Showing posts with label industry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label industry. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

H ♢

Custom interlocking die for upcoming clay extrusion projects (new hardcore extruder arriving in the studio soon). Fabricated by Bob McGee's Machine Shop in Berkeley.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Covert Ironworks

NMc's Dad's foundry in LA helping some artists from Otis with their projects. Covert Ironworks HERE and in house Covert Ironworks HERE and HERE.

A son-in-laws edits: Que es papper? Also, I suggest the workers at least wear a long sleeve shirt when pouring molten liquid iron.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Japan Woodworker

Got off light, Walking with only a 6-1/4" dovetail saw and a deadblow hammer.

The Japan Woodworker
1731 Clement Avenue,
Alameda, California 94501

Thursday, January 20, 2011

R.I.P KUSF 90.3-1977-2011

One of the best college radio stations in the Bay Area has gone silent. Sold to USC classical radio, KUSF will now be available online only. The dial just got lonelier....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Before and After

Or after and before.... Found over a year ago on the sidewalk, finally re-powder coated and upholstered with heavy weight canvas.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

F.C.C. Indecency Policy Rejected on Appeal

Published: July 13, 2010
New York Times

A federal appeals court struck down a Federal Communications Commission policy on indecency Tuesday, saying that regulations barring the use of “fleeting expletives” on radio and television violated the First Amendment because they were vague and could inhibit free speech.

NBC broadcast an expletive by the singer Bono at the 2003 Golden Globe awards.
The decision, which many constitutional scholars expect to be appealed to the Supreme Court, stems from a challenge by Fox, CBS and other broadcasters to the F.C.C.’s decision in 2004 to begin enforcing a stricter standard of what kind of language is allowed on free, over-the-air television.

The stricter policy followed several incidents that drew widespread public complaint, including Janet Jackson’s breast-baring episode at the 2004 Super Bowl and repeated instances of profanity by celebrities, including Cher, Paris Hilton and Bono, during the live broadcasts of awards programs. The Janet Jackson incident did not involve speech but it drew wide public outrage that spurred a crackdown by the F.C.C.

In a unanimous three-judge decision, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York said that the F.C.C.’s current policy created “a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here” because it left broadcasters without a reliable guide to what the commission would find offensive.

The appeals court emphasized that it was not precluding federal regulation of broadcast standards. “We do not suggest that the F.C.C. could not create a constitutional policy,” the court said. “We hold only that the F.C.C.’s current policy fails constitutional scrutiny.”

But if the commission decides to appeal the ruling — the latest in a string of court decisions questioning its ability to regulate media — it almost certainly runs the risk that the Supreme Court could reverse longstanding precedents that subject broadcast content to indecency standards that are not allowed for any other media.

Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the F.C.C., said in a statement that the commission was “reviewing the court’s decision in light of our commitment to protect children, empower parents, and uphold the First Amendment.”

In a statement, Fox said it was extremely pleased by Tuesday’s decision. “We have always felt that the government’s position on fleeting expletives was unconstitutional,” said the company, a unit of the News Corporation. “While we will continue to strive to eliminate expletives from live broadcasts, the inherent challenges broadcasters face with live television, coupled with the human element required for monitoring, must allow for the unfortunate isolated instances where inappropriate language slips through.”

The case, known as Fox Television Stations Inc. v. F.C.C., has already been to the Supreme Court on a technical matter that did not involve its constitutionality. In 2009, the justices ruled that the F.C.C.’s indecency standard was not “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore was allowable.

Rodney A. Smolla, a First Amendment scholar who is president of Furman University in Greenville, S.C., said that the Supreme Court had been clear in ruling that when the government created rules about what a person could and could not say, “you have to be very specific about what is in bounds and what is out of bounds.”

“This decision demands of the F.C.C. that it regulate with precision and not use general terms like ‘indecency,’ ” Mr. Smolla said.

Before 2004, the F.C.C. consistently held that occasional, spontaneous use of certain words that were otherwise prohibited did not violate its indecency standards. But as complaints multiplied over the celebrity obscenities and the Janet Jackson episode, the F.C.C., under Michael K. Powell, then its chairman, tightened its standard and Congress increased the potential fine for indecency violations tenfold, to up to $325,000 per episode.

Tuesday’s decision takes the F.C.C. back to the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1978 in F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, which upheld the commission’s finding that George Carlin’s classic “seven dirty words” radio monologue, with its deliberate and repetitive use of vulgarities over 12 minutes, was indecent. At that time, the court left open the question of whether the use of “an occasional expletive” could be punished.

