How to Make an Egyptian Obelisk

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An obelisk stands at the end of the Champs Elysees in Paris.
An obelisk stands at the end of the Champs Elysees in Paris. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Obelisks were important in ancient Egypt and were typically placed at the entrance of temples. (See References 1) Tall and slender with a pyramid-shaped top, obelisks were monoliths, meaning that they were created from one large piece of stone. (See Reference 1) Obelisks are now found in large cities throughout the world; some were taken from Egypt or given by Egyptian officials, and others are modern constructions meant to emulate obelisks from ancient Egypt. Making a model of an Egyptian obelisk is a project that will teach students about ancient Egyptian architecture.

Things You'll Need

  • Obelisk reference photograph
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup flour
  • A quarter cup white glue
  • Large bowl
  • Whisk
  • Aluminum foil
  • Duct tape
  • Newspaper, cut in 1- to 2-inch strips
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Cup of water
  • Hot glue gun
  • Shoebox lid
  • Sand

Find a reference photograph of an obelisk to use during the project. This will help you make the shape accurately and paint hieroglyphics properly.

Make a paper mache mixture. Mix water, flour and glue in the bowl, stirring well with a whisk to prevent clumps. (See Reference 2) Make balls of aluminum foil 1.5 inches in diameter. Stack them on top of one another and tape together with duct tape; this will be the base for your obelisk. (See Reference 2) Make the top of the foil pointed in a pyramid shape so it looks like the top of an obelisk. Use your reference photo if you need help.

Dip strips of newspaper in the paper mache mixture and remove clumps and excess mixture with your fingers. (See Reference 2) Apply the strips to the outside of the foil and continue until the foil is covered completely and the shape looks like an obelisk. Let it dry for 2 to 3 days. (See Reference 2) Once dry, carefully smooth the edges of the obelisk with a piece of fine grit sandpaper to remove lumps.

Paint the obelisk with acrylic paints. Use tan, brown, red or white to paint the obelisk; Egyptian obelisks varied in color. (See Reference 1) Allow the base coat to dry. Using the reference photograph, paint hieroglyphics on the obelisk.

Glue the obelisk into the shoebox lid with a hot glue gun. Hold the obelisk firmly in place until the glue had dried. Liberally apply glue to the bottom of the shoebox lid and sprinkle sand on top of the glue; add extra sand if desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • Start the project 7 to 10 days before it is due to allow enough time for the paper mache to dry. (See References 2)
  • Rinse paintbrushes in a cup of water between using different colors of paint.
  • Never let a child use a hot glue gun. An adult should monitor the progress of this project.

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