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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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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.

Various rib shapes fired and ready to use

Shaping Clay with Clay: How to Make Custom Clay Ribs

Posted On January 23, 2013 8 Comments

In today’s post, an excerpt from the January/February issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Janis Wilson Hughes explains how she makes custom throwing ribs. As a bonus, I’m also posting a video Janis submitted to our DIY Clay Tools contest a while back, in which she explains how to make her, affectionately titled “Bam Bam Stick.” 

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How to Make Banding Wheel Pins for Centering Ease

Posted On January 21, 2013 4 Comments

I am impatient when it comes to centering work on a bat on my banding wheel. But a banding wheel fitted with bat pins could make it easy peasey. In today’s post, an excerpt from the January 2013 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Jim Wylder explains how he retrofitted his banding wheel so that it accepts bats with a standard-sized holes. So smart!

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How to Make a Texture Board for Slab-Built Pottery

Posted On January 2, 2013 3 Comments

Texture can be addictive in pottery, and there are an infinite variety of tools that can be used to create texture. Of course, the best texture tools are homemade because you can really make your own mark. In today’s post, Larry Elardo demonstrates how he makes textured boards and uses them to make slab built pottery. I must experiment with this!

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How to Make a Better Homemade Sink Trap for Your Pottery Studio

Posted On August 15, 2012 15 Comments

Today, I wanted to send out a reminder for our DIY Clay Tools Video Contest, sponsored by Digital Ceramic Technologies. If you missed my first announcement of the contest, go here to learn more about it and the amazing prize our sponsor is providing! And what better way to inspire you to get to work on your videos than to share an article about a great homemade tool. In this post, potter Charan Sachar explains the cool design of his easy-to-make and super-effective sink trap. Have a look, and then get out your video camera and start filming for the DIY Clay Tools contest! 

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Different Strokes: How to Make Homemade Pottery Brushes to Make Marks that Are Truly Your Own

Posted On June 4, 2012 10 Comments

In today’s post, an excerpt from Ceramic Decorating Tool Techniques: How To Use Clay Pencils, Slip Trailers, Glaze Pens, and Carving Tools to Decorate Ceramics, David Gamble explains how he makes his own custom brushes. From selecting the right kind of bristle, to adding a hanging loop so the brushes can be stored properly, David walks us through this easier-than-you-think process.

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Polymer Clay Texture Stamps: Easy to Make Tools for Applying Texture to Ceramic Sculpture or Pottery

Posted On May 14, 2012 10 Comments

Virginia Cartwright’s polymer clay stamps are quick and easy to make and even more durable than bisque stamps.

1 Auto body trim tape is very flexible and is available in several widths.  2 The tape stretches and holds very well around curves. 3 Glaze over the resist using your typical methods. 4 Allow the glaze and pot to dry, then remove the tape with a needle tool or sharp point.

Why Didn’t I Think of That? Pottery Tips, Tools, and Techniques from Ceramic Arts Daily Readers

Posted On April 25, 2012 7 Comments

We get a lot of great studio tips sent to us from readers, and every month Ceramics Monthly publishes some of them in their Tips and Tools section. Readers seem to like them, so we also have been sharing them on the Daily. Here’s our latest installment from potter Janie Varley.