In 2009, when the Supreme Court first rejected the appeals court’s ruling, justices, including Clarence Thomas, who was in the majority of the 5-4 decision, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who dissented, indicated that they had questions about the First Amendment issues in the F.C.C. indecency policy and whether existing standards were still relevant.

The appeals court picked up on that theme in Tuesday’s decision, noting that the media landscape was much different in 2010 than it was in 1978.

“Technological changes have given parents the ability to decide which programs they will permit their children to watch,” the appeals court said. Noting that it was bound by the Supreme Court’s Pacifica decision, the court said that it nevertheless wondered why broadcasters were still subject to restrictions that, in the case of cable television, would be found to violate the First Amendment.

Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, said that while the court’s decision was troubling, it also emphasized the need for clarity about broadcast standards. “It’s of concern because the F.C.C. has been a critical protector of children’s interests when it comes to media,” he said, adding that he expects that the commission will try to construct a more targeted approach to keeping indecency off the airwaves at times when children are likely to be watching.

Brian Stelter contributed reporting.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


The Samarth Bicycle Trailer. Radhika Bhalla (Indian, b. 1983). Designed United States, deployed India, 2008. Locally sourced bamboo, rattan, iron, jute, coconut fiber, wheels. Courtesy of designer. More from the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial HERE.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Hella Jongerius ceramics and chicle, part of the exhibitions "Design for a Living World"

Friday, February 26, 2010

Clay Speakers

'mapuguaquén' by chilean designer pablo ocqueteau was recently shortlisted in the 
designboom / macef competition 'the intelligent hand'

The identity of chilean design is far from big-name brands and their large industrial factories. It is a country whose traditions and cultural identity are still prominent through the craft-worker's hands,whose techniques were taught from masters. 'mapuguaquén' (mapudungun for 'sound of the earth') are speakers which are made from clay and have been formed on a potter's wheel. it was developed as a proposal to rescue this manufacturing tradition, respecting local identity, but still keeping in mind current contemporary needs. HERE

Monday, January 25, 2010

Heath Effort

As noted on R4TH, Heath Ceramics donated 25% of sales over a weekend to help Architecture for Humanity in their efforts to aid in the rebuilding of Haiti. Heath was able to raise over $20,000! Pictured here, my new stack mug in white. More HERE

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A bowl and a teapot designed by Margarete Heymann in 1930.

A Distant Bauhaus Star

New York Times
Published: November 1, 2009
LONDON — Josef and Anni Albers, Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer. The names of the students and teachers at the Bauhaus art and design school read like a roll call of some of the 20th century’s greatest artists, architects and designers.

Their work is to be celebrated in “Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity,” an exhibition opening Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It will be a dazzling tribute to the achievements of the Bauhaus stars, as was the first version of the show at Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin this summer. Yet there were other, equally inspiring Bauhäusler who will not appear in the MoMA show. One is Margarete Heymann, who studied ceramics there from 1920 to 1921, and was as gifted and gutsy as her famous contemporaries. She also created an impressive body of work, yet is rarely mentioned in the many books, essays and exhibitions on the Bauhaus. Why?

“It’s a tragic story,” said Anja Baumhoff, a lecturer in art and design history at Loughborough University in England. “She was an exceptional woman, who refused to live by the rules. Her work was original, functional, very, very beautiful and remarkably advanced for its time.” The reasons for her obscurity tell us as much about why some people are cast as winners — and others as losers — in design history, as about the Bauhaus and Ms. Heymann herself.

First, a bit about her. Born to a Jewish family in Cologne in 1899, she went to art school there and in Dusseldorf before joining the Bauhaus. The school has been romanticized as a meritocratic place that treated both sexes equally, but that wasn’t strictly true, especially in its early years. “The Bauhaus wasn’t an equal playing field,” said Leah Dickerman, co-curator of the MoMA retrospective. “Gropius (the founding director) guided the majority of women students into the weaving workshop, which he saw as a fittingly female activity.”

Most of them complied, some reluctantly — Ms. Albers for instance — but Ms. Heymann refused, and insisted on studying ceramics. Discovering that there was only one female ceramics student, she made a formal appeal to Gropius, who was forced to back down. Once on the course, she clashed with her teacher, Gerhard Marcks, and left the Bauhaus the following year.

