This month we had the pleasure of speaking to international ceramist Yau Chung Tong in his studio in California. We learnt what has influenced his work, where he gains his inspiration and how he sees the tea industry evolving. You can view his beautiful pieces here: https://www.onecupstudio.com/about and follow him on Instagram here:https://www.instagram.com/yauchung_tong/
Tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong and then moved to the United States with my family in my teens. I gained a BA in Ceramics at the California College of Art in 2017 and after graduating I worked as an instructor at the American Museum of Ceramics Art and a studio technician at Pasadena City College. I wanted to expand my learning so moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art. I now live in California again and am currently studio-based where I continue to research and develop glazes as well as seeking new thrown forms.
How did you become a ceramist?
In high school, I took several art classes which I loved. When I started to learn about ceramics, I fell in love with it and never looked back. When I was living in Hong Kong as a child, drinking good tea was a huge part of our lives. Every morning we would drink tea and I would learn how to make it properly. These early experiences of tea have inspired my craft and have helped me create different styles of cups for different tea or different moments of the day.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Since living in California, my work has become more colorful. I love the vibrancy of the colors in LA. When I was studying in London, the colors there were reflected in my work and I created darker toned work. In terms of the shapes I love how everyone drinks tea in a slightly different way. Tea can be a very emotive drink as people use their hands to cup their drink. Tea can be a great comfort for people so I want to use shapes to reflect that. Tea, and the joy which people get from tea, should be celebrated every day and my hope is to create pieces of work which allow people to enjoy the tea process. I want people to feel joy everyday when they drink their tea.
How do you think the tea industry is evolving?
Living through the pandemic has been tough and I think that tea has offered comfort to people when they’ve had to navigate a constantly changing situation. Tea and the ceremony of making tea can be very relaxing and therapeutic and I think that people will continue to use these little routines that have been created once the pandemic subsides. After the pandemic I think that we’ll continue to prioritize our quality of life.
What tea do you drink and why?
I actually drink coffee in the morning to get me going and then I drink oolong or white tea throughout the day. I make a pot of tea in the morning and top it up with hot water throughout the day. I find that tea helps me with the creative process. Tea brings me joy and I’m happy sharing that joy with other people.