022 – Your Must-Have Clay Tool

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022 - Your Must-Have Clay Tool

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Most Recent MudTalk Monday Discussion

Troy Bungart Pottery Tools

sarah pike bisque clay stamps
Sarah Pike bisque clay stamps


clay toolsWelcome back! This is *only* the 22nd episode of the MudTalk podcast. I say “only” because I had hoped to have a lot more episodes of this podcast finished during 2019. If you signed up for the free course Your Best Pottery Year at the beginning of the year, you would have heard that one of my goals for the year was 20 new episodes. But… that was one of my extra goals, it wasn’t exactly at the top of my list. So I won’t feel bad because I have already accomplished some of my primary goals. In fact, I think going through the Best Pottery Year course really helped me focus on what was important and plan for success throughout the year. So at the beginning of 2020 I’ll be offering something even better, the Clay Success Club. It will include the Best Pottery Year Course plus a bunch of other stuff. Check out expertclay.com if you may be interested in something like this.

Anyway, in this episode we are talking about pottery tools. And what potter doesn’t like to talk about tools?! The question was, what is your must have pottery tool? There were some great answers and some that made me consider adding a few new tools to my toolbox. So let’s start with the most basic of all pottery tools, the hands.





@bv_xi I was going to say hands too! Lol


? mum and dad gave them to me.

Marc robert isaacs

My hands


My hands!

Earthen bones

My hands! One of them broke, and I was helpless! Don’t take them for granted!



Metal rib.

Break ur nees

Wooden rib. It cleans the wheel head, cleans up the edges of a pot


Metal rib. I can score, cut, clean, shape…

Yo panama

Metal rib! It’s an all purpose tool. I use it to shape, clean, trim can’t work without it.


Brass rib

Leigh art tx

Wooden and metal ribs


Metal rib by far


The “metal rib of death” as I heard someone call it.


Red rubber rib by mud tools. I use it for shaping & smoothing. Got it @ #brackersclay (Brackers Goodearth Clay)


Metal rib by far! It’s so satisfying cleaning up a pot at the end with it


MUD tools ribs & finishing sponge.

Nicola hart studios

Rubber kidney, my fav ❤️


Yep…a little red rubber kidney. I use that every day.


Mudtools Red rubber kidney

Al G Custom made by me from Stainless steel



Yellow and white mud tools sponges.


My sponge!


A sponge ☺️



Exacto knife for sure


I second the exacto knife! @spectorstudiosporcelain and sponges! Oh the many many sponges! ?


Carving tools


A rubber chamois I got for free from @didemmert_pottery. It says wiziwigtools.com on it



My giffin grip!


My Do-All Trim Tool by #mudtools. It really does all and saves me so much time not switching from trim tool to trim tool looking for the perfect angle. And it stays sharp for a long time!


One perfect, sharp, trimming tool…hands down?


Turning tools that I’ve made and a wooden rib made from a bamboo spoon


My trimming tools from @hsinchuenlin – they are priceless to me. And his YouTube videos.


Half moon trimmer





Well , my kiln . I just need clay and kiln.


It’s weird but a needle tool. Very useful in the building process cause I can cut straight lines, pierce clay for design and slip and score with it.


Needle tool ?


tooth pick!


Wooden #2 pencil ✏️


My imagination


My Shovel… second hands



My mudtools- anyone


All of them!! For me, each tool has a specific purpose and is just as important as the next.


Definitely my red Mud tools ribs and white sponge from Xiem tools for finishing my pots… Also love my new insert bat system from Versa bat.. Allows me to keep forms tight without damaging from direct hand wheel removal…


That’s so hard to answer because I use some tools to throw, some to trim, some to finish/decorate… I could probably pick a favorite from each stage in the process ?‍♀️


needletool,sponge,my beloved sharp japanese knife and my teachers at youtube.I was at the kindergarten of pottery when my beloved teacher was diagnosed a breast cancer and had moved to a big city 600km away.and youtube came with extraordinary teachers from China to US,from UK to Japan…



Years ago, in college, they were remodeling the studio and had pulled out the old sink. Under where it had stood, stuck in year’s accumulation of dried out clay muck, I found a small copper rib. Perfectly shaped, I use it every day. I still have many tools from college days but this is my all-time favorite.

