How to make Ancient Egyptian Mummified Cats...

What do treasures tell us? During the immerison stage of their inquiry the children shared the things that they treasured.  They took photos and blogged about their treasures on the class blog.

After the immersion stage the children decided to look at treasures from Ancient Egypt.  They found out what was important to the people living in Ancient Egypt.  The children then decided they would like to re-create some of the treasures from Ancient Egypt - mummified cats and cartouches.  Parents and family members would then be invited to come and view these treasures, at the children's learning celebration. I had the idea to call the learning celebration 'Twilight at the Museum.'

One tip here, you need to make sure you class are very well trained in cleaning-up.  At times the class got messy, so it's best to use a workshop approach. I allowed one full day for the children to make the cat form and layer this with plaster.  The cats then need a few days to really dry hard. Then I set aside afternoons to paint and apply the finishing touches.

This is the process I took my class through to create their cats and these are my own original ideas.  The children were very excited and loved some of the techniques they learnt along the way, like dry brushing.  These children were 7 to 8 years old and worked in pairs, so at the end we had about thirteen cats.  The finished cats ranged in height from 30 cm to 50 cm.

There are many images of Ancient Egyptian mummified cats on google.  The children where shown a variety of these images.  Here's a couple of sites with basic information - British Museum and the Woodlands site.  You could even read the book 'Cat Mummies,' by Kelly Trumble.  

I now teach in a classroom that has a glass cabinet, what a coincidence!  These cats now actually live like they're in a museum.  They're now a bit battered due to the earthquakes, though this just adds to their character.

We started by rolling up newspaper, to form a rod.  This is a bit like making an armature, but made out of newspaper.  Then the children started to wrap newspaper around the armature.  This newspaper was lightly crunched and folded, then wrapped.  Tape around with masking tape.  You want to have a shape that's more narrow at the bottom and they did place some cardboard at the ends to give that authentic look.
For the final layer we used newsprint paper.  Balls of newspaper were rolled for the heads and were tapped on with masking tape.
These are the mummified cats now ready to have plaster of paris wrapped around them.
We used plaster of paris bandages.  These were briefly soaked in water then wrapped around the cat's form.  You only need a couple of layers of plaster.  The cats need to dry for about 2-3 days.
When the plaster was really hard the children painted two coats of white acrylic paint.  The next day they were ready for the fabric.  They ripped up pieces of calico (unbleached), cut bandages to glue with PVA onto the cat's body.  They tried to make patterns with the fabric.

After the glue had dried I mixed up weak solutions of brown and black dye.  The children applied the dye with bristle brushes.  The cats were then left for about a week to dry.
Clay was used to make the heads on the mummified cats.  Clay was flattened out like a pizza base and placed over the head of each cat.  Children used rulers and kebab sticks to make the impressions on the cat's faces.  

The children tried to make cat faces that had some kind of expression, as they had noticed that Ancient Egyptian mummified cats had expressions.  They cut some lines down the sides of each face, as when clay air dries it shrinks.  If some pieces break off, then they can easily be glued back together with a glue gun.  The cats were stored flat to dry.  When the clay was air dry the children painted the faces (using mostly metallic paint),  and added detail with black paint. See my next post for the finished cats.

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