How To Make an Egyptian Mummy Case*
Pine Box Inside Cartoon
Start with a plain pine coffin, from a recent production of Oliver! Devise a way to attach the box firmly to a hand cart. We used two thick hardwood pieces inside of the case and two corresponding pieces outside, with our appliance mover sandwiched between. It was all held together with four large carriage bolts. Add extra bracing to the inside of the coffin lid, and paint everything inside and out a neutral color. With a black magic marker, draw the design for the inside of the lid, and color it in. We used water-soluable latex paint for everything.
Gluing Foam Shaping the Face
Once the inside of the lid is finished, build up the top with layers of Styrofoam. The foot and head are higher then the rest, so they get more layers of foam. We cut the foam with a bandsaw and used a spray-on adhesive to stick it all together. We used bricks to weigh it down while the glue dried. Once the glue had dried, it was easy to shape the foam with a palm sander with coarse (50 grit) sandpaper.
Stucco Trowling
Since the script calls for the lid to be slammed shut quickly, we were concerned about the possibility of the whole built-up part breaking off during a performance. To fix this, we belted the built-up part to the wooden lid with three cloth bands stapled securely to the wood. With the bands in place, we trowled on a thin layer of stucco patching compound over the whole lid. [Thanks to the friendly folks at Schell Scenic for suggesting that we use stucco.] Here's another shot of the stucco process and the reinforcing bands. No matter how smooth you are with the putty knife, stucco dries to a rough finish. We experimented with sanding the stucco, but decided that the roughness added to the ancient appearance of the mummy case.
Inside Painting Lid Design
While the stucco dried for a couple of days, we painted the design on the inside of the case. The next step was to put the lid back on the rest of the case and magic marker in the design for the lid. We added two sets of heavy duty magnetic catches to keep the lid closed. The resulting effect was like closing a refrigerator door.
Painting the Lid Open Finished
Painting the top of the lid and the sides of the case finished the project. The inside of the finished mummy case. The central figure on the lid is the god Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, a symbol of birth, death, and the afterlife. Above the god are two kneeling men.
Behind the god are three lotus blossoms growing in a river. On the inside of the case bottom at the top is Nut, the sky goddess (early relative of the Witch of the East), bearing the sun on her head. Above her is the eye of Horus. The other two panels display lotus flowers growing in a river and a woven design.
Front Finished Side View
The outside of the mummy case lid. At the top is a portrait of the woman for whom the mummy case was made, who wears an elaborate wig and collar and carries two ankhs, which symbolize life. Below her is the solar bird. At the bottom are two winged falcons, sacred to the god Horus, who was the son of Isis and Osiris. Each falcon bears a sun on its head. The side of the mummy case, with alternating hierglyphs of reed leaves and water.
*Note: In case you reached this site without going through the Athenian Berean Community Players site, the pictures here show the mummy case that we built for our May 2006 production of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner.


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