Clayflower Studios creates ceramics & grows potted plants in Cincinnati, Ohio. We interviewed owner, Britney, to learn more about her local business. Meet Clayflower Studios at our Mini Holiday Maker Mart Popup Shop on December 9th!
Tell us about your local business.
Clayflower Studios is a potted plant and ceramic art business started by Britney Rhine and currently located in Cincinnati, Ohio. As an artist and self-proclaimed "plant mom", Britney wants to give people the tools to have healthy, happy plants and supply them with unique, handcrafted 'homes' for their plant friends!
What drew you to your craft?
My Dad is both a skilled woodworker and avid gardener. His hobbies really led me to where I am today. Some of my earliest memories are either working with him out in our garden or in his woodshop. My love of plants and need to be surrounded by them was instilled at an early age. Working at Cincinnati's Civic Garden Center and then Delhi's West Hills Greenhouses really helped me hone in on my skills and knowledge of plants and learn the best ways to care for them. As an artist, my craft originally began in woodworking, mostly focusing on indoor and outdoor planter systems. However, after loosing access to my school's woodshop, it was necessary to find a more accessible medium for those forms. It wasn't until I began working and taking classes at Cincinnati's Queen City Clay that I was able to translate those skills to the clay world.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
Some of my more recent geometric planter pieces have been my favorite so far. After taking a really great handbuilding class at QCC, I learned how to work with hard slabs to create more angular forms. Even though clay can be a soft, malleable material, working in this way has been an interesting correlation to crafting with wood. I also really love making my "cactus cuties", that come in the form of pins, magnets, keychains, pendants or ornaments. They started as just a way of using up some excess clay, as I just cut out the cacti shapes from the leftover areas on the parts of the slab. All the shapes are cut out by hand, painted with underglaze, and carved using a sgraffito technique, making each piece completely one-of-a-kind. In both style and process, I feel like they are an expressive and fun companion to the more simple and precise geometric pieces.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
An artist, for sure. I always, always wanted to be an artist. My Mom actually has photos of me from a day in 4th or 5th grade, when we were supposed to come dressed as who we wanted to be when we grew up. I came dressed as Pablo Picasso.
What is your creative process?
For both the plants and ceramic side of it, my process is actually surprisingly meticulous. I really thrive in a clean, organized environment. For the plants, I have separate trays for anything that I'm starting as a top cut vs leaf cutting, etc. For my ceramic work, I love doing everything in the same stages. I cut all my shapes out at the same time, assemble things, then clean all the forms, and do any glazing. I don't like the processes to overlap too much.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
I think I would have waited a year or so to head off to school. I fumbled around quite a bit in my first couple years at the Art Academy. I went into school just thinking that I wanted to be an "artist", but I don't think I was mature enough at the time to really know what that meant. I knew plants were important to me, but I was never really sure how to turn them into "art". It wasn't until after graduating that I was really able to connect all the dots.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
Of course it is always so imperative to support the arts, but for me it also has a lot to do with our impacts on the environment. By purchasing any sort of item from a local maker, you know for a fact that that item was made here, by that person's hand, likely with local materials, and didn't have to be shipped 1000+ miles to your doorstep. I feel like buying local and handmade is one of the smallest steps we could take towards combating climate change.
Why do you love doing what you do?
It's hard to even describe that feeling. Connecting with people and being able to share a love of plants and the natural world, as well as a love of the arts... it's just beyond words. I love seeing people go home with something that they adore and giving them the tools to care for it so that they might have it for years to come.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own businesses?
My advice to other women who want to be business owners is to use any resource available in your community that you can. Don't be too shy to ask others for help or advice. Cincinnati especially has such a wonderful community and a strong support system for makers and artists. I've learned so much just by observing and talking with other makers and entrepreneurs in this area. The greatest tool is those around you!
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
The greatest thing about Exploring Ohio has got to be all the PARKS! I'm originally from a small town in southern Illinois that is completely surrounded by state parks, wildlife preserves, etc. Hiking, and exploring in general was such a huge part of my childhood so I was originally a little weary of moving to a city. However the transition to Cincinnati was so easy because even though I'm living in this (what feels like to me) "big city", we are completely surrounded by nature. Some of my favorite parks to visit are Glen Helen Nature Preserve, John Bryan State Park, Hocking Hills, Stonelick State Park and literally any/all of the Great Parks of Hamilton County!