Claire Haithwaite Grouville, Jersey
About Claire Haithwaite
After studying art & design at Kingston and then a BA at Falmouth Art College in Cornwall, I moved to London to pursue a career in design, publishing and retail design. Eventually I moved to Amsterdam where my husband and I renovated a number of Dutch canal houses in the centre of the city. It was during this period that my love of interior design flourished and my appreciation for design, function and the character of everyday objects developed into a passion that continues today.
Originally from Jersey, and after 25 years away, I returned to the Island with my family and began studying ceramics, and fell in love with pottery. I want to create objects that people can both display and use around the home. Making the everyday beautiful.
Creating simple everyday objects with clay gathered at low tide from the shores around Jersey. From a small workshop on the eastern edge of the island I make a range of limited edition original ceramic pieces for display and use around the home. You can do it the easy way and order clay online, or you try the fun way and head offshore at low water to dig up your own unique Jersey clay.
Once you know what you’re looking for you’ll find various types of clay pushed up to the surface. Once you find a vein of clay, then you have to carefully excavate the mix of clay, sand, shell fragments, worms and grit to take back to shore. This is when the work of separating the clay from the sand and grit begins. First I add water to the mix and break down the solid mass to a syrupy consistency. The ‘slop’, which varies in colour from aqua blue, green or yellow ochre, is then poured through a filter after filter to remove stones, shells and finally sand. What remains is a runny clay which is then left to settle and separate from the water. The residue is then dried out on plaster bats to draw out the remaining moisture, until the clay is dry enough to work with and be turned on the wheel to make fine pot.
It’s a lot of work digging, carrying, filtering, cleaning and processing the slop to a workable material to make some clay, but I believe the results make it all worthwhile. I do require a permit from the Environmental Minister to extract this from the beach, this I have.