The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Otto Heino on March 4, 1981. The interview took place in Ojai, California, and was conducted by Elaine Levin for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
ELAINE LEVIN: We're in the Heino's home in Ojai, talking with Otto Heino, looking out at their lovely garden and pepper trees.
OTTO HEINO: Peppers, and the two in front are almond trees.
ELAINE LEVIN: Almond trees that are in flower. I want to start with you because I've never really heard much about your own personal background, your family background. I know you were born in East Hampton, Connecticut in 1915, is that right? What about your family?
OTTO HEINO: My family came over to visit. They were fifteen and thirteen. They came to visit and they never went back. They landed in Boston, Massachusetts.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was this your father?
OTTO HEINO: Yes. My father and my mother went to the Finnish community. They have a little community in Boston. My father was a drummer, so he played every Saturday night in a Finnish band. That's how they met.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that his occupation?
OTTO HEINO: No, he just played the drums on weekends. He was really a farmer. His father used to be in the milk business, a creamery, sell milk retail. So my father moved to New Hampshire, Connecticut, East Hampton -- it's near Middletown. Portland is the nearest, across the river is Middletown. My father settled on the Connecticut River and raised tobacco. He started farming and market gardening, and raised corn, beets, carrots, blueberries, tobacco and tomatoes. A lot of tomatoes for the canning factories in Connecticut. He milked about eighty cows and peddled milk.
El: Did you have a large family?
OTTO HEINO: Twelve children. There were six girls and six boys. A girl and a boy and a girl and a boy, and twelve of us. We all had to help on the farm when we were able. My father sold the place when I was twelve years old, so we moved to New Hampshire.
ELAINE LEVIN: Why did he sell?
OTTO HEINO: He had a good price, and he got tired of doing market gardening. He moved to New Hampshire and we just sold milk. But he didn't retail, he didn't peddle it, he just sold it to a creamery. He was milking three hundred cows. We sold milk in forty-quart cans, so we made forty quart cans of milk a day. We had a contract. They came and picked it up. It was sold in Manchester, New Hampshire for the hospitals and restaurants and things like that from this big creamery. Father operated that for 1927-39. We sold the farm and we moved to Weare, New Hampshire, on the river. The first farm we bought in New Hampshire was on a hill. Everything dried up, so we sold that and we moved to a little river in Weare, New Hampshire. Father bulldozed all the land and cleared it so we had a mile wide and a mile long of field to work. We used to put up ten thousand bales of hay. We sold the first crop to the racehorses, Rockingham, in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Everywhere they had a racetrack. Father had the contract to supply the horse hay. We raised other hay for the cows. We operated that until father passed away when he was seventy-five. We were all partners in it, but then we split up and took our share. Mother sold it and moved into a little place.
ELAINE LEVIN: Where were you in the lineup of children?
OTTO HEINO: In the middle.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you attracted to any handcrafts during that period?
OTTO HEINO: I apprenticed in Henniker, New Hampshire for a wood turner. I did little doorknobs from a little drawer all the way up to the outside door, big doorknobs, in Boston. Louie Harr who worked for this apprentice worked for four or five architects who built big office buildings and big private homes. He did all the doorknobs and whatever special things they needed. It was mostly rosewood. I turned rosewood.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were they especially designed by him?
OTTO HEINO: No. They were designed by the architect. Then we would set the lathe up and make all one special type for one whole complete office building, or one private home. We made the little doorknob. It was the same design as the great big one, but it was in a smaller scale. And then a war came along. I was the first one drafted. So I went to the training. Then I went and signed up for the Air Force. I went to Ft. Bragg, Georgia. They jumped off of a sixty-foot pole to see if you could jump out without being afraid, and then the parachute would open. The parachute opened. I did that twenty-five times. Then they transferred me to Fort Knox, Kentucky. They put you in a room to see if you knew the center of gravity, if you're flying upside down or right side up. They put you in a big cold room to see how much cold you could stand, and to see how much heat you could stand. I passed all that and went through Las Vegas gunnery school.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did you feel, a farmboy, in a sense, from New Hampshire, about all the things which happened to you in the Army?
OTTO HEINO: I just got drafted, so I thought I'd do the best possible service to my country. I went to the gunnery school and I passed the gunnery school. You were supposed to be there six weeks but I graduated in three. I hit the target eighty out of a hundred every time I went to shoot it. They assigned me to a B-25. I was flying at night, patrolling the Pacific, dropping depth charges. They were afraid the Japanese U-boats were coming. I did that for three months.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you stationed in California?
OTTO HEINO: Santa Rosa, California.
ELAINE LEVIN: That was your first assignment in California?
OTTO HEINO: Yes. Then England was calling for help, so they formed a Hundred Bomb Group. I went to Casper, Wyoming to get my overseas flying equipment. Then I picked up the crew and a plane and we landed in Great Falls, Montana. There were a hundred bombers or more on the runway. We were all assigned to a bomber. We flew to England, then we flew out of England to Germany, France, all the European countries.
ELAINE LEVIN: What was your specific role?
OTTO HEINO: I was a right waist gun. I made twenty-five missions and then I was off thirty days. Instead of coming back to the United States, I went to school in England. I did a little jewelry while I was doing woodwork at home. I liked to see how to raise silver, how to raise a bowl or a pitcher or a cream and sugar. They had the silver places on the ground camouflaged, so I went to school there for thirty days.
ELAINE LEVIN: How could you go to school? Did they have arrangements?
OTTO HEINO: The Air Force did; you could take classes.
ELAINE LEVIN: It was an English school, though.
OTTO HEINO: It was an English factory where they taught apprentices. They would take Americans to see what Americans were doing. I raised the bowls and sliver and spoons. I made spoons out of one sheet of silver. Then I went back flying again. After I made another twenty-five missions, they issued me a jeep and extra gas. I visited the museums and individual potters, silversmiths and painters for thirty days. Then I went back flying again.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did you know how to find . . . ?
OTTO HEINO: Museums have a list. I'd visit craft shops -- I visited Leach's pottery at that time. They told me a lot of names to visit.
ELAINE LEVIN: What was Leach's pottery like during that period?
OTTO HEINO: It was sort of that brown, I call it heavy iron. It was a brownish color, a glaze he used a lot. He called it "Temmoka" glaze, but we call it a heavy iron. It's dark brownish red. He had a white glaze. He called it "oatmeal" glaze. It was greyish white with little flecks. They were using those two glazes.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you particularly impressed by pottery?
OTTO HEINO: No, I just made a survey. I discovered when I was looking and traveling, they would put up a setup and they would copy it and paint it. Or they would take a picture of something, and they would set it up and paint what they had in that picture. Then I went. . . .
ELAINE LEVIN: And that didn't . . . ?
OTTO HEINO: . . . impress me. The silver didn't impress me because you'd pound it and there wasn't any action of a challenge. You could hit it and it would stay there and wouldn't move. But when I saw Leach's pottery where people were throwing, they had to master that clay or else the clay would take over. So I decided when I got back to the United States I would take up pottery. I took up pottery with the G.I. and Vivika was teaching.
El: Let's go back a little bit. There must have been a time span after you saw Leach's pottery when you remained in England.
OTTO HEINO: I made four more missions and the War ended. But then I didn't get released to go home. I was called "essential." I moved the fighter groups over to Munich, Germany for six months. Three months moving fighter groups and then three months filling the Officers Club with liquor. I learned a lot because it was a great education. I saw a lot of France and Belgium.
ELAINE LEVIN: What specifically did you seek out in France?
OTTO HEINO: I looked at the landscaping and the cities and the museums. At that time I liked to go to museums and look and see the paintings. I didn't visit any potters. Only in Munich, Germany. I visited potters on the Autobahn. Because we were off a couple of days we went to Berchtesgaden where Hitler's hideout was. On the way there were pottery signs on the Autobahn. So I turned off and went to visit the potters, but didn't have enough time. So I just looked at the surroundings.
ELAINE LEVIN: The work you were doing was to make things ready for the Occupational Forces?
OTTO HEINO: Yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: So that when you saw Leach and visited his pottery, that really convinced you that was the direction you wanted to go in?
OTTO HEINO: Yes. It was a challenge to make a pot out of that little lump of clay.
ELAINE LEVIN: From that time on, you looked in the direction of pottery, rather than other crafts.
OTTO HEINO: Yes, when I came back to the United States.
ELAINE LEVIN: How long were you in France and Germany?
OTTO HEINO: Just for three days. A day to land, and then they'd load up the liquor. Then we were back, and the third day we'd leave. So I was only there about one day. I went around the cities and looked at the buildings, the architecture.
ELAINE LEVIN: What were the potteries you found in Germany?
OTTO HEINO: The Germans had oxidation, electric kilns, and there was turquoise.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were these studio potters?
OTTO HEINO: Studio potters. Connected to the house where they lived they had the cow and pigs and everything. And then in a little shed off to one side, they would have the same all connected. She would have her pottery. The wife would do the pottery.
ELAINE LEVIN: You never saw that in New England, in New Hampshire? None of the farmers at that point ever had pottery with the cows?
OTTO HEINO: No. So I looked to see how it was set up. They took me in and showed me their setup, the cow barn and everything. They asked if I was a farmer. I said my folks were farmers, so they were interested in showing me everything.
ELAINE LEVIN: They were pleasant and accepting.
OTTO HEINO: Yes. The Germans were very polite.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did the pottery compare with what you had seen at Leach's studio?
OTTO HEINO: Well, it was oxidation. It was fired; they had more color. I was interested in the color.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did that give you an idea of the direction you might want to go in pottery?
