How to Make an Ocarina

How to Make an Ocarina. An ocarina is a clay flute or whistle with holes to create different pitches. Ocarinas may be created with truly pitched notes, with notes that are in tune only in relation to the ocarina or with unpitched notes. There are a variety of techniques for building the ocarina body, but two of the easiest methods are with slabs and pinching.

Things You'll Need

  • Clay
  • Sharp knife for cutting slabs
  • Flat object for shaping the mouthpiece
  • Cutting tool or toothpick for making holes
  • Tuner, another musical instrument or a good sense of relative pitch for tuning the ocarina
  • Paint or glaze

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Make the ocarina body using slabs by cutting two oval clay slabs of uniform thickness. You can also cut a single heart-shaped slab, which has one of the edges already formed.

Fold the edges together, being careful to leave the form completely hollow. Leave one end open, blow into it to puff the walls of the ocarina out and then close the hole.

Make the body using a pinching technique. Pinch two separate bowl shapes and then fix them together.

Add a mouthpiece by forming a clay tube and then flattening the tube out to pressurize the airstream. You may want to place a flat object (like a small spatula or flat chopstick) inside the mouthpiece as you flatten it to ensure that it doesn't stick together.

Attach the mouthpiece to the body of the ocarina toward the top.

Poke a hole going through the mouthpiece into the body of the ocarina and coming out of the body of the ocarina past the place where the mouthpiece is attached.

Bevel the hole you have made in the top of the ocarina so that the air blown through the mouthpiece is guided up out of the top of the ocarina to create sound.

Add holes to your ocarina. It's best to have at least three holes of different sizes, but you may choose to have as many as 10 holes. Using a combination of three holes, you can play up to eight different pitches.

Test the relative pitch of the holes while the clay is still malleable. If the pitch of a hole is off, either add more clay around the hole or cut more clay away from the hole to change the sound.

Consider decorating your ocarina with clay add-ons, transforming your ocarina into an animal or sunshine shape. Alternatively, you can paint your ocarina (either wet or dry) to add designs.

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