How to whistle with wild clay?

An experimental clay workshop on making ceramic instruments hosted by Nomadic Kiln Group (NKG)Carlos Gutiérrez and Tatiana López from Bolivia on Vartiosaari island 14-16th of June 2024. 

Invitation to workshop

We invite you to Vartiosaari to engage with elemental forces (water, earth, fire, air) guided by clays, ceramics and sounds. After crossing the sea to reach the island, Tati and Carlos will teach us how to craft Wuacus, Silbatos (simple whistles) and Silbatos de la Muerte (death whistles) from wild clay foraged from different natural locations around Helsinki. We will fire the instruments in a brick kiln built for the workshop by Art School Maa students and experiment with a Portable Raku Backpack. During the firing Carlos will introduce whistling/breathing techniques and listening exercises which will lead us towards different ways of interlocking the sounds using simple instruments and elements. The culmination of all these energies will be a night walk around the island, where we will listen, play and perform for one another.

No prior ceramic or musical skills are required. The workshop is for everyone who wants to experiment with wild clays, sounds, extreme temperatures of the kilns and to engage in self organising collective processes. The workshop is limited to 15 participants and is organised on three consecutive days. Participation fee for clay work on Friday is 30€, Saturday & Sunday programs are public and donation based. We ask you to bring our own food and wood or coal for the firing. You can also bring ceramic items you have made before for the raku experiments or unfinished clay objects you would like to fire in the brick kiln. Glazings are welcomed too if you are raku-curious. We can help you source wild clays before the workshop if requested. Get in touch with Eero (details below).

Schedule details

Friday, 14th of June. Modelling 15:00 – 20:00

Modelling of Wuacus, Silbatos (simple whistles) and Silbatos de la Muerte (death whistles). No previous experience in ceramics is required, as these instruments do not require complex techniques and are made in simple shapes. This approach will allow all participants to enter this knowledge and explore the material and its sonorities in an intuitive and dynamic way.

The ceramic instrument construction workshop allows participants to explore the sound possibilities of clay, creating three instruments/artefacts:

Saturday, 15th of June. Firing and sonic experimentation 10:00 – 19:00

NKG will introduce the Raku kiln backpack and brick kiln. We will collectively prepare the wood, and will encourage participants to also create makeshift bellows to blow the air into the kiln, which will increase the temperature in the kiln but also create a performative element to the ritual of firing. Please note that due to the experimental character of firing the ceramic pieces might break during the firing. You can choose if you like to fire the piece with NKG or take your piece with you and fire it in the electric kiln. 

Sunday, 16th of June between 10:00 – 19:00 (exact times tbc). Sonic walk with Carlos (participatory)

Collecting the ceramic items and after this we will have an evening walk during which we perform with different instruments, objects and noisemakers, participants will develop a spatialized performance where sound in long distances and intensities will dialogue with soundscape in subtle intervention.

How to apply?

Due to a high volume of interest in previous wild clay workshops, we kindly ask you to provide a short introduction text, which will offer insight to your approach to clay, ceramics and sounds. Please send this motivation letter to by 7th of June. We will inform you about your spot in the workshop by the 10th of June and maintain a list in case we will have cancellations. In the letter please highlight your availability, days and time when you will be able to participate in the workshop. We believe in a collective spirit and shared energy. Let us know what would you like to add or how would you like to enrich the workshop. If you like to share your powers, music, ritual, cake, tips for our guests, repair or build something in Vartiosaari artists house, help with a garden etc.

Practical information

Dress according to weather, we will work outdoors. Select clothes & shoes you don’t mind getting dirty and working gloves if you need them.

– Send your motivational letter by midnight 7th of June

– Friday 14th 3pm – 8pm. Modelling of Wuacus, Silbatos and Silbatos de la Muerte

– Saturday 15th 10am – 7pm – Public: Firing and sonic experimentation 

– Sunday 16th between 10am – 7pm (exact times tbc) Public: Sonic walk with Carlos (participatory)

– Location: Vartiosaari Artist House across the shore from Reposalmentie 1

– See for ferry schedules (2,5€ per trip). Transportation by night will be organised with a rowboat

– Please bring your own food, there is a possibility to barbecue. Vartiosaari Island Artist House has a fridge for storing food and snacks. We will provide water, coffee, and tea

– Please bring firewood or coal for the kiln. You are invited to bring your favourite clay modelling tools, unfinished clay things and glazings if you intend on experimenting with a raku.

– Compost toilet, not wheelchair accessible, access to kitchen and water

– The fee for Friday’s program is 30€. We welcome donations on the public program on Saturday and Sunday.

– Documentation of the workshop will be made during the event

If you have questions regarding the Vartiosaari Artist House contact Monika Czyżyk: 045 2764847/czyzyk.monika(at)

For workshop technicalities and if you need wild clay, contact Eero Yli-Vakkuri:  050 5729743/eero(at)