Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pop-up Matchbook Sarcophagus

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A long time ago, I read about an old-fashioned toy called a matchbox jack-in-the-box. When you tug on a string the inside box pops open to reveal a little baby hidden inside. I wanted to adapt it for Halloween fun. The first challenge: finding an actual old-fashioned matchbox. These are tough to locate. If anyone knows where you buy matchboxes in bulk we would love to know because I found this one in the back of a drawer at our summer cottage!

  • matchbox or make something similar out of very thin tag board using this template
  • sarcophagus image sized to match the box. Ours is 1.5 x 2 inches. Look online and you will find lots to choose from, or draw your own.
  • embroidery floss
  • pretty bead
  • double stick tape
  • black permanent marker
  • gold paint pen
  • big needle
  • note card or white scrap paper
  • school glue

  1. Use double stick tape or glue to attach your sarcophagus picture to the front of the matchbox.
  2. Cover the sides and the back of the box with strips of white paper, using glue.
  3. Color everything black using the marker.
  4. Color the inside of the matchbox using the gold paint pen. Leave the sides of the inside box bare so they will be able to slide in and out easily.
  5. Make a mummy. I used polymer clay and a pasta machine to make lots of thin pliable strips of clay, then just wrapped them into a mummy shape. Follow the baking instructions, then after it cools, glue on some beads for eyes or draw some using a thin marker.

  6. Remove the inside box and use a needle with embroidery floss to poke through one side of the box and out the other side. Pull the thread through and leave a few inches length.
  7. Tie a bead on and knot the pully.
  8. You can now insert the matchbox and try to make it jump out by pulling the thread. Ours works best if you pull out from the two sides rather than down. If you are really dedicated to good sliding you could put some wax on the sides and see if this makes it smoother.


  1. OMG I might jump if someone pulls the thread! Great idea with the jumping out mummy :)

  2. Thank you! It would be fun to do with other monsters too.

  3. This would be great for my son's birthday party. How did you get the mummy to pop up? I found a youtube video of the matchbox jack-in-the-box, but they put in a paper-accordion spring behind the object in the box to make it pop out. Also, having trouble with the opening mechanism. How do you get the box to open when you're pulling on the outside of the box at the same time you hold it? Am I doing it wrong?