Wishful Thinking Studio
Dedicated to Handbuilt Ceramic Arts

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This is a list of a few things that I use in my work. Most I have found around the house and made. Keep in mind that you can recycle things into pottery tools. In other words use what you already have and only buy what you can’t possibly find. I will walk you through making a lot of these and let you know what I find best to work with. This is by no means a complete list of tools, this is enough to get you started comfortably and be able to get pieces made. Remember that the only three tools you really need are :
your hands
and your imagination.


  • WORK SURFACE - used to do all clay work on. Any surface will do to start. Clay is messy and wet so it is a good idea to make a cover. To protect form the moisture use something plastic like a garbage bag. Then spread a heavy cloth on top. An old sheet, towel, a piece of canvas works well (the cloth stops the wet clay sticking to the work surface). I use a board that is plywood. I got it cut to fit snugly inside an old pillowcase. First I put the board in a heavy duty plastic bag first (taping the bag tightly getting out all the wrinkles on one side) to keep the moisture from warping the board. Then, I slid the plastic covered board into the pillowcase (kind of hard but work it slowly and it will go in.) Most home supply stores will cut your board for you, just take your pillowcase in with you so you will get a snug fit. I use a board so I can sit it on my knees and work in my favorite chair. It also makes your work area mobile.
  • BOX - to keep your pottery tools all together. I use a divided plastic box with a handle for ease (and old household cleaning caddie). You can use any box
    that you have available.
  • BOWL - to hold water. An old margarine tub or peanut butter jar works and they have lids so you can close it up and stop water spilling. Also the lid is a good holder for a wet sponge and all kinds of other things. I also use another one to keep scrap clay in so I can reuse it.
  • SPONGE - used to add moisture, to shape, to texture and clean up clay. I use a natural sea sponge and an old piece of kitchen sponge. The natural sea sponge I use just because I like it and it is smooth. All you really need is about a 3inch square or circle cut from an old kitchen sponge.
  • PIN TOOL - used for a lot of things. Poking holes, cutting, scoring, decorating, cleaning piece up, etc. I use one that is a heavy needle stuck about 1/3 way into a dowel and glued for extra strength. A piece of coat hanger straitened and tied securely to a pencil works great.
  • WIRE - to cut clay. There are 2 kinds of wire. One to cut clay from the big chunk that comes from the store. I use fishing line with a big bead tied to each end. The ones that come from the pottery supply store are like a picture wire with a small dowel tied to each end. You need a strong line or wire and 2 handles for the ends. The second one is again a line or wire tied on to an old bucket handle and is used for cutting slabs.
  • ROLLER - used to roll out flat pieces of clay. I use the end of a carpet roll about 4 inch in diameter. I have also used a rolling pin, a piece of plastic pipe, a glass jar, a potato chip tube, and many other items and the carpet roll is just what I am using at the moment. IMPORTANT The roller should be covered so the clay dose not stick to it. The best thing I have found is an old pantyhose leg. Cut the leg off ( preferably no runs in section to use, but if you don’t have the run doesn’t really matter) tie a knot above the toe seam, turn it so the knot is in the inside, put tube it the pantyhose and push it down so it is tight then tie a knot in the top. Make sure that you trim off any excess. Save the extra so you can do this again, one leg of pantyhose will make about 2 roller covers.
  • KNIFE - used to cut and shape clay. An old kitchen knife, a plastic knife, a piece of wood with and edge sanded on it, look and see what you can find.
  • RULER - used for measuring and a straight edge.
  • BRUSH - used for smoothing, shaping, brushing crumbs and painting. I use a cheep old ½ inch paint brush.
  • RIB - used for smoothing and molding. This is a kidney shaped tool. The first ones I used were cut form a plastic milk jug about 3 inches by 2 inches or what ever is comfortable for you. The only thing is the edges need to be smooth, so cut out bigger than you need and then trim. There are rubber, wood, and metal ones available but start with the plastic one and see if you really need one.
  • CLOTH - used to cover piece while drying, to cover molds so clay won’t stick, used to wipe your hands when the phone rings.





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updated 04.05.05