Edith Heath:Philosophies

Hardcover, Paper Bound
7 inches x 9.5 inches
320 pages including over 300 images
Printed sustainably in Belgium
ISBN: 978-1988860121

Pre-order now available: https://i-o.cc/books/edith-heath

Check out our Virtual Book Talk The Making of Edith Heath: Philosophies on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/466374355


Edith Heath: Philosophies is the most comprehensive resource on Edith Kiertzner Heath (1911-2005) and the history of Heath Ceramics to date, emphasizing the philosophical foundations and influences of one of the most significant creative forces in post-WWII America. Heavily illustrated, it features a foreword, preface, visual historical timeline, product and dinnerware glaze history, and thirteen chapters contributed by artists and scholars who have conducted research using the Brian and Edith Heath/Heath Ceramics Collection at the Environmental Design Archives (EDA), UC Berkeley. This publication will serve as a complement to the 2021 exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, offering substantial and in-depth commentary on the presented themes—the environment, feminism, experimentation, architecture, politics, collaborations—while solidifying the relevance of Edith Heath’s story in contemporary life and society.

Thematically organized, Edith Heath: Philosophies emphasizes lesser-known narratives and utilizes rarely seen images. Edith Heath considered her dinnerware to be more than a collection of objects; it was a statement of good design reflecting the post-war American West Coast lifestyle. The book departs from the traditional linear narrative of the company and situates Edith Heath as an influential and under-acknowledged figure in ceramic design history. The text and rich illustrations will appeal to a diverse audience interested in post-WWII design, material culture, and California history.



Selections from the Heath Collection at the EDA, UCB, 2019, photograph by Jason Miller.

Foreword: The Brian and Edith Heath/Heath Ceramics Collection

Chris Marino and Waverly Lowell, Curator and Curator Emerita of the Environmental Design Archives at the University of California, Berkeley, discuss the significance of the Brian and Edith Heath/Heath Ceramics Collection and introduce the collection’s scope and contents.


Edith Heath, “I am a potter,” handmade booklet, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Preface: Finding Meaning in the Life and Work of Edith Heath

Jennifer M. Volland, independent curator and writer, talks about the genesis of the publication—including her work with the Heath Foundation, the Environmental Design Archives, and the Oakland Museum of California—and how this project fits within her broader goals to highlight figures and moments in design history that have been overlooked. She also contextualizes Edith Heath and Heath Ceramics within contemporary life and society, substantiating why this story is relevant now.


Brian Heath, Edith Heath, and Fredl Stewart at “the snow,” photograph by Gordon Stewart, December 1944, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Winding Back Time: Memories of Edith and Brian Heath

Jay Stewart, Trustee of the Heath Foundation, shares her intimate memories of Heath, bringing to life Heath’s fascinating story.


Edith Kiertzner with five of her six siblings, ca. 1923, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Edith Heath: Historical Timeline

Rosa Novak and Jennifer M. Volland construct a select historical timeline on Edith Heath and Heath Ceramics, situating personal and professional markers against major world and regional events, illustrated with more than 120 images. 


Edith Heath at the Heath Ceramics factory, ca. 1965, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Pacesetters, Place Settings, and Designing for the Homes of Today—Julie M. Muñiz

Muñiz’s essay examines the evolution of Heath Ceramics products in the context of Edith Heath’s life, how Heath’s commercial clients impacted the design and development of Heath product lines, and which products succeeded, which did not, and why.


Edith Heath arranging dinnerware on the factory floor, ca. 1955, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Good Design for Everyone—Mara Holt Skov

Skov considers the principles of “good design,” both its intentions and its limitations, through the work of Edith Heath.


Stacked ashtrays, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Etiquette in Motion: A Comparative Consideration of Edith Heath’s Ashtrays and Mugs—Ezra Shales

Shales discusses how Heath’s mug and ashtray aligned with emerging mid-century ideals of comfort, disrupting longstanding conventions, arguing that Heath’s mug suited the country’s growing informality better than Eva Zeisel’s teacup-on-saucer.


