Caroline Mercer

"Exploring and storytelling through Hand building bottles and vessels inspired by the sea, sea life, myths and the clay itself."

I have always been drawn to making things and also to the stuff that is clay.

I mostly hand-build with slabs and am fascinated by bottles and jars. I love to make with an approach balancing a carefully considered, planned and informed design with a playful spontaneity; celebrating the clay and its own voice. I push and squeeze slabs and faces together. I alter, carve, sculpt and add shapes to build up a story. I add layers of slip and more recently engobes, adding whispers to the tale. Then, I wash and wipe the surfaces with oxides, stains, underglazes and finally experiment with glazes, glass and lustres. The bottles are weathered and worn, holding their own history.

Inspired by the environment around me; life both on and in the sea, I walk… taking time to notice shapes, objects, lines and patterns which catch my eye. I come back to draw and record. I draw big and small with my hands, different tools and materials and also on my iPad. I draw fish, shells, seaweed and sea grasses. I particularly love the lines and shapes of yachts and ships; the engineered, the industrial, the romantic and the classic.

I really love ancient history, the mystery and the myth of the sea. I naturally lean towards vessels associated with sea travel, particularly bottles. Bottles with different functions, materials and contents. Ships in bottles, messages in bottles, shipwrecked bottles, bottles on the shore. I love bottle shapes, labels and designs through time. Bottles store secrets and can pour out truths. They have a story to tell. Each bottle I make captures and celebrates a moment in time.

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