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Some time within the next week or so, my uncle will be going to a ceramic supply shop with me to help pick up some things that I've been needing. I already have the big things (electric kiln and pottery wheel), 80+lbs of clay, assorted brushes and a bucket with a few random clay carving tools.


Given that small generalized list..


What would you get if you were working with my supplies and somebody brought you to your local ceramic supply store and said "ok, go get what you NEED and a couple things you WANT"?


Show me your list. :)


It will give me more things to think about before I walk through those doors. :)


Better yet..



Show me your list (as previously requested)


Then Second..

Tell me what your "DREAM List" is. If you could have ANY clay goodie you wanted. I wouldn't mind seeing what toys those with a lot of experience with clay dream about.


Just don't let me mix the two lists up. Lol

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Things that I'd like to get at this point:


Sherrill Mud Tools, I'm a big fan of their ribs, and they have some nice looking sponges, and various other tools that interest me.





I am also interested in a couple of Xiem's products, namely the art bag, flexible ruler and telescoping sponge.



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This is hard to answer since we don't know what your interests are, your skill level, etc.  By the way, thanks for filling out your profile so we know a little about you.


Do you have a good wedging table?  How about glazes, or glaze mixing materials?  Underglazes?

Everyone should have a sponge on a stick.

Mini-extruders are fun. Manual sprayer..the little one you blow through.

I love my giffon-grip, but you should learn how to trim without one if you're a beginner.

Maybe a variety of bats to see which you like.

Can't think of anything else...except my dream list includes a pugger.

Have fun!

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If you think you will be needing batts then I would pick up a bag of #1 Pottery Plaster. You can make a lot of batts for not a lot of money with plaster. You can also make a plaster wedging board.Thrift stores usually have springform cake pans, they work great for making batts.


Also at the thrift store I would look for a rolling pin. For sponges, a scrap of upholstery foam works well, I prefer the higher density stuff, foam stores will have scrap cutoff pieces cheap. Chopstick with sponge tied on the end works for the sponge on a stick.


You can make a cutoff wire with fishing line and a couple clothespins or small pieces of dowel. If you make plaster batts you won't need a cutoff wire but you will need one anyway for cutting off chunks of clay.


I would buy a stainless rib, they are about $1. Some thin plastic, like what dry cleaning comes in, for slowing down the drying time. If you are going to be mixing glaze you will need a sieve, 80 mesh is a good basic one, and probably a pair of glaze tongs.


I would wait until after you take your classes to buy anything else. 


On my dream wish list would be a soda kiln.

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Sherrill mud tools - coloured kidneys different flexibility, I have red (soft) and green (firm) in 2 sizes (size/shape depending on your work) metal rib, and sponges (blue I use for throwing and orange finishing sponge - 2 of each!)

Cheapo round sponges

Good quality clay knife & pin tool.

Clay cutting wire


Potters plaster, lidded plastic crate(s) - to make a 'Magic Box' (see Tim See on YouTube ) to store part-finished pieces and for making a plaster slab for wedging/reclaiming clay.


Orton cones for kiln

Batt wash - for kiln shelves

Bottle of wax resist for bases - neat, easy way to prevent glaze running on to shelves


Double ended wooden calipers - if you plan to do any repeat throwing


Transparent glaze . I'd suggest pre-mixed in sufficient quantity to dip to start with + colourants as below to do some experimenting. Unless you want to go down the brush-on route for instant gratification!

Oxides/carbonates (small quantities only e.g. 2 ozs) - copper, red iron, cobalt, yellow ochre, manganese and/or glaze stains (but depends on your style etc.)

Glaze tongs

Mask for if/ when you do any sanding/rubbing of dry ware or mixing powdered glazes.



plastic jugs, several, various sizes

Plastic bowls ". ". "

Plastic buckets " " "


Car washing sponges - cut up for general clean up

Scotchbrite - 'scrubbies' pan scourers - for course sanding/smoothing

Sponge-centred sanding pads (have very fine smoothing surface)



Good quality whirler - best you can afford

Digital controller for kiln

Compressor & glaze sprayer

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Things that I'd like to get at this point:


Sherrill Mud Tools, I'm a big fan of their ribs, and they have some nice looking sponges, and various other tools that interest me.







