Abalone Shell Ocarina

When I came into ceramics class this semester, I knew nothing about clay.  Our first assignment was to make an ocarina.  Ancient cultures had made these whistles ages ago, and we were instructed to make our own.

Our ocarina was supposed to be a natural object, and while shopping in Michael's, I found my inspiration: an abalone shell.

I began with two pinch-pots formed into the basic shape I was wanting.  Once I had both pieces formed and matching up, I scored the edges, painted on slip, and pressed the two pieces together.  Then I scored the seam and blended it.  Now it was one piece of clay instead of two.  I carved the seam of the shell, but before I added too much detail, I made the mouth piece and the aperture.  It took lots of testing and adjusting, and we joked about walking out of the studio unaware of brown smudges on our mouths from the raw clay.
Carving the textures and designs took a lot of time.  I'm glad now that I took that time because I love the feel of the surface.  After the little thing was bisque fired, I painted it with under-glazes and fired it again.
Overall, the form is a little exaggerated and stylized, and I think the earthy and cool pallet worked well with it.


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