About MKM Pottery Tools & Rick McKinney
Create Beauty in Clay!
MKM Pottery Tools, LLC was established in 2003 by Rick McKinney. The initial set of tools sold by MKM, such as the MKM Decorating Disk, the MKM Throwing Tools, and the various types of ribs, were tools that Rick had developed in his studio for his own personal use, and were not available for sale elsewhere. But it was the Decorating Disk (a sort of universal pottery template) that really launched the business. Rick thought it was a good idea, but didn’t have the ability to screenprint or work with acrylic sheets. So he had a bunch made up thinking he would sell what he didn’t need. Ten years later, Rick is still selling his Decorating Disk, and many other tools, as well.
From the beginning, MKM has specialized in bringing tools to the market that were not readily available to the potter. Sure, folks could buy a few different types of ribs, but not plate ribs, interior ribs, mini-ribs, or large bowl ribs. Yes, potters could make their own stamps, but it was quite a learning curve to make a good stamp. Furthermore, stamps work better when there is a bevel at the edge of the stamp so that the corners don’t crack and so the stamp releases well from clay, and this, too, is hard to hand carve.
Why MKM Stamps and Rollers work so well with clay
All MKM stamps, Rollers, HandRollers, Mini Rollers, etc, are carved at our own factory (they are not contracted out to other companies) by MKM employees who are very committed to quality. Quality in the original wood blank material, quality of design, and quality of carving, quality of wood finish, and, of course, quality service to all of our customers.
But what, exactly, does quality mean in the context of a simple wood tool. At the design level, it is a bit of a personal choice. A design that you like is a good one. But at the carving stage, the meaning is very specific: the edges of the debossed (cut-in) stamps all have bevels that compress the clay around the stamp and prevent cracks at the corners. Indeed, none of the lines and patterns cut into the stamps and rollers are laser cut (which always leaves a burned vertical wall, which then pulls up the edge of the design.) So when the MKM stamp pulls away from the clay, or the roller is rolled over the clay, the MKM tool releases perfectly without pulling up any edges. As well, our stamps and rollers are scaled to work well in the realm of functional pottery - these tools are designed and made specifically for the clay worker.
A Note from the Maker:
I hope you enjoy these tools. They are developed and tested in my studio, and among my studio mates and potter friends. Your comments as to their design and usefulness are more than welcome. MKM tools are intended to be innovative and of high quality. Please feel free to send me your comments by email (Contact MKM page) or via the postal service. If you have a great shot of a wonderful pot or sculpture made with our tools, send that along, too. Or post them on the MKM Facebook or #MKMPotteryTools Instagram Page. If you have been disappointed by some aspect of an MKM tool, please feel free to communicate that as well, and I will try to make amends. Tools are solutions, sometimes elegant, sometimes not, and they arise from makers of things, which all of us, as a potters, certainly are. They are not a repudiation of human instinct, they are human instinct. In their own way, tools are art, too. Art is as much about problem solving as any other thing in this world. It is my hope that these tools will help you solve problems and allow you to spend your time making beautiful pots, or other objects.