In the late 1950s, Edith Heath expanded her small company’s offerings to include ceramic tile alongside her celebrated dinnerware. She and her design partners had been experimenting with glazes and shapes, creating a product that soon became a sought-after architectural material for both homes and public spaces. The Heath tile team is inspired every day to carry on that legacy of creative exploration, and we are pleased to share the most recent results of that work: a refreshed tile glaze palette for 2023 and beyond.
Heath Ceramics, being a small craft industry, specializes in creating quality tile of unusual interest with personal concern for every installation. Constant exploration in an old medium is the order of the day.
Manganese clay is at the heart of Heath. It’s the signature detail visible in the earthy, unglazed wiped rim of a mug or plate, or along the edge of a single tile. The texture and color that the manganese clay body imparts to our ceramics is unique to Heath. Its magic is due, in part, to the alchemical interaction between Edith’s glazes and the manganese clay body she developed using local California clay.
Committing to this material honors both our history of design innovation and our future sustainability goals, sourcing ingredients locally and reducing our carbon footprint. Beginning in the fall of 2022, we have transitioned our tile design and production to exclusively use our manganese clay body.
The Alchemy of Glaze
When manganese clay merges with glaze in the kiln, the result is a material with genuine depth and tactility. Unlike paint, glaze is much more than a color, and goes deeper than the surface. There is evidence of process and of elemental interactions in the final finish.
Our small team of glazers possesses an incredible depth of knowledge and experience, yet they never stop encountering their craft with wonder and curiosity, knowing that the dynamic nature of their process can always deliver a surprise, and a surprise can always lead to a new technique or approach.
A Refreshed Palette
In tandem with our transition to an all-manganese clay body, we had the opportunity to consider our entire glaze palette and develop new formulations that make the most of manganese's potential.
Starting in August 2022, we have rolled out a four-phase update to our palette. Now complete, the updated palette includes a total of 91 glazes—41 of them continuing from our long-running collection, and 50 being new additions designed to be as timeless and enduring as our originals.
Image: 1 / 10
Introducing Glaze Families
Our palette update is designed in a system we refer to as “glaze families”—groupings that share common aesthetic features such as texture, saturation, variability, and translucency. These groupings showcase a breadth of design effects that can only be achieved through our unique chemistry and hand-crafted process.
For customers and designers starting a new project, the glaze families are a helpful tool to guide the selection process. They make it easy to hone in on particular characteristics and establish unifying themes within a space.
Phase 4 of our palette update, available starting April 20, 2023, includes three additional glaze families.
Heath Classics: Our classic glazes, built around the natural variation and depth present in raw glaze ingredients like iron, copper, cobalt, and manganese. Their earthy quality pairs well with other natural materials like wood and stone. They are equally at home in traditional and modern environments.
Matte Neutrals: A foundational range of warm and cool neutrals with a range of subtly different matte textures. Though quiet in hue, the texture and sheen of these glazes creates beautiful variation and connection to the material.
Glossy Brights: Vibrant and saturated, these shades have brilliant intensity and compelling depth, with tonal variation that comes from the manganese clay body underneath.
Spectrum: Strong color statements, but with the sharp edges softened by the earthy influence of the manganese clay body. A balance of charisma and timelessness.
Luminous: These glazes are a frosted lens on our manganese clay body—where the frostiness lends a brightness without masking over the clay's inherent earthiness. A subtle range of colors that contain multitudes of harmonious shades.
Dual Glaze: Our Dual Glaze collection combines multiple glazes on a singular tile, creating the illusion of varying tile sizes within an installation. Now offered in a range of eight glaze combinations on both rectangular and triangular tiles.
Soft Lights: Our soft light glazes all take on variation in shade and texture from the manganese clay body, but each in different ways, None are your basic white. All can work in a variety of basic applications.
Stone: These speckled, hyper-matte glazes have a porous, stone-like appearance that harmonizes well with other natural materials. Tonal and textural variation bring these subtle neutrals together.
Deep Shades: These rich, glossy shades have wonderful interaction with light, changing from dark and opaque, to jewel-toned and saturated, depending on the angle and intensity of light.
Dynamic: In 1969, Heath created custom tile to clad the Norton Simon Museum, in a layered glaze that broke new ground for tile design. We’ve been exploring the alchemy of layering ever since, producing these textured, volcanic finishes.