Oh the trials and tribulations of this project... The construction of the rod and the float were quite simple. The rod was cut to size using a band saw. The float made of pinewood, the lightest kind of wood available to us, was cut into a circular form using drill like saw. We then drilled a hole of a similar diameter as the rod into the float and pushed the rod into the hole. Using an indelible marker we then marked numbers onto the rod and shellacked the rod and float twice so it would not ruin the wooden piece when placed in water.
The heartache came with making the clay pot. Since no one in the group knew anything about throwing clay on a wheel it took many, many hours for all of us to wedge the clay (get rid of all the air bubbles) and construct the jar. However, because we did not make the clay jar under anyone's supervision no one was willing to let us fire the piece in their kiln (they were afraid that our piece would explode, which it probably would have). Therefore, we were forced to come up with a quick and easy way to waterproof the clay jar. We finally decided to use Thompson's Water Seal *and* shellac the inside of the pot twice. Though the project was completed at this point we decided to use our artistic license and paint ancient patterns on the jar using acrylic paints. The hole on the bottom side of the jar was created by poking a cork through the clay while it was still wet.
The inspiration to recreate the military decoding jar came from Peter James and Nick Thorpe's text Ancient Inventions: Wonders of the Past! (1994, Ballantine Books, New York).