OTTO HEINO: Yes, I liked both. I liked the color, and I liked Leach's dark brown colors, the earth colors, because Leach was firing in reduction and she was firing in oxidation.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you see any pottery in the museums you went to?
OTTO HEINO: I saw a lot of sculpture in the museums, pots and paintings. I had plenty of time. I looked at every individual thing. Then I made up my mind that I was going to take up pottery when I get back to the United States.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you know how to go about that when you got home?
OTTO HEINO: No. When I got back East they had the G.I. and I applied for it.
ELAINE LEVIN: The G.I. Bill. You didn't know that would be available to you? How did you think you were going to manage to do pottery?
OTTO HEINO: In the meantime, while we were farming, I was in the trucking business. So I couldn't be exempt from it, because I was hauling war goods. I was hauling lumber for the ammunition boxes in Buffalo, New York. But I couldn't get exempt because when they went to take me, I was A-1. So my father took over the business. I had a lot of extra trucks, and they couldn't make trucks during the War. So trucking companies wanted to buy them. So my father wrote and I said to sell them, to keep the milk trucks rolling, and lumber trucks, and to sell the rest of the other trucks. I used to haul curbing stone for the roads in Massachusetts. I hauled furniture. With the ICC rights I had I could haul anything. I could load both ways. When I came back out of the War, I took up the trucking business because that was the only way I could make a living. My father turned it back over to me because it was really mine. So I bid for the contract for the milk and the lumber; I still was hauling it. I didn't add any more trucks to it because in the meantime they had become unionized. So the driver could only drive eight hours and then another driver. So I had to have two drivers to be on the same truck. One would sleep and one would drive. Before that, they used to drive all the way because one driver could make a lot more money. I had a lot of problems with them. They would quit, and then I would have to go and pick up the truck. So I decided I would sell it. I inquired about taking pottery classes.
ELAINE LEVIN: About what year was that?
OTTO HEINO: It was 1949. Because we came out here in 1952 to teach. It was 1950 when I signed up for the G.I.
ELAINE LEVIN: I believe you found the League of New Hampshire Arts and Crafts. How did you happen to find out about that?
OTTO HEINO: They were accepted for the G.I. Bill.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you know about it because you were in New Hampshire?
OTTO HEINO: I went first to Concord. I read about it in the papers, that they always advertised, pottery classes, weaving, jewelry. So I went to inquire, and Vivika was teaching there.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that in Concord?
OTTO HEINO: In Concord. I decided I would apply for the G.I. I went to the director and I filled the forms out and got accepted. I took the classes for one year. Then I got married to Vivika and came out for one year to teach at U.S.C., for Doctor Lukens.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you an exceptional pupil at the time?
OTTO HEINO: Yes, I got right on to it. I studied at U.S.C. and practiced. The second year I got a teaching job at U.S.C., to teach beginners.
ELAINE LEVIN: I still want to cover 1950 a little bit more because I'm sure Vivika has taught a lot of classes. You must have been somewhat outstanding. How did you get beyond a teacher-student relationship to decide you wanted to get married?
OTTO HEINO: She invited me to see her studio.
ELAINE LEVIN: Where did she have a studio?
OTTO HEINO: In Hopkinton, New Hampshire. I went there to visit and it looked great. I decided that it was a great independence, to be an individual. Because in the bomber I was responsible for nine other people. I thought, when I get out, I'll never be responsible for that many people again. Because it's tiresome, everybody has to be alert. So I decided when I get back to the States I was going to be independent, and set up my own business. Like I was in the trucking business, I was more free.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did Leach's pottery give you a feeling you'd have that independence?
OTTO HEINO: No, because there were so many people working there. They had five or six people working. They were doing, you know, production. I noticed they were doing a lot of the same shapes because they would put the calipers on them and make the same shape over and over again. I didn't want that, because I was doing that same with the doorknobs. I had to make so many, and then switch over and do so many others. I didn't want to do that. That's why I took this tour of visiting museums and different individual painters and things like that, and silver, that I decided that clay was the best. It was most challenging. Although I didn't try it, but I looked, I observed.
ELAINE LEVIN: What made you feel you could make a living at it?
OTTO HEINO: I didn't think at that time. But after I got married in the Fifties I formed a philosophy that I wanted to do something for the country I live in. I wanted to leave something so somebody would know he was a good person. So he knew what he was doing, he knew his material, what he was working in, and he contributed something for the country he lived in. That's what I set out to do. I taught at U.S.C. until I got enough money, and then I taught at Chouinard so I could buy more equipment.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did Vivika have a pottery studio?
OTTO HEINO: In Hopkinton.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did she manage to do that and teach at the same time?
OTTO HEINO: She taught two days a week. She was Assistant Director of the League of Arts and Crafts. She used to teach all over the state and set up individual potteries and classes in the little workshops. They put the pottery down in the basement, and upstairs they would have the salesroom. In one corner they would have weaving and jewelry. Pottery always used to be in the basement. They think it's messy. When we got married she used to teach two days in Concord, travel two days all around New Hampshire, and then the rest of the time she would make her own pottery.
ELAINE LEVIN: That doesn't sound as if there's too much time.
OTTO HEINO: No, there wasn't.
ELAINE LEVIN: You were at the Hopkinton Pottery before you came to California?
OTTO HEINO: Yes. After she got the wheels, and all the equipment, the weaving, the looms and everything for each one of these centers, she would hire people to take the teaching job. That would relieve her. So after about six months, in the Fifties, she was teaching just two days in Concord. The rest of the time we were working at home making pots.
ELAINE LEVIN: You must have learned a great deal working with her in her pottery.
OTTO HEINO: I learned more than I did in school, yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: She must have had a setup where she had all her procedures and methods worked out. Was it easy for you to fit into that?
OTTO HEINO: At first she told me to mix up the glazes. I worked on making up glazes. Then I made up the clay, because she had orders to do. I would make up the clay and get started from different things so I would know all the materials. After that I would get on to the wheel.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did she teach you how to throw?
OTTO HEINO: Yes. When she would get caught up with the orders, or whatever she wanted to make, she would teach me how to throw.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you were almost an apprentice.
OTTO HEINO: She would show me how to fire the kilns and load them. I was doing all this and throwing part-time and coil building. I made the most throwing progress at U.S.C. in 1952. We brought one wheel out.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was it hard to leave Hopkinton?
OTTO HEINO: No, because we just left for one year. Then we stayed on for thirteen. Dr. Lukens came back and said he was going back to Haiti for another year for UNESCO. When he came back the third year, he said he was going to retire. He didn't want to teach any more. We taught there the third year and decided we better go back East. We only came out for one year. Susan, who was working at Chouinard, wanted the job.
ELAINE LEVIN: Susan Peterson?
OTTO HEINO: We recommended her. Then Carlton came by on sabbatical. He wanted the job. But he couldn't come then because he had to go back for one more year for his obligation in Illinois. Susan took the job at U.S.C. Mrs. Chouinard wanted somebody because U.S.C. had hired Susan in August. Mrs. Chouinard needed a teacher in September. We were all packed, ready to go. We went to see the setup at Chouinard's. Mrs. Chouinard took Vivika around and said, "This is the next teacher." She didn't say, you have the job. She said, this is the next teacher to the faculty. We already had a little shop. We had the first pottery shop, salesroom, in L.A.
ELAINE LEVIN: Vivika knew Glen Lukens because she had taken a summer course in 1939?
OTTO HEINO: 1940.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did she know the setup at U.S.C. at all? Because time had passed since then.
OTTO HEINO: He wrote and said they had a great big kiln, and three kilns. That impressed us. We accepted it when they said it because before they used to have a little Denver kiln when Vivika was there. He described the big kilns and everything, so Vivika accepted the job.
ELAINE LEVIN: What did you find there when you got to U.S.C.? Was the equipment what you expected?
OTTO HEINO: There were only two electric wheels, and they had about six sewing machine wheels. They had this great big kiln and two smaller kilns. Vivika would demonstrate on the sewing machine wheel because she thought if she worked on the power wheel the students wouldn't work the sewing machine wheel. But people worked; they got a lot of things done. She had twenty-nine in the class. Big classes, because when a new person comes to teach, everybody signs up.
ELAINE LEVIN: And you got to practice.
OTTO HEINO: They had the office and a little room in back of the office; I put the wheel up in back and practiced. In the meantime, I got a job at Douglas Aircraft. I worked in the experimental department. They were racing against time to be the first to fly an airplane faster than sound that could land on a carrier, or on land. So I worked on F-40, on the wing construction. They were like a bat, their wings would slant back. I worked there six months, twelve hours a day. We got the thing completed; that was the first year. Because we thought we were going to go back East, Vivika said, "You'd better quit to get more practice on the wheel." So I resigned. It was all finished anyway. They were going on to something else, another experimental plane. I quit after six months ad set up the wheel. I practiced in the back room of the office.
ELAINE LEVIN: This was the wheel you brought . . .
OTTO HEINO: . . . from the East.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was it very different from the ones you found at U.S.C.?
OTTO HEINO: Yes. This was a regular Denver gear-driven wheel. Vivika had it given to her when she graduated from Alfred. We still have it. It was the seventeenth wheel the company made, Denver Fireclay. It's a gear-driven, a Master motor. I practiced for six months. That was the end of 1953. I didn't sell anything. But I kept practicing and practicing. There was a show in Europe in Cannes, France in 1955. I thought I would send my pots. We sent two pots each. I got an award.
ELAINE LEVIN: That was a silver medal?
