# Questions and Ideas from a wannabe Oc Maker

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Pendant Ocarinist x 2
MatheusMota
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
Joined: November 28th, 2017, 9:52 pm
Hi Y'all!

I've been doing some research on TON for a few days on how to make an (tuned) ocarina. As I said on my introduction post, I've got a six hole pendant (it doesn't really play) that a friend gave me a few years ago. That Oc is so bad that just recently my interest on ocarinas was rekindled by an archaeologist friend of mine whoose area of expertise is ceramics. The forum posts and some YouTube videos were really helpful but some questions remain.
• Acording to the Making an Ocarina in a Predetermined Key we can calculate the necessary volume of the cavity for a given voicing window diameter. For that reason I'm planning on making a round voicing window with a diameter of 0.97 cm (0.38 inches) based on this video by Chris Heuer on a C3 10 hole ocarina. Has anyone tried this method for a sweet potato shaped ocarina? If so, were the results good?
• In my mind, for the above mentioned method to work I would need a really precise way to make the chamber in order to ensure the volume would be right. So Chris comes for the rescue again. I'm planning on using the drape form technique that he shows on this video. This post by Bas on Little Geese shows the technique in a little more detail. My resoning for using this method instead of a 2 part plaster mold is that I could calculate the volume of the cone and add half of the volume of the ball to it and figura out quite precisely the volume of the chamber. What is the opinion of other makers on this method? A 10 mm thick slab would be good enough? What proportion the ball should be in relation to the lengh of the cone?
• The clay I got from my friend is a Terracotta without grog that she says shrinks about 10% when fired between 650C-1020C. I'm planning on making the ocarina about 11% (maybe a little more) bigger (in volume) than the value given by the formula from the first question so that when the ocarina is fired it would still be a little flat and I could tune it up by filing the holes. Is this aproach resonable? How do you tune the fundamental note of the instrument after it is fired? Do you guys tune all the holes going up in the scale or is there some special trick for tunning?
• Everyone says that the voicing has to be propotional to to the body. Has anyone figured out a way to calculate or measure this proportion?
• Are there standard dimentions for making an airway stick? If yes, what are they?
• I'm planning on using a 10 hole italian fingering system. Is there a way to keep the left hand pinky hole from getting to lage? Should I split the right hand pinky hole? If so, how is it done?
• For finishing I'm planning on burnishing the ocarina and then giving it one or two coats of shelack after it is fired. Are there any tricks on how to do it?
I think that's it for now. I would be really happy if soe body with experience answered some of the questions (all of them would be really nice) and if you've got any more tips I will happily accept them.

Matheus Mota

P.s: I have a little bit of experience with clay and poterry due to archaeology and I don't really mind that it will be really hard to get a playable instrument. I want to experience the process of making the instrument and I'm not shying away from the failures and frustrations of it. So, there is no need to say that I should start doing something else like apendant or something. BTW I am able to make clay whistles and I was able to make a one note vessel flute on a workshop that my above mentioned friend gave.

 Posts 6,879 TV Challenges completed: 1 Oc of Choice: Rotter Z fans Browser: Opera
Joined: January 12th, 2012, 11:26 pm
Chris' videos on ocarina making are really good. It will take you through the basics. If you want more specific information on details like voicing size etc. you could try asking Ross Dubois. He sometimes drops by here on TON but he can more easily be found on Facebook or you can post a question to him on his Etsy store page. He is the owner of Oberon Ocarinas.

Last edited by pandorado100 on December 3rd, 2017, 12:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats..."
-- Albert Schweitzer

 Posts 17 TV Challenges completed: 1 Browser: Opera
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
MatheusMota
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
Joined: November 28th, 2017, 9:52 pm
pandorado100 wrote:Chris' videos on ocarina making are really good. It will take you through the basics. If you want more specific information on details like voicing size etc. you could try asking Ross Dubois. He sometimes drops by here on TON but he can more easily be found on Facebook or you can post a question to him on his Etsy store page. He is the owner of Oberon Ocarinas.

Thank you Pandorado100! I'll try to bring myself to messaging Mr. Dubois. I'll have to think about how to approach him. But none the less thank you. If you've got tips of your own I would like to hear them too.

