Door of the Day: Poets, crocodiles, and hieroglyphics

Door of the Day: Poets, crocodiles, and hieroglyphics


This is an entrance to one of the buildings at Edfu Temple, along the Nile River in Egypt. It seems tiny with Horus hovering above it!

Many years ago, I took a journey up the Nile, visiting sites along the way, seeing many treasures—including mummified crocs and a statue at Luxor that reminded me of Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias (he wrote that famous work after visiting this site).



It was my life-long dream to visit Egypt and trek those ancient temples. There was a time when I imagined I was akin to Tintin or Indiana Jones, an intrepid adventurer who would unearth fabulous treasures or solve esoteric mysteries. Alas, I am too clumsy for such an occupation. In fact, during one of our stops along the Nile, I fell into a giant hole, up to my neck—it happened moments after the photo below was taken of me peering out against the wall of hieroglyphics.


I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.



Snakes, crocodiles, and cats — mummified! (Part 2)

In an earlier post, I described a project I’m doing in one of my creative writing classes in which we build mummies as part of an inspiration for a story.

In our last class, we completed the final phase of the model-building by painting some ornamentation onto the mummies.

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I have to say, both the models and the stories exceeded my expectations. The students took a lot of inspiration from the process of mummifying these little clay corpses and included them in their stories. The most fun part of the stories have been reading how the students describe the process of mummification. You see, they had to write from the first person point of view of the character being mummified and journeying to the Egyptian afterlife.

Our (nearly) finished mummies! From my Picture Perfect class (where we write creative stories inspired by art history). I love all the different creatures!

Snakes, crocodiles, and cats — mummified!

This fall, one of the classes I’m teaching for CWC is called “Picture Perfect,” a program in which the kids take inspiration from art history and write a series of pieces.

Our first project is to explore ancient Egypt and make mummies. Long ago, I was in Egypt and explored many temples and ancient sites up and down the Nile, so this period of history is quite dear to me. I was able to tell the students a lot of personal stories about my time in Egypt.


While I was in Egypt, I saw countless mummies: cats, crocs . . . you name it. So, as a fun inspiration for our first story in the class, we’re building mummies.

We started by making the clay figures and then let them dry for a week. Next, we began “embalming” them.

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This time, we tried something new: adding spices as part of the embalming process.


I kind of like how it leaves some of them looking a little weathered.

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Next week, we’ll add some adornments by adding some metallic paint.

For now, the students are working on stories that tell how their characters came to an end (in most cases, an untimely one) and then entered the Egyptian afterlife. They also are working with some Egyptian hieroglyphics to create cartouches for their characters. (A cartouche is a particular shape in Egyptian symbology that signifies the name of a pharaoh.)


Student mummies . . . just in time for Halloween!

The last two weeks, I’ve been teaching my mummy unit in “Picture Perfect,” the art history class I’m teaching for elementary students. In an earlier post I showed my somewhat-successful attempt at making my own Unger mummy. Well, after my practice run, I was able to lead my students more expertly. Their results have been excellent!

The first stage for them was to take my brainstorming sheet and begin designing their mummy, as you can see in the below snapshots.

Mummy design

Mummy design.

The next stage was the sculpting. Some students chose human-based mummies, while others chose cats. We even had one “ginger” mummy and a robot mummy (well, after all, we are a creative group!).

Mummy sculpting.

We had to wait a whole week (to let the self-hardening clay dry) before moving to the next phase. This is the really fun part: the embalming!

Mummy sculpting.

Mummy embalming.

The plaster of Paris strips that we use dry very quickly, so in only a few minutes after completing the embalming process, the students could then paint their creations.

Mummy decorating.

Mummy decorating.

I’m not sure what the Egyptian equivalent of “Voilá” is . . . but, in any case, here you have it: the Picture Perfect mummies. Well, they’re not all completed yet . . . we had a few “accidents,” which means two of the students started over. They can finish up next week. Oh, and many of the students sculpted some treasures to go with their mummies. Pretty darn cool, if I do say so myself.

Picture Perfect mummies.