OTTO HEINO: No, it was a citation. Czechoslovakia got the silver medal. I decided then that I had my own style. My pots were different from other people's pots. When I started teaching I tried to tell people to keep on working and not to sell until they had their own style. And that you know when you send the pot to a show, you're not embarrassed because you know it's your pot. It's honest, you haven't got the influence from anywhere. Then I started sending to shows and selling.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did anything in the Los Angeles area influence you at that time? I know that you feel the pot has to come from yourself, but did you feel there were conditions in Los Angeles that made it possible?
OTTO HEINO: I know the East is very conservative; they don't want to experiment. But when you come across the Mississippi, we drove across, it seems to be wide open spaces. It's a challenge. So when we got to California, the people were so outgoing and so interested in what you were doing, I guess that influenced me. They were curious. Because I fired them, and I would put them on a shelf. The faculty at U.S.C. would come in to look. They would wander by and I said I wasn't selling them yet. I wasn't selling anything.
ELAINE LEVIN: Why?
OTTO HEINO: I thought I wasn't ready to sell. I thought I would keep working until I developed something. Then when I thought I was ready, I shipped it off.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you find that you really were ready to sell?
OTTO HEINO: Well, when I started sending to the shows, I looked at it and studied it, I had my own style. I think it's good for people. Everybody has their own individual idea, they put it across, but I discovered, I made the pot for myself. I wanted to achieve something for myself in what I was making instead of just selling it. I didn't care for the money. I just wanted to develop something that was mine. I think I achieved it.
ELAINE LEVIN: Around 1955 you thought you were ready for that? What about the atmosphere in Los Angeles? Who was teaching?
OTTO HEINO: It was the best time. Teaching was vital in California because there was so much competition. There were so many good students. We were there at the right time. Everybody was going full speed at the colleges: Chouinard, Otis and the community colleges.
ELAINE LEVIN: Who was teaching at Chouinard?
OTTO HEINO: Susan Peterson was teaching. We were teaching at U.S.C. and Peter Voulkos at Otis.
ELAINE LEVIN: Andreson was at UCLA.
OTTO HEINO: Right.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were there any other schools functioning? Scripps?
OTTO HEINO: Ricky Patterson was teaching there.
ELAINE LEVIN: What kinds of interchange did you have with these people?
OTTO HEINO: We had meetings. They had Hamada come over. Leach had a workshop at Chouinard.
ELAINE LEVIN: Where did everyone get together? Were there meetings of the American Ceramic Society?
OTTO HEINO: The American Ceramic Society had a big convention in L.A.
ELAINE LEVIN: What year was that?
OTTO HEINO: It started maybe in the Sixties.
ELAINE LEVIN: What about the Fifties?
OTTO HEINO: 1955 maybe.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was there any one school or one person who headed the Society in Los Angeles at that point?
OTTO HEINO: I've forgotten now who the person was at that time. They had meetings at S. Paul Ward's.
ELAINE LEVIN: That's a ceramic supply place. Was Westwood Ceramics functioning then?
OTTO HEINO: Yes. Just beginning.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you get most of your supplies from there?
OTTO HEINO: We got them from both places. Ward's and Westwood for the school.
ELAINE LEVIN: What kinds of clay did you get for your classes?
OTTO HEINO: We used to get some coiling clay, from Gladding McBean. They sold clay too. We got Lincoln clay and sewer pipe clay.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you did teach coiling?
OTTO HEINO: We taught all the processes.
ELAINE LEVIN: Hand building as well as throwing?
OTTO HEINO: Hand building, throwing, slab, everything. Especially for the beginners. We would teach all the processes. They would pinch first and the coils, slab, and then throw.
ELAINE LEVIN: Let's see, we forgot who was teaching at Otis at one point.
OTTO HEINO: Peter Voulkos was at Otis. He used to come over, back and forth. Students used to come from there, and Chouinard students would go over to County.
ELAINE LEVIN: There was an interchange between students and teachers.
OTTO HEINO: Then they used to have, on La Cienega, a lot of galleries. Students used to go out there to visit.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did they show any pottery at the time?
OTTO HEINO: Pottery, sculpture, everything.
ELAINE LEVIN: Which galleries showed pottery?
OTTO HEINO: What was that gallery, where Peter had his exhibit? I forgot.
ELAINE LEVIN: But there was one.
OTTO HEINO: There was one.
ELAINE LEVIN: I'm not quite clear as to which class you taught, and which Vivika taught.
OTTO HEINO: I taught Occupational Therapy at U.S.C., and at Chouinard I taught beginners.
ELAINE LEVIN: The occupational therapy was something Glen Lukens had been interested in. How did you happen to get involved with teaching?
OTTO HEINO: There weren't many teachers that year, so they asked if I would teach, two days a week.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that in 1953?
OTTO HEINO: Yes. '53, '54. There weren't many teachers available so they asked me to teach occupational therapy. That was two days a week.
ELAINE LEVIN: You were teaching teachers?
OTTO HEINO: No, they were occupational therapists who would go to hospitals to help patients.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were they learning all crafts?
OTTO HEINO: All crafts, weaving, jewelry, pottery.
ELAINE LEVIN: You were teaching the pottery aspect of it?
OTTO HEINO: Yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that very different from teaching regular students who were interested in continuing?
OTTO HEINO: They were good students because they analyzed with their hands how to center clay, and how to pinch pots, because they would use it for therapy. They analyzed everything. It was great. By the end of six weeks they would make a teapot. They'd get right on to it.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were these also some of the students who were in regular pottery classes who felt they wanted . . . ?
OTTO HEINO: No, all they did was take all the courses at U.S.C. for occupational therapy. They would come over every afternoon and two days a week for class.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was it a six-week period for pottery, or a semester?
OTTO HEINO: A semester.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you enjoy that aspect?
OTTO HEINO: Yes, they were great. I learned a lot from them, and they learned a lot from me.
ELAINE LEVIN: I'm going to have Vivika join us. I believe you were born in Caledonia, New York in 1910? What about your family?
VIVIKA HEINO: I had one brother. My mother had a great deal of art background, and had wanted to become an artist. She was all set to go to the Chicago Art Institute when there was a sickness in the family and she couldn't go. My father was a businessman, but very much interested in law. He did a lot of reading and used to help the Italian colony there. There was quite a large Italian group who settled in Caledonia when they put in the railroads, the Lehigh Railroad. They used to come to him for help. While he wasn't able to go on and study law, he did a lot to help them. He later became Supervisor of the county.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that an elected office?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you went through a political campaign with him?
VIVIKA HEINO: Well, yes. He was ill at the time. It was very interesting when he ran. I remember one woman saying, "Oh, well, they probably shouldn't vote for him because he wasn't very well." I was young and I said, "Well, he is the better man." He died two months before his term was up, a three-year term.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you mother's interest in art propel you in that direction?
VIVIKA HEINO: I don't know. I never had color books. She used to draw things for me when I was very little and I would color them. But then I used to draw my own teddy bears by the thousands. They all had dresses and they were in all sorts of things. I never thought about having any ability, but I did want to be an artist.
ELAINE LEVIN: No one in the family ever pointed to you and said, "Look at what she's drawing; she'll probably be an artist?"
VIVIKA HEINO: No, because they thought it was a child's expression. I used to draw a lot. When I was seven or eight I started making birdhouses. I was always doing something. Mother would go to a party and come home with a little placecard and I would immediately do placecards. One day she went to a party at the home of the woman across the street, Mrs. Hamilton. All of a sudden she thought she recognized something on the table. Mrs. Hamilton said, "There was a neighbor girl who came over and was selling placecards." I was selling twelve for a nickel, and she had bought them and put them on the table. Mother was embarrassed. Whatever I saw I always wanted to do. I had a marvelous sandpile. I used to do all kinds of things in the sand but they never kept. They would always crumble and that used to bother me. I once got some syrup and tried to put it in, thinking it might dry and make it stiff. But I'd always done things, and we never had any art in school. In the fifth grade a teacher, Miss Vincent, let us do a little bit of something after school. In the first grade, I drew a round pumpkin and colored it orange. Then the teacher gave us a grey piece of paper, and she drew a brown line on it. We used chalk to make pussy willows. She gave us a chicken and we colored it yellow, in a wooden shoe. That was the extent of my art. I always did everything at home. I always made all my Christmas cards. I made all the personal tags for Christmas presents. Both my brother and I did those.
ELAINE LEVIN: I'm sure your mother must have encouraged you.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, she did. Mother did some drawing, but not very much after she was married. She was one of the few in the town, and I have a sketch that she didn't finish of a blue and white dinner set in a composition she'd gotten. She did pen and ink drawings after Charles Dana Gibson. We had them all lined up and down our stairway. She made many sketches. I've forgotten the character from Dickens, Mr. Munchauser.
ELAINE LEVIN: But you were surrounded, in a sense, by your mother's art work.
VIVIKA HEINO: We had some pretty good etchings in our house. Then we had good prints of old masters.
ELAINE LEVIN: What about high school?
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh, there was no art. Our class tried to get an art teacher from the first year. Finally, in our senior year we petitioned again and they said why didn't we ask before. We tried all the time. So we had no art at all. When I was twelve or thirteen they had a town celebration. It must have been 75 or 100 years. They had all kinds of floats. Maybe it was a dedication of a boulder for the War of 1812. There was a soldier that was killed and they put a boulder up for him outside the town. I don't remember whether it was for that or just to celebrate. No one would do the float for the D.A.R., the Daughters of the American Revolution. So Miss Tennant, who was a poet in the town came and said, "Oh, Vivika will probably do it." So I did it.
ELAINE LEVIN: How old were you?
