Gentle blowing produces healing tones from these beautifully hand sculpted, finely tuned, one of a kind ceramic ocarinas. Double and triple chambered instruments play a full scale, duets and three part harmonies. The sounds of the mystical instruments pleasantly vibrate within the body of the player, creating healing and calm.
The ocarina or "sacred huaca" comes from the Andes, created from the earth by native peoples. It's mystical tones and rich, vibrant harmonies transport us to the realms of the sacred. I tune the unison notes slightly off from each other, just as the ancient instruments were tuned, creating a wonderful vibration between the notes. Many sound therapies are emerging as we recognize this tool, which can heal on a cellular level.
I first saw the ocarina in 1994 before a reading at the Gaia Bookstore in Berkeley, and was enthralled by this mystical sounding instrument that plays three tones at once. With my background in harmonizing, it had a special appeal to me. I sought out the maker of the triple chambered ocarina, musician and ceramicist Sharon Rowell of Berkeley , and through her generous invitation inviting me to sit beside her for several months, learned to make and fire this unique instrument. This has been a gift in my life.
These beautiful and mesmerizing instruments are finely tuned and both the double and triple chambered ocarina play a full scale. They make a rich vibratory and meditative sound that can transport one to a holy place.
The ocarina is a vessel flute, hand-built and sculpted. The size varies of course, but generally they are about seven and a quarter inches tall and across. The front two chambers play a full scale, the back chamber plays two notes, played with the heel of the hand. The three chambers come together into a single mouthpiece. A chamber is formed by putting two pinch pots together, forming an egg shape. While the clay is still wet, an aperture is formed on one end of the egg, with a sharp slant on one side wall. Another small piece of clay with a thin windway through it, is fastened above the aperture, placed so that air blown through the windway will hit the sharp slant. This creates the sound.
Tuning is an integral part of creating a beautiful-sounding instrument. I tune as I'm making it; however I can't blow too much on wet clay, or the airway will collapse. Once finished, I burnish the surface to a smooth finish.
After a bisque firing, I either fire the ocarinas in a pit fire, or I build a sagger and fire them in my sagger pot in an outdoor raku kiln. I put copper sulfate, a little salt, a little wood and sometimes a few long grasses wound around an ocarina for patterning into the pot, and start the fire. I never know what I will get, but generally love the results . . . sometimes round orbs that resemble breasts or hearts or lungs come out of the pot in pinky flesh tones, patterns of shiny black here and there.
Recently, I have been getting rich browns and tans with touches of orange and red.
After they are scrubbed up and tuned for the final time, I wax and polish them to a satiny patina. The final tuning is subtle, and a "good ear" is essential. As the vibratory sounds move throughout our bodies it creates healing on a cellular level. Our recognition of this powerful tool increases, now backed with scientific data with the use of Kirlian photograph.
The ocarina is not difficult to play. I have sold them to accomplished musicians and to folks who have never before played an instrument.
Playing the ocarina is a wonderful way to become a musician! A musician friend who lost her ability to play the flute because of arthritis, purchased several of my ocarinas. She attended retreats often held at Mt. Madonna, a retreat center on a mountain top just below San Francisco, and played her ocarina. She wrote, "My playing has gotten even richer, and most were ecstatic at the results. I love it as much as everyone else, especially because every time I play it is a surprise to me as well." Another artist plays her ocarina in her garden every evening to the birds sitting in a line on the telephone wire high above, in a beautiful rural setting next to the sea.
The ocarina is played in gatherings to create a sacred space. Because of the time and work required in their creation, along with the other things I create, I make and sell just a few ocarinas a year.
The ocarina originated in the Andes of Peru. I'm sure most native cultures had similar instruments, again used in a sacred and healing way. That's how life was back then, I believe, when we all lived closer to the earth. The ancient instruments were generally single-chambered, playing just two notes. They came in sets of four, so four people played together, creating wonderful mystical sounds!
My ocarinas or "huacas" are featured in the esteemed ceramics magazine, Ceramics Monthly, May 1999, and my work was selected for the recent handbook by the American Ceramics Society, "Barrel, Pit, and Saggar Firing" where I join the company of artists from other parts of the world.
Listen now to an ocarina with this clip from " Mother's Ocarina Chant"
Composed by musician Clint Goss, Facilitator www.FluteHaven.com, playing my triple ocarina as the base part of the song
Here's a video:
How to buy: Prices range from $650 to$850.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions and how to purchase.