An inevitable byproduct of ceramic art is excess clay going to waste. Trimmings, discarded pieces, water from reclaiming clay - it adds up quickly. To maintain an efficient, eco-friendly studio, you need to handle clay waste properly.
What are some responsible ways to manage leftover clay and reduce what gets discarded? Here are some tips:
Before binning any stray lump of clay, think creatively about how it could be reused:
With some imagination, virtually any clay leftover can find another purpose.
Worn-out clay that has dried past reuse can often be reconstituted by thoroughly re-wedging with some additional water. This recycles it into reusable clay again.
For clays with grog that don’t rewet well, consider grinding them into grog to mix into new blends or using them as kiln spacers.
Fired bisque fragments can even be ground to make your own glazes and slips. Nothing should go to waste.
Thoroughly dry hardened clay that cannot be reconditioned can potentially be composted or added to garden soil, as long as it contains no toxic ingredients. Avoid glazed pieces.
The small particulate size and minerals within provide nutrients. Just be wary of overloading soil with too much clay content.
The sludgy water left from reclaiming clay makes an excellent slip for adhesion. Simply pour off the slip water and let any solids settle before use.
Slips can also be dried into clay sheets for projects. Be sure to catch and reuse all that valuable clay rather than wash it down the drain!
Where recycling efforts fail, dispose of clay thoughtfully:
Ultimately, reducing unused clay in the first place is key. Some ideas:
With some creative problem-solving, you can give clay leftovers renewed life! Follow these tips to run an eco-friendly and zero-waste ceramic art studio.