 Posts 6,879 TV Challenges completed: 1 Oc of Choice: Rotter Z fans Browser: Opera
Joined: January 12th, 2012, 11:26 pm
MatheusMota wrote:
pandorado100 wrote:Chris' videos on ocarina making are really good. It will take you through the basics. If you want more specific information on details like voicing size etc. you could try asking Ross Dubois. He sometimes drops by here on TON but he can more easily be found on Facebook or you can post a question to him on his Etsy store page. He is the owner of Oberon Ocarinas.

Thank you Pandorado100! I'll try to bring myself to messaging Mr. Dubois. I'll have to think about how to approach him. But none the less thank you. If you've got tips of your own I would like to hear them too.
I recommended Ross because he is very knowledgeable and explains details very clearly. He also doesn't mind sharing his knowledge. Another friendly maker is Giorgio Cataldi who goes by the handle Tytoalba here on TON. However, Giorgio mostly speaks Italian so you would have to communicate with him using Google Translate which sometimes leads to confusion since it is not the best at converting Italian into English and vice versa.

If you need information about ceramics and glazing techniques I have a couple of friends who can help you with that too. I cannot give you any useful advice myself since I have never made ocarinas and have no desire to start. My arthritis would make handling clay very difficult.
Last edited by pandorado100 on December 3rd, 2017, 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats..."
-- Albert Schweitzer

 Posts 17 TV Challenges completed: 1 Browser: Opera
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
MatheusMota
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
Joined: November 28th, 2017, 9:52 pm
OH, if Ross is ok with sharing his knowledge, I'll try to contact him. I know a tiny bit of italian maybe I'll be able to talk to Mr. Cataldi.
wrote:I have never made ocarinas and have no desire to start. My arthritis would make handling clay very difficult.
It's a shame that your arthritis doesn't let you handle clay, but as a player what is the most confortable shape for you to play? by shape I mean how big of the diameter of the round part of the ocarina has when compared to the length of the instrument. In general what do you look for in an oc?

Thanks for the kind posts and for the attention.

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Beginner
Siscoe
Beginner
Joined: March 27th, 2017, 12:13 pm
Robert Hickman (Pure Ocarina) wrote a book about making Ocarinas as well.

https://ocarinamaking.com

Siscoe

 Posts 53 TV Challenges completed: 1 Oc of Choice: Takashi TAC, C3 Transverse Ocarinas Browser: Google Chrome
Inline Ocarinist x 2
Soren
Inline Ocarinist x 2
Joined: September 14th, 2017, 8:20 pm
Mateus,

I do not have direct experience with the method you plan to use, but I will share my experimental results from 5 years of making 12-hole transverse ocarinas.

1. I have used a round voicing hole from the start. Recently, I have found improvements by modifying the round hole to a teardrop shape, as many renowned makers use. The diameter of my voicing hole is very near 3/8" for alto C (C5), though I do not know off the top of my head exactly how big it is.

2. The method of making a cone and half sphere is a tried-and-true method, although I have never used it myself. The reason I do not use it is that I personally prefer the more natural and curving shapes obtained with hand-building and plaster press-molds. The walls of my C5 ocarinas are near 10mm thick, though I do not have the exact measurement in my mind. I could try to measure some details for you as I have begun to take a more scientific approach to my ocarina making recently. I cannot say anything about the ball-to-cone proportion, as I do not build with this method.

3. To determine clay shrinkage and fundamental note, I think experimentation is the best method to find your process. What you need to do is determine what the fundamental note needs to be while wet in order to achieve the correct fundamental note after firing. This note is difficult to change after firing, since you need to add or remove earthware inside the chamber. I do this before firing using small curved blades to carve out clay inside the chamber to set the fundamental pitch. The other notes can (and should be) tuned after firing, but it is much more difficult than learning how to tune before firing in order to minimize the amount of tuning necessary after firing. I have used files to tune after firing, but a rotary grinding tool is much easier on the hands. The tuning MUST start at the fundamental note (all holes closed) and move up the scale or note range, since each note is actually a combination of all holes that are open. When you change the tuning on a lower note, all notes above are affected, since they also will have the lower note hole open in addition to the hole for that note.

