Heath obsession

I recently glazed a tile at Heath Ceramics. I own a few of their pieces with similar glaze color.

I recently glazed a tile at Heath Ceramics. I own a few of their pieces with similar glaze color.

If you know me you probably know I have a small obsession with Heath Ceramics. Now the internet will know. I am obsessed with Heath ceramics. I'm very fortunate to live in the Bay Area. By now I've visited the Heath factory and store in Sausalito too many times to count. The factory store sells seconds which are just as structurally sound as firsts but may have slight differences or imperfections in the glaze and clay. If you're going to make an investment in dinnerware I highly recommend visiting the factory store. It will last you forever and buying seconds is an affordable way to build a collection. On my last visit to the store there was a couple buying a new set to replace their 50 year old dishes they'd gifted to a family member.

This year Heath has expanded into a new tile factory and show room which opened September 2012 near my San Francisco neighborhood. As you can guess I love having the factory down the street. There is something so warm about all the Heath spaces and the objects that you leave with. Admittedly, doing the dishes is not my favorite task. I enjoy it a hundred times more when I'm washing my Heath dinnerware. I've learned every subtle difference in my dishes. I'm proud to have purchased part of a creative legacy made locally and made with Northern California earth. 

They have a few good sales a year and this past mothers day weekend I was happy to take advantage of all the goings on at Heath.  The sale kicked off on a Friday and for the first time I was able to head over the bridge to get a first crack at all the seconds (and the extra discount). I walked in the store 45 minutes after they opened and it was already packed. In everyone's arms a cardboard box as shopping basket carried their treasures. You could feel the excitement as we all tried not to be bulls in a china shop. I was with my people. People equally as obsessed as I.

My Heath vase collection.

My Heath vase collection.

After I'd made my purchases I was sitting outside eating a free muffin high on the power of a purchase and commiserating with a fellow shopper. I casually said to her that I kinda wanted to go back in because I forgot to look for serving plates. She admitted she wanted to go back in too. Yes! I am not alone in my obsession. So I went back in for another hot lap and found two small h'orderve plates I couldn't live without. I don't know if she went back in but as I was checking out the same couple who'd been in my check-out line earlier were also making their second purchases of the day. While they were enjoying the free coffee outside they realized they hadn't included a coffee service in their dining set. Yes! Again, I am with my people.

I added some more bud vases to my collection. At the Sausalito store there are often samples with special glazes that never reach the rest of the product line. It's one of the reasons I started collecting the vases. The vase on the left is an example of a special glaze.

I added some more bud vases to my collection. At the Sausalito store there are often samples with special glazes that never reach the rest of the product line. It's one of the reasons I started collecting the vases. The vase on the left is an example of a special glaze.

The sale was all weekend long and in every location; Sausalito, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, there were special things to participate in. This sale was the first were they had tours for the public of the new factory. It's not quite up and running yet but we got to see all the equipment and walked through the process. We also got to take a look at the studio spaces on the second floor which house other local artisans as well as Heath's own studio for shape and glaze experiments.

Tile in Heath's new kilns.

Tile in Heath's new kilns.

Glazing experiments gone awry. 

Glazing experiments gone awry. 

I covet these.

I covet these.

I especially covet the red and white ones.

I especially covet the red and white ones.

I didn't ask what these are but I'm assuming they're experiments in form.

I didn't ask what these are but I'm assuming they're experiments in form.

Pieces from the Heath archive.

Pieces from the Heath archive.

Beautiful glazing technique from the Heath archive. 

Beautiful glazing technique from the Heath archive. 

These are some of the largest pieces in the archive that Heath has been recently cataloging for their records.

These are some of the largest pieces in the archive that Heath has been recently cataloging for their records.

Lastly after the tour I glazed my own tile. There wasn't really any instruction but luckily I'd been paying attention in my tour to the fact that different glazes can interact very unpredictably with each other. It's not like working with paint or other pigments. I made sure to keep my glazes separated on my tile. I'm pretty pleased for my first try. They fired the tiles in their new kilns and were ready to pick up a couple weeks later.

My tile in process.

My tile in process.

My finished tile.

My finished tile.

Some day I will feel the squish of clay in my hands and learn to make something from scratch.