Archive for May, 2011

Comments Off on Happy Blogversary!

Happy Blogversary!


It is a massive celebration of one extra cup of coffee, but the fact that “M” is for Mugphlute made it through a year of monthly posts is fairly unremarkable.  Thanks to the many visitors who are interested  in ceramic musical instruments and my recent efforts to explore the world of whistling water vessels.  There are a few people who visit the site regularly and I appreciate the traffic.  It does encourage me to post.

Fowl MaskThis is the latest effort to emulate an ancient whistling vessel. Fowl Mask is a bottle within a bottle. The two separate bottle chambers act much like Peruvian water jars where water passing from one vessel to the other pushes a column of air toward a whistle construction (beneath the mouth and beak).  There is more work to be done on this piece and drying time before the first firing may take several weeks.

I will be experimenting with a new graphic transfer technique that involves powder-based photo copies and Mason stain.  There will be more on that later.

For now, Happy Blogversary!

Fowl Mask Top View Fowl Mask Close-up Fowl Mask Mouth

Comments Off on Ceremonial Whistling Bottle

Ceremonial Whistling Bottle


Ceremonial Bottle - Whistling VesselThis a different sort of whistling vessel – ceramic musical instrument.  Only the fact that it plays two tones slips this into a category as an instrument, otherwise it is a tone sculpture.  Some 25+ wheel-thrown and hand-built pieces of stoneware were assembled to bring this piece up to its maximum height of 25 inches.  Now that it has been bisque fired to 1700 degrees (F), the actual height is closer to 23.5 inches.

This ceremonial whistling bottle sounds when one of two events happen.  By removing the small, stopper-head on the back side, the vessel can be filled with water.  After replacing the stopper, the entire piece can be rocked forward (ceremoniously bowing), until water escapes through the rolled tongue of the larger head at the top.  Due to the design of the tube that feeds the spout, a slight back pressure forces air up a second tube that will play the whistle locate beneath the surface of the nose on the larger head as the water flows from the spout.  The second way that this piece sounds happens when the partially filled vessel is rocked back to its upright position.  Air passing back through the tube and airway spout create a column of air that plays the whistle in the smaller bottle-stopper head. Yes. I know that sounds complicated… but it is that level of sophistication that the Inca figured out several hundred years ago.  That is a sophistication that I still find humbling in today’s world of high tech.

There are intentional sides to this piece that reveal characteristics of a woman, a posture of worship, a gargoyle-like protector, and the mechanical mysteries of sounding a tone and delivering a stream of water.  I will leave it up to Dr. Ephriam Bowen to tell the story behind this ceremonial vessel.  In the meantime, the stoneware survived its initial firing and awaits staining and glazing.  Pictures of the construction process will be coming soon.