Susie Cooper was born in 1902 in Staffordshire and joined A.E Gray and Company as a production line paintress in 1922. Her talent was quickly recognised and in 1924 she became the resident designer. Her work was characterised by daring use of bright colours and geometric banded patterns.
In October 1929, she set up her own business buying in white-ware and decorating it. In 1931 she began designing ceramics, which she had manufactured by Wood and Sons, as well as decorating. Her initial workforce of five paintresses increased to forty within the first two years. Demand for her work was so great, hand painting was supplemented with lithography and lithographic transfers.
In 1950 she set up her own manufacturing business, Susie Cooper Ceramics. This period produced some of her finest work, including the “Quail” shape in 1951 and the “Can” shape in the 1960s. Susie Cooper Ceramics was taken over by Wedgwood in 1966.
Susie Cooper’s designs consisted of stylised flowers, spiral motifs, simple banding and sgraffito (where the design was cut into the glaze). To compliment her designs she created successful shapes including ‘Kestrel’, ‘Curlew’, ‘Falcon’, ‘Rex’, and ‘Spiral’ and transfer patterns such as ‘Acorn’ and ‘Nosegay’.
In 1940, Susie Cooper was given the award of Royal Designer and was later awarded an O.B.E. She retired, aged 84, in 1986 but continued to produce paintings up until her death in 1995.