During Blog Tour LA, we were lucky to visit Heath Ceramics, kindly organised by Veronika Miller of Modenus after a tweet request. I have always yearned to visit this special place.
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
Great write up and historical summary Geraldine! I’m a fervent ceramics collector so good thing I have never visited this place. My first impression when I look at the photos is that their designs are very pure. My favourites are the limited edition and I also like the numbers. Thanks for sharing this
Thank you Louise. I love the ceramic numbers too. Happy weekend x
My goodness, Geraldine, looks and sounds as though you had an amazing time in LA! What an adventure. I’m enjoying reading about all that you discovered. These ceramics are just lovely. Holly x
Thank you Holly, I definitely had a wonderful time there. x
Loved revisiting Heath through your eyes! That was such a great visit on #BlogTourLA and so glad for your nudge to make it happen!
Thank you lovely 🙂 It was one of my favourites on Blog Tour LA. x
Amazing! Is the mug you keep showing on IG from here?? Simple and very beautiful!!
Yes, the mugs are from Heath Ceramics Giova. Happy weekend 😉 x
I absolutely love visiting ceramics workshops, and how luck you were to visit this gem of a place xx
It was a fantastic outing. you should visit when you are next in LA. x
So happy you make it happen to get to visit them! It’s been one of my true highlights I will not forget. Loved reading the story! x
I’m so pleased you liked it Gudy, I knew you would. I can’t wait to see your ceramic pieces too, I know they will be very popular. Hope Shanghai is treating you well, hopefully no jet lag? Have a wonderful week. Miss you. x
I’m so pleased you tweeted to ask for this visit, G because it was AMAZING! I felt so inspired by the wall of tiles we saw with all the colour tests and samples. Have a fab week x
I’m so pleased Veronika indulged us with this visit, she is such a wonderful person. Love the test wall too. x
Don’t know why I had problems leaving a comment from my iMac so trying on the iPhone.
Another great visit. I think visiting workshops and artists is so very inspiring. To see where it all happens always inspires me no end!
Bet you would have brought back the whole lot:-) x
You are absolutely right, I really could have bought more. My bag was already overweight. You should have seen what I had to do with my bags at the check in counter – you would laugh. x
I’m totally loving these ceramics, especially the blue peacock coloured ones! Too bad I didn’t get to visit them when we were in LA back in 2009… I will have to pay a visit when I ever go back. 😉 Hope you’re doing well! Hugs, Inge x
Inge, definitely a must go when you revisit. Have a lovely week x
I love it that you can never leave empty handed. You’ll need a bigger house soon for all your fine artworks! Looks like a fabulous trip!
It’s not a good thing right? I need to leave my purse at home next time I go out 😉 x
Absolutely great post Geraldine – lovely story about Edith. And their collections are great – I adore the limited edition ones in the last pic, powdery snow indeed. Happy Thursday x
Thank you Anya 🙂 I love my limited edition bud vase too. Have a great weekend and looking forward to seeing you in London soon. x
Such a lovely write up G and such beautiful images – BlogtourLA sounds like the perfect trip! So happy you had a lovely time! X
Thank you Ari, it was a really fun trip. Will always treasure it. x
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