VIVIKA HEINO: I was twelve or thirteen. I organized it. I used somebody's truck who delivered groceries, when you called up for groceries. Mr. McKay's truck. I had five boys of the town to act as John Hancock, and all the signers of the Declaration of Independence. One of the people in the town had a table like in the photograph of the people signing the Declaration of Independence. I went down with my mother and I got costumes for them all. Bobby Higgenbotham was Benjamin Franklin. He was so thin, and Benjamin Franklin was so fat. We put a pillow in, but his hair was so scraggly. So I got wigs for them. John McNaughten was John Hancock. Now he teaches in Rockport, one of the New York State Universities. They're all grown now, but all these little boys. I had one picture of them. We used pine boughs and bunting to decorate the truck. But at that time, I lived in a town where nobody did anything for children. We always wanted to have a Campfire Girls or a Girl Scout organization. Five of us would get together to try to do the things in the book, but nobody was interested. We didn't have a band or anything. We had to make our life. The teachers didn't do very much. If we had something at school, we'd organize the whole thing. Maybe it's a little more resourceful; we didn't have everything done for us. We always wanted to have a skating rink and they used to have one when my father was young. Then they drained the pond, so we had no place to skate. We skied, though. The father of one of the boys in the town had a framing factory where he made sashes and screen doors and things. He was Swedish and he made the boys skis. That was the first time we saw skis. We all got them for Christmas. We used to ski down the hill. Just skis with a strap. Otto was amazed at the size of the hill we used to go down. We used to make jumps. One of the boys, the son of the Presbyterian minister in town, Mr. Higgenbotham, had a horse. It was a horse everybody borrowed to ride. I had one, but it was out of town and was hard to get to when I was younger. But then when I was in high school, William Higgenbotham used to get the horse, and we used to go on the flats below the hill and ride behind the horse on our skis. We did a lot of cross-country skiing. It's funny, now it's a thing that's in. We used to climb up that hill and go down in two minutes. I always said I wanted to take an old-fashioned clothes line, and have something at the end of the run, at the top of the hill to pull ourselves up. I was always laughed at.
ELAINE LEVIN: You were before your time.
VIVIKA HEINO: I really was, because when I went to New Hampshire, they had a ski tow like that.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you want to leave Caledonia when you . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, I never thought . . . I wanted to go to art school, but it was during the Depression and we didn't have any money. My father had died, so I went to Rochester Normal School. I hated every minute of it, a teachers school. But they had quite a bit of art. I had received a partial scholarship from what is now R.I.T., Mechanics Institute. But because I hadn't had any art . . . in those days you didn't go and leave a college or fail, it was as if you busted out if you didn't keep on -- and my mother felt that since I hadn't had any instruction maybe I wouldn't be able to keep up. I knew I'd make it, but I had to go and tell the head of the school who gave me this partial scholarship for the first year that I couldn't accept it. I had to go to Rochester Normal School. I commuted twenty miles. We got up at six and walked to the train which was a mile, because it was in the next town. Then I walked a mile from the train to school, then back at night. It was long in the wintertime, because we had a long area where there weren't any trees or houses. The wind used to blow the sleet. We used to go through the snow.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you there for just a year?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, I finished. It was a three-year school.
ELAINE LEVIN: What did you plan to do when you got out?
VIVIKA HEINO: We were trained for either kindergarten or elementary education. But I didn't want to teach. But the principal of the school told us in December that we wouldn't have any job. They used to take enough girls because they always had a turnover of about sixty. We might have attrition, so that it came to about fifty that would graduate out of a class. They took sixty in September and thirty in January. The girls were all placed in the schools. We were put on a list from first down and then taken and placed. The Depression had come, and they never hired married teachers. So the girls were getting married and keeping it a secret so they could keep their jobs. So there wasn't any place for us to teach. That was just before Christmas. I decided if I'd gone three years to this school I didn't like and really hated, I was going to get a job. I had a classmate of mine from high school. He was going to Cornell. I said I would make him a box of candy for every time he took me. Gas wasn't much, so we went to all the schools to see if there were any positions. I found that in Hilton there would be a position. But I didn't know whether I would teach second or third grade. Mr. Luffman, the principal, came to see me in the middle of January. He said if I was willing to accept the job, though I didn't know what I was going to teach until I got there, that I would be hired. I was the first one who had a teaching position. And no one got a position in the city. One girl taught near there and her salary was $900. Mine was $1100.
ELAINE LEVIN: A year?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, a year. But it was amazing. I saved about six hundred dollars. I bought a car at the end of the year because we no longer had a car. I took my mother to New York. We saw five or six plays in the week we were there. We went down on the New York Central in chair cars. I paid forty dollars a month for room and board. The difference is the value of the dollar. I taught one year and then I had a chance and I went to Colorado.
El: How did you get the chance to go to Colorado?
VIVIKA HEINO: Someone was going. I had a chance to go with them and go to school. I got my A.B. in Fine Arts there. They did something they never should have let me do. I had enough units so that I only needed sixteen units to graduate for a degree, because we had so much when I was in normal school, and I didn't want an elementary education. I wanted art. They let me take the four years in one year of art requirements. They had quarters, so I took four classes each quarter. In the summer I had to take the two requirements, anybody who graduate had to take philosophy of Education and Sociology. So I did the four years in one. The first class I took was composition. While I went to Rochester, I went to Memorial Art Gallery for classes, a sculpture class with a Miss Will, and a drawing class. But that was the only art I had. I took a design class from University of Rochester Extension. But the principal of the school found out we were doing it and said we couldn't go to two schools at once, but I finished it. That's all I'd had in formal art classes. I hadn't had beginning drawing. I got into composition and really worked hard that year because the first day in the class I raised my hand and asked the teacher what composition had to do with drawing because I had come from Rochester where the Eastman School of Music was. All my friends took composition, composing music, and I felt that composition only related to music. I'd never heard that word referring to art. Many of the students laughed but the teacher was just wonderful. She turned to them and said, "That's a very logical question, because she comes from Rochester." I had mentioned that it has to do with music and she explained. In December when we had to take our exam, it was so cold the pipes had frozen in the art building. We had to go on top of the administration building where they had a little gallery. She had us draw all the stages of man in a composition. I used three heads. When I got home she called me to tell me that if I had more experience in drawing like Kenny Evett had, and my design, it would be a good drawing. Yes. He's taught many years at Cornell.
El: You must have felt encouraged.
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh, I did. And I went on. The summer class was marvelous because I was in beginning drawing. It was so easy, but I'd gone through it. Painting was very difficult, to get what the teacher wanted. Finally I painted Big Thompson Canyon, near Estes Park, which was hung in the student show. I was very pleased. Many people commented that they didn't quite understand, people not in the art department, because I left a lot of the while showing in this canyon painting. I really like doing landscapes with the mountains in the distance. That was where I felt it better because I could use a bit of color and not use the other. I graduated and got my A.B. degree in August. That school used to be called the "Columbia of the West." There were many people in the summer school. It was a very stimulating place. We had professors from Harvard and Yale and Colombia and it was so alive. But we went East in summer at the time of the World's Fair in Chicago.
ELAINE LEVIN: When was that?
VIVIKA HEINO: 1933. We went to the art exhibit. I couldn't believe it. I got so excited because I was with a friend. He thought Whistler's Mother was the greatest thing there. I felt it was interesting but drab. I said he had an emotional reaction to that picture because his mother died when he was young. But when I saw the Van Gogh and the Cezannes, I said, "Oh, they paint like I do." Because I had never seen a real one, only prints in books. When we came to Cezanne, we were just shown the apples and a few things. I recognized that he's the one in the book. There wasn't that much about contemporary painters in art history. I had only seen some pictures like Cezanne apples. I don't think we'd even seen a Van Gogh in the class.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you had no exposure to . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: No. When I take students to see famous piece of Sung or something, I always think of the impact of Van Gogh and Gauguin. That it's the greatest impact, and you never forget that. I was so elated. I was two feet off the ground to see all those things.
ELAINE LEVIN: Well, how did you get from there to clay?
VIVIKA HEINO: When I was taking art we had to take a lot of crafts. I took bookbinding and jewelry, then we did weaving. But in weaving, another classmate of mine and I went up and down the stairs to warp because we didn't know about a warping wheel. At that time many of the teachers knew just enough to get you started. Bookbinding was a very elaborate class and so was the jewelry. It was very concentrated. We had to bind thirty books for the school as part of our training. So we really learned the art. I bound an anthology I'd done at Rochester. I had Blanche Thompson for Children's Literature. We had to do an anthology, which I illustrated. When I got to Colorado, I bound it. I wanted to use green leather, which was a suede. I wanted to use it with the leather side out, but the teacher didn't want me to. He always wanted to take the wheel when I did the lines with gold. But I wanted to do it. I didn't want somebody to do it for me. I never took clay or ceramics because, although they had a big Denver kiln, they were casting in molds, porcelain, and everything cracked. I felt they didn't know what they were doing, so I didn't take the class. I kept thinking of an incident when I was a little girl at home. My mother took me into Rochester to McCurdy's store where there was a Southern highland man making jugs, and jugs into candle holders. He was kicking, and there was no talking and it was silent. I always remembered him so I felt that these people didn't know what they were doing in Colorado. I never took it. I started to get a master's degree and I read all the master's theses there. I really didn't think they were that good, so I left before Christmas and started to drive home. Everybody talked about Taos, so I wanted to go to Taos. I arrived there, I drove all night, and I had riding pants and my boots on in case I had to change a tire. I got there just after the big hotel had burned. I stopped and an Indian said, "Don't be afraid." I went in to eat and a woman realized I was tired. There was a little couch, so she said, "I'll fix your breakfast and call you." I probably slept a couple of hours, then I went on. I saw a sign that said, "California," and "New York," and I thought if I go to California now, I'll see it. If I go back East I'll never get to California. So that's why I decided. So then I went on to Taos and Albuquerque, and then came to California. I had just one friend. I called her as I was coming in. Her mother had been my mother's maid-of-honor. She had brought Catherine East to go to school to be with us when we were four. Then we went to school when we were about eight, in the fourth grade. She came when she'd graduated from Westlake out here. She went to Europe and stayed a year. So when she came home she visited me again. We had known each other those years. I called her and stayed with her until I could get a place. The only thing I knew that I could do immediately was bookbinding. So I went around to the bookbinders because I was well-trained. There was an Englishman I really wanted to apprentice to, but he wouldn't take a girl because he said they got married. I finally found a German, Mr. Bitteroff. I worked for him for two and a half dollars a week.
