Rising Dawn Ceramics
Our Desert Sun Mug by Kelsey of Rising Dawn Ceramics has been the most used mug in our cabinets ever. We met Kelsey at our 2021 Unglued Craft Fest where she completely sold out of her beautiful, functional ceramics and I have been a mega fan ever since. Read on to find out about how this local art teacher crafted up her ceramics business and what’s essential in making the best mug.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I spent my younger years in southern Minnesota and I came to Fargo to attend MSUM. I decided to stick around because the community here felt like nothing I had experienced anywhere else. I’ve been in Fargo for nine years now! I’m an art teacher at Davies High School in Fargo. Between teaching, pottery and hanging out with my husband and daughter, I’m never bored!
Describe what type of products you make under Rising Dawn.
I make simple and functional products. I like to use white glaze and pair it with raw clay. Everything I make is designed to be durable, functional and to be used on a daily basis, not just on special occasions.
Tell us how you got started with a handmade business.
During January 2020, I was throwing on the wheel making some mugs for myself and it just clicked. It felt like it was the right time to jump in and to try making that into a business. As it turns out that was an interesting year, but it all worked out!
You’ve also taught art—how has this influenced your business?
I’m constantly reminded that no matter what experience level you are at, you never stop learning. I have students come to me with questions about materials or processes and if I don’t know the answer we figure it out together. This directly leaks into the constant learning and adapting that I do within my business.
Where do you get your inspiration for what you create?
A lot of inspiration comes directly from my daily life. When I’m in the kitchen and I think to myself about how I wish I had a nice way to store my salt on my counter, I realize I can’t be the only one that feels this way, so I make that product!
What is your personal favorite item you’ve crafted so far?
I’m currently very excited about a clever way that I figured out how to make napkin rings!
We are obsessed with your mugs and my daily coffee mug is one of yours. What makes the perfect coffee mug?
In my opinion, it has to have a comfortable handle! I try to keep to a three-finger rule for the size and grip of my handles. If a mug isn’t comfortable to hold, I don’t think it will be chosen from the cupboard.
What is something people might find surprising about working with ceramics?
There is so much failure. This is probably the biggest challenge for my students and new learners. You have to accept that things will break and that it’s okay. You also have to develop a unique kind of resilience with pottery. Just keep trying and practicing!
What is one craft you haven’t really dabbled in yet that you want to try someday?
Printmaking! It’s a class I didn’t have time for in college and I know there are some cool relationships between printmaking and ceramics that I would love to try someday.
What is something you’ve enjoyed the most about doing this handcrafted business?
I love meeting customers at markets, participating in community events and seeing people light up when they look through my mugs to find the one that works for them.
What is the most challenging thing?
Burnout is real. Especially since I teach full-time. I have had to learn that it’s okay to say no to orders and to take time off. I never want this art form to feel like a burden!
What is a word that best describes you?
What advice would you have given yourself five years ago?
I would tell her that she is capable and worthy. Her art matters and people should see it. I definitely did not believe it at that time.
Where can people find your work?
You can find my work on my website! I also participate in the Red River Market in the summer as well as some of the Unglued Craft Fest events.