Kil’n Time: Tour the Heath Ceramics Factory

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Whether you covet the Heath Ceramics you received as a wedding gift or merely dream of the day you’ll own (and can afford) such fab goods, we bet that you never even imagined that the Heath Ceramics factory is a sweet place for your kids to learn how lumps of clay are molded into plates, bowls and vases. Expand your knowledge of ceramics beyond the DIY pottery studios you’ve frequented for birthday parties and rainy day fun with a tour of this  working factory in the heart of Sausalito. You’ll never look at your table settings the same way again.

First, Some Basics
The tour is held on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and lasts about an hour; since this is a working factory you’ll likely see more action on Fridays.  They do take walk-ins but tour sizes are limited so they recommend calling or emailing beforehand. Oh, and it’s free.

400 Gate Five Road
Sausalito 94965

What’s on Tour?
Calling all parents who fondly remember learning how crayons were made on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood!  This is kind of like that.  It’s a working factory so your family will get to see the whole process from clay-making to kiln-firing.  Kids will love all the machinery (50s and 60s originals) and adults who appreciate the mid-century modern aesthetic will love the step back in time, starting with the tour’s opening room (full of natural light and original Eames chairs).


Age Appropriate
While the tour is recommended for kids ages 5 and up, for those kiddos who still need a wee bit of help with attention span and/or keeping hands to themselves, it’s probably wise to wait a year—or two.  (Hey, there are breakables all over this place!)  For older school-aged kids, this is an awesome setting to learn how things are made and where they come from.

Bonus (that the kids will especially love): everyone on tour gets to wear factory goggles!

Gifts and Goods
Since this is their factory store (Heath Ceramics also has retail stores in SF and LA), you’ll score on items like discontinued dinnerware, unnoticeably flawed seconds, and overstock, not to mention a fun array of design-conscious gifts and goods.  They also have a table full of design-conscious toys and books for little ones like beautiful kid-version ceramic bowls, patterned pipe cleaners, and “Keep Sausalito Salty” shirts, to name a few.

Head just a few minutes away to the main strip along Bridgeway Boulevard for a treat at Lappert’s Ice Cream, then to play tag in the grassy area near the elephant fountain.  And definitely check out this playground with a view.

Know of other fun, local factory tours? Tell us about them!

–Mae Respicio

Photo credits: images 1 & 4 courtesy of Heath Ceramics; all others courtesy of Mae Respicio.