Canopic Jars

    Store Your Treasures

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    In Ancient Egypt, canopic jars were used during the mummification process to store and protect human organs for the afterlife. The lids were often designed with heads, made to represent one of the four sons of the god, Horus. Design your own canopic jar with a person or animal to protect something that is special to you.

     

    What you need:

    • Paper-maché: 1 cup of flour, 2 cups of water, a dash of salt (optional), a dash of cinnamon (recommended), and a stack of old newspapers. Ready-made paste can also be purchased.

    • Clean, ready-to-be-recycled jar or bottle.

    • 3 sheets of aluminum foil, each about a foot long

    • Masking tape

    • Acrylic paint

     

    What you do:

    Paper-maché:

    1. Tear strips of newspaper into various sizes and set aside.

    2. Mix flour and water until lump-free. Add a dash of salt to prevent leftovers from molding; cinnamon provides a nice, fresh scent.

     

    Canopic jar:

    1. Separate the lid (head) from the jar.

    2. Lightly crumple one sheet of foil into a ball shape. Pinch the ball between your thumb and the lid, forming a cup, or base, on which the head will rest. The edges of your base should be the same width as your lid, without overlapping.

    3. Next, shape the head. Loosely ball up a second sheet of foil then begin pinching it into desired form (don’t worry about details just yet). The head should be solid and fit snuggly in your foil base.

    4. Securely tape the base and the head together, and then tape your structure to the lid. Use as much tape as you need.

    5. With the remaining foil, add details to your canopic jar’s head (ears, headdress, etc). You may also use foil to add more dimension to your jar. Do use plenty of tape.

    6. Apply paper-maché (using larger strips on bigger sections first then smaller strips for the details): Dip one strip of newspaper at a time into your paste and run it between your fingers to remove excess water. Place the strip over your form, pressing it smoothly. Continue applying strips of newspaper, overlapping as you go. Avoid covering the top of the jar or under your lid so you can reattach it when you are finished.

    7. After you have covered the form, wait 24 hours for the paper-maché to dry.

    8. Paint your jar. We recommend acrylic paint over a white base coat.