Raised on an Iowa farm, Edith Heath pursued a college education with hopes of becoming a teacher. A requirement to study art as part of her curriculum turned out to be the impetus for her life’s work. For 60 years she was the inspired artist and business owner at Heath Ceramics.
Edith Heath had little “formal” training in the ceramic arts, but that didn’t stop her. Once she moved from Chicago to San Francisco in the early 1940s, people started taking her seriously. Her work caught the attention of Gump’s, which was, and is known for unique specialty items. She impressed them so that they asked her to design and produce an exclusive dinnerware collection to be available in their store.
Well, it caught on and the next thing you know, Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 in Sausalito, CA. She and her husband, Brian believed in making good things for good people, the right way. This meant using techniques that ensured durable products and demanded less energy to produce. She intentionally designed items that called for a single kiln firing, which uses a lower than normal temperature. This creates a resilient piece of pottery.
She was a pioneer in advancing the evolution of clay and glazes used around the world. Her significant contributions to the art resulted in many design awards including the Industrial Arts Award from the American Institute of Architects.
Appreciators of Edith Heath can catch a glimpse of some of her original pieces at museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her items have earned their way into many museums’ permanent collections.
Although Edith passed away in 2005, her dinnerware is still being produced in the same factory that has been doing it since 1959. Under new ownership, Heath Ceramics remains a thriving business with locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.