We tend to write about Heath Ceramics so frequently on this blog that I think it would be wise to try and combine all the recent ceramics stuff involving them into one post. At times, it seems like the focus of Potteries of California is heavily slanted toward coverage of Heath. But this is because they are one of the best examples of an older California ceramics company experiencing a rebirth while handling necessary modernization the RIGHT way. By sticking to their guns, Heath has survived the flood of imports that started in the 60s, and will continue to stand out among increasingly cheaply made goods coming from all corners of the globe.
I guess it also doesn’t hurt that the pieces Edith Heath originally designed still fit right in with the lifestyle of mid-century modern nuts new and old alike. And speaking of Edith, the Pasadena Museum of California is opening a new exhibit featuring some of her less common work. It’s called Edith Heath: Tabletop Modernist and will be open starting on May 31, 2009. There is actually an opening reception scheduled for the day before, 7-9pm ($5 admission, free for members of the museum). We are definitely going to try make it to the museum soon.
There were also two recent newspaper articles on Heath Ceramics. The first was an article in the New York Times entitled “A Label of Pride That Pays” which focused on two companies, one of which was Heath. It talked about how the resurgence of interest in products made with care in the U.S. is happening despite the downturn in the economy. The second article is a shorter one in the San Francisco Chronicle and is entitled Material World: Heath Ceramics’ casting call.
I wrote recently about the Heath Ceramics Open Studio events that happened in both the Sausalito and Los Angeles locations. We were actually able to make it out to the LA open studio on Saturday, May 2. We took my mom along for the ride since she’d never visited the Heath store. We had a wonderful time looking at all the ceramics at the store, and all of us ended up coming home with several items. One of the cool things they had was a history and demonstration of the pottery making process. Robin from Heath Ceramics, shown below pouring slip clay into a teapot mold, went through the various steps that go into making pottery at Heath. Not being potters ourselves, we learned quite a bit from the demo and the talk he gave.
They also had vintage Edith Heath items available for sale at the open studio event. Below are vintage buttons known as “kiln fillers” that were created to utilize the extra space not taken up in the kiln by the dinnerware that was being fired. I like the glaze on the all of these wonderful buttons.
In addition, they had a silent auction for several different experimental pieces from the earlier days of Heath. Shown below is a set of experimental glaze tiles, perhaps showing the different percentages of the different chemicals used in the glaze. We did bid on a few of these items, including the one shown, but were sadly not able to win any of them. The bidding started at $50 each - so I guess there are some pretty serious Heath fans out there!
We also participated in the free tile glazing activity that they had out in the courtyard along with the BBQ. We haven’t picked up our tiles yet, though, so I can’t show you the terrible job I did with the glaze. Let’s just say painting is not my forte!
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