EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour

Students design an ancient Egyptian cartouche using air dry clay and add colour with watercolour paint.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 7 to Grade 10


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


additive clay techniques air dry clay balance cartouche detail form sculpture shape slip subtractive clay techniques


Crayola Air Dry Clay - 1.13 kg white - 1 per 3 students Crayola Paint Brushes Crayola Watercolour Paints Crayola Sketchbooks - 1 per student Pencils - 2 per student Masking Tape Paperclips - 2 per student

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EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step One

Step One

  1. Choose symbols for the cartouche based on composition not meaning. 
  2. Make several practice drawings of hieroglyphics. 
  3. Pay particular attention to the use of space, details and overall balance. 
EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Work on a piece of light cardboard or a plastic placemat.
  2. Use a rolling pin, piece of dowel or paint brush handle to roll out enough clay to make the cartouche.  
EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use a pin tool to cut out the shape of the cartouche. 
    Make a pin tool by taping an open paper clip to a pencil. 
  2. Roll out a long coil for the border and the base of the cartouche.
  3. Score and slip the coil onto the slab of clay. (See the Score and Slip lesson plan available on this website.)
EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Roll balls and coils of clay to form hieroglyphics.
  2. Use the additive technique to attach these pieces.
    Remember to score and add slip each of these pieces to join them to the clay.
  3. Make a carving tool by taping a closed paper clip to a pencil.
  4. Use subtractive technique to carve out hieroglyphic details from the clay.
EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Allow the clay to dry for about 48 hours.
  2. Once the clay is dry, use watercolour paints to add a few colours to the cartouche. 
EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Add colours used by the ancient Egyptians such as red, blue, brown and yellow or gold.
  2. View your cartouche with fresh eyes.
    - Does it look authentic?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
    - What did you do to balance the composition?
    - What do you like best about your work?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • use additive and subtractive clay handbuilding techniques to create a clay model of an Egyptian cartouche;
  • design a clay cartouche that demonstates an understanding of the elements and principles of art;
  • identify symmetrical balance in Egytian art works;
  • demonstate an understanding of the creative process and the need for planning; 
  • explain the purpose of a cartouche in ancient Egyptian culture.


Have students;

  • work in small groups or individually to research and compare a specific focus of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman culture, e.g., scutlpture;
  • demonstrate their findings using air dry clay;
  • create a didactic display of their work;
  • present their work to the class.


  1. Prior to thislesson you may want to have students explore handbuilding techniques using the Score and Slip lesson plan available on this website.
  2. Create a sample.
  3. Have students prepare enough slip for sharing.
  4. Provide tinme for students to practice drawing hieroglyphics in their sketchbooks.
  5. Collect plastic bags for wrapping unfinished work.
  6. Make sure there is enough room for storage while the clay is drying.
  7. Have some paintbrushes available for slip.
  8. Download images of Egyptian art from the Internet, for example,
    Egyptian Harvest
    Egyptian Wall Painting


  1. Introduce ancient Egyptian art.
    Ancient Egyptian Art
  2. Display Egyptian Wall Painting and guide students to find key characteristics they can see in the painting, for example,
    - What is your first reaction to this painting?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?

    What do you notice about the figures in the painting?
    - W
    hat colours did the painters use?
    - What do you notice about Egyptian hieroglyphics?
  3. Explain that a cartouche can be found on many Egyptian wall paintings.
    - Describe what a cartouche is and what it looks like.
    - Ask students to point out the ones found in the painting.
    - Explain that only royal names can be found within an elongated oval shape.
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create several practice drawings of hieroglyphics and a plan drawing of a cartouche.
  2. Arrange cartouche hieroglyphics based on balanced composition and not on meaning. 
  3. Create a cartouche using air dry clay and watercolour paint.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creative thinking.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created several practice drawings
    - carefully planned and completed my cartouche design
    - included additive techniques
    - included subtractive techniques
    - used ancient Egyptian colours
    - used score and slip joining techniques effectively
    - created a balanced composition
    - created a cartouche that looks authentic  
    - created a well made cartouche
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. ​Display the completed cartouches for a group discussion.
    Do the cartouches look authentic?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
    - Choose one cartouche that interests you and share your thoughts about it.
    - What do you notice about how students balanced their designs?
  2. Ask students to share how they felt about making this project and why.




  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the cartouches – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, ponts to areas in the cartouche, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download – CARTOUCHE_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download – CARTOUCHE_self-assessment.pdf)