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

Clay people have some darn impressive ingenuity when it comes to improving the efficiency of their processes. 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.


Since these tips were well received the last time I posted some, I thought I would share a few more. In fact, I think I will make these a semi regular feature. Enjoy! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


P.S. If you have a great tip to share, email it, along with photos, to editorial@ceramicsmonthly.org.

Jumbo Chuck

As you in the clay world well know, clay needs to be handled when it is ready to be handled, not when you are ready to handle it.



After a recent day of throwing, I left some the jars under plastic but the bottoms set up more than I would have liked. I wanted to add a European foot to the jars but the clay was almost bone dry. I didn’t have a chuck big enough in the studio so, necessity being the mother of invention, I put a large coil around a 5-gallon plastic bucket to both cushion and contain the pieces then simply trimmed the jars in that. Because the plastic bucket is light weight and the jars much heavier, I often fill it half full to give a bit of weight to it in case someone has a heavy foot.



Thank you to Tony Clennell of Beamsville, Ontario.

Tip from Ceramics Monthly March 2010.



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Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!



One-Handed Cut-Off Wire

This ingenious wire tool and throwing wheel adaptation is for anybody who is tired of searching through a pool of muck or untangling a twisted, wiry mess. Attach a wire tool to one side of the throwing wheel at the same height as the bat or the wheel head. Screw an eye bolt into a thin wood block and attach the block to the splash pan using a C-clamp or similar device. Tie the wire tool to the eye bolt allowing enough room for the wire to stretch across the diameter of the wheel head.



Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!

The small wooden dowel used to make most wire tools can also be easily clamped for a quick use and remove system. This simple set-up allows for easy one-handed use and a clean cut giving a smoother bottom for trimming!



Thank you to John Powell of Castroville, California.

Tip from Ceramics Monthly November 2009.

Catch Those Runny Glazes!

Some of our glazes can be very runny and we need to have something to put under them to protect our kiln shelves. We keep thin, dry paper-clay sheets on hand to cut for placing under the pieces. A quick brushing of kiln wash makes them slightly pliable and lay flat.



The sheets and pots are placed in the kiln and the excess sheet is cut away between the pieces. For some of our pots, we also use a wadding made of equal parts sand and ball clay. It is crumbly enough to grind away easily. Between the two, we don’t have much trouble with glaze on our kiln shelves.



Thanks to Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gholson of Seagrove, North Carolina.

Tip from Ceramics Monthly December 2008.



For more great homemade tool ideas, be sure to download your free copy of Pottery Throwing Tools: A Guide to Making and Using Pottery Tools for Wheel Throwing.