handmade ceramics inspired by the coast of Maine

New England Horseshoe Crab

Much like the lobster, Horseshoe Crabs have an iconic place in New England. Like many others we have spoken to, some of our earliest memories of the coast involve tip-toeing around them in those early summer months, trying to avoid stepping on the sharp tail of an unsuspecting crab.

They seem otherworldly—captivating, prehistoric forms virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. Yet Horseshoe Crabs also possess unique blood cells called amoebocytes that have been used by medical researchers for decades to help insure the safety of medical equipment and intravenous drugs. 

While their populations have declined precipitously, Horseshoe Crabs remain inextricably linked to our heritage in New England, as well as to our personal experience of nature and the beauty of the north Atlantic coast. 

We made the New England Horseshoe Crab as an homage to this history: a reflection of our appreciation for nature and an attempt to crystallize those early summer memories in a sculptural form that can sit comfortably on an office desk or hang elegantly on a wall…always ready to remind us of our own past and our connection to the wider natural world around us.

Our process

The New England Horseshoe Crab is made with high-fired stoneware clay from molds of real Maine Horseshoe Crab shells and no live crabs are injured in the making of these objects.

Creating a Horseshoe Crab mold

We take conservation seriously, and spent many mornings and afternoons out combing the shoreline to find the perfect empty crab shells to use. Once we have the shells, we reinforce the back with clay, make a plaster mold of the shell and another of the tail, and let them cure (dry) for several weeks. 

After this curing process, we can then begin casting liquid clay, or slip, into the molds. The plaster absorbs water from the clay, which begins to harden from the outside in, creating a hollow crab shell and a solid tail. 

Each piece then undergoes two firings in our kiln. The initial firing turns the clay into a porous ceramic that is ready to absorb glaze. We then apply a variety of custom glazes and firing techniques, and attach the tail magnetically to allow for ease of shipping and installation. Once the molds are ready, the entire process takes about three weeks to create each crab.