Info for Artists

**We actively support our Ceramic Supply Gleco Dealers. Please check with your regular ceramics supplier for The Gleco Trap. If they don’t currently carry it, ask them to include The Gleco Trap in their inventory!**

FOR POTTERS: Most ceramics and mixed-media art classrooms and studios do very well with the GT64, which allows for a sediment volume of 64 ounces. It would depend on how messy the potter is, but even the messiest potters usually wash less than a couple of ounces of clay from their hands. That translates to around 60-80 messy students washing their hands before you’d need to dump the contents of The Gleco Trap. In the university ceramics studios I’ve been in (my father was a professor of ceramics at Kansas University in the late 70’s), it seemed like it was mostly the wheel throwers that got messiest. Handbuilders/sculptors tend to work pretty clean (referring only to the volume of clay they would need to wash off in a sink).

Extending the math a little further, given an average class size of 20:

  • An average sized university program would have 3 classes each day on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and two classes on Tuesday/Thursday.
  • Add teachers, grad students, teaching assistants, etc. for an average of 300 instances of potential hand-washing potters in and out of the studio in a week.
  • The Gleco Trap with a 64 ounce bottle would have to be dumped, at most, twice a week. And that’s if you only have one sink in the entire ceramics department.

The Gleco Trap bottle is translucent plastic, so a studio tech would be able to see when the Gleco Trap needs to be changed, although I’d recommend starting a schedule to empty the bottle on a regular basis, depending on actual use – more often at the beginning of a semester or when there are multiple beginner’s classes during a semester, and less often toward the end of the semester when people are finishing projects and concentrating on firing and glazing. Changing the bottle, when needed, takes about two minutes, so it’s faster than most daily clean-up tasks in a ceramics studio. (I’d personally volunteer to empty the Gleco bottle instead of cleaning up just one potter’s wheel – it’s that quick and easy).

Some people question whether the trap is large enough to allow the water turbulence to subside enough for the clay particles to fall and collect in the jar. If you look at a picture of the trap, you will notice the hard white plastic “bell” immediately below the connection pipes. This is where the water enters the trap. It holds about 30oz of water and allows an initial slow down of the water flow. Then the water travels into the jar itself. Clean water that has been sitting in the jar flows above the line on the bottle and must be pushed up and out of your pipes while the sediment settles into the jar.

At Bracker’s Good Earth Clays, we have Gleco Traps on all of our sinks in the warehouse. Our warehouse staff is constantly washing their hands after loading bags of dry clay, plaster, weighing out any of the glaze chemicals (from Alberta and Alumina Hydrate to Zinc Ox and Zircopax), or mixing casting slip. Emptying the Gleco bottle is on the regular chore list at the end of each week. Even after a very busy week and a 2-day workshop with dozens of participants, the Gleco Trap still isn’t full of sediment.

How to measure for your new Gleco TrapNow, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the trap might not catch EVERY clay particle in a real-life environment. (Frankly, I don’t know that any clay trap or method of tool/hand cleaning will catch every clay particle when you get down to the *microscopic* level.) However, any particles that would not get collected by the Gleco trap will be too tiny or in such small quantity to cause any harm to a septic system or sewer pipes.

Prior to receiving the UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code) approval, The Gleco Trap had to undergo very stringent tests to determine how much of the solids were trapped. The trap was initially used in dental labs and offices to keep the plaster from clogging the pipes. (By the way, the dental labs that use the trap go through a huge volume of plaster, not just small-batch jobs like in an office.) If you’ve ever seen dental plaster or had a mold of your teeth done recently, then you know that the particle size of dental plaster is INCREDIBLY small, much smaller than clay. The tests showed 100% of dental plaster particles and other tested solids (including clay particles) were contained by the trap. The Gleco Trap has also collected larger things for easy retrieval later – thousands of tools, small parts, etc. that slip down the drain.

Further, we’ve done some research on septic systems. The biggest problems with septic systems are (similar issues occur with sewer lines):

  1. Using too much water
  2. Soap – Laundry soap, dish soap, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner etc. As soap goes through the pipes, it stays “sudsy” and “bubbly,” essentially lighter than the water. It gets left behind in the pipes, much like bubbles left in the tub after draining a bubble bath. As it sits there, it condenses and compacts into a solid. John Gleason (who was a Plumber with Roto-Rooter for 16 years before inventing the trap) told me that he had pulled what looked like a full bar of soap out of septic pipes many times.
  3. Washing Machines – You’ve emptied the lint trap in your dryer, I’m sure, so you know the volume of lint that can be produced by clothes. Lint also comes off in the washer and goes right down your pipes. Polyester or Nylon clothes compound the problem because these synthetic materials are not biodegradable and won’t break down in your septic system.
  4. Tree or large plant roots that can grow into the laterals.

If the only thing going down the drain is clay particles, many potters will just drain most of the “clean” water off the top of the Gleco bottle and then dump the remaining solids into their clay reclaim bucket, however if the sink is also used for glazemaking cleanup, washing up after 2D painting, etc., then it would be best to dispose of the contents instead of reusing them (you wouldn’t want your reclaim clay fluxed in a weird and unexpected manner).

FOR OTHER ARTISTS: I don’t have any direct experience with paints and The Gleco Trap, but we’ve sold enough to classrooms that serve 2D and 3D media and have always had positive reports. The Gleco Trap bottle is thermoformed HDPE and the Gleco Trap body is the same plastic as the plastic pipes that might already be in the studio. I’m not familiar with the chemicals used in photographic processing, but I think that someone who is familiar with them would know if they negatively react with those plastics.