Online potters: Fitch & McAndrew

Photo: Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review

Photo: Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

To mark the publication of CR‘s Masterclass with Hannah McAndrew & Doug Fitch, we talk to them to discover the story behind their strong presence as potters online

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

How did your blogs begin?

D: I’d been in business for a while when a friend suggested I needed a website and that he’d design it for me. It was 2006 and I wasn’t particularly computer savvy. He said it would be a good idea to include a blog – and I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. He explained and so for a couple of years I sent pictures and text to him and he would load them onto my site. I used to write stuff, not expecting anybody to read it; in a way it became like keeping a personal diary or archive.

H: I too had been in my pottery business for a while. I started the pottery in 2003, but working where I did – in very rural south-west Scotland – I didn’t have much interaction with other potters. I was looking for a way to get feedback initially. When I met Doug at a show he suggested that it would be an idea to try writing a blog. He thought it would be a good way to show the world my work. So, my first post went up in January 2008 – where Doug welcomed me to the world of blogging and told me that my evenings would ‘never be quite the same again’. How little did we know?!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Photo: Shannon Tofts

Photo: Shannon Tofts, courtesy Fitch & McAndrew

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

What do you write about?

D: I tend to let my heart pour out, still forgetting that people read these words! It’s got me into trouble in the past, but I like to tell my story as it is. I talk about my pots, but also about what’s happening in my life and with my family. It’s lovely to look back through past posts and see how my family has grown up.

H: I mainly blog about my working life. Of course, other things do come into it and help to make it a more personal experience; I imagine it gives people something to connect to. I often talk about the shows that we are exhibiting at – the run up to them, preparation of pots and the stand – and go on to blog about the show itself, often noting who else is showing there. Firing the wood kiln regularly features in the blog; it’s something that lends itself to imagery and video, and always excites people.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Photo: Shannon Tofts

Photo: Shannon Tofts, courtesy Fitch & McAndrew

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

And what about imagery?

D: I’m not a very good photographer, but our process is incredibly photogenic. Wet, shiny slip is beautiful and pictures of freshly-slipped pots look delicious. I’m also blessed to live and work in two stunning parts of the UK, so the surrounding countryside features regularly in my social media activity. I think it helps to explain why I do what I do, as my rural environment provides a great deal of inspiration.

H: I always use imagery in the blog. Freshly-thrown pots, glossy slip and hands covered in red clay just look great through the lens. I love to show the places that we live too; the glorious trees in all their seasonal garb are frequently featured and, as they often find their way into my pottery too, it helps to link up the whole story.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Via Doug Fitch's Facebook page

Via Doug Fitch’s Facebook page

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

What other platforms do you enjoy using?

D: In more recent times, Facebook has become a fantastic additional tool to Blogger as a way of spreading the word about what we do. I still write my blog occasionally, but as a marketing and networking tool, I have a Facebook business page that I update regularly with short blog posts, films and photographs from my life and work. I find Facebook much more effective, wider reaching and easier to surf.

Our videos have helped us to get our inspirations and surroundings across to followers. If a pot’s not good enough to be shared with the world on the internet, it’s not worth putting through the kiln. I’m constantly trying to make the next pot better than the last. Putting a picture of it on to Blogger or Facebook is like baring one’s soul; you have to believe in it, because it’s there for everybody to either like or criticise. Of course, the criticism hurts, but it pushes you to get it right next time.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Photo: Layton Thompson

Photo: Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Who do you follow?

Andy Priestman is a wood firer in Galloway and lives in a stunning place. His blog is purely image based and it needs no more.

Ron Philbeck is a good buddy of ours and has been a blogger it seems for always and forever. Great pots too.

Ben Carter does a series of podcasts with other potters as part of his blog.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Keen to learn more? Watch our special Masterclass with Doug and Hannah above – and enjoy the full feature inside Ceramic Review issue 278, out now.

Find Doug and Hannah blogging at slipware.blogspot.co.uk and hannahmcandrew.co.uk/blog, and, as it’s close to Valentine’s Day, read the beautiful story of their ceramic synthesis here: slipware.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/the-love-jug. You can also find the pair on Instagram and Facebook.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………