A slightly modified clothespin is an excellent tool for making parallel lines on clay.

A slightly modified clothespin is an excellent tool for making parallel lines on clay.

by Ken Magee and Peggy Breidenbach

Today we bring you a couple of great reader-submitted tips for ceramic tools. These tips involve items that you probably already own, but never thought to use for clay studio purposes. Following a laundry theme, ceramic artists Ken Magee of Talahassee, Florida, and Peggy Breidenbach of Indianapolis, Indiana, share ideas for repurposing tools usually used for drying clothes for use in the ceramics studio. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take working in the studio over doing laundry any day. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

Pinning Parallel Lines
Submitted by Ken Magee, Talahassee, Florida

I became frustrated by not being able to draw parallel lines in curves or arcs on my work when it is leather hard. If I tried to draw the lines separately, it would never work, and even if I held two tools at once, one would always wander. I found that a clothespin actually performs this task wonderfully. I sharpen the ends you use as a handle (if you were actually using it as a clothespin) and use these points to draw the lines. They are held at a consistent distance apart, and are infinitely adjustable between open and closed. To adjust the space between the points, I put various small cylindrical objects in the groove of the “mouth” of the pin (pen caps, pencils, dowels). The larger the object in the mouth, the closer the lines become. This tool has become a staple in our studio.


These are just a couple of the many handy tips for potters and ceramic artists included in the , a FREE downloadable studio reference from Ceramic Arts Daily. The 2008 Ceramic Workshop Handbook features great ideas for ceramic tools you can make, and valuable technical references on clay forming, surface decoration, kiln firing and ceramic materials. Be sure to download your free copy () today!

Don’t Sweat the Drying

Submitted by Peggy Breidenbach, Indianapolis, Indiana

I am a part-time teacher and ceramics artist, and part-time homemaker (or as I like to think, “domestic goddess”). Sometimes when I have the time to work and need to trim, but my pots aren’t dry enough, I will set them on the sweater shelf of my clothes dryer and allow the warm air to circulate around the pots until they are leather hard. This usually only takes 10-15 minutes and works perfectly! It results in nice, even drying, and the only limitation is the size of your dryer.

I’ve shared this tip with several potters and they all love it. Most dryers now come with these shelves (mine is fifteen years old!). Hope it helps others with home studios.


Thanks to Ken and Peggy for these excellent ideas!


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