Rib Ideas

~MKM Rib Ideas~

The Importance of Ribs:

Ribs are to clay what brushes are to paint — they move the medium. Only more. They also achieve form, control surface, compress and stabilize clay, and allow for reproducibility. Outside of your hands, they are the most powerful tool that the clay artist, and especially the potter, has available to them (with the exception of the wheel for those who throw).

Production potters have specific ribs for specific forms that they produce in quantity. However, MKM ribs are designed for more general use — plate forms, cylinders and forms derived from cylinders such as jars and vases, bowl forms, teapots, and other thrown, coiled, or slap built forms.

There is no limit to the functionality of the rib. Nonetheless, in your own repertoire of forms you will find that you use just one or two ribs per form. Plates are more easily achieved with a plate rib; large bowls use large bowl ribs for the inside, and perhaps a separate rib for the outside; large bellied forms such as jars, vases, and bottles need a cylinder rib, and then an interior rib for pushing out the walls, with a flexible rib being used on the outside.

If you are new to ribs, welcome to a whole new world of control, power, and ease of clay movement.


CocoRibs  were intended for handbuilding — for pushing out walls and scraping and smoothing curved surfaces. The idea for developing a series of ribs made from coconuts came from reading an article about Magdalene Odundo. And they do work incredibly well for handbuilding. However, when I tried them out for throwing, I found that they worked equally well with this technique. Their natural curves made them easy to hold and easy to use. The edge was hard, but could easily be sanded smooth, and coconut shells are naturally durable in water. If you wish to remove throwing lines, then use a CocoRib on the exterior. I do a lot of brushwork on my pottery, so I am in the habit of smoothing the exterior of some of my pottery.

CocoRib # C3

being used on the interior of a small bowl.

One way to make a bowl:
1. Bring the wall of the bowl up in an outward flowing curve similar to the bowl in the previous picture.
2. Bring the wall to the desired height of the bowl, and the rim out to the desire, or almost desired, width of the bowl.
3. (Optional) Use a curved rib or CocoRib to smooth the exterior of the bowl, and to remove the slip.
4. Use a rib to push out the wall of the bowl, and to stretch the wall of the bowl into its final configuration. This allows the rib to set a beautiful surface on the interior of the bowl.
5. Alter as necessary. Or not.


Wood Ribs


MKM Wood Rib W21

MKM Wood Rib W21 being used to smooth and control the wall of the inside bowl section of a flanged plate.

This rib will accommodate a very large flange, but if the flange gets even larger, for instance 12 inches or more, then ribs W22 or W23 have long straight edges suitable for this job.



MKM Wood Rib W22

MKM Wood Rib W22 being used to put dents, or other long linear marks, in a pot.

The radius rib, being used to set the radius for a flat-bottomed straight walled small bowl.



MKM Wood Rib W5

The W5 Radius rib has 4 different corner radius’ with slightly curved edges between the corners that allow the user to compress the bottom of a bowl with the same rib.