How to Make a Sarcophagus Out of Clay

A sarcophagus is a stone coffin, typically decorated with elaborate designs and motifs. The word “sarcophagus” comes from sarx, meaning flesh, and phagein, meaning to eat or masticate. In Ancient Egypt, they were used as receptacles for the bodies of the Pharaohs and their consorts during the Pharaonic period.

A Sarcophagus Is a Stone Coffin Sarcophagus Is a Stone Coffin, Typically Decorated With Elaborate Designs and Motifs

This blog post will teach you how to make a sarcophagus out of clay, which is more affordable and easier to get your hands on than other materials like wood or metal. You can use these instructions to create something meaningful as a gift for someone who loves art or just as an experiment in history! 

What is a Sarcophagus?

A Sarcophagus is a coffin-like/pottery container for the dead. Usually decorated with sculptural reliefs, in Egypt, these served as containers for cats, food, and other items used to take into the afterlife. In addition, the Egyptians believed that, after death, the dead’s soul would live on in the sarcophagus.

Sometimes, if the soul was found guilty of certain crimes while alive, it was left out in the desert to be eaten by the jackal-god Anubis. Some were buried wrapped in their best clothing and jewelry, but most were mummified and placed in a sarcophagus. The Sarcophagus is also a style of black metal, death metal, and grindcore bands named after the aforementioned Egyptian tombs.

Step by Step Guide: How to Make a Sarcophagus Out of Clay

You Will Need One Wheelbarrow of Damp Clay to Make Your Clay Model

Step 1: Gather Clay

You will need one wheelbarrow of damp clay to make your clay model. Make sure it is not dry, as this will harden and become unusable. Prepare a space in your backyard or workshop where you can easily work with the clay.

Cover the floor with newspaper or vinyl floor tiles to protect from moisture. Add water to the clay (almost to the point where it’s not going to be working anymore). You can mix in your own special additives, like blue dye, into it if you want.

Step  2: Form a Base With Your Hands and Feet

Spread out the dampened clay on the floor until you have a large enough surface area. Make sure you achieve the shape of your sarcophagus and the slope that will lead from it; this takes practice. Fix any holes with dampened clay.

Step 3: Put It in a Mold.

Cover your clay structure with plastic wrap. Make sure there are no holes in 9the plastic, or it will end up ruining the shape of your base. Then, you can put weights over it to press down, or you could wait until next winter and let the snowfall onto it for a couple of months.

Step 4: Build It Up With Dampened Clay

After you feel the plastic wrap is properly adhered to your model, remove it. Use dampened clay to create more detail, such as adding ribs on top of the base and hollowing out the lid. You can even fix details by putting them in place and covering them with clay and letting them harden overnight, or putting them in the freezer to keep them in place.

Step 5: Let the Dampened Clay Dry.

After you have finished building your clay model, let it sit out for a couple of weeks to allow the dampened clay to dry and harden. This will make it much easier to transport or move around. You can also put it outside during winter for snowfall weight or place it on a refrigerator or freezer to accelerate the drying process.

Step  6: Paint Your Sarcophagus

After you finish making your clay structure, you need to let it dry and harden. Once it is dry, you can paint it with your chosen colors. Make sure the surface of your clay structure is smooth before you start painting by smoothing out any lumps or bumps. You can put your clay structure outside, but you need to make sure it is protected from the rain.

Smooth Surface For Painting

Step 7: Wash the Clay Model

Use a damp towel to wipe down your newly painted model to remove any dirt that may have gotten on it when you were moving it around. It’s now ready to paint on the inside or use as a decorative piece in your home.

Step 8: Fill It With Your Belongings

Use it to keep any valuable belongings you want to keep safe, such as coins, cash, or jewelry. You can fill it with your personal belongings to make sure no one accidentally breaks into it in the future by thinking that there is nothing valuable in it.

Step 9: Seal the Sarcophagus

To ensure that the dampness of the clay does not break down your belongings inside, you can seal it. You can do so after you close its lid for the last time and lock it with a hasp or cover it with concrete since the concrete will eventually set beautifully into any shape.

Step 10: Place the Sarcophagus in Your Cemetery or Lawn

Once you have finished with your clay model, it’s now time to place it in the yard or cemetery where you want it to be. You can use this as a practice run and then make one for real that you will bury yourself in upon your death. This is a special gift to give to someone who has had an impact on your life.

How Heavy Is the Lid of a Sarcophagus?

The top part of a sarcophagus is always blank when made for you; otherwise, you would have to order one especially. If you want something personal on it, like a carved design or message, you would have to hire a carver. The top has to be heavy enough that you can roll it along the ground without it falling off.

In ancient Egypt, they used to make a sarcophagus with a lid so heavy that eight men would be needed to carry it when it was lifted. However, this is not good for keeping things in because once the lid is down, there is no provision for air to come in, so it tends to get musty inside.

A Sarcophagus With a Lid


To conclude, we hope you have enjoyed learning about how to make a sarcophagus out of clay. The process is simple, and the insights on creativity will help keep your mind open as you work in many different art mediums.

There are so many ways that this information can be applied for both personal and professional use! We encourage you to share with friends or family members who may want to learn more about making crafts from clay materials. Have any questions? Let us know below!

You Can Check It Out to Glue Clay Pots Together

Jennifer Branett
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