Plus one for the Sherrill ribs. I bought one of their white finishing sponges.  I saw a picture of someone using it in place of a chamois for finishing a rim. Doesn't work for me, it's way to thick. 

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The basic tool kit if you don't have one


Batts-i like the 14†speedball batts, if you have dreams of large platters at least one 24†inch batt plastibat- i think brent makes them


If you like lidded forms or making mugs the same size then a set of calipers


Rubber ribs...kemper makes a blue one that is a good affordable standard use one and sherill has some nice $7+ ones -i like the red ones


A soft steel fettling knife


Extra round sponges...one for throwing, one for glazing, and a couple of extra...they do wear out.


A scale to measure clay poundage


Sieves in a variety of meshes


Oxides- iron oxide, rutile, cobalt carb, copper carb to start


An underglaze pencil to label test tiles- brown or black


Kiln wash or the ingredients to make it


Cones if your kiln uses cones the small ones get 06, 05, 04, 5, 6 and maybe 10 if your kiln gets that hot, if your kiln is computerized get some large witness cones the temp you plan on firing to and cones on either side of that temp say if you plan to fire to cone 6 also get cones 5 and 7 to make sure your kiln is firing evenly.


A set of mini ribbon tools


Rolling pin and a variety of thicknesses of dowel rods


If your uncle is feeling real generous and you plan on making your own glaze a triple beam scale or digital scale

And a drill and glaze mixing attachment


If you go the premixed glaze route a variety of pints of glazes, amaco or laguna are very beginner friendly.


Thats my list of some basic stuff.

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Things that I'd like to get at this point:

Sherrill Mud Tools, I'm a big fan of their ribs, and they have some nice looking sponges, and various other tools that interest me.http://baileypottery.com/potterytools/sherrillribs.htm



Plus one for the Sherrill ribs. I bought one of their white finishing sponges.  I saw a picture of someone using it in place of a chamois for finishing a rim. Doesn't work for me, it's way to thick.


That's a bummer. Maybe I won't get one.

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Things that I got on my first few trips:


Basic throwing tools kit

Extra sponges

9 speedball bats

80 mesh seive

Wax resist

Orton cone mini-bars for the kiln sitter

A couple wooden texture stamps


Then once I got going a bit more, I bought a banding wheel, some Amaco Velvet underglazes, and a dark brown Amaco engobe (slip) to rub into impressed texture.


Then I started buying handmade tools on etsy, and made a few myself :)


Then I started ordering glazes from glazemixer.com


You'll be surprised how fast you can practice your way through 80 lbs of clay. I like to have 100 on hand at a minimum. When I can go get clay myself, I'll get 100-150 of whatever clay I'm wanting to work with, just to get a good run with it.


My wish list:

A peter pugger de-airing mixer/pugmill

A strong arm centering tool

A decent sized kiln with computerized control

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You know what.. You guys are just awesome. I thank all of you for your input. I knew there would be a lot to learn about when I got bit by the clay bug and every topic I've started has proved that to be correct. But wow.. Lol. Half the things all of you have listed made me go "what the heck is that?" Or "what's that used for?". I now have a nice big list of randoms to look up. As for the rest.. It either went on my list of things to get this week or my list of things to get eventually. :)


I like this place. I think I'll stay :)

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When I started I was only hand building so didn't need bats and such. I started with the basic pottery set and a bunch of underglazes, some pints of glaze and a gallon of Amaco clear. I had leftover drywall from my house so that and a roll of duct tape gave me plenty of ware boards. same for plastic had some of the cheapy plastic drop cloths left over they work real well since I don't have dry cleaning. I used a heavy canvas drop cloth to cover my wooden table so the clay doesn't stick. Once I got bit by the bug I got lucky and was able to buy a slab roller, small kiln, extruder (love it!) and a wheel.

