Protecting your Kiln and Kiln Shelves is something EVERY POTTER MUST LEARN TO DO.
After all, you just made a Big Investment the last thing you want to happen is to have a Glaze Accident.
Kiln Cookies will be your first line of defense.
Follow along as I show you my Easy 6 Step Process for Making Kiln Cookies that will you last a long time.
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The Supplies that you will need to make kiln cookies include:
- Aurora Pottery – Black Mountain Clay
- Yardsticks – Two
- C-Clamps – Two
- A Rolling Pin
- Corn Starch
- Cookie Cutters – One Set
Step #1: Choosing and Wedging your Clay
When you go to make kiln cookies, the Clay you choose will determine how long it lasts. We’d recommend a high-fire clay, like Cone 10 because it can best serve its purpose. Stoneware tends to do better than other clay bodies because stoneware is a more durable clay making your cookies last longer.
You will also want a clay with grog. Grog helps to accelerate drying and aids in the shrinkage rate and longevity of your kiln cookies. At the same time, it helps to prevent cracking. Shrinkage rate matters because you don’t want to try to make cookies a larger size and come away with a smaller size than you intended.
Before you make kiln cookies, first, you need to Wedge the Clay. You will usually wedge 2 to 4 pounds at a time because it’s more manageable. Wedging eliminates the bubbles in the clay and creates an even consistency throughout your clay. This is an important step you don’t want to skip because you need your cookies to have a nice even surface.
Step #2: Rolling out Your Clay
You will pull out two Yardsticks to measure the thickness of your kiln cookies. Yardsticks are a quarter of an inch thick which is best for the thickness of your cookies. On the other hand, too thin of clay, and the cookies won’t last as long.
During the process, you place the two yardsticks on both sides parallel to each other. You will use the Rolling Pin to flatten the clay to the right thickness.
Use two C-clamps to hold the rulers in place while you are rolling out the clay.
Take some Cornstarch and lightly sprinkle it on your wedging board, clay, and rolling pin. This ensures that the clay doesn’t stick to your work surface and rolling pin. Beware of using too much cornstarch.
When you roll out the clay, you want to ensure consistent evenness throughout the clay because you want your pottery on an even surface.
Step #3: Cut out the Clay
Next, you will take your Cookie Cutters with a little cornstarch on them. The cornstarch prevents the clay from sticking to the cookie cutters.
Press the cutter down on the clay, you will remove a perfectly circular shape from the clay.
Important to note here, you will cut different sizes of kiln cookies for the varied sizes of your ceramics.
Step #4: Place the Cookies on a Ware Board with Newspaper
When we say ware board, we mean a piece of drywall or a piece of wood. The drywall cuts easier than the wood. While you don’t necessarily need a specific size, one recommended size is 12 inches by 16 inches. I have a video on Making Ware Boards and all their uses.
After you have your ware board, you will put a piece of newspaper on it. Put the cookies down on the newspaper to let them dry out. Why do we use the newspaper on top of the ware board? The newspaper acts as a holder for the clay and helps to remove the moisture.
Once you place the cookies on the ware board, rewedge the remaining clay that you cut the cookies out of and repeat steps 1 through 4. Just like real cookies, you want to make them in batches.
Step #5: Stack the Cookies on the Ware Boards and Let Them Dry
You arrived at the point where you filled up the ware board with clay cookies. Once filled up, add a second newspaper over the top of the cookies and grab a second ware board. Continue to add cookies to the next ware board as a second layer on top of the first one. Like with the first one, you want to lay down the newspaper before you add the second layer of kiln cookies.
At this point, you will repeat the same process as you did with the first layer of cookies. Keep stacking layers of cookies until you have run out of clay. Stacking your cookies like this keeps them from warping as they dry.
You will check every few days to see if the clay dried enough to put it in the kiln. The clay should be bone dry when you put it in the kiln.
You will know the clay is dry because it will turn a lighter shade of color from its previous one. Also, the clay will feel lighter and no longer be cool to the touch. Climate plays a big role in the time it will take your Clay to Dry because more humid climates take longer for the moisture to evaporate. You may need an extra week or two. In the desert, clay can dry in a week, and in some cases, it dries in less than a week.
Step #6: Bisque Fire teh clay to Cone 04 and Use
Once the clay dries, stack them together, and bisque fire them. You can fire them in the Kiln stacked together. When we say a bisque fire, we mean that you fire it once, so the clay shrinks and no chemically bonded water remains in the clay.
Ready to Go!
At this stage, you have cookies ready for use, and they will Protect your Kiln Shelves. You can use them many times over. Before you begin, It’s best to use a higher firing clay so your cookies will last longer. Eventually, your kiln cookies will wear out, but you can expect them to last anywhere from 20 to 30 glaze cycles depending on the temperature you fire to. High-fire clays may last longer than that.