Studio Visit

Meet The Artist Behind The Sculptural Ceramic Objects We Can't Get Enough Of

Clare Hermon is the artist behind Hermon Blue, who handcrafts wavy candlesticks and such beautifully smooth forms, you’d think ceramics is a medium she’s worked with all her life.

In fact, she started out as a carpenter making timber furniture, and it wasn’t until she was pregnant with her now three-year-old daughter that she started embracing the simple nature of clay.

While she’s mostly self-taught, Clare moved to Eltham in 2020 in the hope of learning from some of the ‘master ceramicists’ in the neighbourhood – and she’s done exactly that!

Christina Karras

The basement in Clare Hermon’s 1960s Eltham home has turned out to be a perfect makers studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Clare’s been running her creative studio, Hermon Blue, from the property since 2020. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I spent most of my childhood in Northern England close to the hometown of Barbara Hepworth, and growing up, her artworks surrounded me. She was the first artist I ever knew of, so her sculptures were and still are very influential,’ Clare says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

A collection of Neptune Sticks and Silhouette Vessels amid her workbench. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘The original shapes can take a long time to make. I usually use only my hands when I work and I love the simplicity. I just start from the bottom and work my way up, adding pieces of clay and taking parts away as I go,’ Clare says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘The form of the Ritual Candelabra took a while to get right, I wanted it to be a piece that was timeless, elegant, useful and almost unnoticeable in its design.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Clare says the process of hand-building was appealing to her, having had no formal training and developing her own style with intuition. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

The serene basement is perfect for designing, handbuilding and assembling lighting. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I usually have three dedicated days per week to create and work ‘on the tools’ while Winnie is in kindergarten, but often spend the early mornings and evenings working on admin, website maintenance and packing orders while she is asleep,’ Clare explains. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She also creates hand-dipped beeswax candles, designed to fit her pieces! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

When the beeswax is fully melted, she carefully dips each hemp wick into the wax multiple times to build up a thick coating. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She works from her outdoor carport for messier tasks. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Clare says she has a new lighting collection launching early May, with lots of turned timber, spherical shapes, bent brass and ceramic elements! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

The natural tones and curved shapes make her pieces feel timeless! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Christina Karras
24th of April 2023

When one door closes, another door opens. This was the case for Melbourne-based artist Clare Hermon after she was forced to take a step back from her laborious work crafting timber furniture, when she became pregnant a few years ago.

Growing up in Northern England, she spent her early 20s learning the historic method of Welsh oak barn construction, which involves using mostly hand tools, lots of chisel work and fine joinery.

‘The master carpenter I worked with taught me how to use a lathe, carve a spoon, mill tree trunks, and construct a barn without any power tools. He taught me the fundamentals of working with timber and ignited my love of carving,’ Clare says.

But spending most of her childhood close to the hometown of prolific English ceramicist Barbara Hepworth, Clare was also surrounded by her sculptures. Ceramics was a medium she’d ‘always wanted to learn’, so she seized the opportunity to experiment while she was pregnant – and then later, while her newborn Winnie was sleeping. Before long she had established a studio, and started selling her pieces under the name Hermon Blue.

The Silhouette Vessel was the very first piece Clare ever made with clay. Its smooth, organic shapes set the tone for the rest of her enchanting creations – from the Ritual Candelabra’s ‘elegant, useful and almost unnoticeable’ design to her instantly recognisable Neptune Sticks. Now that Winnie is three years old, Clare says she’s been enjoying working with timber again for furniture and lighting, blending her expertise with her newfound love of ceramics.

Starting Hermon Blue around 2020, Clare says it was ‘difficult to master some techniques’ without a teacher or any classes running at the time. That was, until she moved to Eltham.

‘I knew Eltham had a great community of master ceramicists, so I thought if I moved there, I might come across some,’ some Clare explains. ‘And I did! Within a few weeks of working, Judith Roberts, who was an inspirational ceramicist in the 1970s, came over to offer me some tips!’

Clare’s beautiful 1960s house also serves as the idyllic backdrop for her practice – she does her slip-casting and woodwork from the carport, while the basement studio, featuring timber beams and slate floors, is where she designs, hand-builds her ceramics and assembles her lighting.

‘It really is a perfect house for an artist,’ Clare adds. ‘I’m unsure of the history of the house, but I like to believe it was designed with an artist in mind.’

Follow Hermon Blue on Instagram before the new lighting collection launches in May, and shop the current collections online here.

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