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Published Jan 26, 2021

pottery tools

Have an old, misshapen umbrella lying around that you have been meaning to fix? How about turning it into custom-made tools for carving ceramics instead? In this excerpt from the January 2021 issue of Ceramics Monthly Celina Clavijo Kashu shows you how! —Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.


Have an old, misshapen umbrella lying around that you have been meaning to fix? How about turning it into custom-made tools for carving instead?

When the rainy season is over, you may have surplus umbrellas to keep for next year and possibly one that tore apart due to a strong wind. Instead of trashing it, save the broken umbrella to upcycle its frame into useful tools.

1 The interior structure of an umbrella is made of a variety of metal components. The pieces and rods possess a variety of strengths: some are thin and malleable, others are sturdy and comparatively thick. 2 Flatten the ends of the metal umbrella pieces with a hammer and draw the desired tool shape in marker. Gather narrow lengths of bamboo or old liner brushes to make handles for shorter metal parts. 3 Assemble the tools as shown in the diagram, inserting shorter, shaped metal rods into the bamboo handles. Secure with adhesive or electrical tape. 4 Here are a number of carving tools made from recycled umbrella stretchers that have been shaped and put to use.

For longer lengths of the aluminum rod shaped into tools, use electrical tape to cover the handle end of the metal, wrapping it around in a spiral fashion. Build two or three layers of tape or until you find that it does not hurt your hands to hold the tool and it can be used with ease. If you are reusing old bamboo liner brushes, insert the end of the shaped aluminum tip into one end of the handle until it is firmly fixed. If it is loose, you can add E-6000 adhesive to secure it in place.

Moisture and humidity may split the bamboo handle. If that happens, firmly wrap the split area with electrical tape. Tip: If you find that liner brushes or other tools are too thin when handling them, use the tape to make the grip area thick enough for you to feel comfortable.

the author Celina Clavijo Kashu studied ceramics at the Kyoto, Kutani, and Shigaraki Ceramic Research Institutes in Japan, as well as in Jingdezhen, China. She has published two books on ceramics.