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Ceramic Review is the magazine for contemporary and historical ceramics, ceramic art and pottery.

Ceramic Review Issue 328

July/August 2024

The potter Tom Knowles Jackson takes us through the processes and techniques he uses to make a scalloped and faceted dish for issue 325 of Ceramic Review

My path to pottery has taken me on a winding and unexpected journey. I first discovered the magic of clay as a young schoolboy. However, my passion for pottery was put on hold as I embarked on two rather different careers: first with a commission in the British Army, and later, navigating the intricacies of the business world in the Middle and Far East. It wasn’t until 2010 that I returned to the comforting embrace of clay, and since 2017, I have been dedicated to it full-time.

CR Masterclass by Tom Knowles Jackson. August 2023.

CR Masterclass by Tom Knowles Jackson. August 2023.

I work with stoneware clay thrown on a momentum wheel and fired in both gas and wood-firing reduction atmospheres. This process results in pots that are robust, yet hopefully possess a simple and refined elegance.

For decoration, I prefer to employ a natural and subdued palette of glazes and slips, often derived from wood ash and other materials I have foraged locally. It is this connection to natural materials and a tendency to leave large portions of exposed clay that give my pieces their characteristic simplicity.

My work primarily falls into the realm of utilitarian pottery, designed for both the table and the home. It draws from the rich traditions of Africa and the East, with a significant influence from the materials I find in my immediate surroundings. What drives me is the ceremony of eating and drinking, and nothing brings me more joy than seeing my pots being handled, especially if they can play a small role in enhancing a beautiful meal shared with family and friends.

CR Masterclass by Tom Knowles Jackson. August 2023.

CR Masterclass by Tom Knowles Jackson. August 2023.

My formal training in pottery was as a schoolboy under the expert guidance of Steve Sheridan at Bryanston School in Dorset and his influence still lingers in my work today. This influence is not just aesthetic but extends to the very tools I use. Among these tools, the most vital is my wheel – a momentum wheel designed by Steve’s father-in-law, the esteemed Australian potter, Ivan McMeekin. This remarkable instrument, inspired by McMeekin’s time with Shōji Hamada, has played a pivotal role in shaping my throwing style. I revel in the gentle, quiet rhythm of the McMeekin wheel, where I use soft clay on a slow wheel.
It offers an immediacy that connects my mind and body directly with the clay, fostering a profound sense of unity in the creative process.

Upon my return to the UK in 2010, I finally regained my focus on clay. Today, I am privileged to be a full-time potter and founder of two open-access ceramic maker space studios. The Clay Loft, located near Stroud, which opened its doors in 2018, and more recently, in 2023, I established Clay @ The Fold near Worcester. Both studios offer opportunities for studio membership, structured courses and regular classes led by some of the UK’s most renowned ceramic artists.

CR Masterclass by Tom Knowles Jackson. August 2023.

CR Masterclass by Tom Knowles Jackson. August 2023.

In this Masterclass feature, I will demonstrate how
I make a scalloped and faceted dish, a challenging piece that involves numerous processes. The dish now regularly features in my studio ware range and was inspired by my schooling and, more recently, by a pot dating back to the Southern Song dynasty that I saw on display in the Sir Percival David Collection of Chinese Ceramics at The British Museum. 


For more details visit tkjceramics.com; @tkjpots;


All photography by Layton Thompson