Oh, man. If I could squirrel away to some small cabin furnished with only one plate, one bowl and a lone coffe cup, they’d probably all be made by Heath. While I’ll admit to not swooning for every piece they turn, the ratio is still pretty damn high. I can also never resist any sort of behind-the-scenes field trip—likely due to that segment of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and followed up in later years by my mother’s excitement over dragging us to the Lawry’s spice factory (totally abandoned by the time we got there) or Leinenkugel’s Brewery (safety goggles and all, it was actually super awesome).
A trip to the original Heath Ceramics factory in Sausalito definitely didn’t disappoint. Got to walk through the inner workings with a really sweet and informative gal who didn’t care that my jaw was slack the entire time and let me shoot photos with that audibe click that makes everyone else turn and stare. Found out that all the molds are still handmade by one craftsman and retouched or re-made as they start to wear down.
Each piece is also still hand turned with the help of wood and metal attachments that keep them uniform. All the handles are applied by a select crew whose sole occupation is the fitting of handles. “Handle fitting specialist” sounds like a fine moniker.
My favorite tiles, hand-pressed and waiting to be fired.
Even the studio itself is cool—not an inch of unused space and a true workshop inhabited by craftsmen.
I’ll be back, you can count on that (and not just for the less expensive seconds…)
Factory to you? Heath’s Sausalito factory is open 7 days a week with a lovely selection of goods and newly fired stock coming out after 3pm every day. Tours are given twice a day on Saturday and Sunday and no reservations are required. Not to be missed is the side room of seconds (superficial imperfections) and thirds (more structural cracks, etc) at major discounts. The also have an overstock tile room where you can dream of saffron yellow kitchens and cerulean bathrooms—then take home your favorite shade for $1. Got to love that kind of dreaming.