More ‘Green’ Hints for the Polymer Clayers

It’s Earth Day again! Last year I posted some tips for clay crafters that use the reduce / reuse / recycle strategy and here are some more, extended a bit to small biz and jewelry makers:

  1. Improve your skills and be creative with what you have. Creativity does not require every item and tool for your medium.
  2. On the flip side, use the most efficient tools and supplies for your medium. If there are genuine energy and resource savers that you can take advantage of, do so. For clayers, this includes items like bulk amounts of clay and a good oven thermometer!
  3. Reuse scuffed bakeware. A lot of my older cookie sheets and pans have moved to my craft studio for use as trays. Sturdy but also ‘second hand’ so a little less concerned about drips and damage.
  4. Reduce shipping materials by using packaging that is saved from your own boxes. For customers that would be offended by clean but used cardboard, use post consumer recycled materials boxes where possible or the least dyed cardboard versions possible.
  5. Incorporate existing supplies and materials into your displays for your shows where possible. I’ve used scrap woods, existing wire supplies and so on – a good coat of paint and decent workmanship keeps it looking like a whole instead of a mishmash.
  6. Use thrifted or old orphan jewelry pieces for embellishments and additions.
  7. Learn how to use your office and studio tools properly – software and paper generating items especially. It may be frustrating but it’ll save money and time down the road! This includes things like using email for correspondence or batching your shipping labels and receipts.
  8. Recycle the stuff you can – regularly. That includes the extra packaging, jars, bottles and so on that accumulate in studios and offices. It’s great to think that you’ll reuse all the jars for artwork but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Don’t let them accumulate till they get tossed out in a decluttering fit.
  9. Make the library your friend – do research, read trade magazines, pick up inspiration. Save the money and the paper. Take advantage of your guilds library for the same reason.
  10. Establish or join an artist’s co-op for use of larger or specific studio equipment – clay is relatively small and inexpensive as far as equipment goes but for kiln related crafts, this could be a real saver.
  11. Sell online where possible using places like Etsy or Ebay

Some measures I use in my own place – which is a small apartment shared with a 9 year old and housing both my studio and office space (where I do web development) – are:

  • using old attractive wine bottles in my artwork
  • flyers and newspaper as drip catchers and table liners
  • tin packaging and bakeware for baking or varnishing racks
  • using old mason and condiment jars for paint waters and storage of taller items like paint brushes, pens, colouring pencils, wire mandrels and so on. I then put the jars on old trays so that they stay corral’d
  • a box beside the trashcan in my studio space and in my office space for papers to be put in (and recycled to)
  • jar lids for bead and paint mixing
  • active recycling center in the kitchen: bottles, tins, jars, boxes, papers, notes, plastic bags, milk jugs go out weekly before they take over.

2 comments

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  2. Cindy Lietz says:

    This is a great list Elaine! I think as artists (and humans) we all have a responsibility to do what we can for our planet. A big part of that is seeing if we can’t be a little more creative in how we use things. You have put a lot of thought into this list and have given me some new ideas. Thanks!

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