A greener ceramics workshop?
Recipes Sep 12, 2023
In recent years, with global warming, decreasing water resources, epidemics and forest fires, many of us have realized how fragile our planet is.
Therefore, we are trying to be more conscious and careful about protecting the environment. However, it must be admitted that ceramics do not have an environmentally friendly production method. To make ceramics, it is necessary to raise the furnaces to high temperatures, thus using a large amount of energy. In addition, the mud and glaze materials used in ceramic making are non-renewable materials extracted from the soil. For example, some coloring oxides, such as cobalt, are rare, difficult to mine, and are found in areas of the world where unethical practices occur. Secrets may contain toxic substances and pollute nature.
Although small ceramic workshops and ceramic artists do not impact the environment on the scale of industrial ceramic production, and handmade ceramics have a smaller carbon footprint compared to mass-produced tableware, this does not exempt us from thinking about and taking responsibility for our negative impact on the environment.
Some of the innovative approaches and solutions proposed to make ceramics more sustainable may be very difficult for ceramic workshops producing on a small scale. But there’s a lot studio ceramists can do to make their practices greener, without requiring advanced scientific experiments or completely changing the materials they work with. Small changes can make big differences when done together. After all, sustainability is about breaking old habits and adopting new, greener habits. Here are some suggestions on how to make your workshop greener:
1. Switch to an energy provider that provides green energy.
Check with green energy companies where you can get energy produced from renewable sources such as sun, wind or water. You can use renewable energy for electric ovens, and if you do wood burning, you can use wood from a sustainable source.
2. Review your cooking process.
To make baking both economical and environmentally friendly, make sure the oven is as full as possible each time you bake.
Try to understand the firing cycle. If you know what happens during cooking, You can make adjustments to save energy. Your oven regime If you’re just adjusting by habit, you may be using energy for no reason. Consider reducing baking temperatures and cooking times. Avoid oven drying or preheating.
Oven shelves form a large mass in the oven and heating them requires tremendous energy. Try to minimize the number of oven shelves in each firing. Baking biscuits in stacks will save energy. Although you cannot load the entire oven this way, try to reduce the number of shelves.
3. Reuse your muds and glazes.
Collect all your unsuccessful works, primers, and mud residues when taking bottom. If they are still wet, combine them into a large mass. Be sure to recycle your mud.
You can also reuse secrets. Keep a separate bucket of water in the glazing area to wash your hands, brushes, sieves and glazing tools. Leave this to sit overnight, pour off the water, then collect the settled glaze. Scrape the bottoms of the items using an old credit card to prevent the glaze from sticking, collect the scrapes and when enough, add to the water and strain. Alternatively, you can collect all the glaze residue in one bucket, sift it and use it as an ever-evolving mystery glaze, or add iron oxide to create a black glaze.
If you are glazing by spraying, you can keep each glaze separately and collect the excess sprayed glaze and reuse it.
If you must throw away the glaze, let it dry and throw it away solid rather than pouring it in liquid form.
4. Work with local materials whenever possible.
Ensure minimal travel for your materials by using local materials. Unfortunately, products produced locally with imported raw materials are equally harmful to the environment as imported products. Products produced entirely locally are the most suitable choices for the environment.
However, sometimes this is not possible because some qualities of the material, such as translucency, are not found in local products. In this case, you can at least question what the manufacturer does for the environment and its approach to sustainability. Buying products in powder form whenever possible will save the energy required to move all the water.
5. Consider baked goods.
If there are no functional problems with your second quality products, offer them for sale, even if at a more affordable price, and ensure that they are used.
If there are errors that prevent its functional use, break it, grind it, and search for areas where it can be reused. If you have access to a ball mill to grind small enough, it is possible to recycle faulty ceramics to make chamotte for new glazes or clays. If you do not have the opportunity to grind it, you can give your shards to a mosaic artist or use them for drainage at the bottom of the pots.