What a charming design. This is “Whispering Grass”, by Jessie Tait for Midwinter in 1960.
It is a transfer printed design of the flowering whispering grass, hand coloured in lilac and yellow. As with all of Jessie Tait’s designs – beautifully drafted, detailed, and balanced – as well as sitting so well on the forms.
The hollow ware of all the series is in this very soft but vibrant lilac on the outside – a colour you rarely see on dinnerware. Whispering Grass seems to be quite a rare design, and hard to find now.
For the export market the lilac on the hollow ware was replaced with black instead – but I haven’t been able to locate any images of this variation.
Another of my Hornsea favourites from the 1970s is “Saffron” – which was produced from 1970, tailing off and ending by 1992.
Saffron was designed along with most of the designs from Hornsea during this period by John Clappison. It was produced in the same shapes as Heirloom and Bronte – and all of these designs were hugely successful. Again many of the canisters were printed with a label of the intended item, and all had wooden lids with a rubber seal.
The pattern and colour of Saffron work really well together…and like all John Clappison designs of this era were screen printed – which in part was because of the growing shortage of skilled pattern painters in this era.
The design has lovely circular flower motifs in a caramel-saffron colour contrasting with the burnt orange of the background. Combined these colours give an almost 3D effect. I also really like the interiors too with their luscious thick, soft cream colour.
Flatware for this series was a plain caramel colour, with concentric grooves around the rim.
Along with Heirloom and Bronte it was made in such huge quantities that it is still reasonably priced and fairly easily available, although the shapes which got more use (and hence broken) like Coffee Mugs, are always highly coveted.
I’m a big fan of the Hornsea teapots too, as they are the perfect size – not too big, not too small, and from this era by John Clappison have non-drip spouts.
You will find a variety of backstamps on Hornsea Saffron – depending on when it was produced.
Heirloom was Hornsea’s first complete range of tableware, and was designed by John Clappison in 1966 – in production from 1967-1987.
Its distinctive screen printed black pattern, along with the well designed forms, were so hugely successful that from 1968 the entire production at Hornsea was given over to it for a period.
Heirloom – as with other good designs – continues to be popular on the secondary market – now with a whole new generation discovering it.
The straight sided cylindrical shapes were designed to be stackable and were finished with polished wooden lids and airtight rubber seals. Many of the storage jars/canisters also had the name of the intended contents (flour, sugar etc.) moulded into them.
Items such as the straight sided bowls, egg cups, coffee cups and tea cups were also stackable.
The large rectangular handles on items such as the teapot and coffee pot were beautifully and ergononmically designed – as well as having non drip spout.
The plate-ware was left undecorated except for a series of concentric grooves around the rim.
The colour variations of Heirloom were “lakeland” (a dark moss green), Midnight blue, and Autumn brown. The blue was discontinued early in the production as it was not as popular at the time – however now it is highly sought after and collectable. The Autumn brown is the one I come across most often now here in Australia.
If you want a thorough and well researched history of Hornsea Pottery – I recommend locating a copy of the book “Hornsea Pottery 1949-1989” Brian Heckford & Brian Jakes (out of print, but still around in second hand book stores) ISBN 0 9526828 0 X.
Hornsea Heirloom – Autumn, Coffee Pot
Hornsea Heirloom – Autumn, Cup/Saucer
One of my favourite designs by Susie Cooper from the 1960s is Keystone, released around 1969.
It is based on the classical Greek Key motif, stylised and put to perfect use on Susie’s ‘can’ forms she developed in 1958 and which she bought with her to Wedgwood, where Susie worked from 1966 to 1980.
Several colour-ways were released in the design over time due to its popularity – but I think the black design is the most impressive. What I also love about this design is how the pure matt black contrasts against the glossy white glaze.
Black was the first release in this series, followed by Red, Green then Old Gold.
I think this design is just magic. It is appropriately named Magic City. The design was inspired by exotic middle eastern inspired domed buildings, and always reminds me of this time of year with a festive look about the design with its use of colour and line which hint of fireworks, Christmas lights etc, as well as the domed buildings of the Middle East.
It was designed by Susan William-Ellis at Portmeirion Pottery in 1966, and has become one of the great British classics of the era. The forms were used in several series which Susan designed around this time – and the shape was called “Serif”. Serif refers to the shape of the handle – and is a reference to how a serif is used in typography/calligraphy to add flare to the end of a corner.
The Serif series of shapes was originally used on the Cypher and Jupiter patterns with a raised relief finish, but it is Magic City which became the most commercially successful. Magic Garden is another lovely design on the Serif series of shapes.
Of interest – if you are in or visiting London 2019 – there is an exhibition/display in the ceramics room 146 “Portmeirion – Pottery Trendsetter” until Sunday 28th July
Portmeirion Magic City Tea Cup
Portmeirion Magic City Plate
Portmeirion Magic City Coffee Pot
I’ve never come across a dinnerware set quite like this one before – consisting of 2 very different styles and production techniques.
The maker is RIDGWAY (Staffordshire). The cups and bowls are hand thrown from a terracotta clay and glazed in a dark olive green matt glaze – A great shape too – they are wide at the bottom and narrower at the top.
They’re really quite chunky – and you would think they were handmade by a studio potter – except for the stamp on the bottom.
In almost complete contrast is the bone china plate-ware designed for this setting. It is bone china, with hand-painted greens and blues – but when its all together – the design simply works, with the green hues of the plate ware tying it all together. I think it is a fascinating experiment in tying together traditional plate ware design, with the developing “hand made” movement of the late 1960s.
The pattern is “ROMANY”. (not to be confused with Denby Romany and many other makers who used this name during the 1960’s)
The backstamp is from the 1960’s. Ridgway were quite a large group of Staffordshire Potteries produced many brands including – Colclough, Paladin, Portland, Adderley and Gainsborough potteries.
Of course Ridgway were also the producers of the now iconic “Homemaker” by Enid Seeney
Ridgway Romany back stamp
This impressive looking series called “Studio” was released by Denby c1961 as a dinnerware set with a number accessories or decor items.
It seems pretty uncommon these days, except for some reason the accessories like jugs, small vases etc. which seem to pop up reasonably often.
The forms for this series were designed by Kenneth Clark who also designed the Gourmet range – and this shape was also used for Ode and Echo (a blue version of Ode).
Kenneth Clark (1922 -2012)
“Took a domestic product that had become boring in its ubiquity and transformed it with technical knowledge and design flair into a vehicle of delight and usefulness. His designs honoured the traditions of studio pottery while incorporating the technical innovations of commercial potteries”
The glaze on studio is a beautiful speckled soft glossy grey with soft edged dark brown vertical lines. Inside the glaze is a glossy cream colour. The glaze would probably have been designed by either Albert or Glynn Colledge.
Denby Studio Tall Jug//Vase
Denby Studio Cups – image via MotherMust Etsy
Denby Studio Jug – via ebay
Midwinter Berkeley is a design by Jessie Tait for Midwinter, produced 1969-1974. It is quite a rare design these days. The pattern was produced on the “Fine Shape” Series which Midwinter started in 1962.
The design consists of a band of squares in alternating olive and turquoise, with an alternating centre colour.
The design to me reflects the influence of colour theorist Joseph Albers....who’s work significantly influenced 20th Century Art & Design – including “Op Art” popular in art, design and culture at the time – and especially big in Britain and Germany.