Posts Tagged ‘Ceramic Musical Instruments’

Comments Off on Ocarina Clay – Campground Social Media

Ocarina Clay – Campground Social Media


We parked the RV in a well shaded space in familiar territory at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. Historically, the fourth of July weekend begins several days before the 4th when the best camping spaces are filled by other first-come-first-served-savvy campers…they were here early staking claims, just like we were.

After the normal cooking area, dining tent, RV awning, and general hook ups were complete, a small folding camp table and a circle of chairs found their way around the metal fire ring. Fire rings are the designated spots where campers are allowed to build campfires in their respective sites without raising the eyebrows of a friendly park ranger. Let’s review quickly here: Middle Tennessee, July, humidity, and a thermometer that reads like it is set on London Broil* – there will be no campfire in this space on this weekend, but it is the accepted space for conversation. To the campfire set-up recipe, I add my clay tools, a spray bottle, a bucket of water, several pounds of pre-mixed stoneware clay, and a handful of my favorite toys clay tools.

Vinepod OcarinaI’m pretty sure that I made it all they way through making the first pinch pot before Ruby, a precocious 8-year-old, walked from the adjoining campsite to ask, “Who are you and what are you making?” By the time the airway on the first ocarina produced a whistle, Ruby’s dad stopped by along with a small contingent of people who seemed astounded that some old dude was making instruments out of clay. The parade of folks stopping by to watch and ask questions during the weekend stay was never an interruption, it was the perfect ‘social media’ to connect total strangers, long-time friends, and even family members to chat about building sculptural ocarinas.

While my long-time friend, Breakfast Bob, was taping a short “how to” segment on his Flip camera, he commented that we needed to take this show on the road. Ocarina building attracted all ages and all types, including the itinerant. campground evangelist couple who suggested that the pottery building thing was a great hook for a ministry. As for me, I’ll stick with Ruby and her friends who wore the pavement out next to our site, waving and yelling, “Hi, Paul” with each bicycle drive-by.

*The weather was actually unseasonably cool for this particular trip, but the threat of steamy weather remains…and this is my story , so hush!

Comments Off on The Emperor’s New Flute

The Emperor’s New Flute

Trumphlute Three
Trumphlute Two
The Emperor's New Flute

I do wish that I had images of the rest of the TrumPhlutes that were part of this series. In the rush to get these from the kiln to a sale, photography became a victim of the crunch. It is a lesson that I learned well and is the reason that I compulsively photograph at various stages of production just so that I do not forget. So what else am I thinking about?…

While forming these strange contraptions, there are a few multi-dimensional thoughts rattling around in my noggin. First of all, it is important that the whistle (or flute) actually play…not always so much that it plays well, but that it simply creates a respectable tone when the player blows air through the airway. I can visualize customers who see these for the first time..and love the change in facial expression when they hear the instrument play for the first time.

Secondly, I believe the form of the piece should allow for whimsical interpretation of some historical reference or context. Often, that interpretation is seeded with a title that provides direction for the fantasy of whimsy. The Emperor’s New Flute (the title of this piece) is a less than subtle reference to a favorite childhood story that carries illusions of royal regalia and fantasy.

And finally, I consider it crucial that a piece should display well. What?, you say??…you are thinking about how someone might display a ceramic musical instrument as you build it? It is like this: if someone pays $40-$50 for something the size of a trinket, they generally don’t take it home or to the office and hide it in a drawer…it will be visible somewhere. So yes, I try to visualize how it might be displayed and attempt to provide clues for several options. For instance, what appears to be ceramic gymnastics in the images on the right are actually different ways that demonstrate intentional efforts to allow for display options. What is not shown is the use of the loop-lugs that would allow for this piece to be suspended or wall hung…or hanging around the emperor’s neck 🙂

It is time to revisit these small instruments. They were a hit at the only sale where I featured them. I can see more of them already, can’t you?

Note: click images for enlarged view