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Carving Tools

We all love clay tools: from the big machines for forming and firing, all the way down to little pieces of wood for carving. In the Carving Tools section of Ceramic Arts Daily, you’ll learn innovative techniques for making your own carving tools or adapting the carving tools you already own to be more ergonomic. And don't forget to download your free copy of the Ceramic Carving Tool Techniques: Bringing the Ceramic Surface to Life. This handy studio reference includes valuable technical references and great clay tools to help you with forming, surface decoration and firing. Plus, it has a comprehensive directory of manufacturers and suppliers that provide ceramic equipment, raw materials, clay tools and ceramic supplies.


Tips for Designing and Carving Geometric Patterns in Pottery

Posted On May 11, 2015 0 Comments

It can be challenging to carve geometric patterns into pottery. Aside from sharp tools and patience, you need to know the optimum timing and plan your design carefully ahead of time to do it well. In today’s post, an excerpt from our free download Ceramic Carving Tool Techniques: Bringing the Ceramic Surface to Life, Yoshi Fujii shares his secrets for creating gorgeous carved pottery. PS. To learn how Yoshi Fujii throws his goblets, see the January/February 2015 back issue of Pottery Making Illustrated!


Considerations for Carving Clay: How to Create Beautiful Carved Decoration on Your Pottery

Posted On October 27, 2014 4 Comments

Carving into a clay surface can be very gratifying, but when you’re making pieces for use, you need to be make sure that the carving accentuates the function and doesn’t hinder it. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with a piece that doesn’t function as well as it could. In today’s post, an excerpt from the second edition of our free download Ceramic Carving Tool Techniques: Bringing the Ceramic Surface to Life, potter Emily Reason shares her secrets for getting her clay carving just right. Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


Carving with Care: How to Carve Exquisite Patterns on a Mug

Posted On October 24, 2014 14 Comments

There is something about carving into leatherhard clay that is so satisfying. It’s probably why trimming pots is my favorite part of throwing. But using carving as a decorative tool is something I have never really explored. Until now, that is. After seeing Adam Field work, I am eager to give it a try. And after editing Adam’s DVD, Precision Throwing, Intricate Carving, which debuts today, I am equipped with a lot more knowledge on how to do it successfully! In today’s post, I’m giving you a taste of Adam’s technique and the DVD. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor. PS. Adam demonstrates how he makes his Korean-style carving tools on his new DVD! 


How to Make Super Sharp DIY Sgraffito Tools

Posted On April 10, 2013 4 Comments

Clay is rough on tools. Fortunately, some of the most used tools in the box are quick and easy to assemble right in your own studio. In today’s post, an excerpt from the April 2013 issue of Ceramics Monthly (which, by the way, is now available as an app for Ipads and Android tablets with a screen size of at least 7 inches!), Nancy Gallagher explains how you can make your own sgraffito tools with cheap and easy-to-find materials! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


Three Potters Share Their Best Sgraffito Tips, Plus a Bonus Video!

Posted On March 25, 2013 4 Comments

Sgraffito can be an impactful, dramatic way of decorating pots (like in Kathy King’s plate to the left) or a more subtle way to add color or definition to a design (see Kristen Pavelka’s plate below). No matter what effect you’re after, it is super fun to carve into an underglazed or slipped pot. In today’s post, Kathy King, Wayne Bates, and Kristen Pavelka share their best tips for sgraffito, including what tools they use and the perfect time to carve. Everybody does it slightly differently. Read on to see which method makes the most sense to you! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

Cristine Boyd demonstrates using her homemade sgraffito tools.

A Simple Way to Make Your Own Super Sharp Sgraffito Tools

Posted On September 24, 2010 52 Comments

Today we are presenting one of the Honorable Mentions from our recent D.I.Y. Clay Tools Video Contest. This one comes from Cristine Boyd in Denver, Colorado. Cristine was having trouble finding a nice, sharp, affordable sgraffito tool that retained its sharpness so she took matters into her own hands. She discovered that spring steel – the stuff that is in metal tape measures – is the perfect material for sgraffito carving blades. Watch the video to see how she does it!

Serving bowl, 10 in. (25 cm) in diameter, thrown, carved and dotted porcelain, fired  to Cone 10 in reduction, 2007, $160.

Addition and Subtraction: Slip Trailing and Carving for Raised and Recessed Surface Decoration

Posted On May 12, 2010 15 Comments

To fully integrate the glazes with the form and surface, Emily Reason adds texture through both additive and subtractive methods. Today I am presenting an explanation of her slip trailing and carving techniques. We’ll also show you the homemade tool she uses to create the “pleats” on her pots.



How to Carve Low-Relief Surface Designs into Wet Clay

Posted On January 4, 2010 23 Comments

Today we are launching another cool free gift: Ceramic Carving Tool Techniques: Bringing the Ceramic Surface to Life. This one is all about carving into clay and the best tools and techniques for doing so. In today’s post, an excerpt from our new download, potter Ann Ruel gives us the ins and outs of carving low relief designs into wet clay.


Tool Talk: Robin Hopper’s Advice on the Best Tools for Carving, Cutting, Scratching, and Slashing Clay

Posted On August 12, 2009 8 Comments

Today, Robin Hopper draws from his many years of experience to give advice on the best carving and trimming tools for pottery and ceramic art.

Shown above are just a few examples of tools that Ellen improved with the addition of foam grips. Think of all the carving she must be doing now

Tip of the Week: Fighting Finger Fatigue

Posted On February 11, 2008 1 Comment

Today Ellen Kong shares a tip she developed after attending a sgraffito workshop. Using cheap and readily available materials, she came up with a way to ease finger and hand strain from intricate carving.