Pottery is a fun project for any art lover, whether you’re a professional potter or just starting out. Working with your hands is great for your body and mind, as it keeps you busy and may reduce stress.
But, sometimes, your hands alone can’t create the details you want your pottery project to have. A collection of essential pottery tools can help you with this!
There’s a tool for everything, whether you’re starting your project, sculpting, or detailing. It’s good to have a few different options on hand.
So, keep reading to learn about some excellent pottery tools you should have for all your clay-based projects!
1. Wire Clay Cutter
Pottery clay often comes in large, dense blocks. This is a good thing, as you can buy a lot of it at one time. However, cutting your needed amount out of a giant block can be challenging.
A regular knife isn’t the best idea, as you can slip and injure yourself. So, instead, you should opt for a wire clay cutter.
This tool contains a stainless steel cable with handles for comfortable movement. You can use it to slice downwards. Or you can wrap it around the clay and pull in a criss-cross motion to cut large chunks. This pottery tool makes portioning your clay a breeze!
2. Fettling Knife
Once you have your slab of clay, it’s time to start making it into the right size and shape you need. A fettling knife is best for this, as it’ll help you take small chunks out of your clay block.
It’s good for scraping, carving, rough shaping, and angled/slanted cutting like beveling. You can use it to create texture later on. But the primary purposes are to trim the clay and make small cuts.
These pottery tools aren’t sharp or dull. They’re somewhere in the middle. With this in mind, you can still get injured if you don’t use them properly. This means you should make slow movements and never use these knives for sizable cuts.
3. Rolling Pin
It might sound strange, but a rolling pin can be just as useful to a potter as it is to a baker! The purpose of a rolling pin in pottery-making is to flatten your clay, just like you’d do with cookie dough.
It’s especially important if you’re doing pottery without a pottery wheel. You’ll typically roll the clay out to form your pot’s walls. And this will ensure an even thickness all the way around.
Rolling pins are also great pottery tools for creating a flat and even base for your pot. An uneven bottom can lead to breakage of your project later on. This is why it’s also important to roll out your clay on a flat surface.
4. Mud Sticks
While the name might sound unrelated to pottery, mud sticks are key in hand-building pottery. These stick tools will work along with a rolling pin.
You’ll use them by placing them parallel to each other on a flat surface. Both sticks should be the same width. The clay will go between the sticks, and you’ll roll your rolling pin over it.
Mud sticks are like a guide to help you roll out a slab of clay that has a uniform thickness. The rolling pin will hit the tops of the sticks as you roll. This should make the clay the same height as the mud sticks.
A pack of these pottery tools will include multiple sizes, allowing you to customize the desired thickness.
5. Pottery Wheel
A pottery wheel can make a massive difference if you’re looking for a quicker way to make your pottery. Not only this, but it’s a good option for those who may have joint pain in their hands. It doesn’t require as much force as hand-building does.
Pottery wheels are an excellent pottery tool for beginners all the way to experts. While the wheel spins, you’ll use your hands and other tools to sculpt the shape of your pottery project.
They’re especially great for swiftly hollowing out pots, vases, mugs, and other hollow things.
6. Pottery Ribs
Sculpting pottery can take a long time. To aid in this process, you should add a set of pottery ribs to your pottery tool collection.
These tools are usually made of plastic or wood and often have curved, smooth edges. The curvature of them will help you create curves on your pottery project. You can manually scrape them against the sides or inside the pottery. Or you can use them against your pottery while it spins on a pottery wheel.
Pottery ribs are essential for smooth and even curves. They’re very versatile and helpful in supporting the pot’s walls while you’re working.
Water is vital when creating pottery. You can only form and add to your project while the clay is still wet. That’s why a soft sponge is crucial, as it can hold and transfer water to your work in progress. A wet sponge is great for smoothing your pottery and soaking up excess dripping water.
This pottery tool can also help you create texture by dabbing it (wet or dry) onto your wet clay. Or you can wipe a dry sponge against the pottery for small textured grooves.
If you use the sponge for smoothing, be sure to rinse it off between uses. Any dried clay that’s stuck on it could ruin your next project.
8. Ribbon Tool
Ribbon tools can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The tools get their name due to the thick metal loops at the end of each handle. They look like stiffened and shaped ribbon loops!
The primary purposes of this type of pottery tool are hollowing, trimming, carving, and general sculpting. Their blades are smaller and more precise when compared to a fettling knife.
