5 Low-Cost Tools for a Remote Learning Ceramics Toolkit

Ceramics Toolkit

Working remotely from home for the past year has taught a lot of artists (and especially teachers) to be resourceful! It’s fun to come up with creative ways to solve clay problems! In today’s post, an excerpt from the April 2021 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Caroline Felix shares five inexpensive tools that she gives students to work with clay at home. –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.


As a high school ceramics teacher, remote learning has presented many challenges. Among them has been getting affordable and practical supplies for students to use at home on clay lessons. This DIY tool kit has done the trick for a cost of less than $1.65 per student:

  1. A 12×18-inch piece of black construction paper for students to use as a backdrop when taking photos of their work. (Pack of 50 sheets for $4.19)
  2. Large paperclips can double as a pin tool on one side and a loop tool on the other; just unbend one end for the pin tool, and keep a loop on the other side for carving. Taping the altered paperclip to the end of a pencil can help make it easier to use. (10 packs of 100 paperclips for $7.87)
  3. A ½×12-inch dowel rod can be used as a rolling pin for slab projects and to practice the broomstick method. (Pack of 50 for $14)
  4. Serrated plastic knives can replace both a wooden knife tool and also a serrated rib. (Pack of 50 for $5)
  5. Two 1-inch washers and 7-pound fishing line make an effective wire tool. Cut the fishing line in lengths of about 15 inches and tie a washer to each end to make sturdy handles. (250 yards of fishing line for $2; pack of 100 washers for $13.15)

1 Students were instructed to take photographs of their work using a piece of black construction paper as a backdrop and natural light from a window.

2 Tools left to right: dowel rolling pin, egg-crate foam sponge, gift card (whole and cut into custom shapes).

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