Maker of the Month: Peyton Flynn of Cloud Nine Clay

This month's featured maker is the heart and soul behind local ceramics company Cloud Nine: artist, yoga practitioner, and photographer, Peyton Flynn.

Peyton is a shop favorite, and, since we have been enjoying lately getting to know the folks behind some of our favorite brands a bit more deeply, we wanted to have this experience with Peyton to learn (and tell) more about how she got to Philadelphia, to creating this company and her inspired/inspiring life. 

M+A: Let's start at the start...

Where did you grow up? And how did this place inform the path you are on now and/or what were the steps you took to get to where you are now? Did you go to art school?

P.F.: I grew up in Southern Maryland. Growing up in a rural/suburban area definitely gave me a curiosity about city life. I remember as a kid being pretty easily bored by our options for “things to do” in our town and becoming very dependent on our craft room for relief. My sister and I were always coming up with all types of creations. 

My parents also put me in a Montessori pre-school which probably propelled my creative nature from a young age, but I didn’t go to college for art. I had a really amazing ceramics teacher in high school and took classes every year. I became obsessed with the process. I had always been creative, but finding clay as a medium felt like my glass slipper. I knew it was something I would stick with, so I felt like I didn’t need to go to college for it, even though now I wish I did!

What were you like as a child? And how does your childhood inspire your work? 

Shy and chubby…hahaha. I always loved anything crafty. I was particularly fond of making “potions” (AKA mixing up different old lotion or lip glosses or perfumes with glitter or whatever else I could find to try to make something new and fun). I’m surprised I didn’t get into cosmetics! I think it’s important to keep that playful nature when you are a maker though. I rarely make the same thing twice unless I really really love it. 

Why did you choose the name Cloud Nine?
Choosing a name is really stressful honestly!! You are going to be using it for (hopefully) a long time, so it was not easy. I brainstormed a lot and knew I wanted a name that was upbeat and positive, so the idea of cloud nine was appealing. I felt like it conveyed a feeling of bliss and lightheartedness… When I think of times in my life when I was “on cloud nine”, I think of some of my happiest moments, and every day working in my studio makes me feel so grateful. I hope to convey a similar sense of bliss in peoples homes with my work.

What are your favorite shapes, artists?
I like circles, as you can see from a lot of my more sculptural vases. I think most of my favorite artists are my friends!! It's so cool to have friends who are painters and photographers and illustrators and woodworkers. I get to see and understand their process and collaborate and brainstorm together, so they really inspire me to keep exploring.

Where are some of your favorite places to get inspired - both near and far? 
One of my favorite places in the world is Costa Rica. I’ve been lucky enough to visit there twice so far. I also LOVED visiting Morocco. I feel like the colors and architecture there is a ceramicists dream—everything is so earthy but colorful at the same time. I couldn’t stop taking photos and am dying to go back!

Where is your happy place?
On my yoga mat! I teach yoga part-time, and going to take the class is like my reset button. It always brings me back to neutral and humbles me, no matter how I’m feeling before class.

What are your favorites things (could be anything) to indulge in? Recently, nice skin care and beauty supplements! Its one of the only things I don’t feel guilty splurging my money on haha.

What does sustainability mean and/or look like to you? 
Cherishing what you have. We live with so much waste and disposal that I think it's important to buy things that you really cherish and want to take care of. Its obviously not always easy to do that but if we acquire objects for our homes and lives that we truly love, I think we are ok with having less and won’t feel the need to constantly be replacing what feels old or not cool anymore. 

Why do you choose Philadelphia as your home now? 
I did not expect to call Philadelphia my home again so soon—I had a few years of travel that I really thought would lead me to a new city, a new climate, a new community… But Philly reeled me back! I found the perfect place to set up my studio and it all happened really fast, but I think this city is a really great place to start out with a business or idea. It has so much potential and un-tread territory to set roots, along with a very nurturing community which has been super refreshing!

If you could assign one word to this city, what would it be?

Do you have any advice for people just starting out with ceramics? Is there anything you wish someone told you? 

Let yourself learn from the clay!! It's going to be frustrating at first and you are going to have to learn how to let go of your expectations for a while! But those first few times that you become happy with what you’ve created with be worth it. 

 I wish I would have listened to what someone told me actually. My high school ceramics teacher, Donna Baker, really believed in me and encouraged me to pursue art…but I didn’t believe in myself yet, so I backed away. I know everything happens for a reason and starting my business now is what was meant to happen, but thinking back on how supportive she made me regret not realizing my potential back then. I am forever grateful to her!

And we are so grateful for you, for taking us on this journey behind the scenes of Cloud Nine. Thank you so much, Peyton!

Cloud Nine Clay can be found in-store and online, at both our shop and Peyton's website here. It is also home to some of her photography and contains information on her yoga adventures around town.


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