Stores are filled with a plethora of every tool imaginable and it can be overwhelming, sometimes I’m enticed touching the racks of perfectly clean tools still wrapped in plastic and I think, “That would be a nice texture.” or “That tool would make that one thing so much easier.” but the truth for me is that my tool needs are simple. That said, I fully admit that I have a studio filled with hand tools of every shape and size that my students use, but for making my own work, I have one small jar of tools and rarely do I need anything else.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | tools

From left to right, here’s my main arsenal of tools for nearly everything that comes out of my studio. Two loop tools with various shapes and sizes for carving and scraping, a sharpie marker that I use for the shape the back of it makes scraped in clay more than anything to do with its writing abilities. The garage sale fork is my main scoring tool, a rubber tipped blending tool for small areas and the back end of it is used too. A large wooden skewer for poking, blending, reaching into places my hands can’t fit and for stirring epoxy glue together. The wooden paddle is one of my favorite shaping tools and when I thought I lost it once, I was really disappointed, luckily it showed up again.

The sharp tool section are the most used of all my tools, a double ended carving tool, a pin tool and two well used x-acto knives. Every hole in every piece is cut with an x-acto knife and the clay edges carved off with them which shows in the way the blade has worn away in a curve. The handles had to be padded and wrapped because of so much use and I have a permanent callus on my right middle finger because of these tools. The last two tools, my metal scraper and large sea sponge are usually used as the first and last mark making tools on my clay.

What are your tools of the trade?

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