To celebrate London Design Festival, Glass interviews British potter Luke Eastop – simply sublime

BORN from the love of a table full of small plates and dishes filled with various foods, Luke Eastop’s pottery originally sprang for his own entertaining and serving needs.

In many ways it’s no surprise he became a potter – his grandfather was the well-respected potter Geoffrey Eastop who worked from 1955 right up until 2012. He subsequently trained Luke’s father, Ben. The traditional skills have been passed down from father to son and Berkshire-based Luke’s now the third in the line. He willingly admits that having his grandfather’s studio ready to go – equipped with everything and more he could have needed – has been the best encouragement to his relatively new career in ceramics which he started just over a year ago.

Turning his hand from graphic design, then, to cooking before starting pottery, (slowly to begin with to then full-time) has been an important process. His ceramics are delicate in style and aesthetic – pastel earthy hues sit together in a modular framework he sets the rules of. It’s utilitarian but sensitive and could easily be at home as a salad bowl or placed on a shelf for decoration (such as his mother likes!).

Currently he has two collections under his belt, the arc and the crucible and this modular approach to design is where his graphic design background comes to the pass. By setting specific rules, collections have a fundamental design so whether you scale it up or down the proportions and principles create a consistency across the board. That simplicity is now Luke’s trademark.

So from starting with his own needs in mind, Luke has developed a collection of ceramics that tick both the utilitarian and practical boxes, all in stylishly delicate colour palette. Talking to Luke about his on trend aesthetic he admits it’s a popular style especially with the un-glazed exterior but one that does takes a lot more mastery to execute than you’d expect.

Glass caught up with Eastop in his Berkshire studio ahead of his exhibition at London Design Festival which opens this week.

How have your experiences in different industries (firstly graphic design then cookery) informed your pottery?
I was previously a graphic designer. There are lots of ways it has informed the ceramics practice, for example I never printed anything on gloss [paper]. Not once. In fact I spent my entire time getting really into paper, the process and texture and the material of it. So when I started ceramics – in fact one of the few things I did ask my grandpa because I wasn’t making any ceramics when he was around (I started about a month after he died) – I did ask him was what is matte and how do you get it, so he told me about the difference between slips and glazes.

So right from the beginning, all I wanted to do was make matte things. I quickly found out if something is matte, it’s not functional. It’s porous, it rough and it scratches. So immediately my task was – how do I make things matte and keep the balance between the material and the texture and the quality of it, but still make it functional. And that’s how I ended up just glazing the interior.

lukeeastop_glassmag03_v1Luke Eastop with a bowl from his Arc collection. Photograph: William Green

Tell me about your process. Do you throw your pots thick to trim them down or like to keep trimming to a minimum?
I used to make things quite thin and then I started thickening them up.  The better you get the less you have to trim, but yes I definitely try and get the most out of the clay as possible and not leave too much on there. With certain shapes you have to leave a certain amount on there to support it. If you’re going for a really precise shape then you need enough in the right places so that you can bring it down to that very precise shape.

Is function or form more important?
I want my ceramics to feel functional. When you hold them you feel like you’re not scared to use them. Equally I’m totally fine with them being displayed, with them being on a shelf and fine with them just being an object of interest and something you like the shape of.

Saying that, the profile that is what I focus on quite a lot. I think this is because you can’t see the form the higher up you are [viewing it] and also I don’t like shiny things. I don’t like glazes.

lukeeastop_glassmag04_v1A collection of ceramics that will be exhibited later this week. Photograph: William Green

What clay bodies do you use?
I use mostly a semi-porcelain, but all his [Geoffrey Eastop] clay is still around – for the last 20 years he did a lot of hand building stuff partly because I think he got as good as you can possibly get throwing and got bored making things symmetrical and circular.

luke-eastop-slideshow-4A collection of both the Arc and Crucible collections. Photograph: Luke Eastop


Will you use any of your grandfather’s clay?
Yes, I do use it. I have been using it. I’m going to make the transition from the semi-porcelain to the porcelain soon when I’m less busy.

Does that take more skill?
Yes slightly. It is harder.


shop-launchItems that sold in his first shop launch earlier this month. Photograph: Luke Eastop

There’s a debate between potters whether recycle clay or not. Do you recycle?
Yes. The benefits are debatable though. I read an interesting article on how potters make their lives difficult and if you actually want to have a successful business then the realities are that the amount of time you spend recycling clay – the time cost of that vs. the cost of a bag of clay because clay is cheap – you may as well buy a new bag of clay to a degree.

I don’t really agree I think it’s better to recycle things but there are lots of those kind of considerations. I recycle it because it feels like a good process its part of the running of the studio, but you need to keep everything separate.

lukeeastop_glassmag02_v1Luke Eastop at his studio. Photograph: William Green

Does that make a really interesting colour then?
It’s like when you mix plasticine all together when you’re a kid and you get that kind of grey, speckled effect. You can see it’s not totally natural coloured; it’s kind of a blue grey. A lot of the stuff I did for my online shop had a blue, green and yellow stain in it and a lot of it with white semi porcelain clay mixed with some stoneware, which is why it looks more natural.


The speckled effect (seen above) is a product of  the recycling process. Photograph: Luke Eastop

by Stephanie Clair

Luke Eastop’s pottery is available via his online shop, the next release of ceramics will be October 7. His pottery will be on display with the South East Makers Club and the exhibition titled Simple Shape is part of London Design Festival. It opens to the public this Saturday September 24 until Sunday 25 (2016), it’s open from 10AM until 6PM on both days. More information can be found here.

About The Author

Glass Online culture and arts writer

Related Posts

Leave a Reply