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Hornsea Zig-Zag Pattern Information and Price Guide

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Hornsea Pottery’s Zig-Zag pattern, designed by John Clappison in the 1970s, stands as a vivid emblem of the era’s design innovation and aesthetic sensibility. We take a look at this distinctive pattern along with a price guide of pieces sold at auction.

Hornsea Zig-Zag Vases
Hornsea Zig-Zag Vases. Sold for £85 at Fieldings Auctioneers, March 2017.

The Zig-Zag pattern was applied to a series of shapes including vases (851, 852, 853, 854, 855, and 856), as well as to conical form vases with flared oval necks (styles 871 and 872), showcasing Clappison’s versatile design approach and the pottery’s commitment to functional artistry.

A set of five graduated Hornsea Slipware vases designed by John Clappison, each of conical form with a flared collar neck
A set of five graduated Hornsea Slipware vases designed by John Clappison, each of conical form with a flared collar neck. Sold for £140 at Fieldings Auctioneers, February 2016.

The Zig-Zag pattern is characterized by its striking white slip design set against a contrasting black band, a visual strategy that enhances its dynamic appearance. The pattern’s sharp angles and rhythmic repetition embody the energy and forward-looking optimism of the 1970s, a period marked by bold experimentation in both form and color. The choice of pastel colors—greens, purples, blues, and pinks—further accentuates the pattern’s appeal, making each piece a vibrant addition to any setting.

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John Clappison, a pivotal figure in British ceramic design, is celebrated for his innovative patterns and forms that have left a lasting impact on the ceramics industry. His work for Hornsea Pottery, particularly the Zig-Zag pattern, exemplifies his ability to combine functional ware with distinctive decorative appeal. Clappison’s designs not only reflected contemporary tastes but also anticipated future trends, securing his place in the pantheon of designers whose work transcends their time.

Hornsea Pottery Slipware Zig Zag Vases By John Clappison
Hornsea Pottery Slipware Zig Zag Vases By John Clappison. Sold for $80 at Featonby’s Auctioneers & Valuers, May 2020.

The Zig-Zag pattern adorned the neck and base of the vases, adding a decorative flourish that enhanced the pieces’ sculptural qualities. This strategic placement of the pattern highlights Clappison’s skillful integration of decoration with form, ensuring that each vase is visually compelling from every angle.

Hornsea Pottery, founded in 1949 in the small Yorkshire village of Hornsea, England, rapidly grew from a small cottage industry to an internationally recognized name in ceramics. The Zig-Zag pattern is a testament to the pottery’s innovative spirit during its peak years in the 1970s. During this time, Hornsea Pottery was at the forefront of ceramic design, producing pieces that were both of the moment and timeless.

Collectors and enthusiasts of mid-century modern design continue to seek out Hornsea Pottery pieces, especially those bearing the Zig-Zag pattern. Their enduring appeal lies not only in their aesthetic qualities but also in their representation of a transformative period in British design history. The Zig-Zag pattern, with its distinctive style and vibrant color palette, remains a beloved motif that captures the essence of 1970s design ethos.

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Hornsea Pottery – John Clappison


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