The word “Beginner’s Luck” doesn’t always work when treading in the world of pottery. You might craft a perfect piece maybe once or twice, but this won’t work in the long run. To master the art, one must have the best starter kit by their side. With the right tools and accessories, you can craft artwork that will accurately represent your skills and talent.
So, you need to pick a kit with every tool necessary to craft a great pottery piece.
Preparing a Wholesome Pottery Starter Kit
Figuring out the tools that fit your pottery kit can be particularly daunting, especially when you are starting out. The market is overridden with options at varying price ranges. What should you add to your kit? What should you leave out? Well, regardless of the choices, there are some tools that should always be a part of your starter pottery kit.
So, here we list out some of the most important tools that you must have in your pottery starter kit.
Top Tools for your Pottery Starter Kit
Working with normal clay can work in two prime directions. You can either build the pottery pieces by hand or throw the piece to be formed on a pottery wheel. Several pottery tools can be used in multiple disciplines. It might not be absolutely necessary to have every tool in your kit, but certain tools are a must-have.
Here are the most important things that you need to have in your pottery starter kit.
1. Apron and Towels:
Making pottery can be a tricky and messy business. So, having in place an absorbent towel made of cotton is the idea you must go with. Having a towel handy can also be perfect for cleaning hands mid-work. Keep a big towel on your knees when throwing your piece. This will help you stay clean and mold the pottery piece with ease. You can also opt to wear any simple apron to help protect the clothes from getting ruined.
Chamois or leather pieces that are about 2 to 4 inches in length and breadth can be perfect for smoothing and compressing the pottery ware’s upper edges. The chamois helps smooth out the pieces that have become leather-hard.
When smoothing the surface, make sure you lightly dampen the piece before using it. And, you also need to wash the piece properly after the pottery session is over. This ensures that the clay doesn’t completely harden on the chamois.
3. Pottery’s Needles:
Pottery needles are long and heavy needles that are set into metal, wooden, or plastic-based handles. They are particularly versatile in nature when used in pottery making. You can use them along with other tools to trim off the top parts of the pieces while they are being worked on the pottery wheel.
It can also be used for the coils and scoring slabs when the pieces are being built with your hands and not on the pottery wheel.
4. Cutting Wires:
Commonly used cutting wires for pottery work done on wheels include 2 handles made of hardwood on both ends. Apart from these, fishing lines & uncoiled springs also make up for being used as cutting wires. They seem similar in make to the wires used for cutting cheese.
These tools help cut through the large clay lumps & also help remove the thrown ware sculpted in the pottery wheel. When you are throwing your pottery piece off your mound, a cut-off line or fishing line will work best.
5. Fettling Knives:
Fettling knives are thin-bladed pieces that feature either a soft or hard temper. The hard fettling knives aren’t flexible. On the other hand, the soft knives are very flexible & can easily be bent, forming desired curves and angles. These knives were initially developed to help remove the ridges that are left when several pieces of a mold are joined after the piece is cast completely.
These knives can be used for trimming the slabs, or throwing pots, and even cutting across the sections of hand-built vases or pots. Make sure you have both these types of fettling knives. In order to differentiate them from one another, you can simply put a paint line on one.
6. Scrapers and Ribs:
The ribs and scrapers are used when throwing pottery pieces. These tools are used to smooth and shape the pots while they are under the process of being crafted. They can also be used for the classic “rib & hand” working method for coiled pots. The ribs are available in varying shapes & are generally made of rubber or hardwood.
Scrapers look very similar to ribs. However, they are light & used for smoothing the soft and wet leather-hard pottery pieces. They are available in a range of shapes & can be crafted from rubber, steel, or wood. Most potters use ribs and scrappers interchangeably for different types of tasks. Scrapers and ribs made up of rubber generally provide the smoothest of finishes.
7. Wire, Loop, & Ribbon Tools:
This combination of tools comes in handy when trimming the greenware & for hand-building as well. Keep in mind that ribbon and wire variants must not be used when hand-building as they can be very fragile during the throwing action. However, they can surely be used to hollow out the handmade pieces. Best of all, you can craft your over own pottery wire with ease to help your pottery-making escapades.
8. Modelling Tools (Wooden):
Pottery modeling tools of the wooden variants are available in a range of shapes and sizes. They are ideal when hand-building as well as for throwing your pieces. Although named as modeling tools, its triangular-headed variants are perfect for use as trimming tools. Depending on the shape, curves, and grooves you need, there are various options you can try.
For blunt shapes, you can use a rounded-edge modeling tool. To create sharp shapes, you can use the sharp-edge modeling tool.
As simple as they seem, a sponge is a versatile accessory or tool you must have by your size during pottery making. Whether it is a medium-sized sponge or a large variant, sponges can be used for multiple purposes. You can also choose between natural and synthetic sponges. It can be used by the potters to absorb & distribute water in a natural way during the process of pottery throwing.
