making bisque molds – 5.19.2022

In my small ceramics studio, I use a variety of homemade bisque molds to make some of my ceramic forms. Bisque (also referred to as biscuit) molds are clay forms I fire to about 1915 degrees, or cone 04. I wrote about how I use the bisque molds here. In this post, I’ll explain how I create the molds.

I’ve made clay molds in the past on a pottery wheel at a local community studio, but I don’t own a wheel, so now I make hand-built molds. I learned this method in an article from Pottery Making Illustrated magazine, written by Tom Jaszczack.

I use foam board insulation for the pattern. I set the foam piece with the hole atop 4 bricks.
I lay a fairly thick slab of clay over the hole, then gently and evenly tap the edges and sides of the foam so the clay in the center drops down. It’s easy to tear the edges of the clay when it starts to drop, so I keep my eye on that.
When the clay is at just the right dryness, the mold is turned upside down onto a board, then the foam is removed from the clay.
The edge is trimmed to a fairly even width.
Further edge refinement with a surform tool.
And final smoothing with a rubber rib tool.
The mold dries upside down.

Once the mold is completely dry, it’s fired in the kiln, and then it’s ready to use over and over again to make other forms. And I just may make a new piece using this mold today… Bon ceramique!

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