It’s not the first time I have thought about this - nor the first time I have heard someone say “This is just like at home when I am making biscuits!” It’s true. We even use some of the same tools! But don’t let that fool you - both the intricacies of clay and baking are unique to their own.
There has been many times when I have been making biscuits and I have rolled out the dough and have needed to pinch off a crumb and attach it to another area so the cookie cutter can cut an entire shape, or the pie shell won’t have a hole in it. You just can do that with clay. But I often use cookie cutters in the studio to make shapes and form clay - they are useful for a lot of purposes. I use the same size cookie cutter to cut out the hole in my oil burner. Best $1.50 I ever spent!
Often when I am teaching students how to wedge clay, it can be helpful to use the kneading dough analogy - with one exception: when you are kneading bread, you are folding air into the dough; and when you are wedging clay, you are pushing air out of the clay.
I also talk about how ceramics are fired in a kiln and compare that to a regular, household oven. A household oven can reach temperatures of 250 degrees Celsius, where as a final glaze fire of stoneware clay needs to be at least 1280 degrees Celsius. Watching the students faces (especially the kids) when I make this comparison is particularly fun.
So it’s no surprise to me that when students who have an affinity for baking make this connection that they instantly have more confidence with clay, it’s really nice to see. Building confidence and learning what is possible with your chosen medium is what it’s all about as a student, either baking or with clay. And while I can say I have definitely given more of my time to learning about clay, my capabilities with baking are improving all the time.
I made a little video about making bread as it’s become another passion of mine since beginning of lockdown. Perfecting my process and learning about the tools, ingredients and oven took time. But like ceramics, I didn’t quit until I was happy with the end result. Check out my gigantic loaf of bread I made recently.