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A Alicia, Anna Alicia's ceramic studio

Meet the Maker: Anna Alicia

by Camilla

London-based designer Anna Alicia makes beautiful ceramic accessories and jewellery in glazes that look good enough to eat. You might also recognise her as the author Make It Your Own, a how-to book full of DIY craft projects. We talked to Anna and discovered that her move into ceramics all started with a trip to Hackney City Farm…

Anna Alicia, A Alicia interview

Hi Anna. Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Anna, the designer-maker behind A Alicia. I’ve lived in London for over 10 years now and I’m still totally in love with the city and thrilled to call it home. I share my East London flat with my artist husband, our new baby and lots of overgrown houseplants.

How is motherhood?
Amazing and exhausting! He’s only 5 weeks old but he makes us laugh all the time.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you discover ceramics?
It took a long time to discover the right kind of making practice for me. Before finding my way to ceramics I studied Art History and Theory, did my Masters in Fine Art and then when I began making work to sell I was mainly using textiles. I don’t regret any part of that journey as I learnt so much that still constantly influences my work. 
I’ve always had a weakness for ceramics, but never really had the chance to try it myself (as an adult) until I was introduced to an evening class at Hackney City Farm where you can go along and try it out. Something just clicked and I was instantly addicted!

How would you describe what you do?
I try to make work that is bold and interesting but also very much wearable/usable. I’m interested in playing with different processes and seeing where I can take them and if I can make something that feels new to me. With my ceramic buttons for instance, I started off by experimenting with pressing different tools into the clay to make patterns, then took it one step further by making my own carved/pressed stamp tools. I’m always a little surprised by what I end up with, which I think is part of the joy of making.

You’ve written a book full of inspiring DIY projects. Can you tell us about that?
The book is called Make It Your Own and features 25 accessible (ie no expensive equipment or technical craft experience needed) how-to projects. The focus is really on developing your own style and ideas, so each project comes with suggestions for how you might put your own design stamp on it – for me, that’s the most exciting part of making things.

Anna Alicia, Make it your own, book, DIY craft project tutorial book

Make It Your Own is a how-to book full of craft tutorials for the home written by Anna

How did the book come about?
I was approached by a publisher after they saw a piece of my work featured in a magazine. They were looking for someone to write an interiors craft book and the project developed from there. It was an amazing learning curve and one I hugely enjoyed. I especially loved working with the photographer on styling and shooting the projects (which also really helped me develop my own product photography).

Do you have favourite project from the book?
I think that would have to be the modern quilted blanket project, as I cosy up under one of those most evenings on the sofa! I also like how versatile the project is – I made something very similar as a play mat for a friend’s baby, and more recently one for my own new baby.

handmade quilt, tutorial, modern quilt, how to sew a quilt, contemporary quilt pattern

Anna’s favourite project from her book is this modern quilt

Is your own home full of beautiful handmade things?
My home is definitely full of handmade things! Obviously there are a lot of things I’ve made myself (most recently the play mat and some fabric baby toys), but I also buy from other makers whenever I can. I love how having beautifully crafted everyday objects around our home (like the handmade mugs we drink our tea from) makes even the simplest activities a bit special.

A Alicia, handmade ceramic buttons, glazed buttons

Anna makes a range of ceramic buttons glazed in soft colours

Where do you make your work?
With the arrival of our little one I’ve just given up my studio space to return to working from home, which will hopefully allow me to work as flexibly as possible around caring for him. There are pros and cons to working from home versus having a separate studio space and I’ve got used to making the best of either over the years.

What do you think the pros and cons are?
I miss the space (physical and mental) that a studio offers, but in working from home I can be really flexible about when I work, grabbing any opportunity to get something done, rather than having to factor in travel time and organise childcare. It also removes one of my largest business expenses, so takes the pressure off while I get used to juggling motherhood and making.

A Alicia ceramics, studio, work in progress

Anna’s ceramic necklaces and beads in the making, drying out before being fired

Do your city surroundings influence your work?
I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but I really do feel that the vitality and constant flux of London is inspiring in the way it reminds me to keep questioning things and to just keep looking.

Most of your ceramics are quite small scale. Would you like to make some bigger pieces too?
I have to stay fairly small scale with the way I work as my ceramics need to be portable (they make several bus journeys with me to get fired at my local city farm), but I have recently started teaching myself to throw on the wheel and I’m developing some small planters (indulging my love of houseplants) that I hope to have on sale later in the year.

ceramic planters, succulents, handmade, clay, vases

Anna has been experimenting with some bigger pieces, like these stamped ceramic planters

What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
My top three tips would probably be:

    • Firstly, make sure it’s something you LOVE making – there’s a big difference between enjoying making something once and still enjoying it when you have to make 50 for a craft fair or wholesale order!
    • Secondly, it’s great to have influences but make sure you have a unique product that really makes you stand out and that you can build a business around.
    • Lastly, be really realistic about your pricing, especially if you’re interested in selling wholesale – your time and your skill are valuable.
A Alicia, ceramic necklace, contemporary jewellery

Anna’s ceramic necklaces are ridiculously pretty and are available from her Folksy shop

To celebrate being a featured maker, Anna is offering Folksy blog readers a special discount on her work.
Just use the code MAKER20 to get 20% off all A Alicia pieces – for a limited time only.

You can find Anna’s shop A Alicia on Folksy >>

 

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