Monday, November 23, 2009

Rain Stick

Saturday Gary and I went to the San Joaquin Clay and Glass Sale in Fresno. Gary was enticed to go since there was glass, but we didn't see any glass pieces except a few pendants. It was a windy day and perhaps the glass artists didn't want to tempt fate. Gary mentioned he has always wanted to try glass blowing. I'm going to get him to delve into one of the arts one way or another, even if it isn't clay.

I purchased this ceramic rain stick. The stick has some nice carving and it looks like it was rubbed with RIO. This rain stick is about 18 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter. Apparently little pieces of clay are put inside and baffles are attached to the interior. Then the top and bottom are sealed except for a small hole to let the air escape during firing. After the piece is fired the stick is rocked back and forth slowly and gently and the clay particles make a melodious sound. I am amazed at the tone this rain stick makes, delicate and slightly high pitched. I wonder what it would sound like if a whole group of people had ceramic rain sticks and rocked them all at the same time?

While I was getting new tires put on my car the last week I browsed the auto parts aisles to prevent boredom and came across this pack of bondo spreaders. No, I'm not taking up auto body repair; I plan to use these with clay. They're very flexible and were inexpensive too, about $2.00 for three. I think they'd be good for smoothing the clay or for spreading slip across slabs or into crevices. Clay tools seem to be everywhere I look. How about you, do you have any unusual clay tools?


  1. I've never seen a ceramic rain stick. I love stuff like that. I'm going to try making one.
    Those bondo speaders might work well for smoothing the surface of slab rolled clay. The price sure is right :)

  2. That is such a cool rain stick! Wouldn't that be a great project for kids?

  3. I thought about doing the rain stick thing with an art class back when I was teaching. I thought it might be kind of difficult for them to get the baffles attached inside, though. I still haven't made one for myself either.

  4. Hi Cindy, thanks, let me know how you do with making one of these, musical instruments made from clay really intrigue me. this one has a wonderful sound. when I purchased the piece another woman and I were rocking them back and forth to see which one we liked the best. I think ones with just an oxide or light glaze may be better because the tone of the falling clay particles comes through the ceramic surface better, but that is just a guess.

    Hi Tracey, thanks, I was thinking the same thing when I found this rain stick at the sale and this one was actually made by an adult ceramic student in the potter's class who sold it for them at the show.

    Hi Rob, thanks, I don't think the baffles would be that difficult mid way through the class once the students get the hang of slip and score methods and the inside doesn't have to be real polished either. Unfortunately I don't know what it looks like on the inside, but I haven't done any research on it either. But I made a whistle in a class early on and I really loved it. something so fun for a beginning student to have something unique and musical they can make in clay and each person would surely make a totally different piece.

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