Earth Day and Ceramics


Earth Day is upon us and everyone is looking to give Mother Earth a helping hand. Studio potters, production potters, and art schools are starting to ask what impact they are having on the earth. Specifically, how they can reduce their eco-footprint and make their practices more sustainable.

Some potters are taking big steps, like installing solar panels to power electric kilns, or building kilns that use waste vegetable oil as fuel. Others are phasing out products that use harmful chemicals. To help you decide how you can join this green movement, here are some tools that are eco-friendly.

Sink Traps - Greener Glaze Disposal

Glaze disposal can be a big problem for potters, and the first thing to know is that you should never just pour unwanted glaze down the drain. For starters, pouring clay and glaze down your sink is like pouring mud down your drain - both are heavy and sticky and will settle in the low points, which clogs your drain. More importantly, glazes are full of metals and minerals that are toxic in their raw form (even though they are perfectly harmless once fired) and need to be disposed of properly.

Of course, there are times that clay and glaze will end up getting poured down the sink. So what is the best way to save your plumbing and avoid contamination? If you have a sink in your studio, then it is as simple as installing a waste trap, like a Gleco Trap.

Once the waste trap is installed, you can use the sink to wash your hands, tools, and excess glaze off of a pot, and even pour out your slop bucket. The trap will catch all of the heavy solids from the clay and the glaze so only water goes down the pipes. Once the trap is full, you remove the attached container, replace it with a clean one, and dispose of the waste clay and glaze at your convenience.

If you do not have a sink in your studio, consider the Cink. It uses similar technology as the Gleco Trap, but is self-contained and able to continuously recycle and re-use water and clay.

Eco-Friendly Hand Tools

Whether you are looking for something new, or the time has come to replace your old tools, there are loads of ecologically conscious options to choose from.

  • Bamboo: Bamboo is one of the most renewable plants on the planet. It's durable and flexible and makes great ceramic tools and brushes.
  • Coconut Shells: These ribs made out of coconut shells– which, in addition to being environmentally sound – are very comfortable in your hands.
  • Upcycle: Looking around the house, you can find tons of items you can upcycle into pottery tools. Old credit/reward cards make great ribs, an old floater from your fishing gear can be tied to your chamois to keep it from sinking in the slop bucket, and the top half of an empty milk jug is the best tool for pouring slip into or over pieces. Just look around and there are tons of tools waiting for you in your home.
  • Long-lasting: The most eco-friendly tools are ones that are going to last for years, if not decades. Kemper makes some of the best pottery tools on the market. Kemper tools are manufactured by hand in the USA, and have been ever since the company was founded in a garage over 50 years ago.