Salt Dough Egyptian Cartouche

I have a 6-year-old daughter and we’re trekking on through our first year schooling at home. I chose to use Story of the World for the basis of our history lessons, and I’m super stoked to be doing little Egyptian crafts with her. We made a few paper cartouches as we practiced some of the very first forms of writing, but I wanted something more tangible to keep forever, so we decided to make use of our love of salt dough.

salt dough egyptian cartouche

A cartouche is a name plate that was generally reserved for pharaohs back in the ancient times when Egyptians ruled over the Nile river. Hieroglyphs (the first documented writing) was often carved in the gold plates to spell the name.

The basic salt dough recipe is as follows:

  • 1 cup flour (all purpose, plain NOT self-rising)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water

You mix the dry ingredients and then add the warm water, kneading and mixing with your hands. Knead, knead, and knead forever until you get a smooth-ish ball of clay. Then you may color it if you’d like. We chose to make it more yellow using liquid food dye.

I rolled the dough out to  about a quarter of an inch and preheated my over to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

salt dough egyptian cartouche 01

I played with the shape a bit and decided to omit the line on the bottom. I couldn’t get it to look right so we decided it wasn’t important. I used a straw to make a circle to hang it later. When drying salt dough you’ll want to use parchment paper so the dough won’t stick to your pan. I actually roll, cut, and shape my dough on the paper and turn it over several times to try and get the perfect smoothness.

Once you’re settled on a shape, pop it in the oven for three hours. You may turn it if you’d like.

Once it is completely dried out it will be hard and lighter in color. Now you’re ready to paint!

salt dough egyptian cartouche 02

I just dug into my collection of acrylic paints, though you can use whatever you’re comfortable with. We also decided to go with a stiffer brush than what is shown above.

Gaia had shown some frustration before drawing her name using the hieroglyphs. In order to keep the peace we decided I’d draw them with pencil and she could trace with the paint.

salt dough egyptian cartouche 03

My eagle A’s are pretty sweet, eh?

All that was left was the tracing, which she totally had fun doing.

salt dough egyptian cartouche 04

We did a review as she was tracing and I’m so proud at how far we’ve come in our journey together. Making this cartouche was very special to me because I love Egypt so very much and I was excited to tackle the topic during our homeschool adventures together. I think having something to hang and show off makes her proud too.

salt dough egyptian cartouche 05


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