A Legacy in Clay

Edith Heath came of age on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression, a “waste not, want not” upbringing that was reflected in her pottery and tableware—objects beautiful in their strength and simplicity. The Bay Area-based ceramist’s organic shapes with natural hues—made of clay she developed using materials from local pits and finished with her own distinctive speckled glaze—became the defining aesthetic of the midcentury California pottery movement. Frank Lloyd Wright used her dinnerware; Eero Saarinen and Alex-ander Girard designed with Heath’s tiles. Today her ceramics cover San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, while Chez Panisse, the Bay Area’s temple to organic and locally produced food, serves its meals on her dishes. When Heath passed away in December, at age 94, she had lived long enough to enjoy the resurgence of midcentury Modernism and the revival of Heath Ceramics, the company she founded in 1948.

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