Basic Ceramic Sculpture Tools Tutorial

ceramic scupture tools

On this page, I look at four basic ceramic sculpture tools and talk through their applications.

Each clay sculptor ends up with their own tools and methods.  There is no right or wrong, just what works.

The tools and techniques shown on this page work for me, and took me a while to work out.

When I was starting out and looking at basic tools and their uses, I could have done with someone explaining what tools to use to begin with.

I narrow it down to four essential tools - specifically for ceramic sculpture/clay modeling.  Each tool has two heads, so actually, that's 8 essential clay tools.

The layout of this page is simple.

If you scroll down, you will see I explain all four ceramic sculpture tools one by one.

Just bookmark this page and refer to it as you need to.


Clay Sculpture Tools Tutorial Starts Here

Basic Applicator Tool

Name: Basic Applicator Tool

Size: 7.25 inches

Materials: Hardwood.


A basic applicator and will be your most used tool in the early stages of a sculpt.

The plain end has several uses: as an applicator in (especially good in difficult corners, also as a cutter and groover and for accurate shaping.

The pointed end cuts and contours while roughing out.

Usage frequency:  both ends very handy

Small Cutter

Name: Small Cutter

Size: 5.5 inches

Materials: Stainless steel.


This clay modeling tool is for shaping and scraping fine detail especially delicate facial detail and flesh contours.

Usage frequency: round end: often, square end: occasionally crucial.

Large Ribbon Cutter

Name:Large Ribbon Cutter

Size: 7 inches

Materials: Stainless steel.


There are many shapes and sizes of ribbon tool around ('ribbon' meaning flat cutting edge - this is NOT a wire tool). The only two ends I have ever used for figure modeling are these two - so I combined them into one tool - one angled, one curved. They take away medium sized slices of clay.

Usage frequency: both ends very handy

Scraper Tool

Name: Scraper Tool

Size: 7 inches

Materials: Hardwood.


The pointed end is an essential potter's needle - for cutting, trimming, shaping and making small indents. The scraper end of this clay modeling tool is a clay remover and shaper smoother. The serrated edges give a unique ability to make smooth contours and planes that a non-serrated edge could not. Can be used on concave planes, unlike the basic tool above.

Usage frequency: Scraper end - quite often. The pointed end is a sharpened point ideal for squaring off and cutting, especially on the edges of a sculpt.


end of basic ceramic sculpture tools tutorial


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