Why I have what I have and what I do with it:

The slab roller is by clay king and makes it super fast to roll out nice even slabs and I use it daily. I can roll a piece of clay 30 x 30 inches which is plenty big, that's big enough for a couple large plates and a couple small plates all from one roll. My kiln is an Olympic 1823 electric, a perfect size for me since I work in smaller sized items also makes filling it up and learning where I went wrong faster too since I can fire it more frequently than a big one. That said I just fired a load of 3 dozen 4x4 boxes, 3 6x6 boxes, 30 spoon rests, a platter and a large open topped box plus a bunch of pendants and such stuck in as well. Plenty big for me! I use the extruder to make my small boxes, round, square and triangle in shapes. It also will do tumblers, cups and handles. I also found that it speeds up coil pots to lightning speed with a constant supply of fresh coils. I want to get a handle plate and see if extruding my handles will make them prettier than they are currently (I can hope at least lol). My wheel is the last piece of equipment I got its a Bailey and I am really pleased with it. It has enough torque to handle anything I might ever want to throw on it, is really quiet, has a splash pan with a drain and slot for easy cleaning. I have a few hardwood bats but want to get the northstar universal bat system since again I do smaller items right now and having a pile of small bats would be great, take up less space on the shelf etc. I also want to get a few large Medex bats for larger pieces.

Tools: love the Sherrill mud tools have several of their rubber ribs, when next I shop plan to get some of the sponges. I also like some of the Xiem tools don't have any of those yet but they are on the list. My kitchen is way less full though have stolen the pizza cutter, measuring cups, wooden spoons, knives, graters, almost all of my cake decorating supplies, etc. I want to get an Airpen and a spray booth with an airbrush, a silk screen set up to make my own pattern screens, but that all has to wait until I sell some more!


Consumables: You will burn through more clay than you can imagine you can never have enough. After my first show I bought 300 pounds of little loafers with my profits... Best buy ever. For Christmas my husband bought me the 100 4oz jar set of Coyote Glazes. Basically it's ALL of Coyotes glazes. I've been having loads of fun playing with all the different glazes and am figuring out which ones I will get in larger sizes. I don't mix my own glazes right now wanting to focus on the clay for the moment rather than glaze formulas, eventually once I learn what colors and styles I like I will but not right now.


You can create beautiful pottery with very little tools but you can do it faster with the right tool for the right job in my opinion.



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My basic list

I will preface this with the disclosure that I am a teacher, so it makes perfect sense that the first thing on my list would be education.  Classes, lessons, workshops, books (yes some people still read books :) ) and it helps to make real live friends and connections in the medium of your choice.  Before I spent a dime on "stuff" I would educate myself to the basics of the craft.


Second, I am married to a Safety and Loss Control Professional so I guess it makes sense that the second thing on my list would be a high quality half face respirator.  You only get one set of lungs so educate yourself on the hazards of clay and glazes.  Also, if you are planning to sell your ware to the public, carefully educate yourself on safety as it relates to functional ware.  


I took lessons for years before finally buying a wheel and kiln and as many have mentioned, I went through a lot of clay before ever firing a thing.  Even with my shiny new kiln sitting in the corner, I threw and reclaimed the same 50 pounds of clay over and over again.  Nothing got fired until I was satisfied the piece deserved permanent residency on the planet.  


And speaking of the planet, please be kind to our beaches (I was horrified when I read in a post that you planned to fire on the beach) and refrain from leaving behind any residue from your experimentation.  Being a good steward of the Earth is as important (actually more so) than learning to be a potter.  Actually I believe that to be a good potter one must first learn to enjoy your chosen art while doing as very little damage to the environment as possible.  Pottery, while it seems simple and pure, can actually be very damaging.  


It sounds like you have most of the "stuff" you need to get started, now you need to collect the 15 or 20 years of experience it takes to be successful in the clay arts and the tenacity to stick with it when life hands you a series of clay challenges.   


1. sponge (you can use the stuff they wrap around your cones)

2. pin tool (which you will use less and less as you gain experience)

3. ribs (can be made of credit cards or buy one or two.  I like a metal and a soft mud tool)

4. trimming tool or two

5. bats for large things

Most everything else can be scrounged up from around the house and workshop if you are on a tight budget.  I think the hardest thing is not buying too much stuff!  It seems that at first, the more you learn the more you will accumulate.  You will know you are making progress toward mastering your craft when you realize you don't need 90% of it!  

Enjoy the journey!

