Clay tools from the kitchen drawer

You can start making ceramics right away

DIY: Clay tools from the kitchen drawer

Working with your hands, and especially with clay, is a great way to relax. It is also a way to develop your creativity and very satisfying. And it is not very expensive at all.

Over the years I have collected a lot of professional tools for my clay processing – wire tools, knives, hole cutters, kidneys. But you can use cheap clay tools right away, because most of these utensils you have in your house anyway.

All you have to do is buy some clay and you’re set.

Within reach

Ceramics for the small purse

ceramics tools from the kitchen drawer
Most of these utensils are probably in your house too

If you’re just starting out with ceramics it is always advisable to first have a look in your kitchen drawer. It’s so funny that despite the professional knives I bought in the wholesale store, my favorite still is an old potato peeler. And I often prefer to work with toothpicks and skewers instead of with my wooden modeling tools.

pots and food containers
Cream pots and food containers

Dry hands

Clay dries your hands in no time. Besides rubbing my hands with cream every time I am finished for the day, it gives me a lot of containers. I use those to either store moist slip or dry pigments.

container and jar, cheap tools for ceramics
Food container and vegetable jar

So here is a list of tools and what you can use them for:

  1. Fork – to roughen the edges of slabs of clay or to make patterns with
  2. Spoon – dish up powder and glazes with the concave side and beat the clay into shape with the convex side (sometimes you get wooden cutlery at fast food restaurants –> they’re ideal, so take them with you from now on!)
  3. Knife – cutting and scratching
  4. Wooden washing brush – attach the stem to a big wooden bead, with the brush you can decorate by pushing it on a slab
  5. Mixer – to mix slips and pigments
  6. Plastic containers – air-tight storage of work in progress
  7. Fruit jars – for storage of different colored slips
  8. Wooden and metal skewers – to make holes or as modeling tools when your fingers are too big or not long enough to reach for a certain area
  9. Apple corer – perforate
  10. Waffle wipes – ideal for making little rolls
  11. Plastic foil – to wrap clay edges and prevent them from drying too soon
  12. Garbage bags – for covering your clay pieces when you are not working on them
more tools

And not from your drawer, but just as useful

  1. Old credit cards – some I use as they are, others I cut in shapes
  2. Cream-pots – to store pigments in
  3. Paint buckets – I have a couple on my table to rinse my hands and tools in, preventing toxic waste to flush down the drain
  4. Paint buckets with lids – air-tight storage of open clay packs
  5. Iron wire – to cut slabs
  6. Guitar string – to cut slabs
  7. Bulbs – for polishing

Can you add tools you found in the house and are usable for clay?

These are some answers I received on another platform:

  1. Iron wire – to cut slabs
  2. Lace curtains or prints on material – press it in the clay for a relief
  3. Garlic press – you can make small squiggly bits of decoration
  4. Carpet protectors – for impressing large, evenly spaced holes into clay
  5. Pet combs – for impressing small, evenly spaced holes into clay
  6. Plastic tooth picks – the tip is finer than any wooden point I’ve seen and the ones I have are nicely rounded for better ergonomic effect.

clay tools
Tools from the shed

Of course this list is not exhaustive. There are many other tools, you can use. For example to stamp or carve with.
But I think I have listed the most important ones. Or do you have something to add that is a useful tip for ceramicists? Please put it in the comment box below. I would really appreciate your effort.

The bought items I use most

Going professional usually means buying tools anyway

bought tools for ceramics
Bought tools, collected in the course of the years

Despite all the tips I tell here and use myself, I can’t resist looking around in the shop whenever I need the raw materials. So I was thinking, what is the top 5 of the bought tools I use?

A trestle, one of the small plastic knifes, a small ribbon tool, a sgraffito knife and a cutting harp (I couldn’t find this one in the dictionary, so I am not sure the translation is right).

cutting harp
My favorite cutting harp and a self made tool with an old guitar string

Digging your own clay

digging your own clay
In another article I wrote about digging your own clay and preparing it.

Can the making of ceramic objects really be affordable?

How about a kiln?


I started by stating “ceramics for the small purse”, but clay needs to be fired. At least once, and if you want to glaze it a second time as well.

In my early ceramics days I couldn’t afford a kiln, nor did I have room to put it. So I looked up ceramicists in the neighborhood and found one that rented his kiln.

If you are taking this up as a hobby, I would advise not to buy all the expensive stuff immediately, but look for solutions like this.

Have fun!

Can you add tools you found in the house and are usable for clay?

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