search  current discussion  categories  business - studios 

questions about handling studio waste

updated wed 14 jan 04


Paulette Carr on tue 13 jan 04

I have some questions about handling studio waste ...

I am a handbuilder, so I am able to recycle most of my very groggy clay, and
dry it for coloring, or wrap the scraps in a towel for rewedging. There is a
small amount of clay that gets washed off of tools, towels, and tables that is
collected in a 5 gallon bucket during the day. I add salt (NaCl) to aid in
sedimentation. It seems to work very well with my high fire clay, and slightly
less well with the low fire clay I use for models. In most cases, I can
decant or siphon off the water by the next morning, or at least before I pour the
next batch of rinse water into the settling bucket. At the end of the week, I
transfer all collected watery waste-clay to a metal bowl, and evaporate the
water, and throw the solids away in the trash. On the other hand, when I rinse
brushes, sieves, etc., that have been used with glaze I am unable to get a
good sedimentation, even over a week, no matter how much salt I add. I have
taken to pouring the glaze-wash into porous bisque containers and allowing the
fan to affect an evaporation. Depending upon the amount and the glaze, this may
take more than a week, and there may be a back-up of buckets sitting around
waiting to be handled. If the glaze-wash contain heavy metals than eventually,
I fire the bowl, or pot, and throw it away. Most of my glazes, however
contain Mason stains, iron, rutile, or just feldspar, wollastonite, flint and clay.
For these, I just scrape out the porous pot before it is completely dry,
evaporate the water in the metal bowl, and dispose as I do with the waste-clay.
Still it takes quite a while, and space to handle the process.

The first question: Is there something else that I can add to the
glaze-waste to hasten sedimentation so that I decant the water more quickly without the
long evaporation process?

The second question: I have been thinking about how a clay-trap works. As I
understand it, the waste, along with running water, enters the bottom, fills
the trap to the top, and then flows into the disposal line for the sink.
Although heavy particles would fall to the bottom, I am guessing that what flows
into the sink waste line would still contain suspended clay/glaze. Is this the
case? If so, why can't I just dispose of the liquid suspension after a day
or two (once the heavy particles have settled) by pouring it down the sink
accompanied by running water. Am I overlooking something?

The buckets are really piling up!

Paulette Carr
St. Louis, MO