Meet Amanda Mercer, a ceramic homeware designer and the face behind the brand Amanda Mercer. We recently caught up to understand more about the process behind her beautiful creations and discover her advice for fledgling businesses following her 10+ years as an artisan designer. Read on to find out more…
I am Amanda, a ceramic designer and maker behind Amanda Mercer, ceramic design and loveliness. I create porcelain gifts and homeware.
How did it all start?
Ever since I can remember I have always loved drawing and creating which eventually led me to study BA Contemporary Applied Arts, gaining a First Class Honours Degree at the University of Cumbria. It was a fantastic diverse course which combined, embroidery, ceramics, printed textiles, and constructed textiles. It was in my third year where I found my love for clay and that was it, I was hooked! After a successful degree show where I had sold quite a few of my pieces and started to supply galleries and take part in exhibitions my business was established.
The story behind the name…
It was just a natural choice to use my name and my tag line became ‘Ceramic design and loveliness.’
Where are you based?
In Cumbria. I work from my home studio based in the heart of the city centre in Carlisle.
What inspires you?
Beautiful things, nature, textures, fabrics, pattern, mark making. I also find inspiration from my collection as a piece I make may give me an idea and inspire a new piece which is mostly how my collection has developed over the years. I also enjoy flicking through home styling magazines and watching interior design programmes.
What is your creation process?
When creating I use many techniques within my process. My main style is imprinting textiles into the clay surface which I then hand build into different forms. I love the whiteness of the porcelain so mainly choose to leave the decoration completely raw but I also use different colours of oxides or underglaze as an inlay to add colour and highlight the surface pattern.
I also use slip casting as a technique where liquid porcelain is poured into a plaster mould. Gold lustre and decal transfers also feature in my pieces to give colour and surface pattern or text decoration.
My pieces are fired up to three times in the kiln. A bisc firing is the first firing which allows me to then decorate and glaze the piece. These then go back in to the kiln for a glaze firing where I fire up to 1250 degrees. Then if I am adding lustre or decals these are fired for a third time.
What makes you, your brand or products unique?
Everything I design and create is completely made by me in my own personal style and because it is handmade, each piece will always be slightly different. I can also make to order and personalise most of the pieces I make creating special keepsakes to be enjoyed for years to come. An ideal choice for a birthday, Wedding, new baby or any other special occasion.
What is your next project?
I have many ideas jotted down to design and create samples and will be working on some new pieces for Spring. I always get suggestions from customers which are great to try out and lovely to have new fresh pieces from time to time.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
Exploring new ideas and sampling. Making stock for my online shop and future Fairs. I also recently joined the Country Living Marketplace so looking forward to spending some time adding lots more loveliness on to that. I enjoy how each day can be different and the different directions my work can take me.
What is your biggest achievement?
There are a few that stand out for me. Gaining a First Class BA Honours degree and supplying the National Trust with pieces of my work. I was also absolutely delighted to have won the Editors Choice Award at the Country Living Christmas Fair, London back in 2011 and most recently being awarded the Best dressed stand award at the Glasgow Fair in 2022. I was so overwhelmed and over the moon to have won.
What is your best-selling product?
My decorations are always a popular choice. I create many different ones including Christmas and Spring shapes and patterns. Also my porcelain tokens and pocket hugs are perfect little letterbox gifts that can be sent direct to a loved one.
How was your first experience at the Country Living Fair?
My first retail event and where I launched my business was at the Country Living Christmas Fair in Glasgow back in 2010 and I have exhibited there ever since. The Fair has always been a special event for me. It was such a lovely confidence boost as it was definitely a step out of my comfort zone but I received a warm welcome and such lovely feedback. The biggest compliment is customers purchasing my work.
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
I look forward to the Country Living Fairs every year! I love seeing and catching up customers past and present, exhibitors, meeting new faces, the festive atmosphere, and being surrounded by creative and small businesses.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
Just enjoy creating. It will shine through you and your work.
Share your makes on social media or with family and friends, people like to see what you have been working on.
Try out different ideas. Some things may work or not work out but it’s all part of the creative process.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
Just go for it. You always have to try and give something a go. You never know where it may lead to! Also don’t be afraid to ask for advice, people like to help!