On Wednesday, March 16th, 2022 I had a go at making a clay whistle. I'd been thinking it for a while and I'd collected a Pinterest board full of inspiration, along with videos about how to make them.
Whilst they were a bit tricky at first, by the end of the evening I had six working whistles. The joy of hearing something you've made make a sound is brilliant. I've seen the shocked look of delight on the faces of people I've taught. By the end of the evening I was hooked and joked that I was going to make 100 over the next 100 days. My friend laughed and suggested I made 365 over the next year.
The following morning I decided to give it a go.
The whistle is an ephemeral item that links cultures from all around the world, which makes it the perfect vehicle for exploring global folk culture. For the first few months my inspiration came largely from the online collection at the British Museum, where they have 713 clay ones in their archives, with only a handful on display. The whistles I liked the best were mostly from Mexico and were principally made for the tourist industry. eBay was another source of inspiration and that's where I found this delightful Georgian Dog whistle for a princely sum. I couldn't afford it and so I made my own!
I was attracted to the whistles that had clearly been made quickly and possibly in large numbers. To me they seemed to have more life and that's what I wanted for my whistles. I challenged myself to make my whistles quickly, as if I was a production line. I made multiples of some designs so that I could finesse the process.
After a while I began to draw inspiration from other subjects and work that I was interested.