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Heath Ceramics Company Is An American Success Story In Sausalito

Sausalito visitors can tour the historic Heath Ceramics Company facilities

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Edith Heath ceramics are very popular with California pottery collectors today. These desirable mid-century modern dishes, table accents and art tiles come from the original Heath Ceramics Company facilities that were established in 1948 nearby to the important San Francisco Bay shipping opportunities. Heath Ceramics is located in the small artisan community of Sausalito, California, across the Bay from shipping ports in San Francisco.

A brief background of Heath Ceramics and other mid-century California potteries:

The Edith Heath Ceramics Company is one of the few original California Potteries that are still in operation today. During the years of the American Great Depression and the following years of World War II, pottery and ceramic imports into America were at a minimum due to the unfavorable economics and wartime shipping conditions. The golden age of California potteries peaked in 1948 with over 800 pottery studios in California.

After 1950, most of the established California potteries closed as the U.S. marketplace became flooded with inexpensive machine-made imports. When the war-time import restrictions were lifted, television advertising was entering homes to promote the cheaper lines of pottery and ceramics that were readily affordable to all homes in America. In Sausalito, California, the Edith Heath Ceramics Company weathered the import floods.

The Sausalito Heath Ceramics Company is an American success story:

Edith Heath was an American studio potter who was born in Ida Grove, Iowa. The Art Institute of Chicago taught Edith her pottery skills. At one point, when pottery equipment was not available, Edith Heath showed her devotion to the arts through creating a pottery wheel out of an old treadle sewing machine. After marrying Brian Heath, and relocating to San Francisco, Edith Heath audited classes at the California School of Fine Arts.

During the mid-1940s, Edith Heath displayed her modern-theme ceramics arts through a variety of artisan resources. A buyer from Gump’s Department Stores approached Edith and made an offer for Edith to produce pottery for their stores, from inside of the Gump pottery facilities. This opportunity allowed Edith Heath the financing and experience to open her own pottery factory. By 1949, 100,000 pieces of Heath pottery had been sold.

When well-respected Gump’s approached Edith Heath for pottery, this opened the doors to Edith Heath for orders from other well-known merchants. While many of the other California potteries were closing, the Heath Ceramics Company in Sausalito was growing in leaps and bounds. The smooth-flowing modern pottery styles were well-received in all upper-quality homes throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Heath Ceramics prospered.

Sausalito visitors can tour the historic Heath Ceramics Company facilities.

Visitors to Sausalito can tour the Heath Ceramics Company facilities on Friday, Saturday or Sunday each week. The Friday late-morning tours often draw local adults who are out shopping while their children are in school. While school-age children are welcome to attend the Heath Ceramics plant tours, small children are not welcomed due to the safety factors involved. Weekend tours are run twice each day to benefit all Sausalito tourists.

The Heath Ceramics Company manufacturing facilities are located at 400 Gate Five Road in Sausalito, near the waterfront. Sausalito is reached from San Francisco through a 1.7 mile drive over the famous Golden Gate Bridge, or by ferry boats that leave from the San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf district. Once in Sausalito, visitors will find themselves on busy Bridgeway Blvd. Find the intersection of Bridgeway and Harbor Drive; Heath Ceramics Company is one block down from this crossing, visible on Gate Five Road.

At the company facilities, it is possible to purchase one-of-a-kind pieces, factory seconds and newly designed additions to the Heath Ceramics product lines. Heath Ceramic tiles are displayed on the outside of the famous Norton Simon Museum that is often used as a backdrop for the New Year’s Day Rose Parade festivities in Pasadena, California. This style of decorative tiles and others are available for sale at the Heath Ceramics facility. Tour visitors are cautioned to wear non-slip shoes and bring dust masks or eye-protection for their exciting excursion through the Heath Ceramics factory in Sausalito, California.

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Photos copyright by Jay Graham Photographer