On any given day, you will find Kelsey Julian and Dillon Canfield in their Longmont basement-turned-workshop, where they design and execute bespoke ceramic collections. The former architects have developed functional art that is to be sipped and savored from but can impressively stand on its own as visual totems. With precision and play at the heart of their craft, the duo has been delivering stunning wares via their online store, pop-up shops and the Kirkland Museum gift shop in Denver since 2021.
The two met while attending the University of Tennessee, where a budding romance began and has since sprung into a business venture. Upon graduation, they relocated to Colorado and found careers at architecture firms. After a few years, they felt called elsewhere, with COVID acting as an impetus to take the leap into ceramics. Their time spent with clay and making molds at Longmont’s local Tinkermill activated an artful curiosity, which blossomed into See Saw Ceramics.
"We are officially free-falling,” Dillon says, with a playful smile.
As avid entertainers and lovers of all things food and drink, there is a thoughtfulness to the host and guests who they are creating for. The Ridgeline Bowls are inspired by traditional Japanese matcha bowls, called chawan, while the everyday mugs are personalized with circular handles and autumnal copper and white glazes. Each good they produce finds harmony in their respective collections, but when looked at closely carry details of individuality.
Ideated and completed entirely at home, they begin their process by creating a 3D printed prototype that they can hold and gauge before moving into the mold-making stage. Mold parts are printed and then cast in silicone. The silicone is now the mother mold from which multiple plaster molds can be made. The final steps are glazing and decorating, using a range of techniques before hitting the kiln. Their design style is free-form, but the craftspersonship is challenged by making precise molds and mastering this execution.
“The stackable First Aid tumblers, where there is a precision of the foot, is something you wouldn't be able to do on a wheel. Our process allows ease to these refined, small details,” says Kelsey.
All of this happens subterranean in the couple’s home, and the results are stunning. Think Charles and Ray Eames-style ramekins and bowls with the organic texture of clay stoneware.
Their designs—and vernacular—are evidence of having architectural backgrounds as they describe the polyvalent (two-faced) characteristics of the pieces reminiscent of a modern building’s edges. They play nice with other relics, too, showing off their distinct varietal textures balanced with neutral colorways—and look especially nice on an open shelf.
“A lot of our stuff could function well in tea ceremonies or as everyday pieces,” Dillon shares, “and if left out, still looks beautiful.”
What we love is the invitation their work carries to turn an everyday espresso drink or an icy nightcap into an artful ritual. Dillon and Kelsey celebrate this idea of surrounding oneself with beautiful things because it can ignite more creativity. With a capacity to create original designs and molds, their future goals are to be in more food-driven environments, collaborating on centerpieces and custom wares for Denver’s restaurants and beyond.
Pleased with the hands-on process of making accessible creations as well as building a local and scalable business, See Saw Ceramics seems to be the highest on the playground.
SIDEBAR: Unexpected Pours
First Aid: Mezcal Old Fashioned w/ a rocks cube
Ridgeline: G+T w/ elderflower liqueur
Zig: Matcha Latte sweetened w/ agave
Mug: Pour Over Coffee however you like it