Making Ceramic Ocarinas!

Clay is an extremely versatile medium. It is strong, durable, and will last a very long time. It is used in cars, for dishes, as decoration, smelting, on tools, and so much more. I knew we could make drums out of clay – throwing an open cylinder, cutting out holes in the rim, then stretching and tying a piece of tanned animal hide over the top through the holes to make a great percussion. But I was amazed to learn clay can be used to make more complicated kinds of instruments! I read the book “From Mud to Music” and grabbed a project I wanted to try out.

For this exploration in making practical and out of the ordinary ceramic pieces, I chose to make an Ocarina. I think they’re beautiful, sound so pretty, and have a nice shape that fits right in the hand. This instrument also has a cultural niche, being a primary instrument in a very popular video game series. I am playing with the technique, but if I make a few really successful ocarinas I might be able to sell them!

I did more research on the production of the ocarina to have a well rounded understanding of the process I’ll be undergoing. There are all these necessary relations between air flow and positioning, the neatness of the cuts and bevels, and the clay itself will warp and shrink.There are many small adjustments that change the result, so just keep in mind this is only one way to construct a ceramic ocarina.


I started with a closed pinch pot and pinched up a small rectangular mouth piece. I’m using recycled high fire red stoneware.

Shove a popsicle stick down the center of the mouth piece, creating a small opening. Keep the stick in there.

With a popsicle stick that’s been sanded to a beveled tip, make a square right on top of the other stick just before the rounded part starts to curve out. Go into the bottom of the square at a 45 degree angle and scrape the clay down toward the bottom stick to create the fipple edge. The wall in the mouth piece facing the fipple needs to be at the same level vertically and needs to rest exactly between the top and bottom of the mouth piece opening. This is the hardest part and because there are so many tiny details that can have a make or break effect on the sound coming out, it takes a lot – A LOT – SO MUCH – trial and error. The mouth piece edges could be perfectly flush, but the fipple might not be thin enough, at the right angle, or distorted by moisture. Your fipple could be perfect, but if there are small scraps of clay anywhere in there, the air flow will be disrupted and you’ll just be breathing into a ball of clay. I’ve found that even if it looks the same as a working one, if the technique is right, if you’ve been fiddling with one for 6 hours straight, it could still end up sounding like you’re blowing into a bottle.


I haven’t found the perfect ratio of straightness and fipple-ness to consistently make a tone that’s not breathy and quiet, but I totally made 3 that sound great!!! I need to let them dry slowly to reduce the possibility of warping, then fire them twice in my kilns to make them hard like rock and last through the ages!


I like to think that when our civilization is long gone, space archaeologists from the future will dig up our pottery and learn about how we lived and played.


It plays great, burnished for extra appeal



  1. The economic, social, educaional, and commerical ramifications associalted with the rise of CAD
  2. the mechanization of certain jobs, the issues, and the potential solutions
  3. the history of failed gadgets, the design, and why it didn’t work
  4. how the medical industry coupled with technology to revolutionize both fields
  5. how the digital culture is evolving and what it means


  1. How to streamline biomedical implants through neural or muscle fiber connections
  2. Logo for Interdisc
  3. doing underwork with an industrial design engineer
  4. flame thrower
  5. quick release knife

Research Article and Applied Project Prospectus and Timelines

RA Prospectus

Working Title:  Catering to a Digital Culture

It took me a long time to land on one path. The one I chose is Industrial Design, which is designing the look, feel, shape, size, and materials of developing products. It necessitates both linear and lateral problem solving through CAD simulations and team work. I specifically want to design products for humanitarian and biomedical purposes – things that will benefit the world – but the efficacy of a product is not limited to merely how it functions. Things that are aesthetically pleasing have a leg up to the less creatively designed, when something is malleable when it should be solid, when it is bumpy when it should be smooth – all these things impact our impressions of products. Communication and function should be the reason for every design decision. I think constantly keeping the user in mind is the most important aspect of product development, and this research article with thoroughly explain every reason to do that.

Iphone “Air Pods” provide a sleek and tangle-free headphone experience that will last until they fall out of your ear and get lost. Courtesy of

AP Prospectus

I want to give the Interdisciplinary Department the option to have a logo and a mascot. I am working with Photoshop and Illustrator to create designs that encapsulate the department in a concise and creative way that is also memorable. I also want to include the students enrolled in the courses to provide their own design to be considered for a logo, or to have a revolving set of logos and mascots that represent the individuality of each year. I aim to have a set of neat and professional logos, stickers, and at least one 3D printed mascot, and a set of volunteered logos from students. Logos are super important to companies and establishments that want to have a visual association. Colors, shapes, and symbols play a role in the memorability of a logo. It adds a fun pop of design and creativity and creates an easy means for classical conditioning.  Positive associations make people want to continue that association!



