There’s a very strong possibility that a large percentage of the population within the UK will have seen “Valentine’s clays” in one form or another. They might not know it. But it will have been staring them in the eye – on a shelf, on a TV screen, or on a table-top.
That’s because the Stoke-on-Trent family-run manufacturer Valentine Clays has successfully established itself over the past 35 years as a world-leading clay manufacturer and raw materials supplier – developing a wide range of clays to suit the specific requirements of the ceramics industry, the education sector, and a long list of renowned UK and international potters.
The business first opened in October 1979 with father and son, Alan Ault Snr and Alan Ault Jnr, at the helm. It started production in The Sliphouse on Birches Head Road with one clay body – an electrical porcelain – for a local insulation company. Today, the company produces over 100 clay bodies and raw materials that have been developed and finely tuned through the working relationships it enjoys with countless potters within the ceramic community and industry.
More recently, Valentine Clays has welcomed Alan’s daughter Hannah as Sales & Marketing Director; opened a new HQ in Fenton; and created a public-facing LoveClay brand.
It is, in every sense, a new generation for the pottery industry: and yet another reason for anyone with an interest in pottery or ceramics to start planning a trip to the world-famous “Potteries”.
Stoke-on-Trent is the place to explore the history and heritage of the UK’s pottery industry, to go behind the scenes on factory tours to see how it’s made, to go shopping in a huge range of famous-names factory shops, and even “have a go” at throwing your own pots.
And the newest kid on the block is LoveClay at Valentine Clays, where a 21st century Ceramics Centre is now ready to welcome visitors who want to browse exhibits made from Valentine’s clay in a bright and shiny glass mirrored Gallery; buy some stylish ceramic art for their homes from the ever-changing selling exhibitions in the Exhibition Mezzanine; or sign-up to any one of the new and imaginative courses that are now available in the purpose-built and state-of-the-art Workshop.
And for those who want to get even more hands-on, this is the place to come for their clay-of-choice.
LoveClay launched its first event on Valentine’s Day – offering 7 couples the chance to have-a-go at throwing while enjoying canapes, mood music, chocolates and champagne.
Other themed courses, run under the watchful eye of Jon French, who has over thirty years of experience in the industry, already include a Mother’s Day event with bone china flower making, and afternoon tea; and a Ladies Evening with Prosecco tasting, beauty demonstrations and a pottery throwing.
For the more serious ceramics lover there is also a one day Beginners Throwing Course; and a more intense Beginners Pottery Evening Courses that runs for 10 weeks. Further themed events, professional masterclasses and children and family sessions will be available later on in the year – including courses for children and families which will be running from April (https://www.loveclay.co.uk/children-family-clay-courses/).
LoveClay, the Ceramics Centre at the heart of The Potteries is open to the public from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. All exhibition areas can be accessed free of charge. Courses range from £30 per person, to £225 per person.
For further information, and to book courses or events, visit www.loveclay.co.uk, or telephone 01782 271200.
For further details about day visits and short breaks to Stoke-on-Trent, visit www.visitstoke.co.uk.