Turn Your Waste into Want

Reclaim Bricks

This year at my studio, Rat City Studios, my studio assistants have been a huge help.  From wedging to weeding, from loading kilns to making reclaim bricks, and from rolling slabs to extra hands at events.  They are an essential part of our ability to finish projects big and small.

One of my more recent projects is creating a patio out of our of clay/glaze reclaim bricks! It is going to take a while to get a whole patio, but we are well on our way.  Rickie Barnett , one of our assistants, wrote an article about the process we use for recycling clay and glaze waste and making the bricks for the Rat City Studios Blog.  Check out his work too! I hope you enjoy the article and check out our studio blog where we have articles on a variety of studio topics ~ Deb Schwartzkopf

Plaster Brick Mold

Plaster Brick Mold

Trough for drying clay

Trough for drying clay

Glaze/ Clay Reclaim

Glaze/ Clay Reclaim

Reclaim drying

Reclaim drying

Finished Bricks

Finished Bricks

By Rickie Barnett:

Glaze waste is an issue to contend with in every ceramics studio. What do you do with it, and how to dispose of it? These questions are always arising. Without a plan, accumulated glaze becomes quite the burden. Well, here at Rat City Studios, we have found a way to put our glaze waste to use for our benefit.

In this article we have mapped out a way to reclaim glaze waste into decorative bricks.  These are used around the studio and in the garden in a variety of ways. Please enjoy our overview on how we have gone about this.

It all starts with making the original brick design to take a mold from. We took clay (this could be clay-reclaim) to make a series of different bricks (decorated in low relief textures). See figure one below as an example.  Everyone here at the studio made their own version- so we have multiple designs to press out when wanted. The molds we made produce a standard size brick of of 5" x 7.5" x 2", but try out variations to see what works best for you.   The original molds must be kept leather-hard in order to cast successfully in plaster. These original bricks made out of clay act as the prototype positive.

Cast your original in plaster after they reach the leather hard stage. If the brick positive is too dry it will make it harder to remove from the plaster mold.  Once your plaster is set up and the clay positive is removed, you will be left with a negative, one part press mold of the brick that may be used over and over and over. At this point you are ready to start your glaze-waste reclaim extravaganza!  

MIXING GLAZE AND CLAY

Here at the studio we use 5 gallon buckets to accumulate our glaze waste in. We let the glaze waste settle to the bottom and skim off the clear water from the top to thicken it over time. Once the bucket is full we divide the contents in half between two buckets. We fill the remainder of the half-full buckets with dry clay (either purchased clay dry or pulverized clay reclaim) and water, just like you are mixing up a new slip-clay batch. Really the rest of this process is just like making clay reclaim. We slowly mix in dry clay and a little water until we get the consistency of thick yogurt. 

Once the buckets are all mixed and of a good gloppy nature, we pour the glaze reclaim into plaster troughs (See figure two) to set up into a more of a usable clay material. Then we wedge up the glaze reclaim into sizes that correlate with the size of our brick molds. In our case the blocks we wedge up are just eye balled, but I’m guessing they weigh somewhere around 6 pounds. This will differ depending on your brick size but it doesn’t take long to figure out how much material you will need to have enough to press it into the mold.