|NOTE: Depending on what you use for “rain pellets” you might want to do
a bake test to make certain the pellets don’t melt at 275 degrees. You
wouldn’t want to complete your rainstick only to find that the pellets
fused together during baking!
- Strong, flexible clay (suggested brands: Premo, Kato or Fimo).
- Head pins
- Wire cutters
- Dowel rod
- Aluminum foil
- Toothpick or needle tool
- Pasta machine (Helpful)
- "Rain pellets" (such as tiny pebbles, glass seed beads, etc)
Step 1. Wrap a dowel rod with several thickness of aluminum foil. You
can use any size dowel rod — the diameter depends upon how large you want
the inside of the rainstick to be. Just make sure it’s not too long to
fit into your oven!
Step 2. Using waste (or a base color) clay, roll an adequate amount of
clay to #5 on your Atlas pasta machine and wrap it around the
foil-covered dowel rod, making certain you seal the seam completely by
smoothing it with your fingers until the seam disappears. Fig. 1 (right)
shows how your rainstick should look at this point.
Fig. 1- Base clay on Aluminum covered dowel rod.
Note: if you are
using a larger dowel rod (about 3/4” in diameter or greater), I would
use a thicker setting on the pasta machine—this will make your rainstick
Step 3. Using a toothpick, poke holes into the cylinder in a spiral
pattern, as shown in Fig. 2 (the gray dots represent the back of the
cylinder and the black dots the front). I generally put about 1/4”
between holes, but it depends on the size of the rainstick and the size
of the “rain pellets.” There’s no need to worry about fingerprints or
small imperfections at this point, because you’ll cover this with
another layer of clay.
Step 4. Bake the rainstick base (dowel rod and all) for about 15 minutes
at 275 degrees.
Step 5. While the rainstick is still warm (but not TOO warm!), remove
the foil and rainstick from the dowel rod by gently tugging on one end
of the foil while holding onto the other end of the dowel rod. This
pulls the rainstick and foil off the rod. Next, carefully remove the
foil from the inside of the rainstick.
Step 6. Using a needle tool, make sure all the holes you poked earlier
are completely open.
Step 7. Cut the appropriate number of headpins to the proper length
(which depends upon the diameter of the dowel rod). The headpin needs
to be long enough to accommodate the thickness of one wall of clay, the
inside diameter of the cylinder of clay—and be exactly flush with the
opposite wall of clay. Fig. 3 shows a headpin cut to the proper
length for my rainstick.
Fig. 3 - Wire cutters and Head pins
Step 8. Insert a headpin into each hole in the rainstick, making certain
the head of the headpin is flush with the outer wall of the cylinder.
At this point your rainstick should look like Fig. 4. Fig. 5 shows
a view looking down into the rainstick.
Step 9. At this point, you may want to hold a finger over one end of the
rainstick and fill the rainstick with your “rain pellets.” Then hold
both ends of the rainstick closed with your fingers and turn it over to
let the “rain” fall. This will let you decide if the rainstick “sounds”
right. You can remove some headpins if you think it doesn’t work right,
or add more “rain” if the sound doesn’t last long enough to please you.
Don’t fill the rainstick too full or the rain won’t have enough distance
Step 10. Remove the rain pellets and cover the rainstick with clay canes
or whatever you like—except for one end. Add your rain pellets and seal
the end with clay.
Step 11. Bake, sand, buff/glaze and enjoy. Fig. 6 shows my finished
Fig. 6 - Finished Rainstick!
We'd like to thank Pamela for sharing this unique lesson with PCC, and Jenn Dorian for preparing the PDF version. If you have a lesson or tutorial or project that you would like to share with PCC, just email or and we will help you prepare your project for the PCC Website.