John Cook

Hand built ceramics
Lives and works in North West England

I am intrigued with the exploration of ideas, creativity, the use of colour, textures, and materials, which help develop complete shapes and forms.
My current work uses the ceramic form as a canvass, not as a functional, utilitarian object, although it might be, and explores the ideas that develop through hand building design ideas.

My ideas are from landscapes, memory, and from being absorbed in my environments for the past 60 years.

John recently responded to the works of poet Ted Hughes with and ‘Elmet Series’ of ceramic tiles, incorporating imagery and Hughe’s words associated with the wild local areas of that name.

Selected Works


White tin glazed earthenware has assumed the title of Majolica Ware although the correct term is Maiolica. The technique is thought to have started  in the Middle East as a method of imitating Chinese porcelain. Porcelain is a naturally occurring clay which fires pure white whereas the majority of naturally occurring clays in Europe and the Middle East fired red through to buff in colour.

The addition on tin into clear glazes gave a white opaque finish to any clay irrespective of its natural fired colour. It also gave the ceramic designer the opportunity to decorate the surface with bright colours and lustres.

My work uses the same traditional techniques but with modern materials on a clay that naturally fires buff coloured. The pots and tiles are biscuit fired to 1000 degrees sometimes with coloured engobes applied this is where the clays turns into a ceramic material. The tin glaze is applied and is then fired to 700 degrees. This makes the surface of the pot hard but it will still accept coloured glazes to be painted on. The pot is then fired to 1040 degrees and the shiny glaze develops and the colours become fixed to the pot surface. Lustres are then applied including gold and platinum and the pots are re fired to 780 degrees where the lustres are fixed to the clear glaze.

All my work is hand built using a buff coloured clay. For some more difficult shapes I use paper clay (clay with tissue paper added). The paper changes the characteristics of the clay and makes it more malleable and sculptural. I draw designs on my pots and tiles using under glaze pencils which fires as a line.

Selected Exhibitions

Exhibits through The Northern Potters Association and in galleries thought the North.