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How to make a clay ocarina

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The San Jose Museum of Art demonstrates how to make an ocarina, a vessel flute, out of clay. Water and a few sculpting tools—a wood chopstick, carved popsicle sticks, or fork handles—will help you complete the project.

Ocarinas are not only a mythic instrument discovered by a Hylian warrior in a dream shrine; these wind instruments belong to “a very old family of instruments, believed to date back over 12,000 years.”

Similar flute vessels existed throughout history in China, Korea, and Japan, across Mesoamerica, and eventually in Europe. From Wikipedia:

“The modern European ocarina dates back to the 19th century, when Giuseppe Donati from Budrio, a town near Bologna, Italy, transformed the ocarina from a toy, which played only a few notes, into a more comprehensive instrument (known as the first ‘classical’ ocarina). The word ocarina derives from ucaréṅna, which in the Bolognese dialect means ‘little goose.'”

San Jose’s ocarina is made by hollowing out a clay sphere. The beveled hole is made on the top along with the holes.

the beveled section
In the video below, high school ceramics teacher Keith Moses demonstrates how to make a clay ocarina in real-time with helpful narration.

“Start to finish, if you didn’t blow dry, you can definitely do this as a class project, and about twenty minutes with blow drying. These are almost five-minute ocarinas… very fun and easy to make.”

His instrument design begins with a pinch pot sealed with a flat bottom. The beveled hole is carved out of the bottom. He also decorates his ocarinas with patterns or as animals.

teacher Keith Moses

Watch these videos next:
• Can you carve an ocarina from a butternut squash?
Three performances with A Música Portuguesa A Gostar Dela Própria
• The Lick, a seven-note musical phrase played on 91 instruments

Bonus: Peruvian water whistles make animal sounds.

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