Jeff Zamek Ceramics Consulting Services

Pottery tools have been around since the first potter picked up clay and decided a smooth rock or wooden twig would be a useful implement in the forming or finishing process. One tool’s function has remained largely unchanged since it was first used to form a pot. The potter’s rib, when brought against the moist clay, can impart its straight or curved profile and transform the pliable clay. Any potter would recognize rib tools brought up from an archeological dig.

Today, wood, plastic, rubber and metal ribs of various shapes and sizes are easily available and can be purchased at ceramics supply stores or online. Many potters make their own from CD’s, plastic rulers, tin cans, or whatever material can be cut and shaped to the desired pattern. While ribs perform an important function in the shaping of clay surfaces they have not been designed for the most complex tool, the potter’s hand.

With all the attention focused on the working edge of the rib little thought has been given to the comfort of the potter holding the tool. Recently a series of wooden ribs has been developed which uses the same common edge shapes but is designed with a thicker internal section.  The carefully designed three-dimensional ribs allow the potter increased flexibility and control when using the tools.      

The wooden ergonomic ribs are designed to fit the hand allowing for precise directed pressure to be transferred to the shaping edge of the tool. The weight and balance of the tools enable the potter to easily manipulate clay surfaces during hand building or wheel throwing operations. The many uses for each rib are determined by the potter’s imagination.