal organs were removed and placed in canopic jars. The four canopic jars were decorated with symbols of the afterlife and the heads of the four protector gods of the king, the sons of the god Horus. Make canopic jars out of self-hardening clay with your children to teach them about Egyptian culture or use them as Halloween decorations for a mummy-themed Halloween party.

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  1. Roll a piece of aluminium foil into a ball. Press the foil to mould it into the shape of the head of a jackal, cat or hawk. Use more pieces of foil when necessary to make the ears, muzzle or beak of the animal head.

  2. Attach the lid to the yoghurt cup. Press the tinfoil head onto the lid of the yoghurt cup. Wrap a piece of duct tape around the lip of the lid and the neck of the tinfoil animal head. Press the aluminium foil down to eliminate any bumps or loose pieces and make the head as smooth as possible. If the foil is very loose, use a small piece of duct tape to secure it.

  3. Cut the plaster gauze into 8-cm-by-8-cm (3-by-3-inch) sections for the head and 8-cm-by-13-cm (3-by-5-inch) sections for the cup. Place water in a large mixing bowl. Dip the plaster gauze, one piece at a time, in and out of the water. Hold the gauze over the bowl for 30 seconds to allow the excess water to drip off, then wring it out with your fingers.

  4. Wrap the larger plaster gauze pieces around the bottom of the cup. Wrap the small plaster gauze pieces around the aluminium foil head. Overlap the plaster as you wrap it; don't leave any gaps between the pieces of gauze. Let the "jar" sit overnight to allow the plaster to dry and harden.

  5. Knead the air-hardening clay with your hands. Roll it into long ropes, and coil the clay ropes around the jar, starting at the base and slowly lining the sides of the yoghurt cup. Smooth the ropes together with your fingers. Do the same for the head.

  6. Create a 5-cm (2-inch) strip of clay that is the height of the yoghurt cup, and press it into the yoghurt cup so that it lines up with the head of the animal, under the animal's muzzle. Press Egyptian hieroglyphic stamps into the strip of clay. Draw a line on either side of the strip to make a border. Let the canopic jar air-dry for two days.

  7. Paint the canopic jar with acrylic paints.

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Things You'll Need

  • Aluminium foil
  • Empty yoghurt cups with lids
  • Duct tape
  • Plaster gauze
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Egyptian hieroglyphic stamps
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush

About the Author

Alexis Rohlin is a professional writer for various websites. She has produced works for Red Anvil Publishing and was one of the top 10 finalists in the 2007 Midnight Hour Short Story Contest for OnceWritten.com. Rohlin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Madonna University.

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