In 1923, she married a young industrialist, Gustav Löbenstein, and they established the Hael-Werkstätten pottery to produce her designs. Composed of simple shapes, mostly circles and triangles, her ceramics looked strikingly modern. Coloring them with vivid glazes, typically yellows or blues, she often added patterns in the Constructivist style of Kandinsky’s paintings. Within a few years, the factory employed 120 people and was exporting her designs to fashionable stores in the United States and Britain.

In 1928, Mr. Löbenstein was killed in a car crash, leaving her a widow with two sons. She ran the factory on her own, but the business struggled in the 1930s economic depression and Nazi oppression. In 1935, she was forced to sell it for a pittance and one of her clients, the London department store owner Ambrose Heal, helped her and the boys to leave Germany for Britain.

Once there, Ms. Heymann settled in Stoke-on-Trent, the industrial city known as “The Potteries,” fired by the Constructivist belief that designers should work in close proximity to industry. “The German potteries had modernized by then, but Stoke was still a dirty, smoggy, noisy 19th-century town of bottle ovens and factory chimneys,” said Miranda Goodby, ceramics curator at the Potteries Museum in Stoke. “The local manufacturers were producing dainty tea sets with festoons of flowers, and her stuff was very, very different.”

She began by working for an established pottery, Mintons, and insisted on joining the board (then very rare for a designer, let alone a woman), only to fall out with her (male) colleagues. She then founded Grete Pottery, which sold her new designs and variations on her German pieces to old clients, including Heal’s, but had to close down when World War II began. By then, she had remarried, to the educator Harold Marks. Tiring of Stoke’s conservatism, she moved with him to London after the war and reinvented herself as a (not particularly good) painter.

Ms. Heymann has not been forgotten entirely. Her 1920s and ’30s pieces survive in museum collections and are auctioned occasionally, although her status is so flimsy that she is known by different names. Grete Marks to the Potteries Museum, Margarete Heymann-Marks to the Dallas Museum of Art, Margarete Heymann-Löbenstein to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, Margarete Heymann-Marks Löbenstein to Sotheby’s, and so on.

The fundamental problem was that no one championed her. The few prominent female designers at the Bauhaus had powerful male protectors. Ms. Albers’s husband, Josef, was one of Gropius’s protégés, while a more successful female ceramicist, Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain, not only married a male classmate but was a favorite of Mr. Marcks’s. But Ms. Heymann fell out with both him and Gropius.

She also suffered from her decision to stay in Britain, where she was isolated from the Bauhaus powerbrokers, who joined Gropius in the United States. He dictated the “official” version of the school’s history from a Harvard teaching post, and decided which Bauhäuslers to cast as stars, and which to ignore.

Stranded in The Potteries, Ms. Heymann was shunned by the local ceramics industry and cut off from potential allies in the London art and design scene. Nor has she been helped by design historians, who have tended to regard ceramics as being less important than architecture, graphics or furniture design. Even ceramic historians have shown greater interest in studio potters, like Ms. Friedlaender-Wildenhain, than industrial ceramicists.

It is tempting to think that all a successful designer needs is talent and determination. But they’re not enough when gender, geography, genre and timing conspire against you, as they did for Margarete Heymann.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Project Triangle

Project Triangle will be launched in the Summer of 2009 and encompasses a collection of hard work and research over the past thirty (30) years. With each board that is cut out of a piece of Wood or Foam, there is waste. The wasted pieces are normally placed in the dumpster and delivered to our local landfill, contributing to the overall pollution of the Earth. Using a method long practiced by the boating and aerospace industries (building a whole from multiple parts), Victoria Skimboards is now piecing together boards using the once wasted material.

Taking foam pieces that were normally headed for the dumpster and using them in production, Victoria Skimboards has decreased our overall landfill contribution by about thirty percent (30%) says owner Tex Haines. The boards are guaranteed not to break along any seem in the foam for the life of the board.

Having tested this theory in the early years of the business and throughout the thirty (30) plus years has proven the method to work for skimboarding. We have had years of experience building boards which occasionally had an extra piece glued on to make the most of a blank that was too short and none ever came back broken anywhere near those seams states Tex Haines.

It is one step in a refining process but one we are proud of and ready to share with all of you.

Victoria Skimboards HERE

Sunday, June 7, 2009

John Follis/Rex Goode

John Follis and Rex Goode for Architectural Pottery. Most works are from the 50's, including the iconic "egg planter".

Related Arm AP's HERE and HERE

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Victoria Skimboards

Spending some time in my home town, and getting a few skimboarding sessions in. Dropped by Victoria Skimboards today and took a few photos. The final image is of a 1976 Tex Haines, Victoria Skimboard founder. Thanks Trigg!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fundamentals of Makkum

New pottery service for Royal Tichelaar Makkum, Holland's oldest company, by Atelier NL.