ELAINE LEVIN: This was in 1934.
VIVIKA HEINO: I tore down books and magazines and learned a lot of things. I heard about the Baha'i, which Bernard Leach is a member of, and all these different things as you tore the magazines down and got ready to sew them. Then I sewed them and put on the end boards. That's about as far as I went with them.
ELAINE LEVIN: On tape one we were just beginning to discuss your career as a puppeteer. Was it a career?
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh, I didn't say anything about it? I had known a puppeteer and he told me about this group. But I had completely forgotten that just before I left Colorado. A puppet group came to town, and one of the puppeteers left, and the owner was left with the troupe without any help. Just before that I called the student body president to ask if there was any chance to meet the puppeteers. He remembered that, so he called and said, "Help, can you come over?" I did that afternoon. I did the afternoon show and the night show. I had made marionettes when I was east, the same boy who took me around to get a job -- we had done some little marionettes and some shows. She asked if I could go with the troupe until a replacement came. I traveled about six weeks. But her troupe closed. It was rather tragic. The man who was the advance man didn't get enough bookings. It was interesting because one time people came and cried because they thought it was a puppy show. And another place we played, in Arkansas City, we played the day before Amy S. MacPherson came, or she was there the night before our show.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did that affect the audience?
VIVIKA HEINO: It was funny because one of the puppeteers had talked about her because she had just been lost in Carmel and had been found. So I was fascinated as she was quite a handsome woman. I went at night to see her. The only seats were up high. It was a four-tiered opera house. I had such feelings about the height that I went down and said that I had come a long way to hear her, which was true, California, or from Colorado, and so they put me almost to the front. The opening line was -- she sent tins around as she didn't want to hear any clanging. You were to give dollar bills. We waited and waited, about an hour and a half. Finally she arrived and said she had just gotten off the train. That was so awful to me, because she had been there all through the afternoon. Anyway, we did the puppet show there and in Oklahoma and Nebraska and Arkansas, driving two or three hundred miles at night to get there the next day and do the show. We did a variety show and we did "Cinderella." Everett Edward Horton was on ice skates. And we did a lot of movie star puppets in the show. Finally there weren't any more bookings. We waited for a while and found that he had just taken the money. So I left and came back to Colorado and decided I wouldn't finish the degree. I really wanted to apprentice. After I got to California, I thought, if I can apprentice with this English bookbinder it would help. I wanted to get puppet work but there wasn't any puppet work. I did work one day for Harry Barnett, who used to be one of the Yale puppeteers. This was long before they had the Turnabout Theatre. The person who left the show was Mickey Rourk. I looked him up to see if he had any work. We became friends and he told me about a group of artists, writers and theatrical people. This was before WPA. They wrote propositions of what could be done. Cahill and Hopkins came out. By working for them I could work for the bookbinder in the morning and in the afternoon I went to this group to type. I had a car and they would get gas and I would drive. The theatre group would do an act for the fishermen or the grape pickers or orange pickers and I'd take people out. They gave me gasoline and to work I got something like five or ten dollars. So I could pay for a nice little apartment near my friends that was about thirty dollars a month. So I managed. Then I did a lot of side things. I got a lot of tin from the fisheries down in San Pedro and Clarence Mews, who was an actor who had just recently died, he was in "Showboat" and many others, brought me a lot of tools. And I made things out of tin and sold them. There wasn't anyplace to sell crafts, but people liked them. I made candlesticks. Little tin trays, things like that. I had enough. Anyway, you didn't need much. Carrots were something like two cents a bunch. We would eat together a lot, about four or five of us. I met a lot of people there who were of like interest. It was exciting because it was the first time I'd really been with creative people. Richard Neutra, the architect and his wife, used to have us over on Sunday nights.
ELAINE LEVIN: How long were you in Los Angeles?
VIVIKA HEINO: I was there until I met a woman in that group who had a home in Carmel. She wanted to go up for a weekend to see her husband. So four of us drove up with her and her little daughter. She was a very fine illustrator of sea life and sea plants. She did a great collection for the WPA. It's probably in the Archives. But she wanted to go to Carmel. When I got up there and saw Carmel, I thought, this is the place. I met a wood carver there. He had three girls as apprentices. He said he would take me on. We carved picture frames and furniture. We did all the furniture for a little Italian restaurant, a tiny restaurant, with three tables. We did the benches and carved all sorts of Tudor roses and things like that. We finished a lot of his good furniture. I learned to smoke a pipe because he wouldn't let us smoke cigarettes on account of the danger. He was a Scot, Charlie Sayers. I got a dollar a day and my lunch. I rented a little tiny house. It was interesting because Edward Weston had lived there before, and it belonged to Mr. Hagermeyer, the photographer. I worked there for six or seven months. At the time I made extra money because there was a little paper, the Villager. There was the Pinecone and then the Villager started. I worked on the Villager and sold subscriptions. I could make quite a lot because they were two dollars a year. I got a dollar if I sold one. I went all through Moss Landing, a fascinating place. I picked up a lot of stories and did feature writing. We had a section in the paper called "Castroville." We said, "Castroville news for Castroville." I went to a wedding and wrote up the wedding. I wrote about how the rains affected the lettuce, described where and how artichokes were grown. They didn't have the industry they have now, but I wrote about the beginning of the artichoke industry.
ELAINE LEVIN: You were capable of doing almost anything that opportunity presented itself to you.
VIVIKA HEINO: Well, you did. If you ever wanted anything as a child, you did it. If you needed clothes, you made them. I don't sew now, but I wish I had time.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did you get from there to the California School of Fine Arts?
VIVIKA HEINO: I met a young fellow who told me about the Swedish Applied Arts in San Francisco. They served Thursday and Friday nights to paying guests. It was a weaving school. I went up and found I could come there. In the meantime I got a job teaching crafts at what I thought was going to be Asilomar, a Girl Scout or Y.W.C.A., but it turned out to be a state organization for people who needed to be rehabilitated physically. When we went over, those of us who were hired, it was a vacant building which had been a boys' military school, the Del Monte Military School. When we got there, we had to do everything. The furniture came down from San Francisco, made by a state group. Then it had to be upholstered and I made all the draperies. I dyed outside. I dyed thousands of yards of unbleached muslin to make all the curtains. We made the bedspreads and I had the women sew them. Then we collected silk stockings and made all the rugs hooked 12 x 14, 12 x 16. We did them in sections, hooked them and then sewed them together.
ELAINE LEVIN: So a school was all . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: It wasn't a school at all. It was a home for these people until they could get back on their feet healthwise. And we did it all. But I got a good salary for the time. And though we had to stay there, I kept my little place in Carmel. Since I'd gotten that position I stayed instead of going to Swedish school. Finally I thought, this is an end in itself, so I decided to go up. When I wrote her again, I had to wait until Gorden Hurr left. He's the one who went to Europe and met Marguerite Wildenhain, and was responsible for bringing Marguerite to this country. He set up the Pond Farm Quadrangle. I had to wait until he left; he was going to Washington. This was before he went to Europe. When he left, I went up and lived at Swedish Applied Arts for about a year.
ELAINE LEVIN: I don't understand why you had to wait until he left.
VIVIKA HEINO: There wasn't room. They had only so many rooms. It was on Pacific Avenue, way out. As soon as he left, there was room and I could go. There were eight girls. We stayed and we wove. We wove scarves for commercially knitted dresses and we did special orders. Then we wove for the school, because on the Thursday and Friday nights when paying guests came, they would buy scarves and table runners. It was learning by doing. We had to prepare the smorgasbord, starting at four o'clock, for sixty people. Each of us had a certain job to do. So I've always had the work with me.
ELAINE LEVIN: But the weaving, did you have any experience . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: Only in Colorado. But I felt if I knew that, I knew it from the beginning, and you can't lose it. So I had jewelry, bookbinding, and weaving. I also had the wood, after working with Charlie Sayers. We did all kinds of wood finishing, which I've used for finishing the walls in the houses or finished whatever I wanted to do. While I was there, I also worked with Harry Dixon with jewelry, and with Haranian, who was a metalsmith. He was an Armenian metalsmith. He's the one who Margaret Gravandar started with. Between Harry Dixon and Haranian, I did some fine work with really established San Francisco people. I had an opportunity at the Swedish Applied Arts because Mrs. Gravandar would say, "I think maybe somebody hasn't eaten today." So we'd have this one or we'd have that one. Everybody met me. My name was Vivien. When I went there, she said every girl must have a Swedish name. I didn't know anyone in San Francisco when I went there. She started to call me Disa. Then she called me Greta. Finally she said, "Your name is Vivien, Vivika." Everybody who met me called me Vivika and that started it. Even mother called me that. She also said once, why don't I change it legally. [Bill] Saroyan used to come. He had just gotten the prize for The Man on the Flying Trapeze. Bufano lived just up the hill. He became a great friend. He was so stimulating. I'd go to watch him. This little tiny man would pick up this huge bar with a ball on the end of it when he was making the head of St. Francis that was to be the statue. It would take all his energy. I thought if he could do that, I'd be incapable of doing it.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did he direct you toward clay?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, no, it still hadn't come, but I drew a lot with him. We always used to go to a little Japanese place to eat. He lived on the top of the hill where they grew violets. It burned one day.
