Claes Thell grew up near Höganäs, a region in southern Sweden famous for its ceramics (its use of salt glazes, in particular), and started working in the medium at the age of fifteen. He studied metallurgy and later became an apprentice of the local master Rolf Palm.
During the 1970s Thell formed the group “Keramikerna i Höganäs” with five other ceramists from the area: Henning Nilsson, Yngve Blixt, Britta Mellander-Jungerman, Ann Jansson, and his brother Bo Thell, whose gallery presented the group.
Inspired by the local rocky landscape, Thell gave his pieces strong forms, which he adorned with organic appliqué, or random, naturalistic dimples. He often mixed his stoneware clay with iron powder, and he was interested in developing and perfecting the old glazes jun (blue) and temmoku (brown/black), as well as those of uranium, zinc, and iron. His enduring interest in Asian art and ceramics was deepened after a tour of Korea in 1991, and thereafter, the influence of eastern cultures is more evident in his pieces.
Claes Thell passed away in 2019. His works can be found in several museum collections in Sweden including that of the National Museum in Stockholm.