Via Designboom HERE
Tichelaar Makkum HERE
Atelier NL HERE

Wilhelm Kåge

Wilhelm Kåge (1889-1960) Wilhelm Kåge has had the same impact on Swedish art ceramics history as the renowned Axel Salto had on Denmark’s. Both were pioneers of wide importance. Originally a painter, Wilhelm Kåge was employed by Gustavsberg as an art director to rejuvenate the pottery’s production. He was faithful to this company for 32 years.  In 1942 he started the legendary Gustavsberg Studio with the mission to create unique artistic pieces.  His lively imagination brought forth a great variety of forms. Kåge was an artist of contradictions. In the 1940’s and 50’s he designed several geometrical, almost cubist, vessels in the “Surrea” series which stands in striking contrast to his soft formed, organic shaped tableware from the same period. Kåge designed more than 30 different dinner services, of particular importance was the inexpensive “workers’ service”, intended for a wider audience. Kåge’s pride, however, was the Farsta series of unique vessels made of heavy stoneware with carved surfaces and earth coloured decorative glazes.  The clay for which was taken from the Farsta bay area very near the Gustavsberg pottery. He began experimenting with the Farsta line of studio ceramics already in the 1920’s.  Art historians and collectors today consider the Farsta pieces the culmination of Wilhelm Kåge’s artistic production. (


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Roger Capron

French designer Roger Capron, 1922
Capron was born in Paris in 1922. After graduating from the Ecole des Arts Appliques in Paris he eventually became a professor at the school. In 1947, he moved to a small town near Cannes: Vallauris, well known for its ceramics production. Shortly after his arrival, he purchased a factory which produced ceramic items for the home.
In 1948, Pablo Picasso began to work ceramic in Vallauris and to brought international media attention. Before long, Vallauris became the city of renewal in ceramics.
Capron befriended Pablo Picasso and this friendship certainly liberated his creativity. He created what is now known as the "free forms" style in ceramics, introducing modern biomorphic shapes and he worked on colours with bright and colourful glazes on vases, platters and wall tiles. He also produced a popular line of tile topped coffee tables that became symbolic of the south of France "art de vivre".
Today, Capron continues to create and, for almost 12 years now, produces with his wife Jacotte, figurative ceramic art sculptures.
Capron ceramics are among the most sought after collectibles in the mid-century market.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Label of Pride That Pays

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Michael Goldin, president of Swerve, a company that shows it is still possible to manufacture high-quality products in one of the most expensive locations in the United States — even in the grip of an economic recession. More Photos >

Published: April 22, 2009

In a timeworn factory in Sausalito, Calif., 67 workers turn out Heath ceramics, doing everything from mixing the clay to applying the finishing glazes. Twenty miles away, a Japanese robot called Ziggy works day and night in a converted brass foundry in Berkeley, making precision-cut office furniture.

neighboring factories demonstrate is that it is still possible to manufacture high-quality products in one of the most expensive locations in the United States — even in the grip of an economic recession.

And while both are being forced to adapt to the tough times, the two businesses have been helped by the fact that their products are made in America.

“In hard economic times, a slogan built around ‘Buy American’ is going to resonate a little more,” said Steven J. Davis, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “People read stories about unemployed Americans and they want to feel good when they make consumption decisions.”

Professor Davis said manufacturing was generally moving outside wealthier countries like the United States. “Only an outbreak of protectionist policies or a sharp rise in international shipping costs could slow or temporarily reverse manufacturing’s declining share of employment in the United States,” he said.

Still, there still seems to be an appetite for products from high-end, craft-based manufacturers in America. That proved to be the major reason that Robin Petravic and his wife, Catherine Bailey, bought Heath Ceramics six years ago even though competition from abroad had forced most artisanal potteries across the country to shut down.

They said that when they first walked into Heath’s factory in one of Sausalito’s former shipyards, they decided that Heath’s idiosyncratic way of doing things and its geographical roots could prove to be its salvation. They said they were struck by the fact that every part of the manufacturing process was under one roof. “Many of the employees had worked there for decades and knew everything, including how to fix the machines if they broke down,” Ms. Bailey said.

The company was founded in the mid-1940s by Edith Heath, a ceramicist and creative spirit, and her husband, Brian, an inventor. The company quickly earned a reputation for durable, finely crafted tableware and tile whose clean, modernist lines signaled a break from the more fussy designs of the past.

