Pottery making requires more than just a wheel and a block of clay. To shape your vessels, imprint them with creative etched designs, and trim rims so they’re perfectly even, you’re going to need some tools. The most commonly used implements in ceramics are ribbon tools, which are used to cut away clay; ribs, for perfecting your pot’s shape; needle tools, for piercing and etching; and molding tools, which come with a range of head shapes to create a variety of contours. Whether you’re looking for implements of one particular type or are in the market for a fuller array of tools that includes extras like sponges and an apron, we’ve got you covered. Browse our roundup of the best sets below.
1. U.S. Art Supply Pottery and Clay Tools
This popular art supply company produces several assortments of high-quality tools for ceramics, so you can select the kit that best serves your needs. No matter your pick, expect tools with solid construction: sturdy and tightly attached handles, consistent edges, and sharpness where you want it. The sets are carefully curated to provide you with implements that work well together without seeming overwhelming, even if you select the largest option. Choose from a 12-piece set, which includes basics such as wire cutters, loop tools, and a sponge, up to a 53-piece set that allows you to make more precise adjustments, whether with silicone detailers, brushes, or loops in shapes aplenty.
2. Xiem Studio Tools for Clay
This top-quality tool set is too pricey to be our top pick—each tool costs about $4—but it’s a great option if you’re looking to update your supplies. It comes with seven different detailing utensils, each made with a comfortable soft-grip barrel and stainless steel tips that excel at precision work. They are strong, nicely weighty, and easy to work with and clean. The double-tipped design of each gives you a multitude of options for a wide variety of marks.
3. Arteza Pottery and Clay Sculpting Tools
This 22-piece set has just about every implement you’ll need for your ceramics projects, from a wooden rib to ribbon tools to a slew of modeling utensils. What makes it stand out is its inclusion of tools that are less commonly found in this kind of artist bundle: a mini rolling pin, a smooth-turning wheel cutter, three double-sided stylus tools in different sizes that are ideal for creating surface impressions. Each instrument is well constructed out of smooth, lightweight wood or stainless steel, and everything can fit in a small cylindrical case (included) so you can keep everything organized with ease.
4. Augernis Pottery Sculpting Tools
Beginning potters looking for a low-cost yet extensive set of tools to satisfy any task should consider this option. It comes with 32 implements, including a brush tool, a needle tool, a wire clay cutter, and many double-ended shaping implements. Designed with wooden handles and metal tips, these tools are sharp, precise, and comfortable to hold, but be warned: These won’t be your forever tools. Still, the variety of shapes and sizes, whether of the metal carving implements or the wood modeling blades, will allow you to get used to handling different sculpting devices.
5. Mont Marte Mini Modelling Tools
If you know you prefer using wooden tools to smooth, cut, carve, and embellish, go with this option. Each all-wood set comes with 10 double-ended implements, which means you’ll have 20 different tools to work with—and, unlike metal, you won’t risk cutting yourself. With the assortment of forked, sharp-angled, rounded, and pointed ends in various sizes, you can smooth, contour, gently flatten, slice, crosshatch, score, and much more. The wood is durable and splinter-free and the tools fit comfortably in the hand. In this multi-pack you get three complete sets, so you can give one to a studio mate or purchase them for classroom use.