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 transports one to the realms of the sacred, to a holy place.
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 attends retreats often held at Mt. Madonna, a retreat center on a mountain top just below San Francisco, and plays her ocarinas. She recently 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 a vessel flute, hand-built and sculpted. The front two chambers play a full scale, the back chamber plays two notes and is 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 blade. 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.
Unitarian Church Davenport, Iowa 2008
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available for sale
|After a bisque firing, I either fire the ocarinas in a pit fire (actually, my Weber barbecue), or I build a sagger and fire them in my pot, 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 I generally love the results (sometimes round orbs that resemble breasts or hearts or lungs come out of the pot in pinky flesh tones, with 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. I tune the notes slightly off from each other, just as the ancient instruments were tuned, creating a wonderful vibration between the notes. This is pleasurably experienced in the body of the player, and affects healing on a cellular level. Many sound therapies are emerging as our recognition of this powerful tool increases, now backed with scientific data: specifically with the use of Kirlian photography.
My ocarinas 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.
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