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.
Products from Supplier
Each piece of this bracelet is individually created, rolled or flattened, one at a time. The pieces are baked in the kiln at over 1000 degrees Celsius for 8-10 hours, then left to cool for a day or two. Once cooled, the clay pieces are varnished and assembled using an elastic string, which means that one size will fit everyone.
There are no chemicals used in the clay, just water mixed in with the clay which is sourced from thre places in Fiji. Black clay from Wailoku in Suva, red clay from Momi in Sigatoka and white clay from Nabou Pine Forest just past Nadi.
The three types of clay are used to create a superior clay which is hard and resistant to wear and tear. You can be sure that your clay charm bracelet, made out of 3 kinds of clay from Fiji, will last and look beautiful.
This tea-light candle holder was inspired by Tai of Vanua Clay’s many freediving trips in Lau, Fiji.
This fish is called the Cumu, found close to the coral reef. The Cumu has a very strong head; when its mouth opens the whole body swells.
The Cumu was chosen for the tea-light holder because of it’s shape, which allows a tea-light candle to be placed inside its mouth.
The tea light holder creates a stunning feature for any room; a piece of Fijian marine life to brighten up your home!
This soap holder is based on the purple frangipani which is shaped like a star. It’s slightly smaller than the other soap holders, giving it a more elegant look and feel, like the flower.
The drainage hole in the centre means it’s ideal for keeping your soap dry and looking beautiful.
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.
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.
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 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’.
Another turtle?! Yes, but this one features a Hibiscus flower in the middle. What’s more it can be used to hold an incense stick as there is a small hole in the centre of the Hibiscus flower.
Either way, it’s a lovely turtle design (or vonu if you want to call it by its Fijian name), that will look wonderful however you use it. A bit of sunshine from Fiji!
Like the Melanesian design, this design started off with a triangle but then evolved. Notice how the design is always symmetrical. It’s based on the tapa/masi print found in Fijian wall hangings. A modern take on a traditional design - an instant reminder of Fiji.
There are three draining holes that will ensure your soap is kept dry between uses – no more gloopy mess!