Sponges might seem like a simple and soft piece or maybe a bit funny like the sea-sponge seen in “Spongebob Squarepants”. However, they are very versatile in nature, especially when it comes to pottery making. Whether you want to pat, wipe, clean, or add some texture to the ceramics you are crafting; a good-quality sponge will surely go a long way. If you ask any professional pottery artist, this tool is a must-have for cleaning the dried pottery work, smoothing your wet clay, sopping up extra water, dabbing on some glaze, and what not!
There are several sponge variants that are used for making pottery pieces. Let us check them out!
Why Is A Sponge Necessary For Pottery Making?
When working with dried clay or a piece that is currently on the verge of drying out, you would notice that they tend to leave dust remnants all around. When you rub your hands on the pottery piece’s surface, you will see that your hands turn white due to thin clay dust film. Even your workplace might seem covered in white dust.
If this dust moves around in the air, it could make the workspace hard to breathe and work in. This is where a good-quality sponge factors in. Simply dip your sponge in water & squeeze out the excess. With the help of this wet sponge, clean the work area as well as your pottery piece. This will help keep the clay dust from being picked up by your nose.
Apart from that, pottery sponges can also be used for:
- Adding & removing water from your clay surface
- Adding some finishing touches to the pottery work
- Removing any fingerprints or brushstrokes
- For glazing purpose
- To remove the excess glaze from the pottery ware
Now, let us get to the types of pottery sponges that are ideal for your artistic escapades.
Best Sponges For Making Pottery
1. Tack Sponges:
These sponges are perfect for wheel-throwing and pottery purposes. Tack sponges have a soft yet long-lasting design. They are a synthetic sponge variant that is particularly economical for beginner crafters. Moreover, tack sponges feature intricate and fine-celled structures, making them ideal for use in your ceramic studio.
Truth be told, it can be difficult to differentiate between tack sponges and synthetic yellow ones. However, with use, poor-quality synthetic ones tend to fall apart in a week or so. Although the latter is ideal for light usage or sponge painting, using a synthetic yellow sponge might not be suited for wheel throwing purposes.
If you are looking for an ideal option online, you can opt for Constantia Pets Premium Synthetic Horse Tack Sponges. These tack sponges are hard-wearing, fine-pored, non-scratch, & even easy to clean.
2. Natural Sponges:
Another great option used by most potters is the natural sponges. They are used for several types of pottery work and tend to last a long time. A favorite among potters is the elephant ear sponge that tends to be tough, dense, thin, & ideal for wheel throwing purposes.
They hold up well for intensive usage. Although most potters use them, it isn’t as comfortable to use, given their thin width. So, it is ideal to use it for smoothing and finishing purposes, especially if you are a beginner. Regardless, the choice for a sponge depends on how well you can hold the sponge and the purpose it is being used for.
When looking for natural sponges, make sure you pick a piece that is a minimum of 3 inches wide or more. Always get bigger sponges. In case you need smaller ones, you can easily cut them up to the desired size.
Alternatively, you can also opt for other natural sponges like silk, yellow, or wool sponges. They are perfect for getting decorative effects like the ones seen in sponge painting using underglaze. However, they can either easily fall apart or open up too soon. So, it might not be ideal for wheel throwing purposes. However, depending on how you use it, the experience might differ.
3. Synthetic Yellow Sponges:
If you are on a budget and looking for something that would help you create your pottery piece perfectly is the synthetic yellow sponge. You can find them being sold in bulk over online shopping sites. They might seem like an amazing deal for regular use. However, keep in mind that they won’t last for a long time.
These sponges are ideal for aspects such as sponge painting and light-duty usages. You can expect these sponges to lose the initial loft & fall apart with regular use within a couple of weeks. They are good for beginners, but if you are a professional, it is better to stick to tack sponges.
4. Stipplers or Round Sponges:
Also termed as spouncers, they are mostly used for decorative purposes or glazing, like adding some polka dots using underglaze or glaze. They are available in different sizes that range between ¼ inch and 1 inch in diameter. You can opt for blue foam sponges or yellow foam sponges as per your requirements. However, it is observed that blue foam tends to be finer in terms of texture with long-lasting effects. These sponges do break down over time and repeat usage.
|Tack Sponges||Best for wheel throwing||It tends to last for a long time as compared to other sponges|
|Natural Sponges||It can be used for wheel throwing, glazing, underglaze, and sponge painting||Ideal for intensive usage|
|Synthetic Yellow Sponges||Perfect for light-duty usages or sponge painting||It tends to lose its initial loft & falls apart with regular use|
|Stipplers or Round Sponges||Ideal for decorative purposes or glazing/underglaze||It doesn’t last long and breaks down when used repeatedly|
So, the next time you are planning your tools collection for your pottery escapades, make sure you consider the types of sponges you can opt for. Whether you want to purchase a sponge for wheel throwing or something for pottery painting, this guide will help you pick the right option.