Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heath Ceramics factory tour

I made the trip up to Sausalito on Saturday to wander around the Heath Ceramics annual sale. Heath is pretty well-known in California for simple and well-made (albeit expensive) ceramicware. The factory in Sausalito (built in 1959) still uses much of the original equipment (including a giant kiln that lowers from the ceiling onto the shelves of pieces). The company makes the attempt to promote local manufacturing, fair worker compensation, and the craft of ceramics.

cupsshelves of bud vases

Some of the factory's "big" clients include Gump's San Francisco, Chez Panisse, and SFMOMA.

I had been to Heath before (one year ago), but never on the tour. I totally recommend it; it's such a treat to chat with the people who are making things, and to see the demonstrations. My experience with ceramics is pretty confined to making bowls on a pottery wheel. Heath uses quite a few ceramic techniques, including slip-cast, plaster molds, and jiggering, that I've never learned, so I enjoyed seeing this whole other skill set in ceramics. It's incredible to see how adept everyone was at their tasks; the man who sands plates can do 6 at a time, and completes about 400 plates per day.

sanding plates
automated jiggerselection of glazes

If you can't make the tour in person, the website has virtual tours of their dinnerware and tile-making process.

[Psst! Check out other summaries of the Heath Ceramics factory tour at Apartment Therapy and Craftzine.]

No comments: