Vera Haij was a ceramist who is best known for her dishes inscribed with proverbs.
Vera Haij was born in Vänersborg in 1912. Her father, Knut Haij, was a legal practitioner and deputy district judge. Her mother was Agnes Haij, née Malm. Vera Haij had an older brother called Curt Knutsson Haij and a younger sister named Elwine Haij.
From 1929–1934 Vera Haij trained as a ceramist at Tekniska skolan (now Konstfack, college of arts, crafts and design) and spent that period living in Stockholm. She then served as an apprentice at various workshops and factories and for a time she was an apprentice of G.H. Eriksson, potter in Stora Mellby.
When Stenebyskolan was preparing to hold an exhibition in Vänersborg Vera Haij heard that they were looking for a ceramist. She decided to apply for the position and approached the principal, Erland Borglund. In the summer of 1936 she began to work at Stenebyskolan, where she decorated ceramic items which had been turned by other people. Her rented accommodation at the school comprised one room and a kitchen as well as a separate ceramics workshop, all contained within the same building.
Vera Haij taught at Stenebyskolan from 1936–1939. During this time she also produced her own ceramic art and made lidded and unlidded pots, lanterns, vases, and some very individual female heads which were decorative items in their own right but could also be used as flower vases. She was very productive and delivered her works to Hemslöjden (handicrafts association) in Dalsland, who then sold them on through national handicrafts shops. Her work was also for sale at NK and PUB (major department stores) in Stockholm.
On Christmas Eve 1941 Vera Haij married Helge Nilsson, a resident of Steneby and a handicrafts consultant. The couple settled in Smideshuset above the workshop. She ran summer ceramics courses at which she had her students turn items for her. One of these students was Arne Glad who went on to work for Vera Haij for a while after having completed his studies.
Vera Haij began to produce dishes which she then decorated with inscribed proverbs and these became very popular. Stenebyskolan helped her to sell these items. Her husband also helped by packing the ceramic works. Further to these dishes Vera Haij also produced ocarinas, small knife stands in the shape of butterflies, figurines of angels and flower girls as well as animal shapes representing birds and fish. Her carafe called Ett oförvitligt fruntimmer took the shape of a colourfully decorated female form where the head - with closed eyes, markedly protruding eyebrows, and a pouting mouth- served as the stopper. The set included matching cups. The teacups were large, with a tall raised edge on the saucers to hold the cups steady. The decorative element involved various wild flowers, such as bluebells, twinflowers, ferns, and pansies. Vera Haij also produced table tiles for smaller tables.
Vera Haij held exhibitions through Hemslöjden. In Åmål she displayed her ceramics with Alvar Lundin, an artist and sculptor from Dalsland. In 1980 she was asked to produce something new for an exhibition at Nääs. She created the Nickedockan “bobblehead” figurine which is covered in a white glaze and then decorated in subtle blue and green hues. The head is attached with a copper wire supplied with a lead weight, allowing the head to bob and nod. Vera Haij’s husband Helge Nilsson was responsible for creating the figurine’s mechanical element.
Vera Haij died in Steneby, Dals Långed in 2005. Her work can be seen at Vänersborgs museum.