You don’t see much whittling these days, but it used to be a major pastime. I tried my hand at it with my white, pearlized pocket knife. My brothers had jack knives and I bet they learned to whittle with them in Boy Scouts. The same skills can be put to use today to make your own pottery tools. There is much to be said for a tool you make and use. Aside from sounding like an advertisement for the Simplicity Movement, it’s just plain fun. When you pick up your new tool and begin using it, you might catch yourself thinking, “I made this.” It will give you more satisfaction than money can buy. Take a look at some of the sites below for ideas, diagrams, and photos of projects you can adopt for your own. If you are all thumbs, though, or if tool-making just doesn’t interest you, you can still check out the articles about adapting and adopting every day objects.
Sondahl’s Pottery Tips: “How to make your own wedging table, bats, loop tools, trimming tools, plaster stamps, throwing ribs and sticks, sponge sticks, hole punchers, scrapers, and glaze density tester. Also a practical grinding disk to attach to your wheel head.”
Making Your Own Pottery Tools: The use of Elmer’s glue, credit cards, PVC pipe, toilet bowl brushes, and more. Very inventive and wins the Commonsense Award!
Pottery Tools You Can Make: About.com’s DIY page for potters includes links to sites that instruct you how to make wedging tables, hand tools, texture rollers, bats, and cut-off wires. Personally, I am interested in the shrinkage ruler and could really use something like that.
Pottery Throwing Tools: A Guide to Making and Using Pottery Tools for Wheel Throwing: Ceramic Arts Daily will give you this e-book for free if you sign up for their daily e-mail about ceramics. It is well worth it and there are plenty more free e-books to be had through them, too. If you don’t want to give them your personal e-mail address, create a new one through hotmail or gmail and have the messages forwarded to your personal e-mail address by adjusting the preferences to the e-mail program.
Round out your ceramics experience by making a tool and you will feel more invested in your art. If you want handmade tools but simply don’t want to make them yourself, you can find nice, sturdy ones at Jepson Pottery Tools or Brothers Handmade.