11 Dec 2013


When I first encountered pieces of Hornsea Pottery 6 years ago, it wasn't exactly love at first sight. I thought it had potential, but that it was also ever-so-slightly "stuffy" and "naff". I don't really know what exactly ignited the love and admiration I feel towards it these days, but certainly part of the blame goes to Hornsea Love mugs.

Hornsea Pottery was founded in 1949 and its most influential designer was John Clappison (1937-2013),
who designed various contemporary motifs. The Love Mugs (pictured below), however, are designed by Kenneth Townsend (1931-1999). They are a set of 12 mugs, each representing one month of the year. The illustration is different on each. My three favourites are the February mug with a couple eating heart-shaped crepes, the July mug with a sun-bathing couple (the lady seems to have a fishtail, The Little Mermaid perhaps) and the January mug with a couple ice-skating with a snowman.

The mugs were produced from the mid-seventies to the start of the eighties. If you are considering collecting these mugs, then it is also useful to know that they come with two different shape of handles, a round and a rectangular one. Mine have round handles. A nice detail is that the inside of the mugs have a white glazing which lightens up the brown. My dear spouse doesn't quite share my enthusiasm for Hornsea pottery but at least he leaves me to it. For him the "murky" brown is still too dreary. But quite a few years now I have really come to appreciate the beauty of pottery and glass design of the seventies with all its heavy shapes and dark colours. I am not alone in this: Orla Kiely has been influenced by Hornsea's motifs and shapes in her pottery range, and I can also notice some likeness with Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka's work. Just look at the Christmas trees on the December mug (see the picture on the top).

Another example from Finnish pottery are the wall plaques illustrating Kalevala, a Finnish national epic (pictured above). These wall plaques were manufactured by Arabia from 1976 to 1999. When I was a child, I thought them to be the most hideous things and couldn't possibly understand why someone would want to display them on the wall. But a few years ago I suddenly started seeing some beauty in them. The colours are so deep, and the illustration, designed by Raija Uosikkinen, is so lovely. I really have had to keep myself not to start collecting them (there are about 25 of them and only so much space on my walls). On my last visit to Finland, however, I did purchase this particular one from a flea market. The price was reasonable, the condition like new and the seller a nice lady who by chance used to live in the UK.

Pictured above are the Miranda bowls from Finnish Nuutajärvi. They were designed by Heikki Orvola in the seventies. These days the prices of these bowls are quite high and I wish I would have found them a bit earlier like my friend Annika from Vihreä talo who introduced them to me. I just absolutely adore the pattern on them and they come in several colours: clear, emerald green, turquoise, and the brown of course.


  1. thank you for this article. ı live in turkey. when ı was a child my aunt had a set of 12 mugs, the love mugs and she always served me and my sister hot chocolate with this mugs. she passed away a few years ago. if ı can find and buy the set of these mugs, it will make me happy. By this way, ı can remember my aunt whenever ı drink my coffee whith this mugs... have a nice day:))

  2. Thanks for your comment, Zeynep! They are lovely mugs indeed! Keep an eye on Ebay. That's were I collected them from :0)

  3. Hi Anna nice to find your etsy shop and blog:) I'm a hornsea fan too! I decided to stick with just collecting 3 of the love mugs for our 3 birthday months to stop my shelves heaving too much! I love the clappison designs too..I see you are in Yorkshire, have you been to the Hornsea museum? It's amazing to see all the work on show there..

  4. Hi Moira! What a small world! When I started reading your comment, I thought immediately that I've come across your name before. I've got your gocco print of the yellow cat with the custard tin! I bought it few years ago on Etsy.
    I'd love to do some gocco printing myself but I've heard that the paints are hard to find these days so I gave up on the idea. I love your print though!
    I haven't been to the Hornsea museum yet but it is on my things to do list. Hornsea pottery made so many lovely items and are underappreciated in my opinion. Luckily there are few of us that can see the beauty of them!