I was asked the other day to talk a little about the tools I use most often in the studio to make my pots. Well, here they are:
A typical tool kit for beginning pottery students usually includes the needle tool, cut-off wire, one or two ribs – metal and/or wood, one wooden knife tool and one or two trim tools. If you must buy a kit, buy a DooWoo kit.
Over time, a potter improves upon their basic tools, out of necessity, desire for more tools or because one or two tools went missing.
Here is a list of the tools in the picture and how I use them:
Dolan Trim Tools: A MUST! These babies are sharp and come in many shapes for a truly pleasurable trim job. Remember that all the metal is sharp, so learn to maneuver the tool to get the best cut – don’t just use the widest part but try using the round corners, etc.
Wax Brushes: I use an oil-based wax to paint on top of one glaze and then dip into another for a layered effect. The brushes stay soft when in water with a drop of dish soap.
Slip Bucket: Didn’t come with the kit, but boy do we need one! And I choose not to clean it after every throwing session – the slip adds up, gains a nasty smell, but is pretty handy when I slip ‘n’ score those handles! When it’s full, scoop out the clay onto a plaster bat and pretty soon you have more clay!
Ribs: The large wooden one is for low bowls, plates and platters – it really helps to have a stiff, large, rounded rib for these shapes. The green ribs are MudTools rubber ribs. I like the lime-green ones that are flexible but not soft like the red ones. I use them in place of the metal rib – helping me shape, dry the pot and compress the clay.
Sponge: This happens to be the foam from the box of cones I use in my firing. It is my favorite sponge for throwing! Holds water, almost chamois-like in feel and thin to hold.
Cut-off Wire: That one that comes in the kit gets kinks, then breaks. You can buy another – and I advise you to buy a DooWoo or MudTools brand – or make your own. this one is a piece of dowel and nylon fishing string twisted and glued to the dowel. Leaves a nice pattern on my feet.
Fettling Knife – I really like the clay knives that aren’t sharp but cut clay and don’t stick like small kitchen pairing knives. You need something to cut your clay when cutting slabs, handles, etc. An X-acto knife is my next best.
Calipers: I like how these fit in your vessel at one end and the lid fits in the other end. Simple to use and helps with those pesky lid fits!
Ruler: I actually measure the width of my cake plates & dinner plates and height of pitchers and lamps. Also a great straight edge for cutting those slabs of clay!
Wooden Modeling Tools: The wooden knife helps trim extra clay at the bottom of pots before cutting them off the wheel. This is especially helpful when I won’t be trimming the pot. The other wooden finger tool is used to smooth clay in places my finger won’t reach. I LOVE THIS TOOL! Especially helpful to smooth around attachments like handles.
Trim Blade: I use this baby to trim the extra clay on pitchers. ‘Why not use a Dolan,’ you ask? Well, a pitcher has a spout by the time it’s leather hard, so I trim it right-side-up. This tool allows me to trim a nice foot at the base of the pot. I throw the pitchers with a thin enough bottom to not need to be turned over and trimmed.
Rubber Shaper: The tool I use for making those Pincu Pot indents. Also helpful to smooth over rough spots instead of that wooden finger I spoke of earlier.
Serrated Rib: Makes scoring a bit quicker and easier. Just remember not to be timid with your scoring.
Those are my favorite tools. What is in your tool box? Do you have certain tools you use daily?