Ancient Egyptian civilisation began around 5000 years ago and lasted for around 3000 years! It was a culture incredibly rich in history, art, and architecture. In this activity, we make a necklace inspired by the ancient Egyptian style and colour palettes.
- Patterns / symmetry
- Fine motor skills
- Exploring materials & colours
- Discussing the significance of the scarab beetle in Egyptian history
What You’ll Need:
• Polymer Clay (dark blue/orange or others to be painted)
• A bamboo bbq skewer or a sharp pencil
• Two bead eyepins
• Greaseproof paper
• Baking tray
• Acrylic paints for painting the polymer clay if required
(gold, ultramarine, viridian, and white)
• Small, thin paint brushes
• Macaroni pasta
• Rough paper
• Needle and thread
• Beads (gold, red, blue, and turquoise)
• Smaller beads (e.g. hammer beads)
• Necklace clasp (safety clasp recommended for use with younger children)
Making the beetle
To begin, roll a block of polymer clay (approximately 4 by 2 cm) into a ball. Then squeeze the sides of the ball into an oval shape for the scarab beetle’s body. Gently pinch the top of the oval to create the scarabs head.
Next, roll a small piece of orange polymer clay into a sausage shape for the scarab beetle’s legs. Place the sausage shape leg on one side and chop it off halfway down the body. Repeat this for the opposite leg. Next, using the skewer, arch the legs out slightly. Ensure the two ends of each leg are pressed slightly into the body (so they bond to the body shape when cooked). Continue to add the two bottom legs using the same method.
Continue the beetle’s body by gently drawing lines to suggest the back and head. Using the end of the skewer gently press it in to create two eyes.
Next, gently push the bead eyepins into the top and base of the beetle. Place the beetle onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray and cook according to the polymer clay’s cooking instructions.
Check the eyepins are secure – if they aren’t, use glue to fix these into place after cooking and allowing the polymer clay to cool.
After carefully painting the details using a very thin small brush and gold acrylic paint. If painting the beetle’s body (if it is not the required colour) paint it the dark blue colour (I used a mix of ultramarine, viridian, and white) using a small paintbrush. Allow to dry.
Painting the pasta
Before assembling the necklace, you will need to have pre-painted the macaroni pasta. You can pour some macaroni onto a sheet of greaseproof paper (or rough paper) and paint the pasta by rolling it back and forth into the gold acrylic paint. Take care not to fill the holes in the macaroni as these will become the long beads on your Egyptian-style necklace. Repeat the process for the red and blue macaroni pasta beads. Allow the pasta to dry.
Tip the painted pasta onto a clean sheet if greaseproof paper and separate the pasta to avoid the pasta sticking together.
Assembling the necklace
The necklace is potentially quite heavy so you could use embroidery thread or 5-6 cotton threads combined (approximately 40 cm long x 6). To create your first section, tie a knot at the end of the thread (this will form one half section of the necklace chain). Using a needle, begin to thread round and macaroni beads in your desired pattern. Repeat the pattern on two new threads (approximately 40 cm long), taking care not to drop any beads. Next thread the three cotton lengths through one eyepin on the scarab beetle and tie a couple of knots. Tie the other ends of the necklace to half of your necklace clasp.
Repeat the same process for the opposite side of the necklace and thread these through the other eyepin on the scarab beetle. Attach the other side of the necklace clasp.
To complete the necklace, glue gun coloured glass beads (or sticker gems) onto the pattern aiming for symmetry on both sides.
Now your necklace is ready to wear. An ideal accessory for an Egyptian costume and dramatic play!
To develop pattern recognition skills, try making more elaborate colour sequences with the pasta and beads.