Friday, March 6, 2009


I was inspired by Brandon Phillips to share my throwing tools:

I've been throwing with ribs since I first got started making pots. In college we all used rubber ribs. After college I took a workshop with Will Ruggles and Douglas Rankin, I really liked there pots and approach to making pots. I made myself a rib modeled after the ones they use. It's a fairly thick block of solid wood, near an inch thick if I had to guess, the shape was very similar to the third rib from the left (without the hole) in the above picture. After the workshop I ended up getting an apprenticeship with Mark Hewitt. Quite a change in throwing styles as I'm sure you can imagine. At Marks we used square steel ribs (maybe and 1/8" in thick) with a hole in the middle for an easier hold. After leaving Marks I knew I didn't want to keep using the square steel ribs that we had been using. I felt they tended to leave the surface a little too clean, and felt at times a little sharp in the hand. I also missed not having a curved surface anywhere on the rib. However I felt my throwing style had changed too much to go back to using my old rib. I ended up making the ribs you see above. I've worn through quite a few of them over the years: walnut, oak, and ash. They all seemed to work well. They are a little under half an inch thick with a rounded edge (well somewhere between round and sharp edge) all the way around. The two on the left I use for vertical pieces. I enjoy having one curved surface for convex surfaces, and a square edge for lifting all the clay off of the wheel head.
The next two ribs are for making bowls and plates, respectively. I enjoy having the hole in the middle of the ribs. It allows you to get a firm, comfortable grip on the rib. These two are modeled after Will and Douglass's ribs, just a little thinner and with the addition of the hole for grasping.
I guess the other tools are self explanatory. From left to right: A piece of bamboo sanded down for wet trimming pots on the wheel head. A porcupine quill I got from Mark. I use one side for decorating, the other side as a needle tool. A trimming tool with a semi-circular cutting edge. Finally a good old fashion sponge. Oops I forgot to put in my wire tool. Oh well, you'll just have to imagine it: It's a twisted heavy gauge fishing line, tied between two large washers big enough to fit your fingers though (also good for hanging your wire while not in use).
Well that's it, your own virtual tour of my tool box. Hope you found something of interest in amongst it all.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Cool to see those ribs. I have a big thick bowl rib like you mention of W&D's. I traced their plate rib but have yet to make one. Maybe I should do that soon.