It would seem at first glance that little has changed at Heath’s dusty, 30,000-square-foot factory in the time since — the tableware and tile are made in the same sustainable, labor-intensive way they have always been. Some lines, like the Coupe pattern, have been in constant production since 1948.But change has come with the need to make the manufacturing more efficient, cater to the current design aesthetic and respond with agility to the economic downturn. New production systems have been introduced, and dusty pink has been removed from the palette in favor of more contemporary glazing hues like persimmon and cocoa. In January, Heath introduced a line of less expensive tile. While previously all of Heath’s tile was made to order, the Modern Basics line can be bought off the shelf in a limited selection of colors and shapes. It is about 40 percent cheaper than the custom tile.

Heath’s mix of sales channels has also been adjusted, with wholesale taking a backseat to more direct routes, like the company’s Web site, its factory store and a new retail outlet, which opened in December in Los Angeles. “That’s where we can be most effective and react most quickly,” said Mr. Petravic, a former product designer who developed the business plan.

The factory store, he said, helps them learn which new designs work and which ones do not. It has also reinforced the couple’s commitment to manufacturing in the United States. “We can test the market and avoid suffering from our mistakes,” he said. “If we try something that turns out not to be popular, maybe we have made 100.”

In 2008, Heath’s sales increased fivefold and its profit margin was about 8 percent. The company increased its employee roster to 67 from 25. This year the goal, Mr. Petravic said, is simply to stay flat.

Reinier Evers, founder of, which tracks consumer habits, agreed that Heath seemed to be benefiting from consumers’ renewed interest in homegrown products. How products are made is on consumers’ radar, he said. “There’s a story that consumers can tell themselves, or better, the ‘status story’ they can tell their peers to gain recognition.”

Michael Goldin, an architect and industrial designer, has also tied his company’s fate to that trend. For the last 14 years, Mr. Goldin has been contributing to the rejuvenation of a light-industrial district in Berkeley. He transformed an abandoned model airplane motor factory into his office and has designed and outfitted streamlined, open-plan office spaces for lawyers, architects and dotcom start-ups in Berkeley and neighboring Emeryville.

Mr. Goldin’s company, Swerve, has also been making furniture, seeking out the technology required to produce precision-cut aluminum taper joints and machine-tooled, eco-friendly work surfaces for the desks, workstations and shelving systems.

For Mr. Goldin, outsourcing was never an option. “Ever since I was at grad school I have felt very strongly about having my hands in what I am making — actually feeling materials and how they work,” he said. “It all started with my desire to make things and to have a shop where I could do that.”

Outsourcing, he said, would also make it difficult to ensure high design and craftsmanship standards. “How do you keep track?” he asked. “How do you make sure your product comes to you as you specified it? Overseeing the process would require constant traveling back and forth.”

In any case, having Swerve’s pieces made overseas would compromise the company’s just-in-time manufacturing model. “We always make our products to order. We can’t afford to keep items in stock,” Mr. Goldin said. “If we went overseas we would have to order huge inventory ahead of time. And we’re not ready for that.”

The company’s labor costs are kept low because of its reliance on computerized cutting machines, including a new canary yellow robot from Japan, nicknamed Ziggy by the employees, which works 24 hours a day. Of Swerve’s 15 employees, only four work on the shop floor.

In the last few months, Mr. Goldin has had to make some hard choices to ensure that Swerve rides out the economic crisis. A recent order for 500 aluminum-framed chairs will be completed at cost.

He and his administrative staff have vacated the factory’s sleek offices and some income-generating tenants have moved in. And his employees have all agreed to salary cuts. But he believes more strongly than ever that outsourcing would be the wrong choice. “Of all times, we need to do what we can to keep jobs here,” he said.

Both Mr. Goldin and the owners of Heath say they hope what they have achieved will stand as a model for other small- and medium-size businesses facing the critical question of whether to locate production locally or in low-cost offshore sites. As Ms. Bailey put it, “The craft of manufacturing has to a great extent been lost as a value in American culture, and we are striving to retain it.”

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Friday

My new Bike Friday Pocket Companion Folding Bike. Made in Eugene Oregon, with U.S Chromoly steel and made with love by people who love making folding bikes. Picked mine up after a lot of research at Warm Planet here in SF. Thanks to R4TH for un-folding the knowledge.
Bike Friday HERE

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Seasonal Heath

New summer edition  from Heath Ceramics