Hot kilns, dripping glaze, and molded ceramics – these are just some of the things you’ll find in the Sausalito, California-based factory housing Heath Ceramics.
Still using the original facility and even some of the hand-built kilns from its beginnings in the 1950s, Heath Ceramics prides themselves in making beautiful, thoughtful, and local products. Catherine Bailey, co-owner and creative director at Heath Ceramics, shared her thoughts with us about creative vision and the craft of pottery as one of the featured Makers in the second Mohawk Makery Quarterly.
What is the most important part of your craft? How do you share that with your customers?
The most important part of our craft is its holistic nature. We make the clay, form the pieces, trim, glaze and fire the pieces all in one place. We’re turning clay (earth with some other natural ingredients) into finished pottery and though this is natural and obvious to others who make pottery, to most of our customers it’s magical. It’s not something they’ve ever thought of before and so we invite customers to tour the process and see the holistic nature of the craft. In the end, they have a whole new appreciation for our dinnerware and the care, craft, time and amount of human skill it takes to create it.
How did you become involved/interested in your craft?
We fell into it, but it was not a total accident. We wanted to find a way to work as designers but be more involved in the whole making process (previously we worked as consultants, so our final product was a model or CAD file). We saw what happened at Heath (everything was made and sold in one place) and knew that it was important, and should be a viable way of making things. So, we worked on purchasing the company just in time, as it was about to shut its doors forever.
What is your favorite product/offering and why? If it’s a product, do you personally make it?
It’s hard to pick one. We’ve been working on new matte glazes for our brown clay body. Indigo (seen on our new summer seasonal canister) and Slate (seen in our Chez Panisse Collection on plates and bowls) are two of my favorites. I do not personally make the pieces. We have a skilled team of craftspeople who produce relatively small runs of our products at our original 1959 facility in Sausalito.
What do you see for the future of the craft movement? Any thoughts/stories you’d like to add about your craft?
It’s exciting that more people see the viability of moving from individual crafts to small-scale production as a way to produce products with a high degree of integrity. We believe there is so much opportunity for great design combined with craft.
To learn more about the power of craft or to subscribe to the Mohawk Maker Quarterly, visit mohawkconnects.com/cultureofcraft.