You’ll be able to take precisely shaped chunks out of your clay project with these. Ribbon tools are also great for creating texture and making small final touches to your pottery piece.
9. Modeling Tools
A set of modeling tools can have many uses when creating your pottery masterpiece, ranging from smoothing to texturing. There are plenty of different shapes and smoothness levels to choose from.
These pottery tools are primarily for creating stunning textures on your pottery project. You can poke, scrape, roll, stamp, dig, and do almost anything else with them. The ball-shaped tools are especially great for creating small hollowed-out areas or blending.
Modeling tools are for creativity, and you don’t need to use them in a specific way. So, have fun with them and see what stunning details you can create!
10. Needle Tool
Whatever your skill level is, a needle tool needs to be in your pottery tool kit due to its versatility.
When joining two pieces of clay together, you’ll need to score or scratch up both sides. Doing this will allow the slip, or watered-down clay, to stick to the grooves and better bind your pieces together.
Clay slip acts like glue. But it won’t stick without scoring, which you’ll need the needle tool for. The sharp needle will help you create those essential rough grooves in the clay.
This type of tool is also an excellent option for drawing or carving designs into your pottery project. It’ll help you create some beautifully intricate details.
11. Fluting Tool
Have you ever seen a piece of pottery with deep, near-perfect grooves? Well, this design was most likely made with a fluting tool!
A fluting tool has an oval-shaped piece of metal on the end of it, in which there’s a cut-out. To use this pottery tool, you’ll drag the cut-out piece on your clay.
You’ll see clay coming out of the middle hole with each movement. And the result underneath the tool should be some cool hollowed-out grooves. This makes for a beautiful texture and overall look.
12. Clay Hole Cutters
A set of clay hole cutters is exactly what it sounds like! They’re simply hollowed-out cylinders that get attached to a handle.
Using them is very easy, as you just have to push the metal part through your clay. Then you can pull the tool out and remove the clay for your next hole punch. It’s a pottery tool that essentially helps create a hollow dot in your pottery piece.
Try using multiple-sized clay hole cutters for an interesting texture and design!
13. Loop Tool
A loop tool is slightly similar to a ribbon tool in the sense that you can use it for carving. However, loop tools are much thinner and duller.
Due to this, you cannot cut into your clay as deep or easily as you can with a ribbon tool. They’ll take out more shallow pieces. But this isn’t a bad thing by any means! They make perfect texturing tools.
Pottery tools like loop tools are an excellent option for scraping drawings or patterns into the clay. You can almost use them like pencils and draw out your design. Then you can go in with other tools like the needle tool to make tiny details.
14. Wire Texture Tool
Using a wire texture tool in your pottery piece is like using multiple needle tools fanned out on one handle. However, each point is typically much thinner than a traditional needle tool.
This pottery tool is specifically for thin, fine lines and tiny dots. Gently poking the clay with it can create the illusion of things like dirt and flower pistils.
Poking the clay without reason can also make a generally beautiful and rough texture. Dragging the tool on the clay will create very fine lines. These are great for hair, flowing water, tree bark, grass, and any other type of lined object.
15. Glazing Brushes
When you feel like your pottery design is complete, it’s time to let it dry out. Once it’s dry, you can begin glazing it with beautiful colors using glazing brushes.
This is a fun process as you get to see your masterpiece come to life with each brush stroke. You’ll get a glimpse of what the final product will look like when it comes out of the kiln.
Treat glazing brushes like paintbrushes. You can use strokes, stippling, splatters, and other painting techniques to color your pottery. And be sure to wash these pottery tools off between using each color.
Experiment with These Great Pottery Tools
Using pottery tools can help improve productivity and creativity during your pottery-making session. They give you plenty of sculpting, texturing, and detailing options that will significantly enhance your clay masterpieces.
So, grab these tools today and start experimenting with them on your next pottery project! They’re sure to help you create something stunning.
Do you need more pottery supply suggestions? Check out Pottery Glaze Types to help you pick the perfect glazes for your project!
Ashley Masiello is a crafting fanatic, video editor, artist, general freelance writer, and a writer for That Sweet Tea Life. She has a bachelor’s degree in film/media and two minors in writing and art.
She loves to try out crafts, projects, and recipes in her free time. And she enjoys sharing fun and interesting artistic knowledge with others. Whether you like scrapbooking or cooking, there’s a fun learning process for everything!
Ashely can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org