I have some serious doubts that ancient, mesoamerican musical instrument builders spent time building maquettes of the ceramic musical instruments they created. Maquette has French, Italian, and Latin genes, originally translated as “speck” or stain”. In contemporary use, it is more commonly used by architects and sculptors to mean a small-scaled, study model for a larger piece. Arguably, ancient Mayan and Incan musical instruments that feature a character holding/playing a much smaller ceramic musical instrument qualifies, I suppose, as a maquette.
For me, the retired architect, building a maquette for a complex piece that is intended to be both sculptural and functional makes sense. Certainly, sketches are my first step in visualizing what is coming from the mind’s eye and to establish some sense of scale, but there are other benefits. Clay is a very malleable and forgiving media that enables the artist to make mid-course corrections and changes in the designs. Building a small maquette helps to reveal some of those options that might otherwise hide themselves in a two-dimensional drawing.
The maquette and sketches in the picture on this post are for the whistling vessel that is currently under construction. Not wanting to fire the work in multiple pieces, the interior height of the electric kiln became a major factor in the scale of the project. Between the sketching and the constructing of the maquette, a number of changes happened to the original concept as the piece evolved into something that (potentially) will be an unusual whistling vessel. In this instance, the pouring of water through the vessel will play a tone as the water escapes the spout, and, the vessel will play a different tone through the stopper as the vessel is tilted back from a pouring position to its upright state. If it works, I will be thanking that Physics of Fluid Dynamics professor from decades ago. If it doesn’t work, I’ll be blaming the “C-” that I received in the course *grin*.