Vanua Clay Crafter Profile
Vanua Clay Fiji is a family business run by husband-and-wife team Taito and Lavenia. They bring their designs to life using the medium of pottery.
The business started when three family members who were working for an Arts and Crafts business in Nadi were about to be laid off due to the business being sold. The brothers decided to pool their resources to buy the equipment from the Arts and Crafts organization, to nurture the skills and knowledge already acquired and to continue the clay making business to keep the family employed. Hence the birth of Vanua Clay Fiji.
Tai is from Matuku island in the Lau Group of Fiji, a remote group right on the eastern edge. There are no schools on the island, so everyone moves to Viti Levu for education. There are many trips back to the village in Lau, where Tai spends most of his time in the water, freediving and catching fish for his family. Tai takes much of his inspiration from his freediving trips, which can be seen in the Vanua Clay Pottery collection – an array of beautiful pottery inspired by Fiji.
Three types of soils are acquired from different areas of Viti Levu, this is then weighed and processing starts. The mixed soil is sieved twice to remove unwanted elements, then dried and packed ready for use.
The clay is worked on, rolled out and cut and stamped according to the logos or designs requested by the different companies.
All pieces are left to dry out, drilled if necessary for the design, and oxide applied. Each piece is hand-made, baked at 1000°C in a gas kiln – which means the pottery can easily be taken through customs.
Some of the myFijiStore favourites are the unique fish candle holder and the fish soap holder – both fun pieces that will brighten up your home!
About: Taito and Lavenia
Vanua Clay Fiji is a family business run by husband-and-wife team Taito and Lavenia. They live in Nadi and have recently opened a new studio, where they and their family work on the clay pieces.
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This time Tai’s freediving trips inspired a fish soap holder. Simple and unmistakeably fishy, this soap holder features 3 draining holes to keep your favourite soap dry.
A fun piece bound to brighten up any bathroom!
The designs on this fish wall hanging are based on the masi/tapa design (more commonly referred to as Masi in Fiji). Because Tai is from the Lau group of islands, they call the design Tapa, a slight regional difference in name. Masi/tapa is the paper made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree. This is a standard masi design for Fijian printing.
Tapa/masi cloth designs are traditionally found in wall hangings, but Tai said 'why not incorporate them into our pottery?'. This gives the Vanua Clay pieces a unique edge; each piece is a culmination of the diverse creativity and beauty seen around Fiji by Tai and Lavenia.
The Hibiscus is a big, red flower that grows everywhere in Fiji. It has large petals which make it ideal to hold soaps of all sizes, with a drainage hole in the centre of the flower.
This soap dish would particularly suit those who make their own soaps or prefer soaps with more unique designs, due to its larger size.
Hibiscus is also a festival in Fiji which first started in 1956. The Hibiscus Festival is held every August in Suva, with a beauty pageant and crowning of the ‘Hibiscus Queen’.
This Fiji wall hanging is a great reminder of the tropical fish that can be seen swimming along in Fiji’s pristine waters. This simple yet elegant fish wall hanging can be mounted on the wall through the hole at the top, either by putting a nail through it or using string.
A lovely momento of a snorkelling trip in Fiji, or in Tai’s case, freedriving trips in his native Lau waters. This piece is bound to bring a smile to your face and remind you of the sunshine waters of Fiji.