ELAINE LEVIN: On top of the hill, in San Francisco?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, it was in Lafayette Park. A man grew violets all around them and he had a barn and a studio there. It burned on day. It was like a gathering. Everybody went to help. Joe Danish was just beginning the WPA. art projects. I still hadn't done anything in clay. When WPA. started all the artists said, "Here's a chance to get jobs." They needed a puppeteer. So I worked with Ralph Chesse with the WPA. theatre project for two years. He had the NYA. too, but he didn't like the youth, so he said, "You be head of it."
ELAINE LEVIN: The NYA.?
VIVIKA HEINO: The National Youth Association. I had the National Youth and then we got in the de Young Museum. I gave shows for about six years at the de Young Museum, every two weeks.
ELAINE LEVIN: What kind of shows?
VIVIKA HEINO: Marionette shows. We'd do whatever gallery they wanted to feature. The woman who was in charge of education would write the script, Ethel Wolf, and then we would do it. Sometimes I had sixty people. We made all the puppets, all the costumes, all the stage sets, and the rehearsals in two weeks.
ELAINE LEVIN: This was something that people did a lot of during those years, puppeteering?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, there weren't many. There were only Ralph Chesse and Perry Dilly in San Francisco.
ELAINE LEVIN: Because I've heard from the Scheiers that they also . . . .
VIVIKA HEINO: That was interesting. We found that it was comparable, what the Scheiers were doing, but they were doing it for either NYA. or WPA. in Tennessee. It wasn't something people just did, because you couldn't have a show and make any money. Prior to that, Blanding Sloane had had a big puppet theatre in San Francisco and had given shows. I did "Bamboo Kachagumo," which is the story of the badger that turned into a teakettle, or vice versa. We had all the Japanese characters and the sets were authentic. I loved it because you created the sets and you painted and everything. Sometimes we'd go out. We went out to some older people's homes, but it was too hard. When I got to the museum, our stage was there. I was in the early books of the puppeteers of America, but I don't know where my copies are. They were sent to me in New York from San Francisco. I don't know whether they were lost.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did you get out of puppeteering?
VIVIKA HEINO: I was doing marionettes. I had Monday free. I took classes at the California School of fine Arts in painting and design, and I was asked to join the Women Artists of San Francisco. I had one or two paintings, I don't remember whether they were in the show or not. But I went to a Christmas party at the Swedish Applied Arts of the Woman Artists. I sat by a woman and I said, "What are you doing now?" She said, "I'm having a wonderful time. I'm studying with Jalanovich and Olsen at Fine Arts school." I said, "Pottery?" She said that when they went to Vienna, they stayed in a pension and the people at it were Jalanovich and Olsen and they had made this beautiful blue bowl of hers. That name stuck with me. I said, "Oh, Jalanovich and Olsen." My mother was visiting me and we went over and applied and started taking night school. It rained every night. Jalanovich would only let me coil. That's all we did the first term. A woman came in and used a kick wheel. But then she went and used and electric wheel. I thought that was sacrilegious, because I thought pottery was only done by hand. Because I'd seen the Indians work. So that was the start. Once I'd touched it I never wanted to do anything else. If I needed clothes, I would weave. I went and did some bookbinding when I wanted to do some more books. I'd do jewelry when I needed something or needed a present. But I never wanted to continue. I've never wavered since that clay class. I went from January to June and I was pretty busy with the marionettes. I had left the museum but was still in charge of them. I was made head of the arts at NYA. I had the dance and weaving and toy loan. Everything was under me. I was pretty busy. We were down in a theater building on Sutter Street.
El: You didn't have much time for pottery.
VIVIKA HEINO: We only went at night. The next year I decided, when Jalanovich was teaching in his home, to study there. I was so excited the week before his classes were to start that I put a flat on the stage and broke my right wrist. I was so upset. The doctor put it in a steel brace. I had such consideration on streetcars. People would get up when I had this steel brace. They thought it was something awful. I went, and I decided since I could use my fingers, I was going to start. That was my first exposure to the wheel, except at night school. He let me on the wheel the last day. I made a bowl and he said "Oh, you've thrown." I said, "No." But I got all these books from the Mechanics Library and would study the pictures. Having had a lot of improvisation and working with the theater, I tried to feel what my hands would feel like. It wasn't that good; it was just for one time. But this time I got on the wheel and did something to the clay because all the women before me would get on and they would do something and then they'd call and say, "Manuel, is it centered?" Then he would go over and center it. So when I got on, I did something to the clay and my hands were on the ball and I called Manuel and I said, "Don't touch it. What am I supposed to do?" He told me about centering. I worked on throwing then.
ELAINE LEVIN: What kind of wheel did he have?
VIVIKA HEINO: A kick wheel, built into a bench. He had a very ingenious thing. He had a piece of canvas with strings tied around your waist so that any dripping went into the canvas. Just at that time a young friend, Eban Haskell, was learning from the ground up at Western Pipe and Steel. When he got to welding, he made a wheel. I still have it, a kick wheel. He gave it to me and somebody else gave me a kiln, a little round Revelation kiln. I went home and I worked until I could center the clay. Then when you trim, he'd tap it and I'd say, "What is it?" So I went home and would practice centering the made bowl by tapping.
ELAINE LEVIN: I'm not sure I know what you mean by tapping?
VIVIKA HEINO: To tap the center of the pot, to trim it.
ELAINE LEVIN: When you're trimming.
VIVIKA HEINO: I worked until I had it. It must be true center or you'll trim unevenly. I just threw and threw. There was an exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art after the Fair closed. We were to demonstrate. Diego Rivera was doing his big mural there. They had an exhibit of my pots. People wanted to buy them, the ones I'd done at the California School of Fine Arts and a few I'd done later. I sold them. As I started to work, there was a place called Cargoes, and another, V. C. Morris, who would buy ceramics. Miss Brandenstein at Cargoes was very enthusiastic. I started selling almost immediately. But I didn't know a thing about firing. I'd gone to Jalanovich's to see the kiln when he opened it. But I hadn't seen any firing. I got this kiln that didn't have any instructions. So I got a book on how to make saggers and I made my kiln shelves and posts. I didn't know you could buy anything. The first time I started to fire, I called Mushet Kiln Company. I must have called him fifty times to say the cones didn't go over when it was red. Mushet is still a place that sells pottery supplies. There was L. H. Butcher and Mushet. Mushet sold some kilns. I did my first firing without ever seeing anything fired. I made the kiln shelves and I'd bisque them. Jalanovich bisque-fired 04 and glazed at 013. After that happy year with my kiln, I decided I wanted to study. Marguerite Wildenhain had arrived. She stayed at the Swedish Applied Arts where I had been. Mama Gravander brought her over. We always called Mrs. Gravander "mama." I remember Marguerite looked at the things and said, Ooh, color." Because California was color at that time, turquoises, yellows and maroon-reds.
ELAINE LEVIN: Everyone was doing color.
VIVIKA HEINO: In the south there were several companies.
ELAINE LEVIN: Do you think that was influenced at all by the commercial pottery that was being made?
VIVIKA HEINO: Franciscan Pottery was first done at the Catalina Pottery. Those people were bought out and it was done by Gladding McBean and called "Catalina ware." That was the start of color. But those were hand potters that started it at first. I wanted to study glazes with Wildenhain. She was going to teach at Oakland, at California College of Arts and Crafts. She said she wouldn't teach anybody glazes until they had studied five years with her. I had already gotten a book, Binns's old book, and I'd learned how to calculate glazes. I'd made a glaze from scratch. Then I changed it. I did have a mathematical mind. I'd never had any chemistry in all my years in college because I hadn't needed it. We knew Lukens, and on my way out to California, I stopped at a pottery in Colorado. They asked if I'd like to stay. That was my first exposure, but I was on my way.
ELAINE LEVIN: What pottery was it?
VIVIKA HEINO: In Colorado Springs.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was it the old Van Briggle?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes. It was in an old English church. He told me to see Glen Lukens, who was at California State Fullerton at that time when I came out. But I couldn't go to Fullerton. Then Lukens moved to U.S.C., and I had heard about him. He was giving a lecture for the College Art Association in San Francisco. I called Dorothy Liebes, the weaver, who was living there then, and asked her if she would introduce me to him and she did. I asked him if I could come and study this summer with him. He said I could come and be his lab assistant. I didn't get any money for it. When I got to his place I found that he fired high. He'd bisque at 04 and he fired at 08. That's only about 1700 degrees. I worked that summer and made gallons and gallons of the soft white alkaline. He did all the glazing. Except when he'd go home, I'd get in and glaze. There was a friend who was in the class who became a friend, and later he taught a marvelous ceramics program at Carver School in L.A.
ELAINE LEVIN: Who was that?
