During a recent trip to San Francisco, my husband and I took the ferry to Sausalito to visit Heath Ceramics' production facility—what a wonderful treat! I didn't know what to expect from the tour; after all, I'd never been to a pottery production facility in the United States, especially one that's been operating in virtually the same way since its 1949 opening.
Heath Ceramics has been featured on Re-Nest and Apartment Therapy numerous times for their eco-friendly production practices, classic mid-century designs, heritage, and the new products they are thoughtfully and successfully launching into the marketplace. There's no end to the content Heath Ceramics provides to us bloggers—we just love them! So, I thought I'd share a few images from our tour.
Images, from left to right, top to bottom.
1 Heath Ceramics' Sausalito production facility was opened in 1949 by the company's founder, Edith Heath.
2 We visited Heath on a sunny August Saturday. Tours are given on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the year. Check online for details.
3 A photograph of Edith Heath hangs to the left when you first enter.
4 Melody, our tour guide, holds a mold form. Here Heath's special, top-secret clay body, in a liquid state called slip, is poured into mold forms, set, then taken aside for trimming. Timing is especially important during this stage. Not all Heath wares are slip cast, mostly just the complex, hollow forms.
5 Tumblers: all are post-mold, some have been trimmed, and all are pre-glaze. "Designed in the 1980s for (Heath's) Plaza line, these modern handless cups are great for coffee and tea."
6 Melody, our informative tour guide, spent a great deal of time with us, answering questions and giving us the inside on Heath Ceramics.
7 Plates, post-trim and pre-glaze.
8 Inventory of dried, pre-glazed, pre-fired pieces.
9 Glaze station. Depending on demand and seasonality, pieces can be glazed with any one of the colors Heath sells. Glazing is done by hand, by either dipping or spraying the form.
10 A sneak preview of Heath's 2010 Seasonal Collection, available October 1, 2010 through April 1, 2011, or while supplies last.
11 Heath's two top-hat kilns have been in production since 1959. As a result of their constant use, kiln shelves often wear out and need to be replaced. In an effort to redirect any inputs from entering the waste stream, the company glazes the shelves and sells them as landscape wall and patio tiles.
12 Fired pieces are sorted, inspected, and tagged as firsts or seconds. Pieces are inventoried and shipped.
(Images: Landis Carey)