This post was made by Linda Illumanardi. Check out her stuff on Instagram. If you’re interested in posting on our blog, shoot us an email!

There are so many tools on the market for which to carve and texture clay that it's sometimes difficult to choose specific ones that are right for your purposes. In this article, I will show you specific tools that I love and the projects they were used for.

Kemper Tools, especially the stiff texture brushes, Pro Line trimming tools and sgrafitto tools, are my "go-tos." I have worn through a few sets because I often scrape back layers of glaze on bisqueware. I apply the glaze in the order that I need, transfer my drawing on the top dried coat, and begin scraping.

I have taken a lot of risks with different underglazes and a variety of glazes from Duncan, Laguna, Mayco, Spectrum, and Amaco, and have found these tools add texture with a light touch. They are also great for scoring greenware. 

Besides Kemper, Chinese Clay Art makes fantastic tools that are invaluable for soft clay.  They should be kept right at the work table or wheel for scoring a quick, non-invasive line, or to design a pattern from a variety of textures.

My son-in-law loves these texture tools for scoring and deepening his lines while the clay is still soft.

I myself like sinking these shapers into wet clay while the piece is still on the wheel. The patterns and lines are never-ending. And yes, I can get carried away as you can see by the scratch tool texture in the center area.

Another group of tools that are rarely mentioned are leather engraving tools. I was once interested in reproducing old western saddle patterns on my pots, and invested in a couple of these tools that are quite versatile.  It's important to throw or build the walls thickly, and it helps if the opening is wide enough for your hand to support the impression from the inside while pressing it into the leather hard clay.


If you stop into a retailer who sells these tools, there is often a clever craftsman who will demonstrate a multitude of patterns for you. It's a handy dandy tool, and broadens your repertoire of skills For similar results, try stamp tools.

I will close for now, but hope that these ideas inspire you in your quest to explore the exciting opportunities that clay offers us.

Please share your tool discoveries in the comments!

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