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a maiden's glory > beltane flame > life and death >
on asparagus > henry viii > green woman > i am doll parts >
Beltane 2006

Life and DeathLife and Death

The Ankh doesn't have just one meaning; it has several. It can mean life, immortality, death, and balance. The coffin has only one meaning: death. Put the two together and you have an ironic balance. The Egyptian crux ansata ("handled cross") covers the front of this backpack purse. A hole at the top allows the spirit, or ka, to float to whatever may be the otherworld or just allows you to grab your stuff out of it. Another plus, it's made out of duct tape.

by Shannon Mock

Suggested Reading

The Egyptian Book of the Dead
trans. by Raymond Faulkner

Difficulty

Boy Scout Dropout
Click here for definitions of difficulty levels.

Finished Measurements

14.5" H at tallest point, 8" W at widest point, 3" D.

Download

Ankh Stencil (pdf format)

Coffin Schematic (pdf format)

Materials

  • 2 rolls of black duct tape
  • 1 roll each of red, grey/sliver, and clear duct tape
  • Scissors
  • X-actoTM knife
  • Ruler
  • Ultra-Fine black Sharpie or ballpoint pen/biro
  • Flexible measuring tape

Project Notes

Make blocks of tape by placing a strip of colored duct tape sticky side up on a flat surface. Place the next strip sticky side up halfway on top of the first. Repeat until the block is as big as you need. Then use the grey/silver duct tape (which is more economical) to cover the sticky side of the block by layering strips as described above.

Directions

Get your materials ready and have a clean flat surface.

Create Coffin Parts:

1. Make a block of black duct 17"x8" using the method described in the project notes above. Use 17" long strips of tape so that it each strip runs the length of the block.

When covering the sticky side with the gray duct tape, repeat this three times to make the coffin sturdy. (You will have 4 layers of duct tape - 1 black and 3 grey.) This will be the front of the coffin.

2. Make a second 17"x8" block in exactly the same way as the first one. This will be the back of the coffin.

3. Next, make block of black duct tape that is 11"x3". Again, use 11" long strips of tape. On the back, do three layers of grey as you did on the first two blocks. This will be the left side of the coffin.

4. Make a second 11"x3" block in exactly the same way as the first one. This will be the right side of the coffin.

5. Make a block of black duct tape that is 4"x3". Use strips 4" long. On the back, do three layers of grey again. This will be the bottom of the coffin.

6. Make a block of black duct tape that is 4"x3". Use strips 4" long. On the back, do three layers of grey again. This will be the top right side of the coffin.

7. Make a block of black duct tape that is 4"x3". Use strips 4" long. On the back, do three layers of grey again. This will be the top left side of the coffin.

8. Now, on the grey side of the 17"x8" blocks, use a ruler and Sharpie to create the outline of the coffin as shown in the Coffin Schematic. Cut them out with scissors, this will shape the back and front of the coffin.

Download: coffin schematic (pdf format)

Add an Ankh:

Get the front coffin piece you just cut out in step 6 above. On the grey side, use the Ankh Stencil and Sharpie to outline an ankh. Center it vertically and horizontally as best you can. Use the X-acto knife to carefully cut out the ankh shape. Discard (or save for another project) the ankh shape. Set the piece you cut from aside.

Download: ankh stencil (pdf format)

Make a block of red duct tape that is 10"x4" using 10" long strips. Before applying the grey backing, place this block red-side down onto the front coffin piece with the ankh cutout. When looking at the black side of the front coffin piece, the red should show through the ankh cutout. Using 11" long strips of tape, put a layer of grey on top of the sticky side of the red block. This should also overlap enough around the edges of the red block to secure it to the coffin piece.

Assemble:

Cut an 11" strip of black tape and rip it in half lengthwise so you now have two 11" black strips. Get the side coffin piece you made in step 3 the front coffin piece and tape the 11" sides together. Use one of the strips of tape you just cut to tape it on the outside and another to tape it on the inside. Continue assembling the coffin in this way until you finally have a 3-D object, taping together sides of the same length and keeping the grey tape all on the inside. Page two of the Coffin Schematic will help you visualize this. Remember to leave the top open.

Now, take your red tape and cut strips matching the edge lengths(11", 4", 3"), rip in half lengthwise, and place it on the edges to make a smoother edge.

Add Straps:

You can use duct tape folded in half lengthwise (skinny straps) or use the whole width of the duck tape (wide straps) to create a strap. I prefer thin straps. Get someone to help you measure how long your straps need to be: Have them hold the coffin to your back and measure from the top of the coffin forward around your shoulder, under your arm, and to the bottom of the coffin.

Create two straps this length in whatever color you like; I used black tape. When you have your straps ready, attach them to the top of your coffin on the inside of the back piece using grey tape. Then, attach the other ends near the outside bottom edge of the back piece, above the red strip, using black tape. Make sure to tape well so it will not slip off, and also make sure you haven't twisted the straps.

Finishing:

Cover the ankh with clear duct tape to prevent catching on stuff (like yarn) and to keep it neat. You're done! Rock your ankh coffin with pride!

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