Soren Ocarina Making

Soren
Inline Ocarinist x 2
Inline Ocarinist x 2
Joined: September 14th, 2017, 8:20 pm

September 11th, 2018, 2:55 pm #1

Last week, I took vacation time from work so I could dedicate my time to making ocarinas for a special local market coming on Saturday. I have been making ocarinas since 2011, with sporadic batches of 5-10 every few months, but this is by far the largest group I have yet made. Eight of the ocarinas were made at the end of August and fired in a group, followed by 18 ocarinas in the group made and fired in September.

All ocarinas I currently make are single chamber C3 Alto ocarinas with 12-holes (excluding one 13-hole ocarina with an additional low G). Range is typical for 12-hole ocarinas, playing fully chromatically from A4 SPN to F6 SPN. Some have a tuning hole while others do not.

Some ocarinas are made with colored clay, both terracotta clay with iron oxide as well as clays stained with oxides and/or Mason Stains (all are food-safe, but will be glazed to ensure this, as the ocarina airway comes in direct contact with the mouth when playing). White body clay is my main choice, as I found the difficulty with changing colors too often. I will be continuing to use terracotta orange and dark red sometimes, as well as developing black clay and some other body colors to be used for batches in the future. Glazes are a much easier way to alter the color, as they do not require a constant cleaning of the work area and tools like body colors do, and risk of cross-contamination is not nearly as great.

So far, I am quite happy with the results, though the ocarinas still need to be glazed and fired again. Making ocarinas allows me to customize these ocarinas to my personal preferences, which is a huge advantage for any ocarina player. The main reason I make ocarinas is a pursuit towards making my own ideal ocarina.

More information will follow after Saturday's market.

Here is a group photo:
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OberonOcarinas
Triple Ocarinist
Triple Ocarinist
Joined: November 5th, 2011, 3:38 am

September 12th, 2018, 3:39 pm #2

Hello,

Just popping in with a small suggestion for you Soren;

I’m pleased to see that you are producing instruments and intend to make a marketable product. However I would like to note that the style, both form and finish, are signatures of Kuolong's, and in general it's considered best practice to develop one's own distinctive look and structural elements.

it would certainly help you differentiate yourself on the market to develop your own unique aesthetic which would help to avoid confusion with other established makers who have been using specific forms and finishes for many years as an established aesthetic hallmark.
Please visit my page to see what Im working on!

Facebook.com/OberonOcarinas
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Soren
Inline Ocarinist x 2
Inline Ocarinist x 2
Joined: September 14th, 2017, 8:20 pm

September 12th, 2018, 7:20 pm #3

OberonOcarinas wrote:Hello,

Just popping in with a small suggestion for you Soren;

I’m pleased to see that you are producing instruments and intend to make a marketable product. However I would like to note that the style, both form and finish, are signatures of Kuolong's, and in general it's considered best practice to develop one's own distinctive look and structural elements.

it would certainly help you differentiate yourself on the market to develop your own unique aesthetic which would help to avoid confusion with other established makers who have been using specific forms and finishes for many years as an established aesthetic hallmark.
Thanks for the recommendation, Ross.

This is still a point I have been debating within myself right now ever since I found the similarity to Kuolong's ocarinas. This design is one I came up with independently of the style of Takashi ocarinas. The model used for the shaping is an artistic form in reference to an orca (without fins and flukes).
Orca1 Orca2
The nose is pointed slightly for that reason, the curving shape is characteristic of a diving orca, and the tail is shaped with the bump on the bottom like an orca with the flukes removed. I already had made my own molds before I knew much about Takashi ocarinas, though it is likely that at some point I saw a picture of one that may have been in my mind when I designed the first prototype. My design has two styles, one without cappello (orca) and one with cappello (dolphin). I did not have time in this run to remake and verify molds with a new design, and I also do not really know how I might redesign at this point. I am researching this now for the future, so tips or feedback is much appreciated.

How do I come up with a unique shape for ocarinas at this point without harming ergonomics? I do not know what Kuolong used for shaping reference, but the exact shape of my ocarinas is a reflection of the combination of the orca/dolphin/porpoise shape mixed with what I want in ideal ergonomics. Probably the one feature that I used that makes the most visual similarity to Kuolong's ocarinas is the downward curve of the tail as it moves away from the mouthpiece. I used this shaping in order to keep the right hand further from the face without angling the mouthpiece too drastically while also keeping the shaping of a diving orca.
I originally had a unique ocarina shape (since 2011), but the curve went the opposite way (back towards the face), and I never really considered the ergonomics of the instrument enough. They are uncomfortable to play, as the right hand is pulled close to the face. Unknowingly also until very recently, this shape was somewhat similar to Hoffman ocarinas in style.
When I consider ocarina shape, it seems hard to keep a simplistic design without following similar shaping to past ocarinas. If I straightened the tail, mine would look too similar to Hans Rotter's signature style, which would also look similar to the shaping of Jade Everett's ocarinas or Casper's ocarinas, which would also be similar to your signature style shown in your TON profile picture which is also similar to Fiehn ocarinas which are similar to Mezetti ocarinas. If I shorten the tail and/or round the tips, the style could be said to imitate Panch ocarinas. If I make the cappello or tail more pronounced, similarities to Italian ocarinas like Menaglio and Pacchioni become evident. If I make a bulb at the airway with a tapered tail (a design I have considered, since I suspect it may help to improve top note clarity with a rounder chamber), the design would be similar to a Popolo concert ocarina which is similar to a Lee Tae Young ocarina which is similar to an Ogawa ocarina which is similar to a Sojiro ocarina.
Even your unique "Quill" type is very similar to some ocarinas I have seen elsewhere, like the one by Yuzo Hayakawa. I am not challenging you, just noting that most ocarinas have many similarities due to the vast number of shapes already produced (not to mention the many shapes of the cheap Asian ocarinas that are probably based on some previous ocarina design at this point).
One unique design comes to mind: Pure Ocarinas. I personally do not like the shape as much, as it seems too refined and unnatural, though it is a marvelous shape for good ergonomics. The same could be said for Ray ocarinas, but I find the shape to seem too modern and unnatural with the flattened seam giving a pill-like appearance.

My ocarinas are not meant to be a copy of Kuolong's, and I apologize if they seem so. I did emulate smoke firing with glaze after I saw Kuolong's ocarinas, which is a finish I am moving away from in order to not copy Takashi ocarinas though I like the visual effect. I understand the value of unique characteristics, and the originality is one aspect I value in Takashi ocarinas. I have never held/owned/played a Takashi single chamber ocarina, but I have ordered a 4C that is currently being made. I ordered a double about a year ago when I first discovered Takashi ocarinas (and first started using TON), and I like it quite a bit. It seems like the way he makes ocarinas is very close to the ideal considerations I have for my own, but I would like to develop a different style in order to not copy Takashi ocarinas.

I honestly would like to know how I might keep a similar shape in terms of smoothness, roundness, and simplicity but differentiate my ocarinas from Kuolong's. Finish will be different, but shaping is probably still too similar.
Last edited by Soren on September 12th, 2018, 7:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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