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Heath Ceramics – Factory Tour (Sausalito, California)

October 3, 2006

By: Anh-Minh Le, decor8 west coast contributor

Heath Ceramics - Factory Tour (Sausalito, California)
I have long been a fan of Heath Ceramics and was joyful beyond words when I realized that they have a factory store in the Bay Area. And, even better, they offer free factory tours.

For those not familiar with the company, here?s a little background info: In 1948, Edith Heath ? an industrial designer and potter ? founded her own ceramics studio. She specialized in tableware and tiles, eventually making her way into museums and stores across the country.

Even after half a century in business, all of the pottery is still made by skilled artisans in Sausalito, Calif., using the methods that Edith herself developed (she passed away in December). About three years ago, Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey purchased the company. The husband-and-wife team brought some of Edith?s old designs out of retirement and have managed to maintain her high level of quality as well as her wonderfully simple aesthetic. (We?re talking about pieces that you can pass down from generation to generation.)

Heath Ceramics - Factory Tour (Sausalito, California)The factory tour takes about 30-45 minutes ? depending on how many questions you ask ? and covers the entire building. Since tours are only given on the weekends, you don?t actually get to see any of the work being done, but you get detailed descriptions of how everything works. And you can get up close and personal here; there are no red lines that you aren?t allowed to cross.

It is amazing to me, in this day and age of outsourcing and mass production, that there is still this successful ceramics studio churning out beautiful products that require very skilled hands. Heath actually makes its own clay! And their own glazes! And all of the glazes are sprayed on by hand! That takes a pretty steady hand.

Heath Ceramics - Factory Tour (Sausalito, California)Any pieces that aren?t quite up to snuff are considered ?seconds,? and you can purchase them at the factory. The tour ends in the overstock tile room ? which is filled with firsts and seconds. Heath tiles are only available for purchase at the factory and in Ann Sacks showrooms.

Heath Ceramics - Factory Tour (Sausalito, California)The factory store also offers plenty of tableware, as well as books and textiles (like Lotta Jansdotter aprons). The table pieces can be deeply discounted, and there?s even a clearance section where saucers were marked 10 for $1. Yes, you read right ? 10 for $1!

Since the tours take place at 11am, you may arrive in Sausalito a little hungry. No problem. The staff puts out some tea and light snacks (I think it was a coffeecake when I went). Go ahead and test out that tea cup before you decide to purchase it!

Heath Ceramics - Factory Tour (Sausalito, California) Throughout the entire factory, Heath tiles are all over the place ? as a backsplash, as a decorative work of art ? providing plenty of inspiration for visitors. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend stopping in and seeing it all for yourself. (In case you can?t, I took plenty of pictures!)

Heath Ceramics - Factory Tour (Sausalito, California)
Heath Factory
400 Gate Five Road
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 332-3732
For store and general inquiries, please call x13
Open daily, 10am-5pm
Tours, Sat-Sun, 11am
(Call ahead for tour reservations)

Heath Ceramics - Factory Tour (Sausalito, California)
(images from anh-minh le)


  • Reply Paula October 4, 2006 at 3:37 am

    Beautiful pictures and pottery. A must next time I am in SF. Thanks

  • Reply Linear Algebra October 5, 2006 at 7:22 am

    I have seen potteries in the rural villages of India. They are not called as artists but traditionally a certain tribe used to make potteries. The art is passed down to the generation and the secrets are revealed to the family members who choose to take its art form through.

    The sense of accomplishment and art is different from the so called pottery artists today in north america. The indian potters are very “religious” about their art.They hold it with reverence and are very hesitant to pass on the indigenous knowledge to non-family members. They make much more than jonathan adler or the fancy smancy artists of today. They have the kiln, the oven, the potters wheel and the clay. The designs are tucked in their head.
    Their studios are their courtyards and are so much more humble. Master potters are the ones who can sculpt something that is one of a kind.

  • Reply savemefromthiskiln October 6, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    a studio need not be humble to create works of the heart linear algebra. humility doesn’t equal passion, and being “religious” doesn’t equal respect.

    don’t knock us “fancy smancy artists” in north american simply because we aren’t creating pots barefoot in a hut with our bambinos strapped to our backs.

    this post was excellent decor8.


    fancy smancy adler fan

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