07 Apr China Clay
Celia Crawford is an exceptionally creative floral artist with a passion for all things floral and handmade. She has been in the industry for over ten years and has worked in and alongside some of Sydney’s most fabulous florists. I had the immense pleasure of working alongside Celia for many years at Mandalay Flowers in Sydney’s gorgeous Double Bay. Our bond of life long friendship was born among the blooms.
Celia’s use of color and texture always amazed me and technically she is magnificent. I would often watch her put together pieces and pick her brain for technical advice. A key to any industry is to always be learning, growing and to know that what little you know now is never enough. Surrounding yourself with exceptionally talented creatives whom you can learn and grow from, bounce ideas off each and strengthen each other is a true gift and should be cherished. Iron strengthens iron!
I would love for you to know a little more about her and China Clay, so here you are. Enjoy!
Tell us a few tidbits about you Celia, How did you get into Floristry?
When I was in my last year of high school I knew I didn’t want to go straight from school to uni, that I wanted to do something creative and that I wanted to work with my hands. So I settled on floristry. That was 13 years ago and I haven’t looked back!
What’s the story behind China Clay?
Chinaclay was originally a ceramics gallery only. I have always loved ceramics and was a customer of theirs! When the opportunity to buy the business came up, I jumped at it and took the chance to transform it into a bit of a hybrid: it would still be a dedicated space for handmade local ceramics, but now also a full service floral studio. I find the two work hand in hand to create a truly unique business.
Why do love what you do?
There are so many reasons! I genuinely enjoy the seasonal fluctuations that flowers are subject to. A favourite flower coming back into season is like being reunited with an old friend. Weddings are incredibly special as well. I’ve been lucky enough so far to have worked with some incredible couples who have trusted me implicitly with such an important part of their day. I also marvel at how varied the approach to ceramics is among artists. At the moment we have approx. 20 artists contributing work to Chinaclay and they are all so skilled and unique. The appeal of the handmade and bespoke has never been lost on me and I love providing an alternative to the boring, mass produced snore-fest that often constitutes “giftware” in this country. It’s a source of enormous pride to support talented local artists and, from a selfish point of view, I just like looking at all the work.
Do you have any career highlights so far?
A big one for me was doing the flowers for my sister-in-law’s wedding last year. But, as all small business owners will realise, just surviving feels like a massive career highlight most of the time!
What are your three absolute FAVOURITE parts of your job?
Arriving at the flower markets to see what seasonal madness is in store for me, seeing a customer appreciate a beautiful piece of handmade pottery as much as I do, and, I’ve got to say, being my own boss. I once read something that said working for yourself is both better and worse than you think it will be. I find that to be true but would still say the good far outweighs the bad.
It’s Sunday Morning (and you have the day off). What would we find you doing?
In all likelihood you’d find me drinking coffee at Clovelly Social House. I’ve decided that during this mythical Sunday Off it would be summer, so after that I’d head down to Clovelly beach for a swim.
Some Words of Advice for clients-to-be –
Don’t be shy! Come in and ask questions about the ceramics – we love that. Every artist has their own story and philosophy and we love to chat about the work. In terms of weddings and events, trust us. We care enormously about what we do and we’ve got your back.
If you could work on a major event what would it be? (if your wildest dreams could come true)
Well I guess this is more a project than an event but I’d love to collaborate with a photographer on a series of large scale photographs. I have this idea of adorning everyday things like car dashboards and bathroom walls with creeping vines and vegetation while the people in the scene go about their daily business.
Who inspires you?
Clovelly is a hotbed of creative activity if you care to look. Within my own community, Gallery East for their incredible art, Kate Grebert for her illustration and imagination, Jo Kalute for her joyful and fashion forward printmaking and of course all of our artists, local and further afield. On a more global scale, Metaflora for their boundary pushing, Emily Thomson Flowers for their embrace of the insanity of the natural world, and Doan Ly for her command of light, both in her arrangements and photography.