San Francisco

heath ceramics factory tour—round two

On Friday, my mom and I visited the Heath Ceramics factory and shop. A few months ago,  Jordan and I took the tour of the factory and it was fascinating. I blogged about when I first fell in love with Heath Ceramics here. I thought my mom would enjoy the tour and so we went back. I decided to take more pictures this time.

For those of you who missed my first post, this is a bit about Heath Ceramics—Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 in Sausalito, CA by Edith Heath. She was a feisty lady who knew her mind. She built her ceramic factory on the values of quality and sustainability, using local materials as much as possible and paying the real cost of labor always. Basically, she wanted to make simple, good things for good people. And so she did for the next 50 years. In 2003, husband and wife team, Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey purchased Heath Ceramics with a mission to revitalize the company, which was in a bit of a tough spot. By placing a strong emphasis on design, handcrafted techniques, and the reinvigoration of the company’s designer-maker legacy, Robin and Catherine have persevered. Today, Heath Ceramics is one of the few remaining American potteries still in existence and Edith’s values are still going strong. Every piece they sell is made in their Sausalito factory by a team of 60 craftsmen, and every piece is truly a work of art.


In early 2012,  Heath will expand their operation and open a tile factory in San Francisco, just a few miles from Jordan and I. It is absolutely wonderful to see a business who does things right in every sense of the word succeeding in this tough economy. And now for some photos …

Slip casting. Vases, mugs, teapots and other complex shapes are made this way.

Plaster molds and a lathe are used to create most of the dinnerware.

Each piece is then hand trimmed and sponged smooth.

Every piece dries in a 120 degree room for 24 – 48 hours to remove all the moisture from the clay so it doesn’t explode in the kiln.

Then the pieces are glazed. Aren’t the names of the glazes something! They make them all from scratch at Heath.

The pieces are then fired in a kiln for several hours. These are their holiday colors. So festive!

Gorgeous tile samples.

Tiles made by Edith after a visit to the Southwest.

The teapot is the most complex design they make at Heath.

The adorable designs on these dinner plates are hand etched.

And, I’ve got to say, coffee out of one of these mugs just tastes better.

If you’re interested in visiting Heath Ceramics, or just picking up a few wonderful handcrafted gifts for the upcoming holiday, visit their site for more information.