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


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 Paint Brushes Paper Clips Pencils Masking Tape Slip Watercolour Paints White Paper

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EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step One

Step One

Make several practice drawings of hieroglyphics. Choose symbols for the cartouche based on composition not meaning. Draw the design for the cartouche paying particular attention to the use of space, details and overall balance. 

EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Two

Step Two

Work on a piece of light cardboard or a plastic placemat. Roll out enough clay to make the cartouche. Use a rolling pin, piece of dowel or paint brush handle for this.

EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Three

Step Three

 Make a pin tool by taping an open paper clip to a pencil. Cut out the shape of the cartouche with the pin tool. Roll out a long coil for the border and the base of the cartouche. Score and slip the coil onto the slab of clay.



EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Four

Step Four

Roll balls and coils of clay. Use these pieces for hieroglyphics that will be attached to the clay with the additive technique. Remember to score and add slip to attach each of these pieces. Make a carving tool by taping a closed paper clip to a pencil. Use this tool and the subtractive technique to remove clay hieroglyphics from the clay.

EGYPTIAN CARTOUCHE – Clay, Composition, Colour - Step Five

Step Five

Allow the clay to dry for about 48 hours. 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

Add colours used by the ancient Egyptians such as red, blue, brown and yellow or gold.

Learning Goals

     Students will be able to:

  1. Use a variety of handbuilding techniques to create a clay model of an Egyptian cartouche;
  2. Understand additive and subtractive clay techniques;
  3. Design a clay cartouche that demonstates an understanding of the elements and principles of art;
  4. Understand symmetrical balance in Egytian art works;
  5. Demonstate an understanding of the creative process and the need for planning; and
  6. Understand the purpose of a cartouche in ancient Egyptian culture.


  1. Have students work in small groups or individually to research various aspects of ancient Egyptian culture such as scutlpture, the importance of the after life for the ancient Egyptians, and architecture. Invite them to present their research to the class.
  2. Have students compare ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian sculpture, and demonstrate their findings using air dry clay.
  3. Have students make a sarcophagus out of air dry clay.
  4. Have students recreate the pyramids at Giza out of air dry clay. 


  1. Create a sample.
  2. Have students prepare enough slip for sharing.
  3. Have students practice hieroglyphics in their sketchbooks.
  4. Collect plastic bags for wrapping unfinished work.
  5. Make sure there is enough room for storage while the clay is drying.
  6. Have some paintbrushes available for slip.
  7. Download images of Egyptian art from the Internet, for example,
    Egyptian Harvest
    Egyptian Wall Painting


  1. Introduce ancient Egyptian art. A brief overview is available at the following link:
    Ancient Egyptian Art
  2. Display Egyptian Wall Painting and guide students to find key characteristics they can see in the painting, for example,
    - 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.
  4. Explain that only royal names can be found within an elongated oval shape.
  5. 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. Once students have completed their planning introduce the clay process.
  2. Demonstrate scoring and slipping of clay to clay.
  3. Demonstrate the steps in making the cartouche.
  4. Remind students they will need to use the additive and subractive clay technique.
  5. Provide enough slip for students to share.
  6. Provide paper clips, pencils and tape so students can make pin tools and carving tools.
  7. Provide individual assistance where needed.
  8. Once the clay is dry use watercolour paint for emphasis. Use only colours that the ancient Egyptians used.


  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?



  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download – CARTOUCHE_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download – CARTOUCHE_self-assessment.pdf)