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Tool Talk Friday: Slab Mats

Hi, I am Mary Harding, and as you may know I have been writing for the Beads-of-Clay blog for quite awhile.  I am excited about the addition of new authors to the Beads-of-Clay Blog Team and our new look.  For the next few weeks, I will be focusing on clay tools that I think will be helpful to folks new to working with clay.

                                              slab mats      back side   not a smooth surface
When I first start to make a pendant, I take a small piece of clay, condition it a bit and then roll it out.  I use Slab Mats to roll the clay on.  They are  much better than cloth or canvas since they give a truly smooth surface.They leave no impression in the clay and pieces never stick to it. So when you are finished cutting out your pendant you can easily pick it up move it to your drying area.  For me that would be a  piece of plaster board. ( Helps keep the pendant from curling.)

                                                          smooth front of a slab mat

Slab mats are designed to be used in a slab roller  and come in large sheets.  I get mine from Bailey Ceramic Supply .  A 14x16 inch mat costs $6.00.  I cut the sheet into 4 pieces which are just the right size for rolling out small pieces of clay.  My local clay supplier doesn't carry the slab mats because they warp easily.  But when you are making beads and pendants lots of things about clay are different.  Since my sheets are small, I wipe them off with a damp cloth after I am finished and then put them under my work board so they will stay flat.  They have lasted a very long time this way.  It is important when you are using the mat not to let your needle tool or any other tool you are using cut into the surface of the mat since it will leave an impression.  I am careful not to bear down too hard with the needle tool and haven't had any problems.

Below I am showing a picture of my clay rolling set up.

                                                 clay rolled out on a slab mat  smooth as silk
I hope this post has been helpful to you as you get started out in the world of making beads and pendants from clay of the earth.


  1. Thanks Mary for the great tips! I'm going to get online and buy these tools! I needed some tips on making pendants since I mostly make beads...Great post!! Informative :O)

  2. Those foam sheets that are sold in the craft sections of stores, also work great and are super cheap. The same caution applies, tools will leave marks. I've never had one warp.

  3. I totally love my slab mat! I have used and abused it for years. Well worth the money. Great post Mary.
    I look forward to more tools and tips on Thursdays! :-)

  4. Thanks Mary Ann, Sharleen and Marla. I appreciate the comments and the support for this series of blog posts. And the new look on the blog is so fantastic. Really gives this blog zip and is very snazzy.

  5. Great post Mary!

    I have also heard of a great tip on slab mats. In the newspaper printing process, they use these rubberized cloth matts to print with. They have a metal strip on either end, and I believe they are waste once they are done being used for printing. An Art center I knew got them and cleaned off the ink, and used them as free non-stick slab mats. They were great! I think it is the same kind of material as these slab mats, just made for a different purpose.


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