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 Post subject: January trials
PostPosted: 28 Jan 2015, 18:54 

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Work on ocarinas is now sporadic. I make a kiln load of bisque-fired shale examples then spend weeks playing simple music and tuning, and tuning, and grinding the voicing walls---those things other makers probably have already determined for themselves. Maybe this continued experimentation allowed too many variables to be resolved at any given time, so recently only one variable was changed at a time on each new ocarina.

Many thanks for all those folk who have helped, all of whom are on this forum--Jade and Giorgio for positive support; Jack and Kresimir for pushing theory and noting sources for music; Jordan for sharing firing techniques, and Richard Hamlett for his construction advice and Ross for his eloquent notes and personal letters. Each of these folk is quite knowledgeable and kind to offer their guidance.

The first two weeks of January were productive. Twelve tests were made using 10% plastic Red Art Clay mixed with the South Carolinian shale. The shale was first screened using household window screen and then with 60 mesh. Shale can be fired to cone 6 and “even higher” (Clemson Univ, Dept of Brick Clay). I have fired at cone 4, but usually fire ocarina at cone 05 to 04. This “bisque” temperature allows for easy filing for final tuning. As I do not know the “accepted” density of an ocarina, I find the absorption is fine---one can play outside in freezing weather and there is no clogging of the windchannel.

With about 18 months of trying to make ocarinas, and accepting the fact that voicing has numerous variables, there has been no serious attempt to make an instrument in concert pitch (in any key)—my concern was to make a playing instrument from the local clay, low blowing pressure, relatively quiet, and consistent in its playing range. In fact I’ve made “C” instruments which are quite diverse in their overall size which is due to my experimenting/inconsistency with the voicing.
Ocarinas from the last firing were made with various shaped windows. At this moment I do not have enough tests or experience to say which I prefer---still trying to find shapes which are the best compromise for both high and low notes.

With questions of back pressure, clarity of pitch, and blowing pressures, most of the drape-molded experiments have been made with differing wind-channel tools (bamboo sticks). Tests using various tools indicate that I can control the back pressure more that I could ever have imagined—I prefer the narrower tool with a higher blowing end simply because of clogging less. Channels having wider and thicker ends play a bit better but can get clogged. What amazed me was that using tools I made to cut/shave very thin sections of clay allow opening the mouthpiece to the point of producing very little back pressure. Results are terribly interesting. What happened is that the quiet ocarina I had made before were now louder. Pitch was a bit less stable (but what do I know?).

The other question was how to best determine the size of the window to avoid the “hissing/whistle” sometimes occurring in the highest note. Of course if the window is opened the pitch is raised, then Richard’s advice is, “well make another”, which turned out to be a true statement. Still it remains that some examples play well and others just do not.

I would be interested in the learning what other makers use for their wind channel tools and the expected results of that particular tool's design.


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 Post subject: Re: January trials
PostPosted: 29 Jan 2015, 01:13 

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Wow, great work Andy! You work much faster then I do in such short time. It looks like your ocarinas are coming along quite nicely. Which one in the pictures was your favorite of the batch?


Please visit by Facebook page so that you can stay updated on my progress.
http://www.facebook.com/spiritwind.ocarinas

My website http://spiritwindocarina.com/


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 Post subject: Re: January trials
PostPosted: 29 Jan 2015, 01:42 

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not thought of favorites (didn't post all of them) If I must say, the little "C" one, the third down on the left . An "A" model, not shown plays well, the low E ( decorated surfaced one) is the next. Very low breath needed to play and now that I have a breathing condition, I have played it quite a bit.This may sound silly to say but I do favor the sound from the rolled paper mold examples ( the little C is an example). AND I like the feel of the shellacked finish

Been finding ocarina all over the house and taking them outside and using a dremel tool to grind the ramps, enlarging the window, etc....making some work, but this dust is so very dangerous. I may decide to fire some of these to a higher temp to check the stability of the clay and record the changes in pitch

did you make any this weekend? What do you do with your discarded ones? I'm having fun with this question


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 Post subject: Re: January trials
PostPosted: 29 Jan 2015, 09:08 

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Hi Andy
Thanks for the nice words. Congratulations for the beautiful ocarinas that happen.
Concerning waste: up to two years ago, every 10 ocarinas made, 8 were to throw. Today this relationship, thankfully was reversed. I have accumulated about a hundred scraps. I made them into pieces and put them in a sack. I took them in Puglia. I go there once or twice a year for the holidays


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 Post subject: Re: January trials
PostPosted: 29 Jan 2015, 17:22 

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They are very beautiful ocarinas! And while I tend to disagree with your quiet ocarina philosophy, I cannot help but admire the great work you've done. I would love to try one, someday. I hope you will manage to travel to one of the upcoming ocarina Festivals.


But do try to tune them to concert pitch. Nowadays, an instrument that is not tuned to concert pitch is not very useful, except for some fringe music styles.



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 Post subject: Re: January trials
PostPosted: 30 Jan 2015, 03:13 

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ha ha Kresimir, but that's all I am, an inconsequential and fringe bystander!!!!! I do play along with the Senior Center's choral group, but even they would probably wish that I would not!

Actually I do have several c's, d's, high e's, two low E's that were to have been F's---and when refired, they may be. This clay is quite short, but is fun to be able to make anything for zero expense. The large snap is one of the E's---I thought it was E plus 20 odd cents, but it is actually a true E. I wrote Jack asking him how folk determined the true pitch of an ocarina. Mine, with the new and larger wind channel, has almost a whole note variance depending on blowing pressure....I think I told the forum that I enlarged the windchannel to a degree that there was little or no back pressure. Now that I'm played them for a week I do not like such low back pressure so i stuffed a sliver of wood in the mouthpiece...loved the increased pressure. Now I have an old piece of chewing gum in the windway....Doesn't bother me at all--I play several nose flutes (Hide).


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