I love this response because it has an interesting story AND it seems to be a unique tool. All the metal ribs I’ve seen have been stainless steel.

Starting pottery

Since I’m a beginner I am quite awkward with tools! I always find my fingers are better than the tool I try to use because my fingers feel the clay! But the toolI find handy is the round sponge!

This is a good point from starting pottery. I really like to feel the clay when I’m working on the wheel. And I can get a pretty good curve now with just my fingertips. But ribs and other tools do have some advantages.

Bc ocean mist

All the textures I play with, bark, starfish (not real) and ones I create with polymer clay.

I like this response because I love it when artists make their own tools. It can really give your work some unique properties if you are using a tool that no one else is using. This response also reminded me of the Indiana Clay Conference that I attended a little while ago. One of the presenters was Sarah Pike. She passed around a collection of bisque stamps that she had made herself and showed the marks that they made in the clay. Very inspiring. I’ll try to remember to add a photo in the show notes of this episode. I started making some of my own bisque stamps years ago but I feel like I could spend some more time making some really interesting stamps now.

I’ve also made a number of other tools. From a simple sponge on a stick to custom logo stamps. I made myself a custom trimming shield to fit on my wheel so the trimmings don’t fly all over. I started to make some brushes after taking a workshop with Troy Bungart but never finished them. I make some little plastic ribs out of old credit cards that I use to round the edges of trays and I’m sure there are plenty of tools that I made but didn’t use much and now I’ve forgotten about them.

But let me think about the tools I use all the time. Like some of the other responses, it is really hard to pick just one tool above all the rest. My hands are, of course, my primary tools. But if that doesn’t count and you don’t count the pottery wheel as a tool, it would come down to my wooden trim knife, my stampmaking kit, my hp laserprinter, or my cut off wire?

What I call a trim knife is what I use to cut away extra clay at the bottom of a pot and create a little groove under the bottom so I can slide my cutoff wire underneath. The one I have is handmade by Troy Bungart. He makes all kinds of amazing pottery tools out of exotic woods. Check out his Etsy shop called Burlchaser by troybungartstudios.com.

I suppose if I had to live without that tool I could do it. But I’m not sure if I could live without a cutoff wire. Yeah, kinda boring right? But that cutoff wire makes it so easy when I’m weighing clay and cutting pots off the wheel.

There are two other tools that I use that are very specific to my work. The laserprinter is what I use to print my decals to make the world map mugs and cups. I also have a stampmaking kit that I can print my own rubberstamps which I use for logos and textures. I suppose I could order decals and stamps from somewhere else but I like to be involved with those parts of the process.

So it’s hard to pick just one tool that I can’t live without. But the good thing about being a potter is that there are always more tools!

As I was thinking about my own tools and tools other people mentioned it made me think about how much of an effect tools have on our work. Think about your favorite tool. How would your work change if you didn’t have that tool anymore? What if you changed the tool in some way? Are most of your tools used for efficiency or do you have certain tools that give you a certain effect that can’t be achieved any other way?

Interesting questions to think about…

And on that note, let’s wrap up this episode of the MudTalk Podcast. Remember, if you have any thoughts you would like to share, I would love to hear them. You can email me at brandon@expertclay.com or leave a comment on the show notes. Just go to expertclay.com and click on podcast. And while you’re there, take a look at the 2020 Clay Success Club. I hope to keep the number of accepted members low for this year but I think it will be an awesome opportunity for some of you.

Also, check the show notes for links to some of the tools that were mentioned here on the podcast. I also put up a new MudTalk Monday question recently about growing the clay community so if you have some good ideas, we would love to hear them. In the next episode of the podcast, we’ll talk about arranging your pottery studio or workspace. I can’t wait for that one because I’ll be arranging things in my new pottery studio very soon. So, until then, keep making awesome stuff, and stay muddy.

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