VIVIKA HEINO: Bill Moore. Not the Bill Moore who taught at Chouinard, but the Bill Moore who taught at Carver. He was in Lukens's class in the daytime during the year. He showed me how to use the spray gun. Lukens sprayed everything, and so I would spray my own things. But then I loaded a kiln with him and did all that work. He wouldn't let me take the afternoon class. I took the morning class, but I could hear the afternoon class. Because he said, "It would be too much for you." So I came home to San Francisco after that summer and I was making some glaze tests. People always stained the back of the pots because they'd use low fire and they wanted quality. I said, "If you stain, why can't you make a black clay?" He said, "Try it." I'd say, "Why can't you make a grey clay?" He'd say, "Try it." So I put manganese in this red clay that came from Gladding McBean, called "Mexart" and I made a black. Years later, when I was teaching out there for him, he said he thought I was probably the first one to make colored clays. Because I made a grey clay and a blue clay and a black clay in class by mixing oxides into the colors. I was making some tests, and I was going to fire at 06. I thought, if it goes to 08, maybe it would go to 06. I had a little tiny test kiln and I had the cones and I had 08 in. I saw 08 go down. Then I had an 06, and it wasn't quite ready. Then I had an 04 because we were always told to put in three cones. And the telephone rang. By the time I came back from the telephone call, not only 06 had gone down, but 04 was down and I saw this clay, coming into the glaze. Then I fired at 04 after that. I was probably the first one who fired at 04 in S.F. at that time. I went on working and selling in San Francisco at a studio on Polk Street. Then the War began. Also at that time, after the Fair closed, there were demonstrations at the City of Paris. Beatrice Judd Ryan, who had been the director of the group at the Fair in San Francisco, organized us to demonstrate.
ELAINE LEVIN: There were demonstrations when the Fair began?
VIVIKA HEINO: Not the first year. The second year, and the Natzlers came. I still had the marionettes at that time, so I couldn't participate in that. But I was potting. I went to the City of Paris, and I had a certain day. Marguerite was there the day before me. Recently I read something that Carlton Ball had written that he demonstrated there. I had been asked by some friends who were alumni of the California School of Fine Arts. They said I should be able to get a Rosenthal scholarship. It would have given $1,000. I wanted to go and visit all the potters across the country to find out where I would really like to study and to find out all about these people. I also wrote to Alfred and asked about studying there. I don't remember whether I got an answer or not. I got all my photographs and I did a prospectus of what I would do. I couldn't apply for a Rosenthal because I hadn't gone three years there. I'd only taken design and I took some painting classes from Mr. Oldfield and I had taken ceramics. But you had to be a three-year student at the California School of Fine Arts to apply for this scholarship. So I wasn't able. Just about that time I was asked to teach art at the Presidio Hill School. Addie Kent was very anxious to get me there. She was the great sculptor. I found they had a sculpture of hers, "The Grasshopper," at Thatcher School in Ojai. She asked me to teach. I started teaching three days a week which gave me some money, and I could still pot.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that a private school?
VIVIKA HEINO: A private school.
ELAINE LEVIN: About 1940?
VIVIKA HEINO: 1942. I stopped doing marionettes in 1941. I just worked in the studio and taught.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was this high school?
VIVIKA HEINO: It was up to seventh grade. They had a new director from Columbia. It was a very exciting place. But I only was there for two months when I got a letter from Alfred asking if I would be interested in a teaching fellowship. It came out of the blue. But it turned out they had written Lukens and Dr. Morley. Dr. Morley used to buy everything new that I would do. When I would get it out of the kiln, she'd buy it. Dr. Morley was the Director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Just think, a woman. And that was when it opened. From there she went to New Delhi, India. I don't know whether she's still alive or not. She recommended me and Lukens recommended me. So I wired and said I was interested and that I would send photographs. I said I had been in the Syracuse show because we thought that was very important. I found when I got there, Mr. Harder said, "People from away think this is more important than we do," because they knew a lot of ins and outs of prizes and so forth. The first time I submitted to Syracuse I got in. I think that was 1940. I sent a large black plate and a small plate with a blue-yellow glaze. I had gotten the letter asking, and I had also been accepted in the Syracuse ceramic show. I really wanted to go to Alfred, but I didn't know whether I would be accepted. I went to the principal of the school because I had signed a contract and said, "Would it be possible for me to leave?" I told him why, and he said, "Well, you're bettering yourself." He said, "Yes, if you can get a replacement." I'd been to a party and I'd met Edith Heath and her husband. Edith was not doing anything at that time, just taking a night class. She had taught at Chicago. So I asked her if she would be interested. She said, "Yes," but she'd also like to take some classes with me. So she came for two weeks before I left and concentrated on the wheel. She did some glazes. Jermayne MacAgy was director of the museum and she came. Edith had really started throwing at that time on the wheel with me. Then she took over. She taught there for quite a number of years. At that time, when I went to Alfred's, she and a woman wanted to buy my kiln. I had just bought this new kiln, a Dickenson kiln, after I'd made enough money. I didn't want to sell it because I knew I would want that when I got out of school. That was a heyday for everybody because Gump's began using American-made ceramics because they couldn't get imports.
ELAINE LEVIN: The War had started?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes. So I left teaching and went to Alfred.
ELAINE LEVIN: You mentioned something about if you'd been able to go to the Mechanics Institute you could have taken a pottery class.
VIVIKA HEINO: They had everything there. They had drawing, painting, sculpture, jewelry and pottery. But I didn't because my family felt . . . it didn't cost me anything to go to Rochester Normal School. Even with a partial scholarship, it would have been expensive. I could have taken that but it was the fact that I hadn't had any art in high school. But once I started, I've never wavered. It's always been art.
ELAINE LEVIN: Alfred was the place you should have been also.
VIVIKA HEINO: I could have gone to Alfred for nothing when I graduated from high school. But we didn't have any advisors. The principal of the school was born in Alfred and had gone to Alfred, and he said if it's the last place you can go, go to Alfred. He didn't understand that I would like to. Dr. Binns would have been there at that time.
ELAINE LEVIN: Also Charles Harder was there.
VIVIKA HEINO: He came a little bit later.
ELAINE LEVIN: Who was heading the department when you were there?
VIVIKA HEINO: When I got there, Dr. Binns had died and Charles Harder headed the department. A fantastic person. Miss Fosdick and Miss Nelson were there. When I went I was the only graduate student.
ELAINE LEVIN: The only graduate student?
VIVIKA HEINO: It was during the War. They hadn't had a real graduate program. The second year I was there Alex Giampietro came, who teaches at Catholic University. He and I were graduate students. There was one man, Doc Burnham, a young man, who had been there seven or eight years getting his A.B. degree, but he worked in research. He was working on lustres. That's when I learned all my lustres, because he'd do it. We had all the kilns. The first day I was there, Mr Harder said, "We're opening the big sagger kiln, would you like to come and see?" He'd take me around and got a place for me to stay. In the kiln were celadons and Temmoku glazed pots. I don't think there were any reds. And I just couldn't believe those colors. I'd seen those in a museum, but I was used to color. If I had been bold like students are today, and say, "Oh, it's for the birds," I would have said it. But the way he talked about these things. The way he handled the things. I wrote copious notes. I still have all those notes of what everybody had done and how they had done it, and where they had put Barnard under it or Albany under it and the celadons. I couldn't believe these drab colors. I went back the next day because Alfred was a Seventh Day Baptist and everything was closed on Saturday, but the school was never locked at that time. I went back and looked at every one of these things. Also, it was a time when nobody took anything. They were just left out and you could go and look. I studied those all day Saturday, because I didn't know where I could eat. The only place looked smoky and I thought I shouldn't go in it, but it was the only restaurant, where everybody went for coffee. I didn't know that because I had just arrived the night before. I looked at the ceramics and studied them. I began to get the feeling of them. I've often said that students today start with these glazes and they don't have the excitement of finding them. I've seen celadons. I saw a marvelous show at the de Young Museum when I was out there, of Killikian, who was a famous collector in New York. Later I had the opportunity to meet him. He collected all kinds, mostly Mesopotamian and early Persian. But you didn't have that association because there was color here. Rudolph Shafer, who was a fine art school in San Francisco, had a show right after the War of some Japanese pottery. That was the first time I saw anything like Hamada, or I saw some of the Bizen, and some of the Shiguraki. Somebody went to Japan and brought this collection back. When I looked at that I knew that was what I wanted my glazes to be like.
ELAINE LEVIN: That was after the War.
VIVIKA HEINO: No, the show was before I went to Alfred. But there weren't many celadon pieces so this was strange. I began doing unfinished, unglazed pieces. I always did unglazed pieces from the outset. It didn't resemble Lukens. Because when I went to Lukens, I said to him once, "You know, you make pots like I do." He was so nice, he didn't squash me. He knew that I'd left the outside unglazed. I developed a way in which I could use a little bit of stain and ball clay. I mixed it together and I rubbed it in so it had a finish.
ELAINE LEVIN: Alex Robertson did that with Alberhill clay.
VIVIKA HEINO: He polished. You mean the man in San Francisco who came to Los Angeles? Wasn't he in Santa Barbara, too?
ELAINE LEVIN: That was Frederick Reed.
VIVIKA HEINO: Well, that was polished. I didn't polish. I used N. Clark and Son clay, so it came out light. I started putting red on in San Francisco. So it was all rough. I started to do that early, like the Japanese pots. But I had not thought of celadon. In San Francisco, too, I dug all my clay after a while. The Golden Gate Bridge had been made and the tunnel was there. I saw all that red clay and I called the Highway Department. They said you can have all you want. So I bagged it up and screened it and used that red clay. Because it had more guts to it than the white clay. It was natural and I left it plain.
ELAINE LEVIN: What made you feel that was the direction to go in? Was it because you saw the Bizen pots?
VIVIKA HEINO: It might have been. But it was free clay!
ELAINE LEVIN: Well, sure, that too. But other people would have taken free clay and put a glaze on it.
VIVIKA HEINO: This is what I feel about teaching today. Everything is taught. Everybody want to be shown everything. Leach's book just came out, just before I left.
ELAINE LEVIN: 1940.
