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.
- 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).
- Old Toothbrushes: For creating textures, applying glazes and helpful for cleaning those tools with hard to reach places.
- Dental Floss: For slicing clay and cutting pottery from the wheel.
- Bark, Leaves, Rocks, Buttons, shells: Textures and more textures! To create natural patterns and designs.
- Old Earrings/Jewelry/ Necklaces: Again, to create unique textures in clay OR to custom make your own bisque stamp textures!
- Plastic Utensils from drive-thru meals. If you need to mix, scoop, cut or scrape.
- 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!
- Bubble Wrap/Air-Filled Packing – (Another use for Amazon Prime packaging 😀 ) For propping and cushioning while hand-building.
- 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.
- Pencils/ Pens/ Toothpicks Poking holes, drawing on bisque or creating textures.
- Plastic Ice Cream Buckets/Tubs (Don’t buy buckets, buy Ice Cream!) Mixing glazes or holding throwing water.
- Plastic Grocery bags for covering pottery to control drying.
- Pickle & Peanut Butter Containers with Lids: For mixing liquids cleaning brushes, storing slips.
- Kids Toys: My favorite handle making tool was my kid’s abandoned Playdough extruder and cookie c!utters
- Oatmeal Containers: Forms for hand-building vases and sculptures.
- Freebee Box at Yardsales: Look for kitchen tools and craft boxes focusing textures, forms and storage. Think, “How can you use this differently?”
$1 Tools at the Dollar Store! – This is what I found in my local Dollar Tree!
- Plastic ketchup and mustard bottles (slip trail applicators).
- Placemats (for texture)
- Cake decorating tools/ icing bags
- Exacto knife,
- 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!