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Using household tools and items from nature to create textures on pottery or ceramics.
The low cost of most pottery tools makes purchasing them easy to justify by the convenience of having just the right tool when you need it.
You do not have to know how to do wood working, screwing, hammering, sawing and numerous other things required to make your own tools.
Sometimes it just comes down to what you have more of, time or money.
But whether homemade or store bought, there is nothing like having the right tool to make a job easy!
So here are a set of ideas for homemade tools you can make yourself.

Use white glue, like Elmer's for resist.
It doesn't repel glaze as well as wax, but will do in a pinch.

Old credit cards can be used for ribs.
You can cut patterns in the edge of them to make contoured edges.
You can also cut patterns in them to use for making stripes on slabs.

Use lengths of PVC pipe instead of wood for stirring glazes.
They can stay in the glaze indefinitely and won't rot.

Use a toilet bowl brush or a wire whisk for mixing glazes.
You can even cut holes in a rubber toilet plunger.

You can find animal hair in fishing and hunting stores, sold as supplies for making fishing lures.
Use these to make handmade brushes.
Chicken and bird feathers can make interesting brushes as well.

To sharpen tools, you shouldn't use power tools because the heat will damage the hardened steel.
You can use a commercial sharpening tool, (such as one used to sharpen knives) wet stone or make your own from Cone 10 porcelain rods.

Wax or petroleum jelly can be used to slow down the drying of a specific area, such as a rim.
You can put it on thick because it will all burn off in the kiln.

Use scrap pieces of vinyl flooring beneath your canvas when using a slab roller.
This makes it easier to run the slab through, without getting any distortion or jamming on the slab rollers where it is stationary and the clay moves.
It also makes it easier to move a slab with having to stretch it out of shape.

Cornstarch can be used to prevent clay from sticking to tools, canvas, etc.
Coating a surface with cornstarch before carving or impressing designs can eliminate burrs and marks made from pulling the object off the clay.

To smooth a slab surface and eliminate canvas marks, use a squeegee, paint scraper, putty knife or spatula.

You know those rolls of rubbery stuff you can buy to cover your shelves to cushion glasses and plates?
They make great texture when rolled into slabs.

You don't have to mess with plaster to make molds.
You can make your own from bisque.
Fire the bisque at a high enough temperature to give it strength, but low enough that it is still porous so the clay dries and does not stick.
To make a bowl mold, throw a solid piece on the wheel, smoothing the edges well with ribs, etc.
When it is leather hard hollow out the inside until your edges are about 1 inch thick. Fire.

For that raku piece that came out less than exciting, trying fanning it with a propane torch to bring out more color.

Metallic glazes such as overglazes and raku glazes, will oxidize over time.
The oxidation can be cleaned with silver polish or concentrated lemon juice.
To reduce oxidation, keep pieces out of the sun.

Does anyone shine their shoes anymore?
If so, empty shoe polish bottles with the sponge tops make great applicators for stain or oxide solutions.
You can make squares and thick lines easily.

To add texture to clay for hand building use perlite or vermiculite available at your garden center or try popped popcorn.

A small amount of bleach added to slip, glaze or recycled clay mixtures eliminate mold which may occur and cause smelling.
The bleach may be caustic on your hands so you may want to wear gloves when handling.

For a wedging surface which is inexpensive and portable, buy a painter's canvas (canvas stretched and stapled onto a frame), fill with plaster.

Some of these tips were inspired by Great Ideas for Potters II, which sells for only $7.16
These and other books full of tips for potters can be found at bigceramicstore.com.

"Copyright BigCeramicStore.com, reprinted with permission."

The same hammer that shatters the glass also forges the steel.

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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