Edith Heath teaching art at Presidio Hill School in San Francisco, 1942, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Learning by Doing: The Education of Edith Heath—Brian Trimble

Trimble tracks the evolution of Edith Heath’s educational philosophy, stemming from her early years in Chicago and her transition into ceramics practice.


The clay mixing room in the Heath Ceramics factory, stocked with sacks of Lincoln fire clay, Dosch fire clay, and nepheline syenite, ca. 1965, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Use the Earth to Save the Earth: Edith Heath’s Émigré-Influenced Ideology—Rosa Novak

Novak explores the influence of two émigrés—ceramic engineer and physicist Willi M. Cohn and Bauhaus design‑educator László Moholy-Nagy—on Heath’s efficiency-oriented approach to ceramic practice.


Special Summer Courses brochure, University of British Columbia, 1952, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Edith Heath’s Vancouver Workshops—Allan Collier

Collier writes on Edith Heath’s influence on British Columbia ceramics based on the classes she taught at the University of British Columbia in the summers of 1951 and 1952.


Edith Heath, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and two unidentified men at IDCA, 1961, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Creative Commons: Edith Heath and the International Design Conference in Aspen—Jennifer M. Volland

Volland evaluates one of Heath’s most long-lasting and formative experiences—her yearly attendance at the International Design Conference in Aspen—and how it served to both cement her ideas about design and stimulate her creative energy.


Edith Heath and Leon Galleto in the Heath Ceramics factory break room, photograph by Fredl Stewart, 1960, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Crosscurrents in Clay: Edith Heath and Leon Galleto’s Architectural Tile—Rosa Novak

Novak explores how French ceramicist and former Heath Ceramics employee Leon Galleto helped shape the company’s tile aesthetic and production and secure it a dominant place in both domestic and commercial modernism.


Edith Heath on-site at the Pasadena Art Museum observing installation of her tile, 1969, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

From Surface to Structure: The Evolution of Edith Heath’s Architectural Tile—Emily Vigor

Vigor focuses on Heath’s engagement with architecture, from her cherished factory to her use of tile in a myriad of built environments.


Edith Heath seated near the garden room at her barge home, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Making a Place for Art: Collaboration between Edith Heath and Robert Royston—JC Miller

Miller discusses how a perfect storm of events in the mid-20th century permanently transformed the Bay Area and gave rise to a creative circle of individuals, Heath and Royston included, whose collaborations perfectly captured the ethos of experimentation in postwar America.


California Dream display with Heath Ceramics dinnerware. Cowell Hall of California History, Oakland Museum of California, ca. 1982, Oakland Museum of California.

California Ceramics for a California Museum—Drew Heath Johnson

Oakland Museum of California Senior Curator Drew Heath Johnson revisits the museum’s own collection of Heath Ceramics and considers Edith Heath’s contributions to the Bay Area arts and crafts community.


Edith Heath examining a clay-rich wall of earth with her ceramics class from the California College of Arts and Crafts, ca. 1955-1957, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Grandchildren of Granite: Edith Heath and the Women of Land Art—Rosa Novak

Novak’s essay evaluates the way Edith Heath approached clay as a material throughout her career and presents the possibility that she could now be considered a precursor to, and contemporary of, women working in land art.


Edith Heath reads, ca. 1960, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

The World Is Written in Clay—Jennifer M. Volland

Volland’s essay looks at the idea of words and clay as binary forms of expression and explores the intersection between these two mediums, revealing an intimate glimpse into the underpinnings of Edith’s philosophy and the decades-long history of Heath Ceramics.


Rim line, photograph by Alan Ross, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Epilogue: Unearthing the Heaths’ Legacy—Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic

Acknowledging the vital role of tradition at Heath Ceramics, Bailey and Petravic, current owners of Heath Ceramics, recount their experiences at the Sausalito factory, which functions as a sort of living history museum.


Edith Heath tests the viscosity of a batch of Pumpkin glaze, photograph by Elizabeth (Lisa) Stephens, ca. 1975, Heath Collection, EDA, UCB.

Selected Product and Dinnerware Glaze History—Julie M. Muñiz and Rosa Novak

Illustrated compilation of selected pieces and glazes in production between 1947, when Heath Ceramics began factory production, and 2003, when the company was sold.