The topic of sustainability and the impact we have on our wonderful planet is an important one. In the area of ceramics and working with clay, there are many environmentally and ecologically focused practices and processes already established and accessible to creatives and makers. There is an increasing amount of information regarding circular economies and closed loop business, which suggests there is more I can do. I set myself a goal of understanding how a closed loop studio may operate in a small business setting, and in conjunction with all the good stuff out there already, I have managed to make some positive changes in my studio practice.
Clay and other materials
Locally sourced clay to minimise the impact on global transport and logistics.
Reusing and recycling clay, materials and water.
Clay traps and rinse buckets to maximise water usage and ensure no waste ends up in our water ways.
Electric Kiln and Firing
Mid-range firing up to 1200°C. Firing to mid-range temperatures as opposed to high fire range reduces firing time by 6-8 hours. I also single fire, where possible, which further reduces time and energy costs.
Quality standards for all work that is placed in the kiln, to only put your best work in the kiln for firing and reduce the risk of fired ceramic waste.
Learn from each firing, share the mistakes and mishaps with those who can advise, so I can improve my firing results increase my success rate.
Maximising kiln capacity each firing.
There are lots of ways to reuse and repurpose broken or not quite right fired bits and pieces. Sharing ideas from the ceramic’s community, one can repair via Kintsugi, repurpose for mosaics, liven up your garden with interesting objects creating places and spaces for little creatures, or perhaps selling as seconds.
For the remaining ceramic waste, recycling centres are the best option where this waste can be used for drainage materials and road base and not end up in landfill.
Reusing bubble wrap and other packaging materials received from my suppliers, friends, and my own purchases.
Using and reusing non-coated carboard boxes that can be reused and recycled.
In conjunction with, or when reusable materials run out, I use eco-friendly packaging materials.
This is a work in progress for me, surfing the net I found two areas worth exploring, and my next area to work on.
Plaster, also known as gypsum, is great for the garden. Ceramic Art Network blog in the US note that moulds can be busted up and thrown in the compost. The plaster breaks down as compost does over a few months and integrates into the garden soil. Locally, there is company named Regyp (refer http://www.regyp.com.au) that recycles plaster and has some good information about the benefits of recycling what they term as “white gold”.
Recycling plaster. This can be easily done at home and there is good internet content, just search for “recycling plaster moulds”. Plaster can be dehydrated, crushed up and reused several times when returned to its powdered form.