September 27, 2009

Ocarina Madness

The making and playing of ocarinas can be practically addicting, I now see. Even as I prepare canvases for an upcoming commission and for my spring exhibitions, I still take some time out to create these fascinating objects that function both as sculpture and musical instruments. The pig featured at right plays simple mellow tunes when you blow into its snout. The design is based loosely upon the stylized figurines that used to guard Tang dynasty tombs. The blue ocarina above has unfortunately lost its tone but might get it back again with some tweaking.
Although my major focus as a teaching artist is two-dimensional art (painting, mosaic, Chinese art) I could not resist bringing these ocarinas to the recent Arts in Education Booking Conference. I did learn a thing or two about them in this new public context. The freezing cold conference room seemed to affect their tone and the noise level drowned out all but the shrillest of the whistles. Nevertheless they were great conversation pieces and added some spark to an otherwise sad conference. (With the exception of two artists, no one I spoke to actually booked work at this conference. We are all hoping that our prospective employers are just waiting on funding. ) And there may even be some classroom teachers interested in trying to make them with me for their schools.
Some people have begun to ask me what I will charge for my new ocarinas. I haven’t decided when or if I will sell them or for what price. I suppose I’ll have a better idea when I have made enough of them and can produce a better and more consistent sound. And the more I make the easier it will be to part with them.

1 comment:

harriett said...

These are beautiful - I was privileged to hear the sound of one of these and it spoke to a place deep inside.