Additional Craft Information:
The Ocarina is a lovely and ancient instrument believed to date back over 12,000 years. It is a wind instrument that contains from four to 12 finger holes and is generally made from clay or ceramic. How do you turn clay into a sweet sounding instrument? It is a delicate, detailed and lengthy procedure. Continue reading to discover how.
DIY Craft Essential #1: Washi tape
DIY Craft Essential #2: Needle nose pliers
First the ocarina maker spends time producing just the right shaped plaster mold. There are usually 2 different molds, one for each half of the ocarina. Then clay is put into or wrapped around the mold.
When the clay has hardened a bit, the 2 sides are joined together by using a slip as glue. A slip is thinned down clay. The 2 halves are smoothed together with special clay tools and water to create one piece.
Next, finger holes are drilled. The precise size of the holes depend upon the relative volume of the inner chamber.
The ocarina is then tuned by using a chromatic tuner to check the pitch. The finger holes are examined one by one and are made larger or smaller depending on what pitch is preferred. The ocarina maker knows that the clay will shrink about 10% to 12% in each direction when fired. She or he accounts for this fact when developing the holes.
DIY Craft Essential #3: X-acto knife
DIY Craft Essential #4: Spray paint
When the preferred pitch is attained the ocarina is put on an unique drying rack to prepare it for entering into the kiln. The actual drying time will differ according to the size of the ocarina and the thickness of the clay. If the clay is not totally dry before placing it into the kiln the ocarina can blow up!
When the clay is totally dry it is placed into a kiln. The first firing is called bisque firing. This firing solidifies the clay enough to hold up against moisture. Different kinds of clay mature at different temperatures. The temperature it is fired at is determined in cones. Some typical temperatures are cone 06, 07 or 08.
This term refers to the clay test cones placed into kilns that melt at different temperatures. The ocarina is baked for about 18 hours.
The ocarina is then removed from the kiln and cooled completely. When cool, it is wiped down with a moist sponge. This gets rid of all the dust and particles that the ocarina could have acquired during the kiln firing and makes sure a clean, smooth surface to apply the glaze.
Then a glaze or several glazes are chosen to seal and beautify the ocarina. The glaze can be dipped, sprayed or hand painted on the ocarina and allowed to dry. When dry, the freshly glazed ocarina is fired once again, this time in a glaze kiln. The temperature the ocarina is fired at is determined by the temperature requirements of the glaze. The ocarina is usually fired for about 18 hours then left to cool inside the glaze kiln for 2 to 3 days. The ocarina has to cool completely in the glaze kiln before the door is opened. If the door opened even a crack before the ocarina is cooled completely the change in temperature inside the kiln could be serious enough to completely destroy it!
When the ocarina is successfully removed from the glaze kiln, the ocarina maker wipes it down with a moist sponge once again and checks it for any imperfections. Now it is ready to play!