Several potters also make use of sponges shaped like an elephant’s ears. It is a variant of the natural sponge used for the pottery throwing process. There isn’t just a single variant of sponges available for pottery. So, make sure you have proper knowledge about them all before you invest in a piece for your starter kit. An amazing option you can try out is the Mudtools MudSponge Shaping and Cleanup Tool for pottery & clay artists. This set of 3 sponges is particularly absorbent and fits perfectly in your hands.
10. Pottery Brushes:
Brushes are ideal for moving the water & slip to certain sections of the pottery piece. It can also be used to design and paint the project with underglazes, slips, & overglazes. When looking for the best brushes to use for your pottery escapades, you can opt for bamboo or sumi brushes. They can absorb a lot of water or any other fluids yet maintain their pointy end to ensure you can paint or place the slip with precision.
Here are some types of brushes you can use for pottery painting, adding water, or putting in the slip.
Brush Tip Type
|Round Tip||It can be used to perfectly add slip to the cracks of the pottery piece. Plus, it could also be ideal for creating shapes when painting.|
|Flat Tip||Flat tipped brushes are great for painting flat surfaces such as plates made of clay. It can also be used for creating thick lines from end to end.|
|Fan Shape||The fan-shaped brushes can be used to create beautiful strokes when painting. It helps cover a large surface in minimum time.|
|Angled Shape||Angled shapes help paint perfectly on rounded or curved surfaces.|
|Tapered Tip||Tapered tipped brush brings in better control over the work. You can use it for watering the clay with precision and adding slip to the joints.|
11. Potter’s Calipers:
The potter’s caliper is used for measuring the outer and inner dimensions of the vase or pot you are crafting. It helps in determining the dimensions at junctures where the main piece would meet with its other parts in the set. They are particularly useful for measuring the lids for a jar. It can also be used to measure the cup’s base to adhere to the saucer’s center depression.
It can also be used to match a pitcher’s base with the floor’s interior. These calipers are mostly crafted with the use of wood, plastic, or metal. It can be adjusted as per the requirement to fit the needs of the pottery piece.
Most edger tools are particularly durable and feature a steel material that doesn’t bend easily. This easy-to-use tool helps in rounding the pottery piece’s lips in the form of a foot carving or bowl. However, it might require a bit of practice to make it accurate. You can also round out the squared edges present on the pottery lip.
It helps place a properly raised edge for the pot or its lid while crafting attractive nobs. It also helps create a single edge for the foot part of the piece. It helps make a nice and rounded shape near the lip of larger pottery. You can also put double edges on the mug, vase, or pot’s base.
13. Double-Ended Trim Tools:
The double-ended tool for clay trimming comes with a large bend hook-like shape to give you better coverage. The spade-like shape is perfect for the bowl’s foot & the plates. Even when used extensively, this trim tool maintains its sharpness. This trimming tool works perfectly for smaller pottery pieces. Although it might take some time to get used to, using it is fun & helps create amazing shapes for pottery work.
The tool’s small curled hook can be used for your pottery piece’s bottom section. The presence of a straight edge and curved edge on this tool makes it a versatile choice for all potters.
14. Hole Cutter:
There are several reasons for which you would want to create holes in the pottery piece. In such scenarios, the hole cutters come in handy. They are nice and strong to cut through the clay with ease. You get to choose from a range of sizes that include options such as 1/8 inch, ½ inch, ¼ inch, & ¾ inch.
This hole-maker can be used to create a plethora of designs & functional purposes, such as crafting toothbrush holders & pottery pieces that can be hanged on the wall. Creating precise holes can be a tricky task. This is especially true for potters who struggle to create exact circle shapes. The key to preparing good holes is to ensure that the clay must not be too dry. Twist the tool gently as you push it into your clay piece.
15. Clay Rasp or Shredder:
A rasp or clay shredder is an amazing tool that can be used for trimming, edge cleaning, smoothening of the slab, or adding a bevel to the pottery piece. It works amazingly with the pots as well. It features a comfortable and curved handle designed to take up minimum space in the toolbox. Plus, the shredder tool’s blade can easily be removed in case it needs to be replaced. It is also fairly easy to clean after being used to shave off the extra clay.
16. Storage Box:
With so many tools by your side, it could be fairly easy to lose or misplace them. This is especially true for potters to lose the small tools. You cannot simply keep them all on your work table. So, having a box to help you organize your tools and accessories would be an ideal move. You can make use of heavy-duty boxes made up of plastic, wood, or metal. If you plan on transporting your tools from one location to another, the best material you can use is plastic. They are light in weight and sturdy as well to last for years to come.
Never use cardboard boxes to keep the tools as these accessories would come loaded with water & wet clay. This would break down the material, and it won’t last long.
So, make sure you have these tools in your toolbox to ensure that each pottery piece you craft is a stroke of a masterpiece. Ensure that you select the right material for each tool. Given the fact that you have to deal with water during the crafting process, ensure that your crafting tools do not rust, get rotten, or break apart with ease. Quality matters, so purchase tools that stay with you for years to come.