Online Ceramics is a year old today! Over the past 12 months 24,187 people have visited the site 32,997 times. Peter Ward established the site after many discussions with his close friend, slipware potter, John Pollex. Peter said ‘A recurring theme of our chats was the sheer number of skilled studio potters working in the UK today and the frustrating lack of ways to buy their work online. Most potters had websites, but many had little more than a few photos which were often out of date. If they had any pots for sale, it was a matter of sending an email to see if it was still available.
‘What I wanted was simple; a website with great potters, featuring a good selection of their work and loads of photographs of each piece. And if I liked something and wanted to buy it – to press a button and wait for it to be delivered.’
Peter drew up the specifications for the website and commissioned a professional web design company to make his vision a reality. He was particularly keen to include feeds from Facebook and Twitter to take advantage of web2 developments.
To provide additional assurance to customers Peter set the stringent criteria that all the potters featured on the website would have at least 10 years experience and be members of the British Craft Potters Association. Peter said ‘I wasn’t sure what reaction I would receive from these potters, many of whom were amongst the best in the UK. I simply started by giving Emmanuel Cooper a call and popping into his studio for a chat, he was very supportive of the idea and agreed to supply his work. After that there was no turning back and I was warmly received by these great potters.’
Peter explained it wasn’t all plain sailing, ‘A few potters I would’ve liked to include on the website were nervous about what the galleries they supplied would think. I understood their concerns, but feel they are wrong. I guess as far as ceramics is concerned the web it is still early days, but like it or not, it’s the future and it brings their work to new audiences. For example, out of all those visiting the website just under half live outside the UK, with 5,000 from the USA and 1,772 from Australia. In total ceramic lovers from 118 different countries have visited the website.’
There is currently work by 15 potters available at Online Ceramics. Peter hopes to increase that to 17 by Christmas. He plans to maintain the personal feel of the website by letting it evolve slowly.