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+1 for red Mud tools ribs

Not from clay store but hardware. Plywood ware boards. If you wanna get fancy slap on a few coats of oil finish,

Reuse from sandwich shop, 5 gal buckets with lids

Flexible diamond polish/sand pads


Extruder/ dies

Ware board rack

Bulls tongue





Cottle boards

Plaster wedging table with wire

Old towels


Good sound system with good play list






Dream. List

Shimpo whisper

Large japanese banding /throwing wheel

Bourry box woodfired kiln / a thousand hard bricks

Advancer or other fancy kiln shelves

Omega pyrometers

Gas fired kiln

Anagama kiln or noborigama kiln

Gas kiln

Mixing deairing pugmill

Floor drain

Private instruction from artist whose work I like

Studio assistant


Good burbon

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The only tools you really need to do some lovely pottery is your two hands,,,however a wonderful potter in England can show you that one hand is sufficient to do the job.  He lost a hand when he was a boy and still became a fantastic potter.  Will, determination and some clay are the most needed items. You will find as you get going that you begin to see things differently like a slotted spoon is no longer something to use in the kitchen but instead becomes a texture tool in the studio and a piece of old driftwood makes some lovely texture.  As you work you will find and more and more things that you would not have thought of as tools.  All sorts of found objects can be used for texture or incorporated into your work. Some old hack saw blades can make some of the best trimming tools you could ever buy and they are dirt cheap.  There are several videos on you tube showing how to make trimming tools.  I wish you the very best in your upcoming adventure in clay.  It is a most wonderous journey and one that can last a lifetime.

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I would suggest some books.

The Potter's Alternative by Harry Davis

Like said before, nice tools and machines make it easy but not needed. 

Some stains. wax resist. fishing bobbers to put on shami so you do not loose it.

kiln wash. magazine subscriptions  pyrometer


Dream list; heated studio for winter!  gas reduction kiln.

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if your uncle is generous, get a shimpo banding wheel, the flatter one is fine for most things and you will use it a lot.  don't waste your money on the wires and sponges sold in pottery supply shops.  a large tile grout washing sponge can be cut into several sizes to throw with, to clean up with and it is about $2.  a simple cutting wire comes from a leader line in a fishing supplies area of walmart and 2 of the large keychain rings in automotive.  hang the wire and you can always find it.  a ware cart is very expensive, go to a restaurant supply place and get a USED bakers rack with lots of aluminum shelf supports welded on.   go to Home Depot or Lowes and get a sheet of 5/8 drywall and cut it to size.  you will probably get 8 or so shelves that will fit your new bakers rack.  spacing is dependent on what you make so do not think that if you have 20 shelf supports 3 inches apart that you have to make small stuff.  everything is adjustable since it is an ALUMINUM rack and can be drilled, cut and bolted to make it a different size.   go see them in use in your local supermarket bakery dept.  sometimes you can get one free from a store replacing the old smoke covered ones.  if the wheels are sound who cares if there is some stain on the metal.


find a thrift shop and look for an electric knife for cutting sponges and foam rubber.  find an old sofa cushion for the thick foam and look for kitchen tools you can use in the studio.


it would be best if you watch local real potters in their studios to see how they set up their workspace to accomplish the results they want.  a wheel worker might have a completely different setup from a slab builder.  ask questions at your supplier and look carefully at WHY you should use a particular tool or item they want to sell you.  that supplier wants you to buy his products, the more you know in general will help you decide whether he is the only source for a particular thing you need.


have fun at every stage, you have a long road ahead of you.

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Books are good, especially if you like to learn by reading.  These are all books I reference regularly as an intermediate hobby potter.


If you want to know "how", buy Pitelka first.  If you want inspiration and ideas, buy Hopper first.


Pitelka's "Clay, A Studio Handbook" is a good, all-around basics of "everything".


Hopper's "Functional Pottery" if you want to make functional pots... I'm reading it for the third time.  There's a lot of solid "why" in this book to back up the "how", and a strong balance of esthetic qualities against functional requirements.  (There's a video series that parallels it, which is also good.)


The ultimate reference: Hamer & Hamer, "The Potter's Dictionary of Materials and Techniques."  It's an encyclopedia (why'd they call it a dictionary?) chock full of everything... when the eggheads around here start talking about bloating, crystobalite, etc, H&H is your friend.  There's a lot of useful information, like the section on Cracks is eight pages long, which explains the many causes of cracks, with diagrams, helping you figure out how to deal with them.


H&H looks like one of those books "advanced" potters buy when they've run out of other books to get, or one of those books a Chem major has to buy for a class... but I think it's an invaluble source to the potter moving beyond beginner stage, if they're comfortable with book learning.  If you can get it at a good price, jump on it.

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