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Reduce, Reuse, Re...claim!

When I need inspiration, a change of pace, or something to lighten a dark day, I head out to the forest, the beach or the Lakes. It doesn’t take long for me to feel grounded & connected to the moment. And connection is where the magic happens.


Because of this connection to nature, I have been conscious of my environmental impact. I’m a big believer that companies (big or small) should be held accountable & as an individual maker I have the opportunity to address environmental impact at all stages. So, for this month's blog, let’s go through some of the ways that I try to reduce my footprint in the studio.


Clay

Clay comes in two forms naturally – formed as a precipitation from the earths molten core, or through the erosion of rocks. There is no short supply of clay, but the formation of new material is not a quick process, so I try to be mindful of how I use clay.


During production, waste clay is always produced, which I dry out into powdered form and then ‘reclaim’ by rehydrating and wedging back into a usable clay. This recycling ensures that no clay gets thrown in the bin, and the mix of different clays in the reclaim provides a beautiful marble to the items I make with it. Win-win!



The back of a dove palette showing off the marbled reclaimed clay
The back of a dove palette showing some beautiful marbled reclaim.

Every piece I make goes through a quality control check before firing, and anything damaged goes back into the reclaim. This not only saves on waste, it also reduces the number of kiln firings I need to do.


Here's a moody video of some reclaim on a cloudy day.


Glaze

Glazes are what I use to make our products colourful- it is essentially pottery paint. To get all of the amazing colours, compounds have to be mixed together, which when fired create beautiful tones. However, some glaze ingredients cannot be sourced locally. Due to this, I am working to alter my glaze recipes: reducing my dependency on materials that need to be shipped and using locally sourced materials instead. This is a part of a long term, ongoing practise of glaze development.


I also reclaim glaze in the same way I reclaim clay – drying it out and rehydrating. This saves potentially toxic materials from going back into the environment and local water systems.



Looking for a way to use dried glazes led me to this design last year.


Broken/Flawed items

Once a piece has gone through the kiln, the clay turns into a solid ceramic and can no longer be recycled to make something new. Potters sometimes sell slightly flawed work as ‘seconds’, but the broken pieces? They often end up in landfill.


I’ve been looking for solutions & have been really inspired by the efforts of Granby Studios and their use of recycled building materials in production. Based on their work, I’ve been experimenting with broken products and how I can incorporate the broken pieces back into production & into my artwork.


These experiments are still early stages (btw I'm on the look out for some product testers so please let me know if you would like to try the brush cleaning pot below) but I hope that eventually I can reclaim nearly all waste products from my making process!


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That's all from me this time. Next month, we’ll have a look at Ribble River Trust & Climeworks: Two organisations tackling climate change. Two organisations I donate to through website sales.


Until then, enjoy the Summer!


Rae x


Comments/questions? Email me: hello@raeceramics.co.uk

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