Surface Texture Tools Use and Tricks - Potter's Wheel
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The Tools - Surface Texture
The information below will illustrate (pictures and video clips) how to quickly create beautiful and unique texture on your pots using some basic tools, simple techniques and slip. Have fun!

Gear on an 1/2" plumbing pipe

Pie crust cutter

Several gears.
Can be purchased ($40)

Wooden Tool

Fluting tool: Claytools.com
bernzomatic torch
Torch-bernzomatic-TS4000
slip surface texture
Slip - no grog and sieved
How to make slip

Spring flat metal.
Can be purchased ($25)
mud tool silicone rib - great for burnishing
Mudtool red ribs
Where to purchase ribs
Rob texture on clay
Rope segment
Chatter Pot on the Wheel - Tall and Flat Forms
A chatter texture can be created with any springy metal. The chatter design is determined by, the speed of the wheel, the pressure of the metal on the clay, the softness or hardness of the clay, and the distance between the end of the metal plate and where it is held. Once the metal starts to chatter, hold that position until the chatter sound gets really loud. When done, move the metal away from the clay very quickly and then turn the wheel off to prevent smearing of the texture. See video link 1 (tall forms chatter) and video link 2 (flat forms chatter).
Chatter tool
Flat metal - we sell it, $25

Spring flat metal 2

Chatter Texture


Chatter texture close up


Chatter Tall Form Video 1
Organic pot texture
Low frequency chatter

Higher frequency chatter

Higher frequency chatter

Low frequency chatter

Rough texture

Dry pot to desired level

Flat form texture

Flat form texture - glazed

Flat form texture - glazed

Chatter Flat Form Video 2
Pottery classes and workshops - pictures and video clips
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Using Gears or Roulette Tall and Flat Forms
Roulette is a technique used to texture the pot while it is turning. You apply the gear (see a few options below) to the clay while the pot is turning which turns the gear. Typically, the texture is created when the pot's walls are vertical and a bit thicker. When done with the texture, the pots shape can be changes to create a nonlinear potters. See video link

Gear Texture top view

Gear Texture side view

Light pressure gear texture

Flat form gear texture.

Gear - flat form Video 1

Gear - Tall form Video 2

Use of Slip for Surface Texture
Using slip can be really rewarding if used properly. The slip should not have any grog in it, if made from different clay, test for compatibility with your clay (e.g., cracking) and it thickness should similar to yogurt where the shape can stay and hold the design achieved. It can be applied and formed by hand or with tools such as Mudtool red rib or a brush. Make sure the pot is hardens a bit (wait a few hours or dry with a heater / torch. If clay is too wet, the moister from the slip will weaken the pot and it will collapse. If the pot is too dry, the slip will not bond to the pot properly and will crack or peel off. The fun part about it is that if you do not like the design, you can try several times until you achieve the liked results. Eventually, the moisture from the slip will absorb in the clay and it be less applicable. Remember that whatever texture you achieve, it will shrink about 50% when the slip and the pot dry. In addition to having our students make beautiful pots using slip, children love to play with it and can easily achieve aesthetically pleasing results while having a lot of fun with the slimy texture of the slip. How to make slip

Apply slip by hand
silicone rib - working with slip on vase
Slip design with Mudtool

Torch a bit to freeze design

Kid love it
Kids love playing with slip
and can do it for hours

Mix really well


Apply slip with brush

silicone rib - working on a platter
Mud tool to create design


Slip design when glazed


Kids - street fair


Dry pot to desired results

A different pattern

A different pattern

Pattern close up

Pattern when glazed

Designed with rib

Designed with rib

Designed with rib

Designed with rib

Designed with brush

Using tape to apply slip
Slip on large platter

Slip on mug glaze affect

How to make slip

How to throw a large platter with Surface texture

Wheel Tutorials
Handbuilding Tutorials
Use of Other Surface Texture Tools

Curving can be a lot of fun and there are some sample below.
A) With a small piece of rope, one can create variety of textures pushing the rope against the clay as while moving it around.
B) Fluting: This stainless steel fluting tool makes it easy to carve pots with beautiful designs and exacting control. The unique design includes panels on the side of the cutting loop that act as “runners” (like on a sled) to maintain a consistent depth as you cut. This makes for a fluid stroke. Each tool has two fluting designs: rounded and pointed.
C) Various stamps and texture mats or texture molds can be purchased or made to order.


A. Rope segment

B. Fluting tool: Claytools.com
custom made stamps for pottery
C. Custom made stamps

texture mold - slump and hump and stamps
C. Slab mat texture supply

texture mold - slump and hump and stamps
D. Texture mold supplier


A. Rope texture results

B. Fluting sample pattern

C. Stamped clay example

D. Hand building project using slab mats - clay quilt


D. Vase - Texture mold

Your input is greatly appreciated and will help in creating improved pottery tips.

Thank you, Patty and Morty

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Phone: 203-323-2222
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