Inspiration on the Rocks

July 14, 2017 , In: Ceramic Clay, Clay, General, Inspiration

In 2008 I went to spend Christmas with some friends in Australia. The day I flew home I had a few hours to kill so we went for a walk at Balmoral Beach, Sydney where they have some amazing rock formations created by erosion from wind and water (apologies that the images aren’t brilliant – digital cameras have come a long way in the last 10 years).

These two make me think of some massive prehistoric serpents that I imagine died in an epic Game of Thrones style battle!

And to give you some scale…

I love anything that’s textural and tactile and these have some fabulous colours too that I assume derive from minerals and oxides within the rocks.

This one reminds me of a sheep’s head…

I’d always intended to try and use these images as some sort of creative inspiration but they got rather lost in the mists of time and then I stumbled across them recently and immediately thought that clay (which I was not yet into at the time of my visit) would be the perfect medium for experimentation. So a few weeks ago I made up my first few pieces…

This type of abstract form is not difficult to make once you come up with an idea and you can play around and tweak until you get something you like. The tricky bit is often coming up with colours combinations that work well together and appeal enough to other people for them to want to turn them into jewellery. Although I personally love natural earthy tone they’re not to everyones taste so after collecting colour palettes From Pinterest I started experimenting with glazes. My aim was to mostly keep the keep the primary colour neutral and complement it with accent colours. I used matt colours for the main body of each piece and then used gloss glazes within the craters to give pops of colour. It’s quite hard to be detached through this process because any artist will prefer the pieces they make in their own favourite palettes.

For me it was the beach/ocean tones that worked the best which I guess is natural since that was were the inspiration came from in the first place. Some of the forms I made here were too bulky and lumpen so when I came back to this idea for the second time I concentrated on a more limited palettes and refined some of the forms as well as adding some additional textures like urchin or oyster shell.

I’m pretty happy with the progression on these pieces and there is just so much more I can do with it. I started looking on Pinterest for things that might give me additional pause for thought and came across an abundance images that inspired me further.

At first I thought this was eroded rock but it’s actually an aerial view of a salt processing plant in Niger – who would expect that to be such a beautiful thing!

Saltworks in Niger by George Steinmetz


Likewise the light and reflections playing on the water in these pools is wonderful and cries out to be imitated with glaze…like that will be easy!



These beautiful cave pearls just make me want to play with texture in monochromatic palettes maybe with some Mother of Pearl lustres…


Cave pearls – Lechuguilla cave


And this one just has the most lovely smooth curve that’s enhanced by the stratification within the rock itself.

I’m totally besotted with this theme, the texture, the flow, the light and colour…just about all of it really so I’m pretty sure I’m going to to be working with it for some time. Now I just have to hope some of my customers share my excitement!


Lesley Watt

Lesley Watt started making jewellery in 2009 with a handful of hobby store beads but quickly discovered art beads and became completely smitten. Taking courses in metal clay, metal smithing, enamelling and etching she began making her own components in 2011 and has never looked back. Always looking to try new things she has branched out into ceramics, bead embroidery, mixed media and textiles.
  1. Reply

    I LOVE your new work and the inspirational sources that inspire it. I often think that, as ceramic artists, we are simply re-creating our natural world.

  2. Reply

    Fabulous post, Lesley! Inspiring me to take a closer look about. Thanks

  3. Reply

    Thank you for all the inspirations, all your images as well as your own pieces really speak to me. Now I want to go to the studio 🙂

  4. Reply

    wow!! I love your colour palette those earthy tones really fit the design and that salt mine!! Those patterns remind me of a watercolour palette 😀

Leave a Comment