>I am developing a list of items I am requesting my ceramic students
>bring from home to use as they work in clay. What would you suggest
>I add to the list. I want things that are inexpensive or free that
>they find around the house.
We use wood or bamboo chop sticks as incising tools. They work well
for line work on leather-hard work that has been painted with colored
slip. Sharpen in a pencil sharpener or sand paper to a blunt point.
We also use these in wheel work for trimming the thick part off near
the base before lifting a thrown pot from the wheel. This link shows
a chopstick in action on the wheel.
We use a length of straight coat hanger wire to poke lots of holes up
from the bottom of thick sculpture pieces. Poke holes nearly all the
way through to the top at half inch intervals. This allows steam to
escape while firing. You can fire any thickness so long as one end of
the hole is open (to the bottom where it does not show). Poke the
holes anytime before the clay hardens, but wait for total drying
before firing. This is one of reasons house bricks have holes in
them. This is also one reason straw was included in ancient clay for
I collect sheets of soft foam plastic that comes in packages to pad
computer parts or other fragile items. Students can cut it with
scissors into shapes that symbolize things that they like or symbols
that represent them. They can use these small foam rubber shapes
with colored slips to stamp unique repeat patterns of colored slip or
glaze on their work. In my work I use a an extensive collection of
subject matter stamps that I have made for various projects.
Examples that I have seen or made include stamps representing sports,
music, insects, fish, various leaves, flowers, farm animals, birds,
abstract shapes, quit patterns, letters, numbers, and so on.
Plastic bags from grocery stores or other stores work well to cover
projects that need to be kept moist for additional work at a later
time. Dry cleaner bags are good for larger projects.