Talking About Tool Kits

This is what my tool kit looks like :)

This is what my tool kit looks like 🙂

This week is all about tools!  I think it’s important to understand the many ways in which you can use your tools.  When I first started out making potter and working with clay, I found that I didn’t utilize my tools to their full potential, but as I progress within the medium, I have found that tools are really a lot of fun and the ways in which you can use them seem endless.

Some potters will argue that tools actually inhibit your abilities when it comes to your potential with throwing on the wheel.  They argue that if you are throwing with tools such as ribs or sponges, it will inhibit your ability to feel the clay in order to lift and work it properly, your sense of touch while throwing is very important.  While I agree with this to some degree, and maybe more for a beginner thrower than a more advanced one, I think that tools can open a whole new world of possibilities both while throwing and while hand-building.

Like I have previously stated, having the right tools in your tool kit makes a world of difference.  I think it’s a really great thing to experiment with making your own tools, especially if there is a specific effect you are looking for, making a specialized tool might be your best option. Most of us are not welders, or wood workers, much less have the tools to craft our own custom instruments, but there are some other ways to get a variety of tools, it just takes a little thrifty thinking.

I often like to shop at thrift stores, dollar stores, garage sales, flea markets and hardware stores to find tools that will give my pottery surfaces or throwing technique a unique effect.  Some of the tools I have found while shopping at these places are Cheese cutters, Allen wrenches, forks, lace-for texture, bristly brushes (such as a fingernail brush)-for texture as well as helpful to get your nails clean after working with clay, and the list goes on!  I have noticed that I have started to look at objects in a whole new way while shopping, instead of looking at them for their normal function, I look at them for their texture and ceramic functions.

Some Tools

Here is a picture of some of the random tools and materials I keep in my tool kit. Lace and other textured fabric, hardware nuts and bits, gears I found at a craft store and attached to wooden dowels, allen wrenches of various sizes, nail brush, a sponge I duck-taped to a wooden stick, which is great for getting excess water out of the bottom of a narrow cup or vessel while throwing on the wheel.

There are also some great tools that you may just want to purchase, if something is built right by someone else and I can’t duplicate it, why not buy their version.

Here are a few links to websites that not only carry pottery tools, but you can also find different types of glazes, equipment, etc. There is this great site for building the right tool for the right job.

As I have mentioned above, there are some really fun textures you can create with these everyday objects.  My favorite texture technique is to use lace to imprint the surface of my piece.  This is a super easy, yet effective technique I have been experimenting with a lot lately. I will show you step by step with pictures the process that I use for this lace surface technique.


1. There are just a few tools you need for this.  The first is of course a mug or some kind of clay form you have made.  This mug I have thrown is in leather hard stage, and has already been footed.  I have found if the clay is any harder or softer it makes working the surface much more difficult.  You will also need a piece of lace, a rubber rib-these come in all sorts of colors and sizes and hardnesses.  My rib is red, pretty soft and flexible, and a few inches long.  I use a small container of slip ( this is just water mixed with some clay to make a soupy mixture that acts as a glue in the world of ceramics), along with a paintbrush.  The last thing you will need, which isn’t pictured here is a sponge.

Here are the materials/ tools  you will need: ceramic form, Lace, Rubber Rib, Sponge, Slip and Paintbrush.

Here are the materials/tools you will need: Ceramic form, Lace, Rubber Rib, Sponge, Slip and Paintbrush.

2. The first thing you will do is lay your lace on your form and apply a coat of slip over the lace with your paintbrush.  I like to do this because the slip will fill in all the little spaces of the lace which brings out the best quality imprint of the lace.  It also helps keep the lace in place for the next step.

Lay the lace on your form and apply the slip over the top of the lace with your paintbrush.

Lay the lace on your form and apply the slip over the top of the lace with your paintbrush.

3. You want to use your rubber rib to gently press the lace into the surface of your form, I like to make sure I get the edges really well during this process.

Use a rubber rib to press the lace into your form.

Use a rubber rib to press the lace into your form.

4. Now take your sponge and clean up your edges, a lot of times the slip will spill over the edges of your lace leaving clumps.

Sponge away any excess slip that has spilled over the edges of the lace.

Sponge away any excess slip that has spilled over the edges of the lace.

5. Now let your form sit for a while so the slip and set up a bit before you take off the lace.  After your form has sat for about 5 minutes, it should be ready to reveal your beautiful lace pattern!

Slowly remove the lace.

Slowly remove the lace.




Lately I have been really into this band called Future Islands!


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