Rib and scraper tools are essential when it comes to pottery and other ceramic work, aiding in the shaping and smoothing of clay. Though most often used when throwing pieces on a wheel, ribs can also be used in other clay practices. Ribs come in a range of materials including wood, metal, and soft rubber or other polymers. Rubber tools are often best for removing fingerprints and imperfections when finishing pieces on the wheel, though they can also be used for shaping or burnishing. With the introduction of tools made of other polymers like silicone, there are more options than ever for soft, resilient tools for clay. Review our picks of the best rubber rib tools for ceramics, all with the ARTnews stamp of approval.
1. Xiem Tools Ultra-Soft Silicone Rib
For absolutely flawless surfaces on your ceramics, try this soft green silicone rib from Xiem Tools. The flexibility allows for a gentle touch that smooths without disturbing shape or details; it’s also a great choice for burnishing. The elongated kidney shape of the rib features one thin angle tip and one wider-angle tip for added versatility. Silicone ribs are not only highly flexible, they are strong: this one resists heat, stains, and cracks. At just a quarter inch thick, it can be used for detail work despite its large size.
Xiem Tools Ultra-Soft Silicone Rib
2. Mudtools Polymer Rib
Mudtools were created by ceramicist Michael Sherrill, and the brand is known for innovation in the world of ceramic tools. While this rib looks much like other kidney-shaped ribs—and is in many ways—it is made from a proprietary polymer that is slightly sturdier than similar silicone options and more flexible than rubber options. This rib is one step above their softest polymer rib and offers plenty of versatility in the studio.
Mudtools Polymer Rib
3. Impresa Soft Rib
This pack comes with two ribs that are identical in shape and size. Made of silicone, they are ultrasoft and have a kidney shape, which means they can handle many different angles and curves. Each rib has a hole in the center for a comfortable grip and less slippage while in use. The malleable silicone creates a soft finish and rids your final project of surface imperfections.
Impresa Soft Rib
4. Longdex Ribs
If you’re looking for a rubber rib that feels almost as though it’s a part of you, you might want to try this set. With a slightly rounded kidney silhouette, these three ribs fit just so in the curve of your hand, which makes it one of the easiest tools to maneuver when working with clay. Flexible yet firm, these ribs can set a novice ceramicist well on the way of outfitting their studio at a reasonable price.
5. Kemper Finish Rubbers
This rubber rib is excellent when it comes to small areas and tight spaces. Measuring 3.125 inches, it can access those hard-to-reach spaces without harming the integrity of your piece. It has a traditional kidney shape, the most popular shape of ceramics rib. As such, it can handle many curves and finishes. It also is so comfortable to hold that it practically feels like an extension of your own hand.
Kemper Finish Rubbers