Edith Kiertzner Heath (May 24, 1911 – December 27, 2005) was an American studio potter “but soon became involved in the design and production of pottery and tableware on a far larger scale than that of most studio potters.” In 1948, Edith founded Heath Ceramics. The company, well known for its mid-century modern ceramic tableware, including “Heathware,” and architectural tiles, is still operating in Sausalito, in Marin County of the San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States.
Life and work
Edith Kierzner was born May 24, 1911, in Ida Grove, Iowa, forty miles east of Sioux City, Iowa, to Danish immigrants Nils and Karoline Kierzner. In 1931, Edith enrolled at the Chicago Normal School, later renamed Chicago Teachers College, and graduated in 1934. She enrolled part-time at the Art Institute of Chicago after graduation taking her first ceramic course. In 1938, Edith married Brian Heath. Relocating to San Francisco, Edith accepted a position as an art teacher at the Presidio Hill School and audited classes at the California School of Fine Arts. She developed a clay body in these classes which she adapted many times for her production work. Not being able to have as much access to the pottery equipment, Edith pursued her ceramic interests on her own converting a treadle sewing machine into a pottery wheel. In 1943, she studied eutectics with Willard Kahn through the University of California extension courses.
“Form also played an important role in Edith’s work. Beyond her obvious attraction to the science of her craft was her search for useful shapes that appealed to her modern sensibilities. Her pottery was a balance of hand-built and hand-thrown work…The pieces tended towards simplicity, a characteristic that followed Edith and her work throughout her career.” 
In 1944, her first major show was at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. She also participated in the Syracuse Ceramic Nationals 11(1946) to 15(1950).
A buyer from San Francisco retailer Gumps approached Edith to supply their store with her high quality hand-thrown pottery using the company’s pottery studio. She accepted the opportunity, while continuing to work in her own studio. “She became convinced of the opportunities that studio potters had if they would undertake production work to fill the wartime import void.” In 1947, Edith began to design and execute a limited hand-thrown production of her pottery and tableware with four apprentices in her own studio. The Heath’s purchased land in an industrial area of Sausalito where Edith worked with architects Robert Marquis and Claude Stoller to design her ideal factory space. Major retailers began to order Edith’s tableware, and in 1948 she opened Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, California. By 1949, Heath ceramics was producing 100,000 pieces of ware a year.
Heath Ceramics was purchased by Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey in 2003. Edith Heath died on December 27, 2005 at her home in Tiburon, California.