This Pro Ceramicist Shares Her Must-Have Item for Beautiful Pottery

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Giffin Grip pottery wheel tools of the trade.

Photo: Amazon / Illustration: The Spruce

The world of home decor is vast, and we’re constantly amazed by the designers, creators, and creatives who cross our paths. In an effort to learn more about the innovative eyes behind the scenes, we’ve launched a series that explores the sanity-saving tools, products, and services that keep our favorite designers and decorators focused on the job at hand. Welcome to Tools of the Trade.

We’re longtime fans of Erin Hupp’s beautiful namesake ceramic line. With a focus on creating pieces that are inspired by their intended space, it’s easy to see why Hupp’s tableware pieces are particularly coveted by restaurants_which she calls a "live gallery" for her work.

We turned to the potter to find out what she using to create such stunning pieces, and how even at-home hobbyists can benefit from her must-have accessory: the Giffin Grip.

What item made your work life easier this week/month/lately?

An absolutely essential tool for me is the Giffin Grip. The Giffin Grip is a round disc that fits onto the top of my pottery wheel. It grips my art into place upside down so I can trim and finish the bottom. 

Giffin Grip Model 10 Sculpting Wheel

Without the Giffin Grip, I have to complete two steps. First, I center my piece on the potter’s wheel—"centering” means placing my art upside down on the wheel head, adjusting until it sits exactly in the middle of the wheel and turns with minimal wobble. Second, I use little pieces of clay to secure my art onto the potter's wheel. Sometimes, these little pieces of clay pop off as the wheel spins, and centrifugal force catapults art into the air—a heartbreaking casualty.

Why is this item so great?

The Giffin Grip securely holds my piece onto the potter’s wheel. It is important for beginners to understand how to center and use clay to secure a piece; however, once you understand the mechanics, I highly recommend switching to the Giffin Grip for ease and speed. 

Where/how do you use this item most?

I use it weekly in my studio. My art practice begins with me “throwing” a piece on my pottery wheel. (I don’t literally throw my pottery into the air–we call it “throwing” from the Old English word “thrawan” which means to twist or turn). After my piece dries, I turn it upside down and secure it with the Giffin Grip to finish the bottom.  

Pottery wheel in motion.

Courtesy of Erin Hupp

Trimming a pottery plate.

Courtesy of Erin Hupp

Trimming a pottery plate continued.

Courtesy of Erin Hupp

How did you discover this item?

The Giffin Grip has been on the market for decades. It was created in the late '70s by a potter who invented the tool for his own art practice, and the company has remained a family-run business ever since.

I first discovered the Giffin Grip when I worked at a production pottery studio at the beginning of my clay practice in 1999. I noticed other production potters using the Giffin Grip to quicken the trimming process. However, I did not invest in one until I made the creative leap five years ago when I left my legal job to start my art business. I’m thankful that I have it. 

Will you use this item in the future?

Absolutely. The new Giffin Grip Mini is already on my birthday wish list. The mini is lower profile, locks the piece into place, and allows for a neater trimming process. 

How has this item made your job easier?

It reduces loss and speeds up the trimming process.

How might someone not in your line of work benefit from this item? 

The Giffin Grip is a fairly ceramic-specific tool, but it is incredibly useful. I even use it to glaze (paint) my pieces.

What, if anything, would you change about this item?

I have the original model, so I often wish that it would lock into place and be less cumbersome. I suspect both of these issues are fixed with the new Giffin Grip Mini. 

Are there any care/use tips someone considering this item should know about?

I like to keep my Giffin Grip clean and free from dust or clay that could impede it from turning. That is about it!