Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Favorite Tools

by Karen Mahoney of City by the Sea Ceramics

I *love* getting new tools to use in the studio. I have far more than I need, yet I still want more. Many items are used once and set aside to gather dust. Others I have because they were free and I thought that it might be perfect for something someday, but they too sit. I do however have a few favorites I've acquired over the years that I absolutely love and don't know how I could work without.

First, I love my Creative Industry bats. I have many, but at times not nearly enough. They are made with injection molded plastic so unlike some other bats, these do not warp or flake apart. They are super easy to clean and equally easy to release from my throwing wheel. They are also available in small square sizes so they take up less shelf space for smaller projects.

Next, I love my rosewood-handled knife. It seems to be available only at The Potters Shop, the studio I work out of. It cuts through clay nicely, no matter what stage of drying it is in, and has a handle that is very comfortable and sturdy to hold. I think it feels so nice in my hand because it was made by hand, from Roger and Lindsay Watts of England. We sell a ton at the studio and potters always call us back to tell us how much they enjoy it. It beats a standard fettling knife any day.

Some of my other most used tools are my Sherrill ribs. Before these became available in the last few years, rubber ribs for potters were limited to two sizes of the same shape and a 'soft' and a 'hard' type. Neither were particularly hard or soft and the material used for both quickly became dry, causing cracks and burrs on a rib used to smooth. The Sherrill tools are available in six sizes and shapes, and four levels of hardness. I use at least one of my many daily and have not had any of them crack or burr in the least bit after years of use.

When I use a brush in the studio it's always one of my bamboo ones. They are so comfortable to hold and easy to clean. The bristles hold a ton of water, slip, or glaze and they paint it on so smoothly. I may take a shot at making some of my own this winter.

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