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Making Clay Tools

Ceramic artists are some of the most creative people out there when it comes to their tools of the trade. Nothing is off limits as a potential clay tool and no clay tool has just one use. To prove it, we’ve gathered some of the most clever tips and techniques out there for making your own clay tools. And don't forget to download your free copy of the Clay Workshop Handbook: Knowledge and Techniques for the Pottery Studio. 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.


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Low-Tech Tool with High End Results!

Posted On April 16, 2014 0 Comments

Getting the perfect surface on your clay pieces is often a combination of choosing the right materials, smart timing of tasks, and knowing which is the best tool for the job. In today’s post, John Dadmun shows how to make a low-tech sanding tool to help with at least one part of that equation- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Make a Simple Triple Stage Clay Trap

Posted On April 2, 2014 5 Comments

Fixing a clogged drain is hard work and expensive. Making a drain trap is easier and cheaper than you might think. In today’s post, an excerpt from the April 2014 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Raquel and Dan Sobel explain how to make a clay trap from inexpensive and readily available materials. Give it a try in your own studio. It could save you a lot of trouble.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Super Smart Trimming Chuck

Posted On January 24, 2014 6 Comments

I typically think of trimming chucks as nuclear-cooling-tank-shaped cylinders that vases or teapots are put into for trimming. But Mike Jabbur’s chucks are a bit different. Mike makes tall, narrow chucks that actually fit inside the pots that are being trimmed, thus protecting the active walls of his vessels. Have a look at this excerpt from our compilation DVD Getting Creative with Spouts and Handles, which is on sale this weekend, to see how these smart chucks work.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Make a Great Impression: Carving Textured Press Molds and Stamps Out of Insulating Foam

Posted On January 22, 2014 2 Comments

In today’s post, Daryl Baird shows us how to make own stamps or press molds using a great transfer technique and insulating foam. Daryl also shows us how he uses his stamp as a press mold to make tiles.

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Homemade Pottery Tools for Precision from Rim to Foot

Posted On December 23, 2013 4 Comments

Sometimes cutting up your studio tools can reveal all new uses. And taking the extra step to make those tools and experiment with using them, can make all the difference in refining your forms. In today’s post, an excerpt from the January 2014 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Jim Wylder shares two homemade tools that have helped him achieve precision from rim to foot.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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The Right Angle for Approaching Geometric Ceramic Sculpture

Posted On October 16, 2013 13 Comments

Many years ago, while handbuilding a large form, ceramic artist Marcia Selsor was struggling to support two slabs that she wanted to join at right angles. So, she set out to build a custom tool to serve

this purpose: a right angle jig to support the form in progress. Today, Marcia shows us how to make and use her right angle jig, a simple tool she came up with to make building geometric sculpture easier.

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Sticky Tools: A Simple and Cheap Way to Keep Track of Your Tools

Posted On September 23, 2013 1 Comment

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of your precious time in the studio looking around for that tool you were just using a minute ago. For me, sadly, this tendency to lose track of things is not only limited to when I am in the studio. For example, I am pretty sure I have NEVER EVER set my keys down in the same place twice. But there is hope – at least in the studio! In today’s post, Lawrence Weathers shares how he keeps track of his tools with magnets and metal shelving. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Making the Perfect Pottery Tools with the Tools at Hand

Posted On August 26, 2013 11 Comments

Clay tools are a potter’s best friend – especially homemade tools designed to be perfect for specific tasks. Just by doing some creative searching, it’s amazing how many useful tools can be gleaned from around the home. As Deb Oliva explains in today’s post, you can use everything from beads to discarded plastic-wrap boxes to create what you need exactly when you need it. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Save Your Back with an Adjustable Height Work Table

Posted On August 19, 2013 4 Comments

I have a long way to go to make my studio as ergonomic it should be but since I spend more hours behind a desk than behind my wheel it hasn’t been too much of a problem yet.

But if you are spending long hours in the studio, a key part of keeping yourself healthy is working in a position and posture that is comfortable. Since this can very from project to project, an adjustable table is super helpful. In today’s post, Adam Field explains how to make a great one on the cheap.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

p.s. This project is also demonstrated on Adam’s new DVD Precision Throwing and Intricate Carving!

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How to Make a Floating Stick Hydrometer for the Cost of a Milkshake

Posted On June 19, 2013 15 Comments

Getting glazes to come out the same from batch to batch is a lot easier if you are sure the glaze is mixed to the same consistency each time. Many potters just eyeball it (you know, “mix to the consistency of skim milk”), but to get scientific, you need to measure the specific gravity with a hydrometer. Making a floating-stick hydrometer doesn’t have to be rocket science. While making calibrating marks on a simple soda straw to show the specific gravity does requires a bit of math, using a calibration chart (click link below!) makes it a lot easier to do. In today’s post, Roger Graham shows you how to make and use this simple tool. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.