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Potter of the Month (March/April 2015) - Hannah McAndrew

1.  What general skills & techniques do you use? (e.g. throwing etc) 
My forms are for the most part thrown though I do employ a certain amount of slab molding as well. My work is all slip decorated.

 

2. Tell us a bit about your experience and knowledge:
Where have you studied and learnt your skills?
I have made things for as long as I can remember but it was while at Manchester Metropolitan University studying Three Dimensional Design that I fell in love with clay. Alex McErlain there was my tutor and is a passionate advocate for all things ceramic and especially functional pottery. After that I searched hard for a place to work and learn as an apprentice and eventually stumbled across Jason Shackleton in Dumfriesshire. I moved to Scotland to work with him where I learnt about making wood fired slipware and majolica and where I fell in love with all things slip decorated.

In 2003 I set up my own business and have been doing it ever since.

Who has inspired you along the way?
Many people have inspired me along the way, some knowingly and some not. To start with Alex McErlain, as I often say, I wouldn't be making pots if it weren't for him. Then Jason of course and through him Alan Caiger-Smith and Mary Wondrausch in an indirect manner. From my own looking and reading about pottery there are the likes of Michael Cardew, Ray Finch, Lisa Hammond, Clive Bowen. The country potters of days gone by, in particular the 'fancy wares' that they made, the commemorative jugs and chargers, lambing chairs and loving cups.

Probably my greatest inspiration is my fiance and soon to be husband, Douglas Fitch, fellow slipware potter and a man of great modesty but I believe great talent and understanding of material and form.

My parents have always encouraged and inspired me to do something that I love, that will make me happy rather than aim for a highly paid job in something that might not suit so well.

3. Please explain your work - processes involved, clays used, firing range. 
My love is for the rich red terracotta clays that drive people mad in gardens up and down this country. I use Valentines red grogged clay and then spend a lot of time adding layers of coloured slips to this to decorate my pieces. I fire in both an electric kiln and in a wood fired kiln and so the firing temperatures range between 1080 and 1140.

 

4. What has been your proudest piece that you have produced and why?
My proudest piece, that's difficult. I make a lot of work to commission and I love to make work that will help people remember a special occasion. It's strange to think that in some small way the pots I make can become a part of other people's lives. So possibly the proudest piece I have made is the commemorative cradle for my nephew, slab built and based on the highly decorated pieces popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.

5. What are your future ambitions? 
My future ambition is to carry on making pots for as long as I can and as long as I enjoy it, and to do so with Doug and build a happy mucky clay filled world.

View Hannah McAndrew's gallery

Visit their website: www.hannahmcandrew.co.uk