Monday, February 27, 2012

Red Rock + Turquoise Necklace, How Gary Austin's Mesquite Pot Inspired it

Faux Red Rock and Faux Turquoise 'Tribute to Sedona' Necklace
Faux Red Rock and turquoise inlay necklace inspired by a woodturned mesquite and turquoise pot by Gary Austin
I recently completed this faux red rock sandstone with faux turquoise inlay and faux turquoise bead necklace that's made entirely by hand from artist quality polymer clay as a tribute to the red rocks of nearby Sedona, Arizona. The matrix even contains small amounts of real powdered Sedona red rock dirt. I love the way cerulean blue Arizona turquoise and red sandstone compliment each other. Very Arizona! My original inspiration for the turquoise inlay in the cracks of the teardrops, however, didn't come from Sedona. It was indirectly inspired by the unlikely source of a gorgeous woodturned pot made from mesquite wood elaborately that is Inlaced with turquoise. It was created by Thatcher, AZ artist and woodturner, Gary Austin. My husband bought it for me after I fell in love with it at the Little Art Gallery in Thatcher, Arizona. 
(More about inspiration in general at the end of the post and a call for polymer clay artists to share the sources of their inspiration in a future blog post here.)

Woodturned Mesquite Burl Pot with Turquoise Inlace by Gary Austin

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet and talk Gary, who happened to be in the gallery at the time, and find out a little bit about the process he uses to create his masterpieces. The turquoise Inlace follows the crevices in the mesquite and forms an intentional, but seemingly random meandering pattern that's very organic in nature and pleasing to the eye. This pot is one of the most beautiful pieces of artwork I've ever seen and it fits in perfectly with the earthy southwest theme of our home. It now lives in our dining room where we can enjoy it while we eat. The pot inspired me to try my hand at incorporating faux turquoise into the crooks and crevices of my stylized polymer clay faux sandstone teardrops.  

Because I'm so attracted to Gary's work and it inspired me, I wanted to share a bit about him and his work in hopes of also inspiring my readers. Below are pictures of a few of my favorite Gary Austin pieces and a short bio.

       China Berry Burl

Mesquite Burl
Gary was born in Arizona and has lived his whole life in our beautiful state. He attended school in Eagar. After high school he received a BS Degree from Arizona State University in Education with a certificate in Special Education. He and his family moved to Thatcher where he was a Special Education teacher for 35 years, teaching in the Elementary School, Middle School and High School. He is now retired from teaching.

Gary Austin and his prize-winning woodturned pots

He has been turning wood for about eight years. He got started by taking a wood working class at the local college. Even though Gary was building a computer table, he was very interested in the little bowls the instructor's son was making on the lathe. When Gary finished his computer table the instructor told him to make a bowl. Gary said,  "I don't have any wood." The instructor gave him some and he has been turning ever since. He has turned over 1100 pieces. His progress has been impressive. He writes that, "his first turned piece was segmented and looked like a spittoon." Like many top wood turners, he now uses other types of material to accent various aspects of his work, such as  turquoise Inlace (the turquoise colored inlay material used in the pots). He has created many magnificent pieces, both small and large, and prefers whole wood as apposed to segmented. He says that he really likes to show the holes, cracks and natural lips of the wood whenever possible and it's easy to see from the photographs of his work that he utilizes them in a spectacular way with a master's eye and touch.

Oak Burl

From the beginning Gary has exhibited the ability to been able to read the wood, i.e. having the eye and the creativity to being able to get the best shape and grain from each piece.  Almost all the woods he uses are native to Arizona and the majority are desert woods. His favorite woods are Mesquite, Oak, and Black Walnut.

 Oak Burl

He writes that, "he loves that people love his turned pieces and he has never turned a piece that he didn't like." I love his work and I've never seen one of his pieces that I didn't like, either!

I find that inspiration can come from so many diverse sources and it's often takes a serendipitous route. It's very interesting to step back and become more aware of the sources of creative inspiration and I find it's also very interesting to see where people's inspiration comes from. So, for those readers who work with polymer clay as their medium of choice, I'm soliciting/collecting photos of polymer clay pieces along with an accompanying photo of the source of their inspiration (either indirect or direct) to be used for a future blog post on inspiration.  

Send me a photo of your final polymer clay piece along with a photo of the inspiration behind it, plus a few sentences of storyline if you like. I'll include as many as I can in a future post. If you'd like your contact info to be published (name as you'd like it to appear, website/shop/blog) please include that info. If the inspiration came from a piece by another artist, please make sure you have permission from that artist for me to post it and also include their contact info (name as they'd like it to appear, website/shop/blog) if they'd like that info to be included in the post.

BTW, I just became INSPIRED to add a Feedburner email sign up to my blog so that if you choose, anytime I make a new blog post it will arrive directly in your email inbox. See top right to sign up by leaving your email address. I've also enabled Reader feed and there's now a sign up for that, too, in case you prefer to subscribe to the blog in a reader format. A big Thank You to Lynn of DesertRubble for her blog post on "How to Email Blog Posts to You Fans" and for her guidance in helping me set up my Feedburner.


  1. Gorgeous necklace! Those two colors are beautiful together and I love how you used small amounts of real powdered Sedona red rock dust.

    I can see why you were so inspired by Gary Austin's woodturned pot! His work is fantastic, thank you for introducing him, great feature!

  2. Beautiful necklace!! Those are beautiful woodturned pots! Exquisite work...thanks for sharing his art!

  3. oh, I am jealous that you have that wonderful bowl living with you! your necklace inspired by it is to die for also.

  4. Hey there!! I love love love both Gary's work and your fantastic necklace, too. Wow for both of you, super nice creations. I love the pot that Sy bought for you!

  5. Gorgeous necklace Anita, that color combo is one one of my favorites. I am always impressed with your attention to detail.

    Thank you for sharing Gary Austin's pieces, his work is awesome.

  6. Your clay work is beautiful. I have really enjoyed seeing the bowls of Gary Austin. Awesome work!