Friday, May 29, 2015

A Visit to the Heath Ceramics Factory

In mid-May I went to San Francisco for a mini family reunion to celebrate my niece's graduation. We are amazingly proud of her! Monica got a Master's degree from the Energy & Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley. Her Master's project dealt with electric vehicles. We had an outstanding time visiting the sights and going to great restaurants.

I spent one day with my daughter's in-laws, Bob and Cindie, who took me to Sausalito to visit the Heath Ceramics factory. What a treat! 

Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 by Edith Heath (1911–2005) after her work was stocked by the Gump's store in San Francisco. The company has a production factory and store in Sausalito, a tile production factory and store in San Francisco, and a ceramics studio and store in Los Angeles. Today, Heath Ceramics is owned by Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey, and is known for its distinctive glazes and handcrafted stoneware. Follow this link to a virtual tour of the factory to see how things are made.

Heath Ceramics recently won the 2015 National Design Award for corporate and institutional achievement given by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

I bought myself a little bud vase from a display of seconds.  I suppose that this lovely item is considered a second because the matte glaze is shiny in places.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Visit to the Hillwood Museum

The gardens were in full bloom!
I took my Mom to visit the Hillwood Estate today. It was the DC home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, which she bequeathed as a museum when she died in 1973. Marjorie was the only child of CW Post, who founded the Postum Cereal Company that later became the General Foods Corporation. When her father died in 1914, she became one of the wealthiest women in America, at age 27.

copper red vases
She started collecting French decorative arts in 1919. She lived in Russia in the 1930s with her third husband, who was the US Ambassador. There, she discovered Russian imperial arts and began collecting them as well. She showcased her collection to family and friends at the Hillwood Mansion that she purchased in 1955.

I must say that this is not my type of thing. Seeing how some people lived in such opulence while most people lacked the essentials makes me a bit queasy. I am also not attracted to the intricate designs of the times but I did like the vases shown in these two photos.

Staff dining service
We viewed many different porcelain place settings from France and Russia, but the one that I liked best was in the kitchen. It was the staff's dining service by the English firm Furnival Limited, in the style of Royal Copenhagen's blue fluted design. There were three cooks at Hillwood, one cooked for Marjorie Merriweather Post and the other two prepared the meals for the staff, who ate the same food although maybe not presented as elegantly.

Mom in the rose garden
The weather was wonderful and, all in all, Mom and I had a good time.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Family Collaboration Time (Again)

Mugs w/ decals of Sofie's manga drawings
I transferred my granddaughter's manga drawings to decals and put them on some mugs. I still need to work some more on the glazes to find the ones that do well in the third firing needed to put on the decals, but I think they look great! 

Sofie was proud to put her initials on the bottom of the mugs, but when I told her that she could have them to give to her teachers she responded that she wanted to work more on the drawings. "It's not my best work," were her words. And so it starts, that second-guessing of ourselves, the feeling that what we do is not quite good enough... It made my heart sad to see it start so early in this generation. She is quite a talented artist. It's a joy to watch her develop this gift. I hope that she will learn to love her creations rather than focus on perceived flaws.


Tumbler w/ line from Chris's poem
The other family collaboration was with my husband. Chris was into writing poetry and song lyrics in his twenties. I found a poem he had written that contains a line that spoke to me: 

"The trees were trying desperately to tell me something
waving their leaves frantically..."

So I made some tumblers and wrote those words into the leather-hard clay. To make it stand out more, I rubbed black underglaze into the words and glazed with my favorite green glaze.