4. I am not sure how to figure out the proportion of the voicing size to the chamber size. I did so by referencing the ocarina I purchased, then experimented with my own dimensions until it worked well. I could probably improve this in the future with a more recorded and scientific approach, rather than just the guess-and-check method I used before.

5. The airway should be exactly as wide as the voicing hole at the exit for proper sounding. I have a slight flare out in width towards the mouth hole on the airway, but this flare is very minimal. The height of the airway should be fairly narrow at exit to concentrate the air on the fipple. I use a much more noticeable flare in height at the mouthpiece, with the entrance being noticeably taller than the exit. This helps with clarifying the notes by allowing more airflow to enter and be concentrated or focused at the exit. Avoid any obstructions in the airway near the exit, as they will quickly destroy the tonal clarity. I could give you dimensions on my C5 slot stick, but I would need to measure them tonight, as I do not have them memorized or recorded here yet.

6. Since I use a 12-hole system, the high F hole has never been overly large on my ocarinas, so I have limited advice for a 10-hole Italian system. One note I do have is that holes that would be overly large for the finger can be made elongated in the direction of finger placement to allow for better coverage. Oval shaped holes allow for matching the shape of the finger pad to utilize more surface area of the hole when a round hole would have a diameter too large to cover with the finger pad. To split a hole, just drill 2 holes inline with that finger position and centered on the ideal hole placement. To tune a split hole, tune the accidental (sharp or flat) hole first (this is usually the hole further from the hand), then tune the tone hole. This order needs to be followed, since the note with the split hole is really being played by opening both holes. The split holes are only used to simplify "half-holing" techniques, where you cover a hole only partially to shift to a tone between the tones at fully closed and fully open. This method is much less precise for hitting accidentals than using split holes.

7. Ross of Oberon Ocarinas should be able to help you here. I have no experience with this, as I have always used glazes on my ocarinas.

I hope you find some of this information useful. Feel free to ask me any additional questions. This might be simplified through PM after this long response. Text walls can sometimes derail a topic, which I hope does not happen here.

Do not forget to try to reach out to the better-known makers here, as their greater experience should be even more helpful than my limited experience, especially if they have used similar methods to what you intend.

Hopefully this helps,
Soren
Ocarina Maker and Player

 Posts 17 TV Challenges completed: 1 Browser: Opera
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
MatheusMota
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
Joined: November 28th, 2017, 9:52 pm
Siscoe wrote:Robert Hickman (Pure Ocarina) wrote a book about making Ocarinas as well.

https://ocarinamaking.com

Siscoe
Yes, I know Robert has a book but buying things in USD here in Brazil is quite expensive so I guess I'll have to wait on that one.
Hi Soren,
wrote:I hope you find some of this information useful. Feel free to ask me any additional questions.
Yes, it was truly helpful and I'm bringing myself to go about sending PMs to people that I've never interacted before (That's kindda why I started this topic). If you could post the a feel of the measurements that you've got would be nice since I don't own a transverse ocarina so I can't take measurements from it.
wrote:I cannot say anything about the ball-to-cone proportion, as I do not build with this method.

This proportion doesn't need this method to exist. What I really mean is the relation between the widest diameter of the ocarina when compared to te lenght of the instrument.

I will send you a PM with some of the measurements I'm planning to use so you can compare it to yours.

Best regards,

Matheus Mota
Last edited by MatheusMota on December 4th, 2017, 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 Posts 798 TV Challenges completed: 1 Oc of Choice: Mountain Ocarina
Triple Ocarinist
Harp Player
Triple Ocarinist
Joined: September 5th, 2013, 7:52 pm
Have you read the book on making Ocarinas?

https://ocarinamaking.com/

 Posts 17 TV Challenges completed: 1 Browser: Opera
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
MatheusMota
Pendant Ocarinist x 2
Joined: November 28th, 2017, 9:52 pm
Harp Player wrote:Have you read the book on making Ocarinas?

https://ocarinamaking.com/
So as I told Siscose, Buying thing from abroad, be it in USD or in pounds, is really expensive here in Brazil due to the weakness of our currency and import taxes. Right now I cannot buy the book, but I plan to in the future.

Best regards,
Matheus Mota