assorted pottery tools

The Power of Pottery Ribs: 4 Must-Haves


Are you a wheel-thrower looking to refine your craft, and create beautiful, consistent forms? Enter: pottery ribs. Mastering the art of using a pottery rib can dramatically take your art to the next level. In this guide, we delve into the nuances of pottery ribs, and chat about how they can enhance the form, texture, and overall quality of your pottery creations. Whether you’re a beginner just starting to spin the wheel or a seasoned potter looking to refine your technique, understanding and embracing the power of the pottery rib is a crucial step in your artistic journey. Let’s uncover the secrets behind these essential tools and discover how they can help shape your pottery dreams into reality!

What are Pottery Ribs?

Learning how to effectively use a pottery rib when throwing is when you REALLY get good. These are the tools that bring form and smoothness to your wheel creations. Pottery ribs can be made from materials like wood, metal, or silicone, and all are used by potters to shape, smooth, and refine their pieces. They’re like an extension of the potter’s hand, offering more control and precision. Whether it’s creating a cool bubble shape on a vase or achieving that perfectly smooth surface on a bowl, pottery ribs are for sculptors who love to play with form and finesse!

Why Do Potters Use Ribs?

You might wonder why pottery ribs stir up excitement among potters. Here’s why they’re a staple in any pottery studio:

Creating Cool Shapes: Potters can stretch and form their clay against a profile rib, creating a form that matches the ribs curves. They’re one way to achieve captivating forms. 

Precision: Profile ribs also allow potters to shape their work with an unmatched level of control—if you’re creating a set that you want to be IDENTICAL, profile ribs are a great way to ensure your set is made with perfection. 

Smooth as Silk: Achieving a flawless surface on your pottery can be challenging. Ribs come to the rescue, smoothing out any imperfections, removing excess slip, and leaving behind a surface that’s pleasing both to the eye and touch.

Compressing Clay: On a super practical level, ribs can be used to compress the clay, ensuring that they don’t warp or crack in the kiln.

How Do I Use Ribs?

Check out this tutorial by Little Street Pottery, showcasing how and when to use rubber, wood, and metal ribs. You’ll see all 3 of these tools in action, and get a better sense of how to use them for your work! 

To see how you can make funky shapes with ribs, check out this other tutorial by Little Street Pottery. Ann shows you how to throw and apply the rib to create a set of 4 mugs!

Our Top Picks for Ribs

COMIART Clay Sculpture Pottery Molding Ceramics Sharp Steel Cutter Tools

In my professional pottery opinion, metal ribs give the smoothest finish. This set by COMIART gives you 10 different shapes and sizes, catering to all your sculpting needs. These steel cutter tools expertly scrape off excess clay and slip, leaving a flawlessly smooth surface in their wake. And, their flexible design allows them to conform to the curves of your piece with ease. However, a word to the wise: these tools are as sharp as they are effective, so handle with care! (I learned my lesson the hard way!)

Sherrill Mudtools Polymer Ribs for Pottery and Clay Artists

Mudtools ribs are the ELITE choice for ribs—they’re the ones that I find myself pulling out of my toolkits the most. This pack comes with 6 different polymer ribs, each ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand. They also vary in firmness—the harder ribs are perfect for scraping away excess material, while the more pliable ones can be easily bent to match the contours of your work. User-friendly and versatile, I’m a BIG fan of these.

DIY Ceramic Tools Art Tools Potters Rib for Pottery/Sculpting/Ceramic/Polymer Clay Carving

I view wooden ribs as the “classic” ribs—they’re sturdy and get the smoothing job done. They’re great for smoothing your piece, as well as creating subtle curves. One of my first instructors introduced us to the trick of placing these inside our pieces and gently pushing outward to create unique, funky shapes. This pack provides a few essential shapes to put the finishing touches on your earthenware.

7 Pieces Pottery Tools Pottery Foot Shaper Tools Pottery Trimming Tools Pottery Profile Rib Bundle

It’s time to get funky! This dynamic set of 7 offers an exciting range of possibilities. Each rib is double-sided (some even quadruple-sided!), featuring unique profiles to add a distinct touch to your work. From creating wavy textures and zig-zag patterns to sculpting voluminous pieces and fancy feet for pots, the creative potential is endless. This set is a must-have for potters who love to add a bit of fun and uniqueness to their creations.

Wrapping Up

Pottery ribs are more than just tools; they’re the secret behind the magic in pottery. Each type, from the razor-sharp precision of COMIART’s metal ribs to the comfortable, adaptable grip of Sherrill Mudtools’ polymer options, brings its own unique superpower to your craft. They’re the unsung heroes that can dramatically smooth surfaces or boldly transform shapes. For every potter aiming to take their work from good to extraordinary, these ribs are indispensable. They’re the key to unlocking the potential of clay, turning it into a masterpiece that captures your artistic vision.


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