Sisters Rebecca and Lauren Chua have been drawing, painting and making things together since they were little kids, driving their parents crazy with the mess. When they started to learn pottery together three years ago, it was just another creative challenge. They gifted what they made but it wasn’t long until friends were commissioning pieces regularly. They decided to brand their wares to identify them – and Chuchu was born.
Square 1, a vast studio space tucked down a quiet cul-de-sac in Erskineville, is where the sisters throw and paint. About 30 other potters share Claypool, the communal pottery studio that takes up the left side of the building. The open layout of Square 1 invites inquisitive eyes. “When I’m here by myself at night, it’s a really cool atmosphere. I wander around and look at the painter’s stuff in one corner with heaps of colour and in another corner, someone’s doing lino prints. It really gets you in the right frame of mind,” Rebecca says.
It’s easy to see by the way these two answer questions, offering responses to each other for consideration, that it is a productive partnership. “She’s more creative with shapes and colour and I’m more of a perfectionist,” Rebecca, an environmental engineer by day, remarks, “so when we started doing stuff together it worked really well.”
Currently finishing her Masters in Architecture and working part time in a firm, Lauren eschews planning. “Once, I worked on something for a whole year that was scrapped. When I come to the studio, I just like to see what happens. I always start with a need: I want to make a bowl, but I have no mental image of it,” she says. “If I make something I really like, I’ll make it again. There have been lots of disasters along the way.”
“And swearing, and storming out of the studio in a bad mood,” Rebecca laughs.
“I don’t think people realise how much time goes into each piece. Ceramics is a mix of being really skilful as well as creative. It took us about two years before we could eat or drink out of anything we made,” Lauren says.
Luckily for us, the sisters persisted beyond the lumpy ashtray phase to produce playful pieces, like little plant pots with rounded legs or polka dot mugs, that not only look beautiful but are a delight to use.
Ceramics and custom pieces may be ordered online at chuchu.net.au.