How to Make Clay Whistles

Learning to make clay whistles is an exercise in patience and persistence. Getting your whistle to actually make a sound takes quite a bit of practice, and involves a fair amount of trial and error. While it's not an easy task, making clay whistles is a fun project for all ages. Here are instructions for making your own clay whistles.

Start with a ball of air-drying clay the size of a medium apple. With wet hands, wedge the clay well. Do not rush this process, as clay that is not wedged well will crack while drying, and your whistle won't make a sound. When it is soft and pliable, roll the clay into a ball, and then stick your thumbs into the middle, forming an indentation. Use your fingers to press and pull the clay outward and upward, forming a deep bowl shape. Try to keep the walls of the bowl a uniform thickness. Smooth the inside and outside surfaces of the bowl with wet fingers, and then begin to gently squeeze the top edge of the bowl, pressing it into a line, and sealing it closed. You should now have a hollow form, shaped a bit like a dumpling. Smooth the outside with wet fingers, again, blending the seam in so you can't see it.

Now it's time for the tricky part! Using a dowel or clay tool, pierce a hole into the top, about a half-inch from the tip. Be sure to push the dowel in slowly and carefully, at a 45-degree angle. Make sure you do not poke too far down; you don't want to pierce the bottom. Next, push a craft stick or popsicle stick straight into the tip end of the whistle, creating a horizontal slot. This is now the mouthpiece of your whistle. The placement of these holes must be just right in order for your whistle to work. This is where the trial and error comes in! In may take a few tries before you get it right.

When your whistle is finished, allow the clay to dry completely. If you wish, you can paint your whistle. Just be careful not to get paint into the holes, or your whistle will not work.

Once you've mastered the technique of making a clay whistle, you can experiment with different sized chambers and holes to create different tones.

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