I dont use this for my studio but because we run off a well I havent been wanting to take hundreds of gallons of water for my aquaponics. So Ive used 55 gallon drums as rain barrels which you can find for very cheap and add a bulk head fitting on the bottom. Recently, I took an extra cut IBC tote and placed it near a gutter. The gutter catches an 8 by 8 area worth of tin roof and during the last storm I got 150 gallons worth of water. Totes can be found as cheap as 50 bucks in most areas. You could very easily set one up in an area that is advantageous and have a lot of water at your disposal after a rain. I hooked up a hose so I utilize the gravity and pressure but Harbor Freight sells good water (fountain) pumps at very good prices. Pretty sure a small one inside the bottom of a tote with the outlet directed horizontally to where you need it, through a bulk head fitting that is, and have it linked to a lightswitch as your on/off could work well. Pumps are rated for the GPH and Head lift. Im sure pushing horizonally will give a little bit better performance than pushing out and up the tank then down again.
Hmmm I guess I might as well throw in my 2 cents. Personally I think that this forum has a very strong back bone for good knowledge on the ceramic side as it should. I am a dabbler that loves to toy with many forms, yet I do enjoy living and keeping all my fingers. That said I do google and google and google. Sure I could waste my time with the card catalog but that would lead me to books that date 1970 when its 2014. So as much as I might be a "armchair" type of person I will spend days lacking in productivity while I research research RESEARCH! Reading every informational report and every idiots experience. Especially when it came to metal things Ive seen the country bumpkin cast bronze and the african tribesman make a bronze bell from a form made of dung etc. I feel I have a good sense of the farce material and the material that I can learn from. I do agree with shop experience but to tote all of that as the only way to legitimize real skill and knowledge is kind of wrong. Everything came from a book "technically." You couldnt have had your shop experience unless you learned from something from the start. I was two steps from melting down some old bike pegs of mine before I found out about magnesium's burn. My pegs were magnesium coated and aluminum sleeved. The only reason I doubted myself before my melt was that I remembered when we used to grind on concrete these pegs would spark. So I took initiative and did the research. Everyone should be able to post what ever they might feel they should say because we all want to speak from our experience no matter how little it might be. It is up to those that are viewing it to be the judge. Sadly if they are to hurt themselves in the process then its not the advisers fault, no, its the fault of the person attempting something that they havent understood fully because of their lack in research.
Everything in this world is not fully understood. I cant remember correctly but someone on this forum stated that it is still unknown when it comes to the chemical reaction and molecular reaction differences in the ceramic world. I could be wrong with my term choices but the statement was that just because it has the chemical make up to do one thing it doesnt necessarily mean it will during the firing process. WIth that said, even those with 30+ years of experience, still dont TOTALLY understand the craft. There are things to be learned and dangers to be avoided. SO no matter who you are in this world of experience there are responses to questions that will always be incorrect and might "endanger" someone. Which is why I return to the comment that all should be able to provide advice and it should be left to the viewer to determine between them all.
Really no matter what you do you should be smart from the start. You melting metal? Im sure good gloves are in order especially proper ventilation. Maybe even a respiratory mask. Same goes for clay/glaze mixing. Hmmm those are some small floating particles. Better consider what you can do to not inhale them. Wow that kiln smells funny during firing....maybe I should avoid those fumes. Common sense.
Its even got me looking into trying out some homemade glass clay. (not really clay)
Anyways, Tyler is right. Incorporating the two together isn't going to be the easiest of thing to do. Especially when it comes to shrinkage. Most metals get nasty during the firing and can flake and give off nasty fumes. Ive done copper flake in glazes to give off greens at low temps and pretty white and blues at mid range. Reckon these were flakes from key shavings and after inquiring more I have chosen to no longer pursue the venture due to possible lead fumes. Being I have my hands dabbling on the glass side of things I know that they sell shapes and glass dams made of stainless that glass workers use without issue. Mind you though these forms are covered with kiln paper or heated and coated in kiln wash. But from a fuming stand point they dont seem to be an issue in affecting the glass so you can at least feel comfortable that a glaze wouldnt be affected. I could say any stainless could work, but if you want to go the extra mile you could find out exactly what stainless the companies use for those shapes. I was dumb and used store bought (home depot) non stainless steel to make a kiln washed dam for a glass pot melt. As you can see the steel did not fair well in my electric ^07 firing.
If you find what works for you then keep us updated. I will say in closing though do not buy your metal from local hardware stores. Seek out a local metal supplier. You might have to buy a longer piece but you will be saving a lot of money in the long run. For example.... 2 x 1/2 inch flat bar that is 36 inches long I paid 45 bucks for at a hard ware store (yeah I know ridiculous) but at a metal supplier twenty minutes from me I could of got a 144 inch piece for 32 bucks.
:edit: I knew I was forgetting something. Duckweed is a readily available aquatic plant that is a good candidate for water purification and takes on heavy metals such as Nickle, Zinc, and Copper. Wonder if there would be a way to incorporate this into the water then harvest for ash production.