I love finding things to use for my clay projects in unexpected places. Once you get started looking at things beyond their intended use the world of possibilities really opens up before you.
Take a recent trip to Office Depot. I’m at Office Depot all the time for boxes and to ship out customer orders, but every once in awhile I roam the aisles. That’s really one of my all time favorite things to do – roam the aisles!
Let’s start off with those items that are readily available in all manner of shapes, colors and sizes at office supply stores – rulers. These are a life saver when working in clay, particularly hand built work, since they can help you size work correctly, ensure straight cuts and make replication super easy. I personally are partial to translucent rulers since I can see through to where I placing the ruler easily.
Office supply stores are great for beyond the basics rulers too like protractors for determining angle cuts, compasses for perfect circles and t-squares for easy right angle work. My absolute favorite is the flexible ruler pictured above on the far right. It’s bendy! Making it ideal to measure and mark distances on non-flat objects. Think about all of the time you spend eyeballing the center of a hump mold to place a foot – no more! I used to rely on string before I discovered bendy rulers. Fabric measuring tapes for sewing work great for this purpose too!
You can also find great options for creating durable templates to help replicate your projects at office supply stores as well. Manilla folders or craft paper are perfect because they are generally inexpensive, but much more durable than newspaper for long lasting template creation. One of the best options for templates makes regular appearances in art supply stores, but can sometimes be found at Office Depot (at least mine has it) as well – foam sheets. The foam is thick, hard to rip and stands up extremely well to moisture. This is important if, like me, you use your favorite templates over and over in production.
Foam sheets also make great stencils since with their thickness they can leave a mark if rolled into the clay which leads us to another great find … hard plastic stencils!
While certainly office supply stores don’t match the stencil selection of art supply stores, the ones they do have are extremely useful. Do you know how hard it is to find good options for transferring text to your pots?!
Stencils are also great to use in conjunction with stickers!! Office supply stores have the absolute best selection of stickers, ahem, you might know they as labels. No there typically aren’t any dinosaurs available, but they sell all manner of basic shapes and sizes so you can create your very own designs. Stickers are a great tool to use when glazing your pots as demonstrated here.
In addition to circles and squares, most supply stores will have a great selection of letter and number stickers for business owners to use in making signs. Be sure to check out the sign section when there.
Last, office supply stores also have one of my absolute favorite things to purchase – very, very cheap plastic paint brushes. I know so many folks love to use fancy brushes for their work, but I find the cheap plastic ones great. Their bristles hold and retain their shape for getting into tight spaces when glazing. Also, I never feel bad about throwing away a cheap brush if it gets ruined. Although between you and me, my cheap brushes tend to hold up better than the more expensive ones!
We won’t even get into all of the things found at office supply stores that would make absolutely great textures – I leave those for you to discover on your own!