Acquiring tools will not make better pots – practicing with them will.
Tools are a hot topic in pottery. They are discussed during every demo, at every workshop, and in every class. A potter’s tool kit is unique to the potter.
The tools a potter uses can determine (in part) the type of pot the potter makes. I like to try new tools and see how they change my pots. When I am unfocused or struggling to design a new pot, I challenge myself to make a cylinder or bowl using different tools.
I use a variety of tools but there are a few tools that are my core tools.
Triangle trim tool – This is my favorite tool. It changed the profile of my pots because it helped me remove clay at the base of the pot in the throwing stage and prepare the pot for leather-hard trimming. Some potters use a sharp wooden tool but the triangle tool is easier for me to remove the clay without marring the walls. A good beginning tool or one that will be used in community studios is sold by PSH ($4). I use the Dolan 120 ($12) available from Bailey.
Thin undercut wires with handles – Dirty Girl Tools – I love these wires because they come in various sizes and are extremely thin. They are great for beginners whose pots often have thin bottoms. The 7” wire is great for me because the standard clay cutoff wire is usually too long and requires shortening my twisting around my fingers which hurts. The soft, orange handles make cutting the pot off the bat very easy. Buy from Kentucky Mudworks ($6/each)
Metal ribs – I use these all the time to shape and strengthen the pots as I am throwing. I have several shapes and sizes. They are available at such a low price ($1/each) from PSH that I even cut them to fit specific needs.
Sherrill ribs – These are ubiquitous and most potters love them. They come in various shapes, sizes, and stiffnesses. I use red 0, 1 and green 5 ($7/each), although I have several.
Dolan trim tools – These are essential for trimming. I have tried several brands but I prefer Dolan because they stay sharp. There is nothing more frustrating to a potter or damaging to a pot than a dull trimming tool. These come in several shapes and sizes; I use the Dolan 310 and 510 ($11).