10/1/17 thru 11/14/17

  • Amass a trove of sources saved on both computers
  • Library resources
  • Sift through and have notes on each source and citation
  • Begin writing draft
  • Write various intros and outros for paragraphs


  • Visual aids and pictures
  • incorporate paragraphs for each picture
  • Continue writing from notes from sources (Hyperlinks!!)


  • take what I have to writing center
  • Continue draft




The Segway

Do you remember products and fads that were super popular at one time but became irrelevant very quickly? I’m interested in what variables have part in making something thrive or fizzle out. Things like practicality, cost, environmental impact, advertising, even just how it looks and works can have detrimental impacts on the life of an idea. In 2001, Dean Kamen’s Segway  became available for sale after a long period of anticipation and hype. What was to be described as a revolution in transportation was revealed as a fancy scooter. It balances itself, goes on various terrain, turns on a dime, goes pretty fast, and is an all around neat gadget to play with. It was also expensive, not entirely user friendly, and very quickly found its own niche, which added a super interesting social stigma. The Segway is still a part of society, Dean Kamen has an amazing way of engineering products that matter to enough of the right people.

from wikipedia
A Swarm of Segways in DC

The Ball joint Head rest – PLN post

My family came up for the weekend of Columbus day for a fair. During the ride, we began talking about engineering. We talked about robotic arms, how they work, and about the concept of the Uncanny Valley. The industrial design department had a tremendous influence on the final aesthetic outcome. A couple ways of getting around the valley were to avoid it all together and make it look like a robot. Why? Because… Another option is to make it an art piece – the nails can be removed and replaced with decorated nails, the exterior can be painted and personalized. The future of robotic limbs is full of art!

typical motorized wheelchair

Our conversation then evolved into the electric wheelchair that can climb stairs and balance on two wheels. An issue one member of my family noted was the inability to adjust the angle of headrests in cars, and that the headrest of the wheelchair was no different. The headrest is able to move vertically, attached by two metal rods with divots to set the length. The ability to adjust the headrest in any way could potentially increase the comfort of the user.

We got to the fair. We spent all day there and had a great time!

Later that night I had a brilliant epiphany – one metal pole! On the top of it – a ball joint! The rest will snap into the metal rod with a soft plastic socket, and the headrest itself will have a hole in the center allowing the head to nestle in and give hands-free control. I called them up the next evening all excited and told them about my brilliant, totally unique ground breaking idea.

“Yes, a swivel socket you mean!”



That’s what I mean, I guess.

“Yeah there’s a few models with that attachment but you don’t see them much.”

In the back of my mind I knew I wasn’t the first to think of that. Now I feel dumb.

“But you thought of it on your own. You saw a problem and sought out solutions, that’s what matters in this field. Maybe you will envision an entirely new concept in engineering, just keep working at it.”

I got a small amount of courage from knowing I’m on a similar wavelength as engineers and artists. I’m doing the process correctly and will eventually be able to make my own path.






What is Gesture?

Gesture is quick sketching that describes a whole piece. This sketching includes lines in 3D space and ones that imply movement of the subject. Being able to quickly and roughly describe a subject on the page ensures the piece will be proportional. Gestural drawings are the first step in making a finished piece, providing the blueprints for more detailed work.

Vessel Basket Boat Blimp Nest

wood 1 2017 wood 2 2017 wood 3 2017 wood 4 2017

This project was exceedingly difficult for me. My design was intricate for the medium we were challenged to use, and it was a process I was learning along the way. We used strips of wood glued together and clamped in circles on the wall to construct a piece that gave the idea of movement or transportation. I began with a 1:2 scale, drawing wood 2017, measured the lengths of each drawn ring, and multiplied by the scale factor to get the diameter of the ring. I found the circumference of each ring and cut the wood strips to the appropriate length. With the diameter known, I used a compass to draw the intended circle. With metal brackets and screws, I clamped on the cut lengths of wood onto the brackets.

I wish the whole project was devoted to shrink wrap. Everything about it was so fun and cool. The way the plastic forms so smooth and perfectly over the wooden beams is satisfying to look at. I got to use a huge blow torch! The shrink wrap distorted the rings way more than I was expecting. The rings were held together by a frame and wire, to avoid rigidity and breakage. These loose connections coupled with the shrink wrap distorted the end product significantly.

This project was a taste of engineering: drawing blueprints, using math to translate theory to application, then learning to adapt the materials to the blueprints. In order to properly fit the wooden strips around the brackets with sufficient overlap, I learned I had to subtract half an inch from the length of the wood. This process took so much trial and error, which is what the blueprints were supposed to prevent. I believe the reason this sculpture was so incredibly successful was because I was not prepared for how much it took to achieve something close to the shape I was hoping for. My calculations were pretty two dimensional, when what was required was scale drawings of tons of different angles to see the relationship between each curve and the hand. My goal was difficult, but entirely possible. It just required more attention than I was willing to give.