Pape: the Clay Whistle




Introduction: Pape: the Clay Whistle

Today, or whatever day you may acquire the materials for the project, I can tell you how to make a whistle. OF CLAY!!! You may now freak out. There, got it out of your system? Calm? Good, OK, let's begin, shall we?

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Step 1: Materials

First, you want to start with a half pound of clay, (stoneware or modeling) a butter knife, and at least two popsicle sticks. The way a whistle works, is that the air goes in, gets cut in half by the notch, and channeled out or cycled back around inside. It’s this cycle that causes the air to sing or hum at a high pitch. Today, I’ll try to give you an easy project that could be done within an hour.

Step 2: Feelin the Kneed

Okay, start by taking your half pound of clay, I used modeling, and kneeding it. No, you don’t have to show it love and affection, but that never hurts. You want to squeeze and fold, trying to get all of the air bubbles out. With the modeling clay, although it’s tough to shape, it gets easier as your hands warm it up. Kneed your clay for about five minutes or until necessary, and then move on.

Step 3: Rounding Out the Corners

Form a sphere with your clay. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a sphere, but it’s much easier to teach this way. When you can do this, then you can move on to your own crazy shapes. This sphere should end up being two to three inches in diameter. One of the best ways to make your sphere is to take the clay between your hands ant to keep pressing in all of the corners and protuberances until you have a generally round shape. You can then move on to placing the clay between your palms, and moving them in opposite circles. this motion can take some getting used to, and is difficult to keep up at first, but will become easier. What I do NOT recommend, however, is to put your clay on the table, or what ever flat workspace you should have and moving only that hand. This results in a very awkward looking shape, and probably will not function quite so well, not to mention you have to clean the surface off after.

Step 4: "I Will Gouge..."

Now, you should take your butter knife and gently slice and cut your sphere in half. I do not recommend sawing at your clay, because it leaves it jagged and uneven, but rocking your knife back and forth through the clay seems to have the best result, leaving a smooth, flat wall on either half. Now you want to carve out a bowl shape in both halves. This is best accomplished by deciding how thick you want your walls, (No thinner than a quarter of an inch, and no thicker than a half)placing the tip of your knife that distance away from the outer surface on the flat side. and pushing down and to the center of the clay. You want to rotate the half-sphere all the way around, and you’ll be lifting cone shaped pieces of clay. Once you have generally equal thickness in the walls of the two new “bowls” you may use your fingers to squeeze, shape, and re-form the bowls as necessary until they are relatively congruent.

Step 5: Feelin the Connection

Now you must attach these bowls back together, forming a hollow ball. To make them stick, depending on the type of clay, you’ll use one of the following methods:
    1. If you’re using stoneware clay, you’ll need to slip and score. Slipping and scoring is the process of taking the surfaces you wish to apply, scratching them until there are many channels and cuts for the slip to sink into. Slip is very watery clay and feels slimy. You’ll apply the slip to the scored are areas and then press the pieces together for a while, then let the slip dry. The slip acts as mortar in assembling the two halves.
    2. If you’re using modeling clay, which doesn’t dry, you need to take a piece, and form it into a caulking shape. You’ll do this by taking a small amount of clay, and rolling it back and forth through your hands, as if you’re trying to warm them up. Now take your long, noodle-like piece of clay and pinch it all along the length. until you have a ribbon like shape. this should be very small, just enough to cover the seem of your sphere. Remember: the walls of the bowls should have a consistent thickness.

Step 6: Flatten & Stab

When your sphere is assembled and  sealed, you can now determine which area of the whistle is going to be the top. Lightly tap your chosen side of the sphere against your table until you have taken about twenty percent off of the height of the sphere. then poke a hole in the sphere. this hole should be a horizontal rectangle made with your Popsicle stick. You can move your Popsicle stick up and down, and side to side in order to achieve a hole large enough to blow into without collapsing. The hole should be no larger than one half of an inch wide, and one quarter of an inch tall. The roof of the hole should be exactly level with the new roof of your whistle. You may attach a mouthpiece by wrapping clay around the toothpick and using the methods listed in step five for your chosen kind of clay, or simply blow into this hole.

Step 7: The Notch

Now is the most important part of the process, you must leave the Popsicle stick in the air intake passage, and insert another coming down from the roof at a forty five degree angle. toward the air intake passage. Make sure this cuts the entering air in two; half going out, and half left to cycle in the sphere. You also need to make sure that this is not too far back in the whistle, that it let’s the air wander off of it’s course toward the “splitting” hole. It should angle up from the path of the intake, and actually channel it up, Be very careful that it doesn’t turn out to be just a stalactite or uvular structure. (So it’s a girl whistle?) If you’ve done this correctly, it should function well enough. Don’t expect a clear ring from your first whistle, it’s okay if it rasps a little. “Good job!” or “Keep working on it.” (Please accept statement as applicable.)

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    3 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You can take a piece of floss and wrap it around the sphere, then pull both ends, and it will slice the ball in half relatively easily. I'm a little confused about the notch. Is the hole of the notch the size of the popsicle stick? Is it important to have the depression there as you have shown it? Thanks for this instructable. Very cool.


    6 years ago

    U should add holes and turn it into a ocarina


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Can we hear what yours sounds like?

    (Is "Pape" the author's name?)