West Coast Love // Heath Ceramics Factory Tour

I'm pretty excited about today's post! Last week, over my spring break, I went on a tour of the Heath Ceramics factory in the little town of Sausalito. I had only heard of Heath Ceramics in the last year or so, but it has actually been around since the 1940's. It was started by a woman named Edith Heath, who developed this brand and style all on her own. Though she has passed, the new owners of the company got to spend a lot of time with her before her passing and now do their best to stay true to her aesthetic, style, and beliefs.

The tour lasted for just about an hour and was a fabulous look into the inner workings of this company. Our tour was on a Friday morning, when the factory was in production, so it was an especially cool time to visit!
I loved learning about the history of the company and the ways they still try to do things as close to the way Edith originally did them, as well as getting a glimpse into the processes that are used to create each piece. In the photo above, this worker is putting handles on the mugs. It was interesting to see how she puts each mug over the stone-looking cylinder and uses the little square nub on the counter as a marker to where the handle should be placed. Little details like that are so fascinating to me!
The mugs with funny looking little handles on the bottom shelves were developed by Edith for her own use. She lived on a house boat in Sausalito so she could be close to her studio, and so she needed a way to hand her mugs to save space in her home. As a result, she started producing them for her company as well. She always tried to give her pieces a specific functionality, as well as beauty.
These are molds that they use to make some pieces. There are tons of these molds laying around the factory!
This is the area of the studio that they make the actual molds. The tour guide told us that they are continuously making molds because they don't always hold up and they have a limit to how many times they can be used (I believe this was why).
This is a station where they spray the glazes on pieces. I was told that it takes quite a bit of time to load the glazes into the sprayers, so they tend to only use one or two different glazes in a day to spray as many pieces as they can or have to of that particular color.
Glazes! They do their best to use the original glazes that Edith used, but since there are chemical regulations on what can be in their glazes that weren't in effect when Edith developed them, some of the glazes were eliminated. They did their best to reformulate as many as they could to fit the standards that have been enforced.
I really loved this tour and the factory store! They have what they call "Seconds" for sale in the factory store, which are second quality pieces that are not quite high enough quality to be "Firsts," but are still in great condition. Really, I could hardly tell if anything at all was wrong with any of the pieces. There were a few that the glazes were a little off or uneven, but Heath loves their products so much that they couldn't bear to just throw them out. I was lucky enough to be gifted an orange bud vase like the one pictured above and am just in love with it. Can't wait to find some little flowers for it!

After visiting the factory, I have a new love for this brand and what they stand for. If you are ever in the Bay Area, I highly recommend this free tour! I just want all the Heath pieces and now dream of having a set of their dishes one day (one day!). Also, the factory store is a great place to pick up some discounted pieces if you don't mind some of them having a bit more personality to them (but seriously, you can hardly tell that they aren't first quality) ;)

Have you heard of Heath Ceramics?

Heath Ceramics // 400 Gate Five Road, Sausalito, CA
Itbritt said...

so cute!
Such a fun little place. Would love to get the tour - but I feel like I just took it.

I love how simple and clean all their designs are. would love to have some of those in my house!

abby - little city adventures said...

Oh my goodness Jess this looks like so much fun! Beautiful patterns and colors, totally adding it to my travel bucket list :) Thanks for sharing!!!

Laura @ Inspiration.Sparks said...

What a fun little tour!! ugh, now i want one of each color :P

Jennifer Kingaard said...

This was a highlight of our trip. :)