Egyptian Style Clay Canopic Jars
(week #4 of a 6 week clay course)
For the 4th week of our clay course, we learned about how the Egyptians designed and built ceramic jars to hold the internal organs of people who were mummified. The jars were buried with the bodies. We decided to make our own version of these jars, choosing our favorite animals and using the jars to hold things like art supplies.
sketch paper and pencils
low fire clay
rolling pins to make slabs
paper to make patterns
paper towel tubes with heavily taped bases
|Rolling out the slab|
- Make quick sketches of animals that would make good designs for the jars
- Roll out the clay. Use strips to ensure the clay is even
- Make a pattern using paper by wrapping some around the paper towel tubes (the tube ends covered in heavy masking tape to prevent their cutting through the clay). Make the pattern about 6 inches in height and wide enough to roll around the tube one time
- Trace the pattern onto the clay and add a little extra to the width so the clay will wrap all the way around the tube and have a little extra for joining at the seam.
- Tape the pattern around the towel tube
- Wrap the clay slab rectangle around the tube and join the seams by slipping and scoring. Leave the tube INSIDE the clay for now. It will be removed later before drying.
- Pinch out a small pancake and set the clay covered tube on it. Cut out a circle at the base. This will be the bottom of the jar. Trim excess and using slip and score, attach the bottom to the jar.
- Push clay to end of tube and add a bottom for the jar, making it from a small pancake slab. Attach securely.
- Trim the top of the tube so it is 1 to 1 1/2" above the top of the jar.
- Using a ball of clay, shape an animal head, adding features like ears, horns, eyes, and textures to show feathers, fur, scales, etc.
- Make an indent in the bottom of the animal head and attach it to the top of the jar, slipping and scoring the two seams.
- Using a clay tool, cut a line around the jar to separate the head from the rest of the jar. The line could be wavy, zig zaggy or straight.
|Wrap clay slab around the tube and join seams|
Use modeling tools to add details
- Next, draw hieroglyphs to add your name down the front of the jar. Use the modeling tools to add textures like fur, scales, feathers, etc.
|Completed jars before firing|
|jar made by a fourth grade student|
|Completed canopic jars|
|Paper towels added before drying|
Some FINAL and VERY IMPORTANT steps.......
- When the jar is completed, remove the head and set aside. Have someone hold the jar at the base and then use two hands to GENTLY TWIST the paper towel tube UP AND OUT. Note: The tube MUST be removed before the piece is set out to dry or the clay will shrink around the tube and not be removable without breaking the jar.
- Put a paper towel on the top of the open jar.
- Set the head in the proper position on top of the paper towel on top of the tube. Allow to dry.
- Before firing, separate head and body and toss out paper towel.
- After firing, glaze or decorate with acrylic paints and a gloss medium or modge podge type product.