I have summarised below a brief history of the company, which I found most interesting.
Edith Heath, the Danish founder of Heath Ceramics, was born in 1911, into a small farming town called Ida Grove, near Sioux City, Iowa.
As a young lady, Edith enjoyed learning about art education.
In 1934, she enrolled part time at the Art Institute of Chicago where she studied History of art and ventured into her first ceramics class.
After marrying in 1938, Edith followed her husband Brian to San Francisco, for his work.
En route, they passed New Mexico, where Edith was in awe of the traditional black on black ceramics of Maria Martinez, an influential Native American potter.
Edith’s hunger for the knowledge of ceramic chemistry led her to successfully petition the University of California to host a year long intensive course, which she took.
Experimenting with raw chemical compounds, Edith moved closer to perfecting a stoneware clay body that created quality dinnerware.
She formulated glazes that left a speckle pattern, hallmark of her early works.
Heath Ceramics was born after Nelson Gustin, a distributor of ceramics noticed her work and proposed to help her expand by cosigning a loan and guaranteeing to purchase her first year’s production output.
The business went from strength to strength, expanding, exhibiting and winning accolades.
Edith’s first dinnerware line, named Coupe, was perfected in 1947 and was an instant hit for its combination of contemporary clean lines combined with a craft based heritage for clay and glaze.
The original colours were Sand, Sage, Blue, Aqua and Apricot, followed later by Gunmetal, Green Luster, Sea and sand and Brown-stone.
During the economic downturn of the 1960s, Edith needed to look for new ways to sustain the business and she successfully did that by venturing into tile making.
By the mid 1980s, Heath Ceramics had come round full circle. They did not renew the retail distributor right, but instead started to look inward, focusing on smaller volume, good quality in house production. That ethos continues today.
We were introduced to Adam Silverman’s work (above) on the tour. He is a potter and the LA studio director.
Born in New York, he was raised in Connecticut and studied at the Rhode Island school of design. You can read an interview with him here. He will soon be exhibiting at the Laguna Art Museum, based in Laguna Beach, California. The previous 3 images constitute part of his impending exhibition.
His work has been described by Heath Ceramics as ‘exploring the merger of form, color and texture’ and is ‘strange and familiar, ugly and beautiful.’
What do you think?
I, of course didn’t leave empty handed. I bought a few classic Heath Ceramics bud vases in shades of ochre yellow, green and terracotta. The icing on the cake was the limited edition seasonal vase above, with its graduated tone of peacock blue. Heath Ceramics has liken this design to powdery snow.
Hope you have enjoyed this post. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. x