Author: Tammy Jo

Finding Cheap Pottery Tools!

Let’s be honest, no one wants to spend money if they don’t have to. My hobby pottery journey began on a strict budget (and I continue to keep it that way), so thinking creatively about tools and education has always been a must!

Here’s my quick list of freebie, recyclables, or super cheap tools that every hobby potter should have in their arsenal.
  1. Straws, Coffee Stir Sticks (plastic and wooden) – Perfect for creating holes, textures, or to help smooth and blend. Easy cleaning tip:  (allow the clay to dry and it will easily fall out of the straw for cleaning).
  2. Old Toothbrushes: For creating textures, applying glazes and helpful for cleaning those tools with hard to reach places.
  3. Dental Floss: For slicing clay and cutting pottery from the wheel.
  4. Bark, Leaves, Rocks, Buttons, shells: Textures… and more textures! To create natural patterns and designs.
  5. Old Earrings/Jewelry/ Necklaces: Again, to create unique textures in clay OR to custom make your own bisque stamp textures!
  6. Plastic Utensils from drive-thru meals. If you need to mix, scoop, cut or scrape.
  7. Newspaper (from junk mail ads), Old Towels & Sheets. Free and repurposed protection for tables when glazing. Sheets are the best for creating smooth textures when rolling slabs!
  8. Bubble Wrap/Air-Filled Packing – (Another use for Amazon Prime packaging 😀 ) For propping and cushioning while hand-building.
  9. Plastic Credit Cards: Extremely versatile! If you are going to cut them up, do it creatively and make your self custom-designed tools. Great for scraping, smoothing, and trimming angles for throwing.
  10. Pencils/ Pens/ Toothpicks Poking holes, drawing on bisque or creating textures.
  11. Plastic Ice Cream Buckets/Tubs (Don’t buy buckets, buy Ice Cream!) Mixing glazes or holding throwing water.
  12. Plastic Grocery bags for covering pottery to control drying.
  13. Pickle & Peanut Butter Containers with Lids: For mixing liquids cleaning brushes, storing slips.
  14. Kids Toys: My favorite handle making tool was my kid’s abandoned Playdough extruder and cookie c!utters
  15. Oatmeal Containers: Forms for hand-building vases and sculptures.
  16. Freebee Box at Yardsales: Look for kitchen tools and craft boxes focusing textures, forms and storage. Think, “How can you use this differently?”
  17. $1 Tools at the Dollar Store! – This is what I found in my local Dollar Tree!
    1. Plastic ketchup and mustard bottles (slip trail applicators).
    2. Placemats (for texture)
    3. Cake decorating tools/ icing bags
    4. Exacto knife,
    5. Rolling pin, cookie sheets, wooden spoons…and the list goes on! The possibilities are ENDLESS!

These are just brain ice breakers and basics to help you think about how to use everyday items differently!

Keep your eyes open the possibilities are LIMITLESS!

Bonus: Here is a fun project for making Organic Handbuilt Dishware!

Hobby Potter Journey YouTube Videos 

My 10 Year Itch!

Every 10 years…I change. A purging of the soul if you will, that leads me into another decade of adventure! 2020 is another 10th Year.
Since 1990, I began getting what I call a”10-Year Itch”. It generally begins with a restless feeling in the middle of the 9th year. The realization that the things which use to move and motivate me, no longer hold the same enthusiasm. By the end of that year, I’m feverishly searching for the next “new thing”, mountain to climb, a road to travel, trek to start out on…just trying to find the next inspiring adventure that moves my soul!
2011 may have been the beginning of my YouTube Hobby Potter Journey, but my clay journey actually began in the middle of 2010…thus making 2020 the 10th year!
At the beginning of 2019, I doubted this phenomenon would occur. I had created a vision board, I began accomplishing a bucket list, but like clockwork come July, the 10-year itch began its usual cycle…I was restless.
I still love my clay, I’ve found a new joy in exploring watercolor and painting …yet I still love my clay! Here we are at the end of a 10th year… so many new horizons to explore, my soul is thirsty for new adventures be it clay, art, helping others or just schlepping around bringing joy … but which direction will I travel come 2020…the year of Perfect Vision?
All I know is I’m due for some spontaneous fun!
January 1st I’ll be doing my 1st raku firing in the backyard with some friends… let’s jump off from there! 

Making Textured Rollers


When it comes to making tools …anything goes when you are a potter. We pick up textures where ever we go and save them for just the right piece.

This months project is inspired by the video entered by Alison C., for our random drawing in our Hobby Potter Life Facebook community. (Be sure to comment and thank the makers of these videos!)


