Saturday, June 29, 2013

Archaeologist Party Props: Canopic Jars for $6

I've been dying to spill my guts with you about this project... (puns intended!!!) As I may have mentioned, I'm working on putting together an Indiana Jones Archaeologist Party for my son's upcoming 7th birthday. Half the time the kid tells me his name is Henry and he's Indiana Jones's son, or sometimes he's John, Indiana's long lost brother. For the party, he will be one of a group of students whom Indiana Jones has contacted and sent to a dig in Egypt while he is otherwise occupied fighting baddies for treasure. You know the drill.

Anyhow, the "students" will find themselves on an adventure of their own, following clues unearthed in their dig to discover the long lost "Eye of Horus" amulet. This treasure will bring health, wealth, and prosperity (or something similar -- I haven't written the clues or the letters from Dr. Jones yet. I've barely started working on his notebook.)

One of the clues will be found inside a canopic jar buried with a mummy. (Short history lesson: canopic jars were used to hold and preserve the internal organs of the dead during the mummification process. Each jar represented a different god, one of the "sons of Horus", and was for a specific organ: liver, lungs, stomach, intestines. The brain was discarded because the Egyptians could find no use for it.)

A carved tablet in the mummy's chest cavity will give the clue as to which jar to open. The other three will hold some sort of curse and whoever opens the wrong jar will be symbolically dead (meaning out of the game.) I've been looking online for canopic jars and haven't been able to find a set for under $25-30, so I decided it was a job for the Cardboard Crafter to handle. I put on my cape, unleashed my super powers, and headed out to the Dollar Tree. I came home with 4 water bottles, a roll of paper, and some white school glue totaling $6.

After searching through all the glass wares and coming up with nothing, an
idea struck: plastic water bottles. Dollar Tree has several different sizes and
shapes, but I felt that these were the closest to what I wanted. 

I removed the plastic strap thing that holds the lid on with a pair of side cutters.

Also purchased at Dollar Tree: brown wrapping paper. This is the right color for scrolls
and old things, so I decided to use in on my jars so I wouldn't have to paint them after
adding the papier mache. Mieljolie from All Things Crafty suggested using tissue paper
because it gives a great leathery texture, and you can try that too, but you probably will
want to paint afterward.

White glue, water, and a little all purpose flour. Paper cut in small squares.

Slop it on and don't forget the bottom. I turned these upside down to dry. I did not put
paper over the threads so I would be able to get the lids back on. There is a small green
lip that is still visible on my bottles, but I don't mind it. I can pretend it is some sort
of jade or something ;)

I covered the lids too and allowed the bottles to dry overnight.

Canopic jars have faces. For some reason, my kids keep a stash of empty toilet paper
rolls in their bathroom. These matched the brown wrapping paper, so I stole a few and
cut them apart to make ears, snouts, and such. Hot glue holds the pieces in place.

Jackal, falcon, baboon, and human.

I couldn't find my brown or black sharpies, so I went with purple instead.
I might do a little more to decorate -- add hieroglyphics or drawings of the
deities whose aspects appear on these canopic jars -- or not. I will seal these
with spray enamel.

Each jar will contain a scroll. Three will be curses, one will be a clue. I went
ahead and cut the paper to size and inserted in each jar. I will have to finish
that later. I'm thinking of downloading a hieroglyphic font and just typing it
up so that it is easier for the kids to decode.

This is the tablet we will hide in the mummy's chest. We carved the Eye
of Horus in the back side. We will need to put a message on the front, but
I haven't decided what yet. I plan to paint this with black paint to highlight
the carving. 

There's still so much left to do. I'm hoping I can get it all done -- if I can pull this off, this may turn out to be the best birthday party ever!! If you have any suggestions or ideas, feel free to comment below or on my Facebook page. Thanks so much!