Douglas Fitch & Hannah McAndrew are slipware potters based in Scotland. Drawing great inspiration on the heritage of British slipware, their pieces showcase traditional techniques applied in a contemporary way. Using a blend of earthenware clay sourced from Douglas’ birthplace, Devon, Fitch & McAndrew often work with warm palettes of chocolate brown and honey, inspired by their local landscape. All their dishes, pots and jugs are one-off pieces, richly detailed as well as functional.
Douglas Fitch & Hannah McAndrew are slipware potters based in Scotland. Drawing great inspiration on the heritage of British slipware, their pieces showcase traditional techniques applied in a contemporary way. Using a blend of earthenware clay sourced from Devon, where Douglas lived for more than twenty years, Fitch & McAndrew often work with warm palettes of chocolate brown and honey, inspired by their local landscape. All their dishes, pots and jugs are one-off pieces, richly detailed as well as functional.
Fitch & McAndrew’s pieces are simply decorated using traditional, natural slips. The oldest and perhaps the most vibrant of the English folk pottery traditions, slipware pottery is created with slip – liquid clays which are poured, and brushed onto the pieces. In many ways, their process of making pots has been used for centuries across the UK and further afield, but what makes their craft distinct is their unique, decorative, application of slip.
1. What motivates you to make?
The need to make for practical and essential use is not so vital in the 21st Century as it once was, but there is still a desire to be fulfilled, an itch that must be scratched. Our need to work with our hands is something that cannot be ignored. We want to make pieces that are better than the last – more interesting and stronger. To push our skills and materials just that little bit further each time is a great motivation. We aim to make pieces that will become important to someone, not necessarily a huge and imposing sort of important, but something that will become a part of people's daily lives, their family, and maybe a part of their story.
2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?
We are both inspired by the traditional pottery of the British Isles. Doug is particularly drawn to Medieval pottery after finding ancient sherds while on walking field trips with his school archeology group in Northamptonshire. They would take what they had found back to school where their headmaster, and keen amateur archeologist, would help them discover the sorts of pots the pieces had come from. When Doug started to make pots himself, these were the forms and methods which resonated the greatest. Hannah's particular interest is in the later period of slipwares from the 1700 - 1800's and in particular of the Staffordshire wares. Her style of decoration has evolved from looking at many of these pieces over the years and handling them in museum collections. Using a very basic pallet of materials to the utmost is a particular fascination.
3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?
Our way of making pots has been used for centuries across the UK and further afield. In this respect, the process is not entirely unique to us.
Our materials are, in many ways, the same as those used by potters over centuries before. We do however, have the benefit of commercially prepared clays rather than having to dig it from the ground ourselves. What makes our craft distinct is the same way in which handwriting is unique to each individual. The naturally occurring clays used to colour slips are then employed in unique, decorative ways on the surfaces of our pieces. We both employ different methods of decoration – Hannah could not do what Doug does, and vice versa.
4. What is your definition or proudest moment as a maker so far?.
We are proud of the fact that we stick to our own passion. It would be easy in many ways to chase ceramic 'trends’. By following the fashion we would probably make faster-selling and more widely understood products, but for us, it is more than just making money. It is essential of course to make a living, but more so than that, we want to make a life. Creating the work we believe in, using the materials and methods that speak to us personally, is what we are truly passionate about.
5. What is your dream project?
A dream project, that's a tough one. For Doug it would be freedom from paying our mortgage, to be allowed to make an entire collection of jugs of all sizes and shapes, with different decorations and slip applications and the time to subject them all to the drama of a wood firing. Similarly for Hannah, financial freedom would see her making an entire room full of plates. Large and small, the walls covered in them, with slip trailed motifs and imagery across all their surfaces. The difficulty is always in being able to take a risk on such a venture.
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