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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.” 


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!

sink trap plan

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! 


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.