Stoke slab – A typeface from the potteries

Stoke slab – A typeface from the potteries

The story about Stoke Slab typeface. The typeface is still a work in progress.

Like many cities in the Midlands and North of England Stoke-on-Trent has a rich history linked to making and industry. In Stoke’s case it was pottery. In the early 1900s bottle kilns could be seen covering the landscape of the six towns making up Stoke-on-Trent with hundreds of factories producing some of the best ceramics in the world. But by the time I arrived into the world in North Staffs University Hospital most of these had gone. Torn down for development of housing or just left to rot. Whilst I was growing up the landscape of Stoke continued to change. The industry was in a decline and Stoke itself was seen as an another poor midlands city with a dwindling industry.


I moved away from Stoke at 18 and even though I probably wouldn’t have admitted it at the time I was always proud to be from Stoke. After moving away is when I started becoming more interested in the city. I went off to study architecture and every time I came back from uni I’d go down to my mum’s ceramics studio in Potclays and be amazed by the victorian factory buildings and design which I just didn’t notice whilst I was growing up. Then in 2008, Spode, one of the largest and most famous ceramics factories in Stoke entered into administration. Pens cast aside, drawings left half-finished, designs left in the turned off kilns; Spode factory was abandoned. This was a real shock and the way everything was getting thrown into skips to be put on the tip was heartbreaking. Thankfully people salvaged some of the technical drawings, sketch design, old sample pieces and ceramics that people hard worked so hard on.


Then in 2016 BREXIT happened. Stoke was classed as the “BREXIT capital” by the media and was represented as a debt-ridden, anti-Europe city struggling to cope with the demands of modernisation. This is when I started my journey to create projects about the amazing things that the people of Stoke have done. In 2018 I released my first mini screen print series about Stoke-on-Trent. This series was titled “made by a stokey” and was the first iteration of the Stoke Slab font.


Stoke Slab has been in development over a number of years taking inspiration from the heritage and designs from the ceramics industry. It has a Clarendon style structure with it’s main purpose to be used as a screen printed type. Currently designed in 9 weights with italic counterparts this font has not yet been released.

Whilst drinking my morning coffee and waking up to the day I was scrolling through my usual news outlets and came across Sirin Kale’s long read article in the Guardian –“The battle over dyslexia”. The article got me thinking and whilst doing my typical work morning routine of checking emails, catching up on my networking forums and searching for potential clients I decided to try and explore my experience as a “dyslexic” to add to the discourse.
In Peter Zumthor’s book ‘Atmospheres’, he describes the way in which our cultural and emotional responses are affected by space. Our minds absorb our surroundings. Our senses — touch, taste, smell, sight — generate and reveal memories which ground us in a space. It moves us and causes a response. Be it strong or weak, happy or sad, we have an emotional relationship with space. This is what I refer to as spatial mood.
I’m sure like lots of people over this last year of the pandemic, I’ve been pounding the streets to get some needed escape from the 4 walls that have been my daily visual rhythm. This has allowed for me to observe my local area in North London.