When I want to create something, I always go back to my favorite hobby: pottery. Pottery is an ancient art that has been around as long as humans have been on this earth. There is something almost primal about molding clay into a refined and beautiful shape you can use to serve food or drink, which is probably the reason the practice has been so enduring.
I’ve been working with ceramics and crafting my pottery skills for many years, and because of that, friends always ask me what they need to get started. I always give them this list of 15 essential pottery tools for beginners, and now I’m sharing it with you. Don’t worry about sifting through a million resources, these 15 pottery tools for beginners are the only things you’ll need to get started.
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The Pottery Tool Kit That Includes All The Essentials
This 8-piece pottery tool set has everything you need if you’re a beginner. It’s a great starting point for the basics of ceramics and has all the tools required for easy throwing, trimming, and pulling your finished piece off the bat.
When it comes to DIY pottery, you’re definitely going to want a set like this one in your toolkit. This set includes a modeling tool, ribbon tool, loop tool, potters rib, wire clay cutter, metal scraper, needle tool, and a sponge.
The Ceramics Sponge Set That Keeps You Well-Stocked
When working with clay, you’re going to want to buy a LOT of sponges since you can never have enough. I like to cut them in half and then in quarters to use on small edges or on the rim just before I finish a piece.
This pack of 30 is cheap and durable. I have a few sets of these babies in my pottery kit at all times! They hold up well even after being cut into tiny pieces, and I love how absorbent they are.
The Weird-Looking Sponge Holder That I Can’t Throw Without
This sponge is specifically designed to remove any water from the bottom of your bowls, mugs, cups, or anything deep that you throw if you tend to use a lot of water (which I do). It sucks up water without gouging your piece.
It also really nicely smoothes out the inside base of your piece so you don’t end up with ridges or an uneven bottom. The special hardware keeps the sponge firmly in place so you don’t end up having to worry about it falling off and becoming trapped forever.
The Pottery Rib Tools That Are Oh-So Smooth
Sure, they might look like three oversized kidney beans, but they’re actually a set of three ridiculously helpful pottery tools called ribs. They’re firm enough to get really smooth edges and remove all the slip and excess water from the walls of your piece as you finish it up.
These ribs are made from high-quality rubber that’s crack-resistant and shaped to fit comfortably in your hand. They’re also so much easier to wash and remove clay from than the wooden ones. This set of pottery ribs is my absolute favorite. I highly recommend them.
The Cutoff Tool That Keeps Your Piece Intact
If you want one step up from the basic wooden handle wire tool, get this one, which has nice grips and sturdy construction. The absolute WORST thing you can do while throwing is using a shoddy wire tool to remove your piece from a wheel or bat.
The cheap ones break off and ruin your piece. I once spent a ridiculously long time creating the most perfect vase for my mom for Mother’s Day only to have it be completely destroyed when I tried to take it off the wheel due to an old and cheaply made cutoff tool. Don’t risk it. Get this one.
The Pottery Scraper Tools That Are Major Multitaskers
These metal pottery scrapers are a must-have for anyone looking to get into ceramics. Use them to smooth your clay after using the slab roller or to wick away slip from your piece. You can even use them to carve cool designs into your creations!
I love how the stainless steel construction makes them extra sturdy. Plus, the variety of sizes ensures you always have the right tool for your project. I’ve made some of my most detailed pieces using the handy tools in this set.
The Scoring Tool That Has an Ingenious Design
I’m obsessed with this little scoring tool. If you’re new to pottery, you’re probably just learning about scoring and slipping, which is the method used to attach handles to mugs or anything decorative to your piece if it’s an overlay or attachment.
Sure, you could score with a simple needle tool, but this puppy does most of the hard work for you by making 4 slices in one movement. And since ceramics involves a ton of detailed work that tends to take a long time, I’m always looking for tools that provide shortcuts.
The Pottery Wheel Bat That The Pros Use
Here’s some advice: Own your own bat, even if you work at a shared studio that provides them. (If you’re wondering what the heck a bat is, it’s the circular disc that goes on top of the pottery wheel that you build your piece on.)
This way, when your piece is done but still wet and delicate, you don’t need to rush to cut it off so you can hand the bat back over. Just leave it and let it settle and dry a little. Voilà! Fewer destroyed pieces, all for the low price of under 14 bucks.
The Pottery Wheel That Brings The Studio to You
If you’ve been wondering how to make pottery at home, this Huanyu Pottery Forming Machine is a great option. It basically turns your house into a legitimate pottery studio and has everything you’ll need to throw to your heart’s content.
The high-powered makes it powerful and smooth so you have consistent motion, and the aluminum alloy turntable is stable and less prone to rust. If you’re serious about getting int ceramics, this is the pottery wheel that dreams are made of.
The Silicone Glazing Ball That Makes Glazing a Cinch
This genius little silicone glazing ball lets you get super precise when applying underglaze. It’s perfect for decorating your piece during the glazing process and I find it a lot easier to use than brushes. And you can’t beat that price!
Here’s how it works: Just place the tip into a bowl of your glaze of choice, squeeze the ball to fill it with liquid, and gently squeeze the ball again to distribute your glaze. The tiny tip gives you a lot of control so you can avoid over-glazing.
The Wax Resist That Keeps Glaze Off Your Bottom
Speaking of glazing, you’re going to want to get yourself some wax resist. This is what you paint around the bottom and edge of your piece so the glaze doesn’t drip down during the firing process and glue your piece to the kiln.
This stuff goes on thick and leaves a great barrier that repels glaze without becoming sticky or tacky. It also dries surprisingly quickly so your projects won’t get delayed. I love how it’s tinted a light blue color so I can see where I’m applying it.
The Letter and Number Stamp Kit That Lets You Sign Your Work
These letter and number stamps allow you to gently stamp in your initials or name to the bottom of your piece. First, this allows you to sign your piece in a more elegant way than carving or using underglaze, and second, it helps you identify which pieces are yours when they come out of the kiln.
The craziest thing about ceramics is that often the glazes are different colors before firing and after firing, so it can be tough to remember what your piece was meant to look like when it comes out the kiln. Make it easier on yourself and sign the bottom with this elegant little letter set.
The Pottery Calipers That Give You an Accurate Measurement
Calipers are used to measure the opening of your piece so you can make a lid or a top. Or they’re used to simply measure height and width if you’re trying to make an identical set of pieces. They’re very useful for both beginners and advanced potters.
Think you can just eyeball it instead of actually measuring your pieces? Think again. Even professional potters with years of experience can’t do this. Why go to all the trouble of making an adorable little pot if the matching lid won’t fit?
The Ceramics Apron That Keeps You Clean (and Cool)
You’re going to want an apron. Ceramics is a messy business, and while some clays wash out of your clothing, others will stain forever (I’m looking at you, red clay). Glazes are entirely less forgiving. So save yourself the trouble and get an apron.
This one has a clever slit down the front so you can straddle the pottery wheel without your apron riding up. Added bonus? It will hold all your tools, too! Plus, I happen to think it looks pretty darn cool. I feel like a serious artist every time I wear it.
The Artist Chamois That Adds The Perfect Finishing Touch
This artist chamois is perfect for beautifully smoothing the rims and edges of your pieces just before finishing them. Since you’ll be using a lot of the pieces you’ll be making for food and drink, you want to make sure there are no rough edges.
This chamois is made from genuine leather and is supremely smooth and supple. The 5×7-inch size is perfect for a variety of projects since it’s large enough to cover a lot of surface area without being unwieldy. It’s an absolute must-have.