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Sgraffito Tools, Slab Scoring Tools, Metal Pottery Tools
As with wood tools, there is an incredible array of metal tools available for pottery making. Here we focus on several new to our toolbox in the last few years, which are helping to create beautiful pottery, often faster than before we happened upon them!
For berry bowls and planters and just about anything you can think of that could use a hole or two or more, these are your tools.
True story: Once upon a time a slab piggy bank (albeit a rather abstract looking one) was made by a potterer who thought what about a few decorative holes. As you can imagine, that led to a few more, and then more, so that ultimately there were about 50 holes. And, it held the coins just fine.
Moral of that story: Hole cutters are highly addictive - your piece may run out of clay if you lose control.
If you handbuild using clay slabs, you know how important it is to properly score the pieces before adding slip and combining. You also know how tedious and time-consuming scoring can be. Not any more: enter the feather wire tool! This incredible tool significantly reduces scoring time and provides far greater precision. So, while it used to be a chore to score, but no more with this ... it's better than a fork, and let's not even discuss the poky pin tool.
It's actually billed as a sculpting and modelling tool, so that's an added bonus!
Sgraffito, which in Italian means to scratch (and, in turn, is from the Greek to write), is a technique for inscribing designs into slip which is applied to greenware. It can take a simple bowl, vase, mug, or handbuilt piece and make it spectacular. From simple line designs, to intricate patterns, it, well, rocks the clay.
And this extremely affordable Double Ended Ball Stylus Set (in 3 sizes: Small, Medium, and Large) tool is as simple yet as handy as it gets for Sgraffito. Can't you just use a pin tool? Not easily - it's just too pointy and also leaves too much clay debris.
If you're in a pottery class, ask your teacher to demo Sgraffito. For inspriation, visit google images - just search Sgraffito!
Tip: Don't obsess over the etchings until later. Then use a really soft paint brush and, voila, it cleans right up!
An all time classic - the fettling knife - and a slab master's (or beginner's) good friend. Did you know that tool maker Kemper has two versions, one being a stronger grade of metal.
One challenge with a fettling knife is keeping it rust-free. One solution is to dry completely after cleaning, and not let it sit on other wet tools. It's possible to go a long time with it looking brand new!
Tip of what not to do: If your bat is really stuck to the wheel (like maybe you made a clay pancake to keep it in place), don't, repeating do not, use the fettling knife pry it off. It's a recipe for a bent, not so useful fettling tool!
Rasps are popular in today's pottery studios. Once you work a rasp, you'll probably wonder how you did without! For starters, it's great for the early stages of trimming, when there's lots of excess clay to shave off. It's pure magic on rims, particularly hump molded pieces to clean-up and even out delicate rims. Highly recommended.