John Clappison

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William John Clappison (27 June 1937 - 21 February 2013) was an English ceramic and glass designer. Although Clappison is not as familiar as many of his British contemporaries, his name not appearing on individual pieces), his work sold in the millions. Initially working out of the Hornsea Studio, partly financed by his father, Clappison would later work for Ravenhead Glass and Royal Doulton. Some of his more popular designs included the Heirloom range for Hornsea, his Studiocraft vases and his plain white Aphrodite vase, which became a popular Wedding present of its time.[1]


Clappison was born in Hull, England to Caeser 'Philip' and Enith Clappison. When the family moved to Hornsea and John's father started to support Hornsea Pottery, the founders of the Pottery, Colin and Desmond Rawson, saw great potential in John Clappison. He designed pieces such as Elegance and Tricorn for Hornsea Pottery whilst attending the Hull College of Arts and Crafts. The Pottery then sponsored his year at the Royal College of Art in London where he specialised in Industrial Design and Ceramics. After gaining the Faculty of Design Certificate in Ceramics at the Royal College of Art, John was appointed as Hornsea Pottery's Chief Designer in 1958. A studio was specially built on the Pottery site and when this was fully instituted, John refined and originated a whole range of designs for tablewares, novelties and gift wares.

Amongst his many designs for Hornsea Pottery was his 'Home Decor' range, which are "highly reminiscent of the most advanced work in Studio Ceramics" (Dr. Graham McLaren in his 1997 book Ceramics of the 1950s). Several innovative items of tableware and decorative pieces were produced, reflecting contemporary designs, the 1950s hand-decorated Slipware, 1960s Studio vases, 1970s Muramics and mugs and 1980s People Figures are all enthusiastically collected.[2]

As well as his work for Hornsea Pottery, John also designed for Ravenhead glass, Royal Doulton, Coryfo ceramics and the Upsala-Ekeby group.

Selected quotes about his work are: Lesley Jackson; "Designs by John Clappison such as 'Home Decor, Studiocraft and Lattice were in a completely new idiom….they presaged trends which would be consolidated during the early 1960s" (Lesley Jackson, The New Look - Design in the Fifties (Thames and Hudson 1991) ). Alan Peat; "Hornsea Pottery……was set on its feet by ranges of cheap ware which were not contemporary in style, and it was only at the end of the 1950s, following the appointment of William John Clappison as chief designer in 1958 that Hornsea became a major force in modern design" (Alan Peat, Austerity to Affluence, British Art and Design) - (Merrell Holberton, 1997) Wayne Hemingway "Today, as design becomes increasingly concerned with competitiveness and quality of life, innovation must again facilitate a creative response to change. John Clappison's team at Hornsea in the 1960s churned out winning designs year on year, developing and colluding craft techniques, to a classic standard with a trend awareness and clear passion for the market". Wayne Hemingway at the 2002 Ceramic Forum, as reported by Marcus Holmes for the Ceramic Review, June 2002).

A biography on John Clappison was published in April 2007. This official biography brings into focus the scope and variety of John's work with his full knowledge and co-operation.[3]


  1. ^ "John Clappison: Ceramicist who popularised the drinking mug and whose Aphrodite vase was a ubiquitous wedding gift". The Times. 16 March 2013. p. 87. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  2. ^ (Hornsea Pottery Collectors and Research Society)
  3. ^ Gone to Pot. The Life and Work of John Clappison, by Pauline Coyle. ISBN 0-9555455-0-1. [1]