Ocarina, The First Wind Instrument
Make an ocarina, mans first wind instrument, similar to the way it would have been formed and pit fired thousands of years ago.
The ocarina is known by many names, past and present. Sand dollar, tune carrier, song maker, Loon impersonator.
An ocarina made in the tradition of thousands of years past is formed of wet terra cotta, purchased from any larger craft store, into a myriad of shapes. Everything from faces to fish to suns and moons. One shape traced to ancient times appears to be the image of a sand dollar.
Each one painstakingly takes shape after being worked and formed by hand. No two should be alike, as each must find its own spirit. Played first when wet this assures that the ocarina has found its individual sound. A basic shape would be the oval, sized to fit in the palm of your hand. Forms each half, top and bottom, separately. Crimp the two sides together, remember to leave a blow hole along this crimped edge. After the two sides are together, pucker up or crimp up a small area. Then slide a smooth stiff item (a thinner knife would work) into this small crimped up edge. For reference, this is now the bottom edge of the ocarina. Two holes must then be placed in the bottom flat side, one towards bottom edge center and a smaller hole slightly higher off to the side. The larger hole about half the width of a pencil. On the top, or face of the ocarina, four holes need to be placed… two towards the bottom, each off to a side…the other two above these, both more towards the center. The only way to perfect the actual shaping though is through trial and error. Decorations, such as the same lines you would see on a sand dollar, can be carved into the clay at this time also.
These then must be air dried for several days. Next, it is time to build the pit fire. Dried wood is gathered and a smothering material for the end of the firing. This can be leaves… grass…even wood shavings.
Arrange the pit in the same manner a campfire would be. After a nice bed of coals has built up start to set the ocarinas on the edge of the fire. Never set them directly in as they must be warmed slowly so as not to dry too quickly and crack. Remember that if the temperature change is extreme they will crack and will then be rendered to the scrap pile. Over several hours, anywhere from six on up, slowly move them in to the coals themselves. Additional wood should be added over this time. Be careful not to drop a log onto the ocarinas and shatter them.
Next, get your smothering material. This will deprive the fire of oxygen after it has burned for many hours. This is called oxidation, it gives each ocarina its own distinct color and sturdy, useable finish. As the fire cools down, you can start to carefully retrieve the finished ocarinas from the pit. The finished product will be durable and washable. In addition, after perfecting, the ocarina will be playable. You will have made an ocarina, what many have called mans first wind instrument, nearly the same way that they would have been made thousands of years ago.