Every job has their main tools that are used almost daily. Mine are not so typical, but are nonetheless very important. When I finished my throwing in the studio today, I was looking around at all my tools and gadgets and was thinking how odd some of them were. I mean, they make total sense to me, but when I just looked at them…strange. There are so many I could have chosen for this, but here are my top ten everyday studio tools.
Pretty self-explanatory. Most of all I make starts here on the wheel. Throwing days are my favorite in the studio. I love the art of wheel throwing and being able to create a lot of work in one day. Minus the dry skin afterwards, I really love the feel of the clay.
The Giffin Grip is one of my most handy tools. This piece clamps on top of the wheel head for easy trimming. Set your pot on the center, turn the top dial and those little metal arms grip your pot and place it perfectly centered on the wheel for clean trimming. I trim most of my pots using the Giffin Grip. Large bowls or oddly shaped pots are trimmed on the wheel without the Giffin Grip. If you are a potter, this tool is a great investment and a great time-saver as well!
These tools are always at the ready. Every piece I throw gets trimmed once it has dried out to the right hardness. These are used for carving designs, like when I make custom stamps or used for trimming a nice foot to a mug or bowl or plate, etc.
I have had the opportunity to make a lot of dinnerware in this past year. When making dinnerware you really want to have your pieces be symmetrical and consistent from one dish to the next. When I was making more and more plates, I designed these tools for shaping a perfect rim. I sent along my sketches to my dad and asked if he would make them for me in his shop. They are simple and do just what I wanted them too. It is nice to know that you can definitely create and make your own tools to get the job done!
The fan brush used to be my basting brush in the kitchen, but then I needed it for the studio. (Don’t worry it has not, and will not return to the kitchen!) Brushes are used for attaching handles to pots, mixing slurries, coating a pot with a stain, and using them to attach pedestals. I usually just buy cheap brushes for the work I need them for.
When I am throwing multiples of an item or throwing a lid for a teapot, these tools are the ones I want. The calipers allow me to throw a lid to fit a pot just right. Rulers and tape measures help me keep a series of pots or plates consistent in their size and shape.
When I am throwing on the wheel, the sponge acts as an extension to my hand. It allows me to throw evenly with smooth walls rather than obvious throwing rings. For my glazing style I want smooth walls. I use them for hand building, cleaning up the bottoms of pots when I am glazing, absorbing excess water in the bottom of a pot, and really anything. I have a least a dozen of these lying around at all times.
X-acto knife, felting knife, and a throwing knife. I use all of these in all stages of creating a pot. You can probably tell that the throwing knife was just used. The felting knives and the x-acto are great for hand-building and detailed cutting/carving.
Ribs are great for throwing, trimming and scoring. They have different pliabilities (I may have made that word up) and allow for a super smooth finish to a pot. I actually had to clean these up for this picture because they were so caked with clay you couldn’t quite see what they were made out of. These are about two to three inches long. I probably use the two metal ones the most in my work.
Finally, my kiln. What would my studio be without it? I don’t think I need to add any explanation to this one. Though it doesn’t get fired everyday, it definitely is one of my most important pieces of equipment in the studio. It is currently cooling from the bisque firing I loaded up yesterday. I hope that gave you a little taste of my work day and the things I am using to create my pieces. One piece of equipment I would really like to acquire for my studio is a pug-mill. This reprocesses scrap clay to be used for throwing again. Those are NOT cheap. I will be saving a while before I add that to my inventory!