Heath Ceramics is an institution in San Francisco when it comes to trendy tile and dinnerware, which are both, naturally, in high demand in SF. I knew very little about Heath before visiting the factory except that I knew I loved all of it and wanted to drink everything out of one of those sweet taupe colored mugs with the single finger handle. We drove over the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito to get a tour of the original factory and to buy some rumored seconds pieces on the cheaps. The seconds, as it turns out, will still set you back $25 a mug, but I managed to find a few adorable brown speckle stacking mugs that were supposed double seconds (not good enough for Heath but good enough for me) and only had to suffer mild judgement from the pretentious cashier who reminded me they were "not returnable."
I was a pathetic, drooly mess on the tour through the warehouse, holding up the group on several occasions to get another shot of some handles drying and bowls being made right there in front of me! It was heaven. The building itself was exciting to see. A 1959 Marquis and Stoller factory designed specifically for the Heath operation, much of the space and the equipment remained unchanged. The trusses were designed to support the structure without the use of columns and so each space continued into the next with no obstructions (details shown above).
Many of their pieces are slip cast, where liquid clay (slip) is poured into plaster molds, allowing for faster production and uniform pieces. Another method used for making their bowls and plates is jiggering (shown above) using a spinning mold to form the outside of the bowl and using the wood profile to form the inside of the bowl while it spins. The pieces are then trimmed or refined on a wheel with a fine wet sponge, then fired, glazed and fired again. I love that these methods as well as most of their equipment has been used since Edith first built the factory almost 60 years ago. I could go on more about Edith and what a badass lady she was, but you can read more about Heath and access all the old images and drawings I've included in this post here at the Berkeley environmental design archives.
This will be my last foodless post I swears. But the pitchers are so pretty you could eat 'em no?