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Remembering master potter Otto Heino

July 21, 2009 | 11:00 am

Otto Heino "The clay shows me what to do," Otto Heino liked to tell visitors to his Ojai studio as he transformed huge mounds of earth into ruggedly handsome bowls, vases, pitchers and platters.

A master of his art who generously shared his knowledge -- except for a secret formula for a valuable yellow glaze -- and supported many art institutions, he personified the spirit and work ethic of California's studio crafts movement.

Heino died Thursday at 94. Until then, he hardly missed a beat in building a distinguished body of work -- first with his wife, Vivika, who died in 1995, and then on his own.

After a decade of experimentation, the couple came up with a way to re-create a luscious yellow glaze that had been treasured by the Chin dynasty in China but lost for centuries. Claiming to have been offered a fortune for the formula but refusing to sell it, Otto cheerfully used the glaze on his own pots, priced at $25,000 and more.

"I am the oldest, richest potter in the world," he told The Times in a 2008 interview.

To read Heino's obituary, click here.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photo: Otto Heino in his studio. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times