Still studying and relatively new to her craft, yet producing some of the most distinctive ceramics to come out of Melbourne of late, Claudia Lau is a wonder.
Today we visit the earnest ceramicist in her ‘fancy garage’, to coo over her unique Circle Pitcher and other amazing pieces.
It’s hard to believe that Claudia Lau only attended her first wheel-throwing ceramics class three years ago – it started out as an activity to enjoy with her Dad! As she embarked on Bachelor of Communication Design studies at RMIT University around the same time, the young creative soon developed a passion for ceramics, finding it to be a pleasingly tangible platform for her design ideas.
Between purchasing her own wheel and, more recently, investing in a kiln, the diligent maker honed her skills as a studio assistant for Leah Jackson. Today, Claudia is continuing to refine her techniques in the studio of Asuka Mew and Anna Miller-Yeaman of Wingnut & Co. This talented creative couple have proven wonderfully generous mentors with whom ‘to talk kilns and clay language,’ and as a result Claudia has been inspired and emboldened to explore more innovative forms in her own practice.
‘I’m in my studio every spare moment I have!’ she tells of her work-study-passion-project balancing act. ‘I’m learning to manage a shift in my practice, from making one-off pieces to creating in small batches for orders; I’m also trying to be more professional now that I have stockists, but I do like to keeping my practice quite open so I have the capacity to develop new ideas and pieces.’
Currently, Claudia’s practice incorporates a range of retail and creative projects as well as collaborative work, such as her current effort creating displays for one of her favourite stores Shifting Worlds. The popularity of her unique Circle Pitcher and drinking vessels mean she’s also busy working to meet demand. ‘I am interested in exploring the idea of function in combination with pieces that can sit sculpturally on their own, to present a modern adaptation of the traditional craft,’ she tells. ‘I want my pieces to be used for the every day and for the special moments to inspire something more.’
Having a home studio (‘fancy garage’) has afforded the ceramicist with the time to practice, improve and, surprisingly, connect. ‘I am unintentionally quite isolated for most of the day, so working from the garage has enabled me to develop a very special connection with all the neighbours of my block,’ she tells. Another highlight has been her collaboration with Honey Fingers: co-hosting a picnic that combines friends, bees, laughter, coffee, tea, food, ceramics and fresh honeycomb. ‘Being a part of such a sweet, ceremonial moment and the coming together of all these things in context added a whole new layer of meaning and appreciation for being able to make ceramics,’ says Claudia.
With her graduation just around the corner, Claudia is looking forward to slowing down a little and making more time to pursue ideas, including an ikebana vessels project with her Mum. A trip to China and to Japan, where she will continue learning kintsugi (the Japanese art of beautifying the broken) under Master Showzi Tsukamoto, are also on the horizon. ‘As a ceramicist, I consider my practice as a platform to connect with like-minded individuals,’ she explains. ‘To learn and engage in other practices… that is what inspires me.’