When I was working on our Heath Ceramics collaboration, we worked with colors rooted in the Southern vernacular and my upbringing in the 1960s and 70s in Alabama. When I look at the dishes, I see parts of my childhood in the shades of red and blue.

The chosen red is appropriately called red clay, as it was inspired by the color of Alabama soil. This miraculous color used to bring tears to my eyes as I would fly in from my time living in Europe.  As a child, our summer clothes were stained with the color. The bottoms of our feet were permanently red clay colored after the temperature reached 78 degrees. Gillian Welch’s song “Red Clay Halo” cannot say it any better:

All the girls all dance with the boys from the city,
And they don’t care to dance with me.
Now it ain’t my fault that the fields are muddy,
And the red clay stains my feet.

Being a barefoot child who played in the garden, I knew this color intimately. This is the color of hard-working farmers and farm wives; it is the story of a community.

Southern musicians have written about Alabama’s red soil for decades. EmmyLou Harris’ “Red Dirt Girl” is another iconic example.

As a child of the 60s, I spent most of my time outdoors. Everyone of this era will say something like this, “We woke up the morning, were fed breakfast, and told not to come back in until lunch.”  While we were running outside, mothers and grandmothers would cook garden vegetables for lunch and dinner. Each meal, my family would eat dinner off memorable blue plates. In the South (and perhaps across rural America), it was common for grocery stores to give away free dinnerware with a purchase. Spend $10 and you got a cup.  Spend $20 and you got a plate. My grandmother used her “grocery store” dishes every day in her kitchen and mixed them with her own North Star pattern which was prevalent in 50s America.

I still have my grandmothers North Star, along with those (almost) matching blue grocery store plates in a pattern called “Stripes” (made by Homer Laughlin, one of the great producers of American ceramics and still in business).

This connection between soil and my grandmother’s kitchen inspired our Heath collaboration colors. The addition of a beautiful warm cocoa in the etched salad plate completes this collection.

Our ‘Celebrate America’ catalog features the red clay and blue sapphire dinnerware. Softer red and blue hues pair well with the classic reds and dark navies that are symbolic of the 4th of July. You can mix and match with Heath’s White Rim line dinnerware to balance out your red, white, and blues.

I use them to celebrate my heritage and family every day.


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  1. Tina Leigh

    You are taking me back to my childhood with these descriptions and memories for I share many of the same ones. I am originally from South GA and my husband from AL so we are southern to the core when it comes to these kinds of things. You also listed two songs that are constantly playing on my IHome while I am cooking dinner in the afternoon.