Sunflower stock, or stalk, is an ideal medium for making a tube shaped musical instrument, such as the flute. It has a tough outer surface and a pithy center that can be hollowed out. It is easily cut with a craft knife and requires little finishing. Sunflowers can be grown in almost any sunny location and mature in 100 days to 120 days, which makes them a renewable resource. The stalks should be fully mature before they are used to make a musical instrument.
Items you will need
- Craft knife
- Hand auger or drill
- Metal rod or drill bit
- Linseed oil
- Wind instrument cleaning rod
Cut down a mature sunflower stalk. Make the initial cut near the base of the stalk using a hacksaw or other fine bladed saw. You want a smooth cut that does not crush the stalk. Trim away dried leaves and the rough outer layers -- which are kind of prickly -- using a craft knife.
Drill finger holes into the flute body using a hand auger, before removing the pith. The pith supports the inside of the stalk and prevents it from collapsing as you drill. The hand auger, or hand drill, gives you more control than you would have with a powered drill. Drill a hole near one end of the stalk to create a transverse flute. Cut a notch that slants toward the front of the flute to form a whistle edge for an end-blown flute.
Remove the pith using a heated metal rod or a long drill bit. Hold the rod with an oven mitt and gently turn it. Remove the rod often to empty out the bits of pith as you work. Leave a bit of the pith blocking the end when creating a transverse flute.
Test the sound. Try out the finger holes using different combinations to play notes. If you are not happy with the sound of your flute, cut off the mouth holes and insert a commercial penny-whistle end to replace the sound part.
Rub linseed or vegetable oil on the outside of the flute. Use a wind-instrument cleaning rod with a scrap of soft fabric to apply the oil inside the flute.
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