How to Make a Sphinx Out of Floral Foam

by Tad Cronn

The Great Sphinx has stood for thousands of years as a mystery and a testament to the ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians, who also built the pyramids. You may want to create a sphinx centerpiece for a party or carve one for a decorative shelf display or a history class project. You can make your own sphinx out of floral foam if you work slowly and carefully.

Items you will need

  • 12-by-6-by-6-inch floral foam block
  • Saw
  • Hot-wire foam cutter
  • White craft glue
  • Spray bottle
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Step 1

Cut the rough shape of a sphinx into the 12-by-6-by-6-inch floral foam block by dividing the block into sections with a pencil or just in your head. Turn the block sideways and visualize the sphinx in the form of three basic blocks: the lower or rear body; the head and shoulders; and the front paws. Cut the foam block with the saw so that the rear is 6 inches long by 3 inches high; the head is 3 inches long by 6 inches high; and the paws are 3 inches long by 1 1/2 inches high.

Step 2

Begin whittling away at the side-view shape by making small cuts with the hot-wire foam cutter. You could also use small woodcarving tools. The actual sculpting will depend on your artistic skill, but avoid making large cuts. Small cuts equal small mistakes.

Step 3

Shape the head by turning the front of the sphinx toward you and starting your cuts at the top center of the headdress, which is basically a large-based trapezoid. The sphinx's shoulders will continue the trapezoid shape out to the full width of the foam block.

Step 4

Carve the face by first visualizing or marking with a pencil the location of the features. The outer shape of the face is a broad, almost square, upside-down egg shape. Place the eyes halfway between the top of the head and the chin; place the nostrils halfway between the eyes and chin; and place the mouth halfway between nostrils and chin.

Step 5

Carve the front legs and paws so that they are each at least 1 1/2 inches wide. The elbows and outside edges of the legs should extend to the edge of the foam block. The paws should have four toes at the front and a smaller "thumb" on the inside of the paw.

Step 6

Mix one part white craft glue with three parts water in a spray bottle. Thoroughly spray the floral foam until the sphinx is covered. Let the glue dry for two hours, then add another layer. Apply five or six layers this way, then let dry at least overnight so the glue will be completely dry and keep the floral foam from shedding dust.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use reference photos of the sphinx from several angles to help with your sculpting.
  • Floral foam is exceedingly soft and will drop dust all over if you don't seal your sphinx. You may want to wear gloves as you work to keep from getting dust all over you.
  • Do not use oil-based paints on your sphinx because they may melt the foam. Use water colors only.

About the Author

Tad Cronn is a professional journalist living in Los Angeles. His columns have appeared in the "Los Angeles Daily News," the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," the "Orange County Register" and other publications. He is an award-winning illustrator, author of "The Lynx," and an experienced handyman, model builder and gamer.

Photo Credits

  • Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images