Wheel Throwing Texture Rollers


Handbuiling Texture Rollers


Pottery Pouring Technique

This months project comes from Calder Ceramics and is an adapted potter’s take on doing the “fluid acrylic pour” … but we are going to use this technique on clay, with stains (or underglaze colors) and slip!

Notes From Tammy Jo:  I see this project as something that can be applied to whatever form you are currently working on in your studios. I’ve included the acrylic pour video (as an alternative option) for those using air dry clay and possibly inspire others in the possibilities not yet explored by this single video! (Example: Since I don’t have any stains in the studio, I’ve decided to alter the directions and try using underglazes to color the slip and some varnish to create resist designs.

*What You’ll Need: 

  • Mixing Cups (1 cup for each desired color)
  • Slip or dry clay to make slip
  • 1 Pouring Cup
  • Colored Mason Stains or Underglaze colors.
  • Clear Glaze
*Download the PDF of this projectSlip Pouring Technique

Share Your Experiences With This Technique in the Facebook Hobby Potter Life Group! 

Watch Hobby Potter Weekly with Tammy Jo Schoppet, each Tuesday on the Hobby Potter  YouTube Channel

Slight Adjustments – One Thing Leads to Another

This week began with big plans, big accomplishments, and an unstoppable spirit! It felt strangely reminiscent of the 365 Day Cup project and even more interestingly it followed the same path. Big dreams, unstoppable spirit … and big challenges in the beginning phases!

So I sat down and ran the numbers to see what it would take to get The “Dinnerware Dash” project completed on time. To recap, I planned to make dinnerware pieces by using the 1250 lbs of brown stoneware to earn money to purchase porcelain. All this by the end of March!

It was a hefty order…unfortunately a little too hefty. Figuring in throwing time (50 lbs per day for 25 days straight) so that I have sufficient drying time (during the rain winter), firing bisque, glazing and glaze firing times for all the volume … it was just not feasible with the equipment and schedule I have.

I’m going to be throwing / handbuilding daily, until the 15th of February. Using as much clay as I possibly can, to create unique dinnerware sets … the key word here is UNIQUE! Look forward to it!

I really do not ask my husband to help me with much in the studio, so this week was truly special for me! Even though not a lot of clay work got done, the studio “honey do’s” were all taken care of (especially fixing my doors and the slab roller!)



When not in my studio I’ve been exploring concepts I’d like to try in porcelain (once I get some). I’ve taken to watercolor imagery to express form and texture I’d like to incorporate into my clay dialogue… here is a copy of examples. 

Tomorrow (Wednesday) starts my first day back in the studio to get some heavy duty clay work done … tomorrow seems so far away!

Enjoy The Clay!

Tammy Jo


This weeks video! 


Creating A Vision Board & Finding Your Artistic Voice

My First Vision Board! What I love in Art, Form, Imagery & Color

(UPDATE 1/25/19 – I accidentally inserted a link to the wrong video in today’s email! If you are looking for the “Organic Dish In Less Than 3 Minutes” Video Please Click here! My sincere apologies!) 

 Last week we had a whirlwind tour of the Egyptian Museum (where a fingerprint in clay started my interest in pottery).

Unfortunately, it was a strange week and I lost all my video files and had to do a recap (but thankfully the phone still functioned and could be reset).  Here is this weeks video!


This week, most of my time was spent deciding on my future in clay and putting the (cold) studio in order (this actually is taking much longer than anticipated … the whole week)!

Being a self-taught potter has its perks and its perils! The first is you need to be self-motivated, to take responsibility for your course, and also be able to pull together a vision that will move you forward. I wanted to gather a visual representation of the most inspiring imagery I can quickly reflect on when I’m in the studio. There are artists, techniques, imagery, color, form, and ideas. that motivational when looking at them. My dream/goal is to pull together the “essence” and qualities I love about this imagery and create a unique style I adore creating!


So, where am I really in the development process? I found a fabulous article by Todd Henry that outlined the phases of “Developing Your Creative Voice” and it really helped me understand the seasons of life in any seeking creative. I made this PDF for my own reference and thought I’d share it in case it was useful to you as well. Phases of Developing Your Creative Style

The bottom-line conclusion this week? I found myself smack dab in the Emulation Phase but pretty close to crossing over to the Divergence Phase (which was exciting!) So in order to fully explore my visions, I’m more determined than ever to clear out my excess brown speckled stoneware and extra glazes in favor of some nice white porcelain!

Want to Join Me In Creating Your Own Clay Journey Vision Board?
How to Create Your Artistic Vision Board!