Dead Man’s Chest (from Pirates of the Caribbean)

For a TV/Movie themed craft swap on Craftster, I made this Pirates of the Caribbean inspired “Dead Man’s Chest.”

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Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest with dual skeleton key from Walt Disney World

Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest with dual skeleton key from Walt Disney World

This was the initial inspiration:
(seen here by bornahorse on DeviantArt)

What I did was buy an unfished wooden chest from my local craft store. (I bought this one at Joann but Micheal’s has an assortment of wooden boxes too.) I used that as my base to build up the decoration. I needed something that didn’t have to be fired/baked because I was starting with a wooden box. So immediately, polymer clay was out.

I browsed the options and first tried using Creative Paper Clay but I had problems with it sticking to the wood and also, it was irritating my hands so I had to find something else.

Next I went back and found La Doll stone air dry clay which is what I ultimately used.

I spent hours shaping, rolling and applying the clay to the surface of the box. It stuck rather well on it’s own but I also helped it along with little bits of white glue when needed. It worked very much like real clay – it didn’t feel any different for being an air dry formula. I was able to use small amounts of water to help smooth and push the clay along when I had to fill in areas or blend edges.

Here is what it looked like when I was done with the clay:


The clay needs time to air dry and can be anywhere from 24 hours to a week depending on the thickness. I placed it up out of the way and left it untouched for about 4 or 5 days to harden.

The other nice part of the LaDoll clay is that once it’s dry, you can paint it with just about anything. I used good old fashioned acrylic paint in several shades of brown for an aged or weathered look along with some gold metallic Sharpie for the accents.

And voila! I had a finished box inspired by the Dead Man’s Chest from Pirates of the Caribbean!



The project was something I hadn’t done before using new materials. But I can say that though it was quite time-consuming to sculpt out all the pieces (several hours of work), the LaDoll clay was really easy to work with and I had no difficulties even being a total novice. I would definitely recommend the product if you need to sculpt or decorate something with real clay but without the difficulty of a needing a kiln.