VIVIKA HEINO: I bought it. But when somebody found it, it was 1941 or 1942. I saw that book and I saw all those treatments, and except for DeSaeger's book on how to make pottery, it had a little bit of slip training and a little bit of that. But when I went to Alfred, everybody was doing painting. One person was doing slip trailing because Sam Haile had done slip trailing the year before. The first thing I did was to make six or eight things and try all these different processes. But even so, most of the people either did slip or they were just painting on them at Alfred. But I started at 04. Then when I went to Alfred the first thing I did was a cone 5, because we had a little sagger, a small sagger. It wasn't little, it was like three feet by three feet.
ELAINE LEVIN: What did they fire to?
VIVIKA HEINO: They fired at 04, at cone 5, and at cone 10. They fired at everything. But you did anything you wanted. You had certain problems and you did certain things. We had a lot of clay in back of the place called Kanakadia clay. We dug that and made beautiful red pots out of it, because it became pretty dense. Incidentally, that new bakeware that's being done now is a terra siglotta. I think they're using Kanakadia. They're made in Alfred, the bread pans. Copco's putting it out. But it was done first with what we used then. We made all our clays. I saw a salt kiln for the first time. I helped Jerry Schwartz, who later was president and manager of Sascha Brastoff's company. He was in school when I was there and we worked on the salt kiln. I did a lot of salt firing. The first prize I got was in New York when I left, the hundred dollar prize at the New York Ceramic Society for my salt glaze punch bowl. I sent it the next year to Syracuse and got the award. It's too bad, when we came to California the punch bowl broke. But I've got the cups.
ELAINE LEVIN: So Alfred really gave you an opportunity to expand.
VIVIKA HEINO: You could do anything you wanted to there. When I first went, Mr. Harder said, "Go to Mr. Merritt and tell him you're in the glaze class." When I went there, he said, "How come you can be in it; you haven't taken the other courses?" I said, "Mr. Harder said to take both Raw Materials and The Glaze and he told me to show you my notebook." I showed where I'd made and changed all these glazes and how I'd done it. But it meant more to me than just taking it. You see, many of the students took The Glaze and it was just glazes. But for Mr. Harder, when he gave glazes, I had to collect the tests, record them and then put them in the kiln, get them out and then they'd change them. I went over the eighteen, or twenty students and thought how I would change them. My experience with glazes is much greater than a lot of people because of having to do this.
ELAINE LEVIN: You would change the glaze formulas?
VIVIKA HEINO: Glazes are really my forte. But I fired sometimes six kilns. In the summer I used to set six kilns a day.
ELAINE LEVIN: But your concentration was in low fire?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, I did everything. But for my thesis, I thought if I've got that kiln in San Francisco and it only fires to 04 I'd better get right to work. I better have good knowledge. So I made a body that you can cast, jigger, throw and salt.
ELAINE LEVIN: A clay body.
VIVIKA HEINO: A clay body. I did my whole thesis in 04. But I did all the other temperatures, the stoneware in the course and porcelain.
ELAINE LEVIN: So by the time you were through at Alfred's you really had a tremendous background in clay.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes. Mr. Harder offered to have me stay on. But I saw so many people who went to Alfred and stayed and worked in research, and though I really wanted to work in the research, I felt I shouldn't wear out my welcome, because I had a teaching fellowship. Carl Schmitz, who was a prizewinner in sculpture at Syracuse, was a friend of mine and worked in San Francisco when I was there. I wrote Carl and asked if he knew of any jobs. He wrote back and said that Nat Choate, a sculptor in Pennsylvania, needed somebody. I wrote and went down to see him and I was hired. I developed his porcelain clay and a glaze for porcelain birds that he was doing. He's a sculptor, but he always said, "I'm a sculptor and pottery isn't anything." But he was using it. He'd cast birds, all kinds of birds in porcelain. He called them "American Copenhagen ware." He did some plates for Jensen's.
ELAINE LEVIN: When did you do that for him?
VIVIKA HEINO: Right after I got out of Alfred. I graduated in 1944. I went for six months. The first month I was there we developed his clay and glazes. He said it was the first time that he hadn't gone and borrowed a thousand dollars at the bank per month. Then he had women from the Valley Forge Hospital to come and paint the figures. He paid them twenty-five cents an hour, only he wrote it in a book and when they got enough money he'd give them a figure. They loved the birds, egrets and everything. I was there for six months and I worked so hard because we fired in oxidation. But his kiln, when he did low temperature things, always reduced and he didn't understand reduction. We had to solve that. So I finally decided I'd go in to Philadelphia. The man who was teaching at the Philadelphia Museum School said that I could get a scholarship and I could use the facilities. So I found a little place and I was going to build a kiln, but it was difficult to get permission. Arthur Flory had been at Alfred, later we taught at Tyler School together, and we were going to build a kiln. The city wouldn't let me. But I got to the school and found that it was not represented as it was, so I worked in the museum school. I had the privilege of working there, but I didn't have much money. I started going to New York, to the museums and to the Philadelphia Museums. I finally decided, if I was going that much to New York, I'd better move up to New York. I went there and set up a studio on Seventh Avenue.
ELAINE LEVIN: What about Charles Harder, what kind of a teacher was he?
VIVIKA HEINO: He was a wonderful, stimulating person. You got so much from him, even though he didn't speak too much, a very sensitive person.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did he communicate?
VIVIKA HEINO: I didn't say he didn't say anything, even if he didn't. The way he looked, the way he felt pots.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did he critique your pots?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, we'd have a critique. I only saw him throw once. That's why I was there so late at night, because I was helping a lot of people. I really learned to throw alone at home in San Francisco. I always felt if I was being paid I had to be on call. It was hard to get my own work done. So I would do it when the students would leave at twelve o'clock. They had to be in the dorm. They'd get late leaves and then I'd work from then until maybe four on my own work. Harder was very encouraging. His History of Ceramics class was the most stimulating class. It brought history alive because he taught it comparatively. That's what I try to do in the first parts of my History of Ceramics class, before I go into special historic periods.
ELAINE LEVIN: What do you mean?
VIVIKA HEINO: Well, I tell what's happening in every place. Even at the time of Mesopotamia, what's happening over in China. When I had Art History, we went all through and then the teacher said, here's China and here's want we did in Japan. The movement of style. You see how majolica comes to Spain from Arabia and Tunis and around to Italy and up into Holland, France. It's hard to describe what Harder was like. He was a very encouraging and stimulating person. Incidentally, Dan Rhodes told me that I probably fired the last pots Harder made. I did a salt kiln and he put in some beautiful pots, bean pots. He worked out a beanpot with an edge so you could get your hands under it, with blues on it.
ELAINE LEVIN: Didn't he do his own work after that, or was he ill?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, he didn't do very much. He wasn't too well at that time. He was very much interested in his garden. All over the pot shop would be little seedlings. He'd plant tomatoes and other plants. He was always reading. He was writing quite a bit at that time. He never did his own book. That was too bad. When Kenny did his book it was really Harder's lectures.
ELAINE LEVIN: You mean the material in it?
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh yes, it sounds like Mr. Harder.
ELAINE LEVIN: It was taken from Mr. Harder's classes? Lectures?
VIVIKA HEINO: Lectures. It was a good book. It was the first one done. But when it was done, I remember I said something and Mr. Harder said, "Well." This was afterwards. The summer I was there, Kenny was back there. He was working on his majolica. He hadn't gotten his master's degree.
ELAINE LEVIN: Where did Kenny go on to teach?
VIVIKA HEINO: He was teaching even then at Industrial Arts School in New York City.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was Harder encouraging to you personally?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, except we always used to have discussions about making a living. Because he said you couldn't make a living as a potter.
ELAINE LEVIN: What did you think of that?
VIVIKA HEINO: I said I did when I didn't know what I was doing, and I didn't see why I couldn't be a potter. Later, at one of the American Ceramic Society meetings, I had lunch with Mr. Merrit and Dean MacMahon and asked why he thought Charles Harder always said that. He said, to make you do it. Because I set out immediately, and there weren't very many potters. Nancy Wickham took a class in the summer. She started doing pottery in New York after I set up my studio. A lot of us worked at Design Techniques when it was in New York. Sam Halle worked there. Nancy worked there.
ELAINE LEVIN: What was Design Techniques?
VIVIKA HEINO: It was a place where they made lamps. But all by hand. Now it's in New Jersey. A lot of the Alfred people had worked there. I made some glazes for Sam, the owner. I just did a couple of weeks of glazes.
E: Did you know Sam Halle very well?
ELAINE LEVIN: I didn't know Sam Halle. He left Alfred and I took his place. When he left Alfred to go to Michigan, they needed somebody. I arrived a month late, school had already started. So I had to make up all the raw materials classes and glaze classes. But Don Schreckengost was there then. I didn't take the class with Miss Fosdick because she taught a beginning class in glaze. I didn't take any sculpture then.
ELAINE LEVIN: What did Nelson teach at that time?
VIVIKA HEINO: I took a painting class with her.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was Alfred an exciting place at the time?
VIVIKA HEINO: It was for me because I knew what I wanted. There were hardly any boys there, they were all in the War. The seniors were finishing. I couldn't have really started teaching at U.S.C. unless I had known them. Bob Sinclair, who was at that time at Westwood, which was just really getting started, and now he's with Pyro Engineering. Jerry Schwartz was working at Sasche Brastoff's. Ed Kuntzman was at Ferro Enamel. The first person who came to U.S.C. was Ed Kuntzman, who came over and introduced himself and said, "You're from Alfred." It set a pace, and anything I needed or where to locate it, I can call one of those people. Bob Sinclair at Alfred was always working in the lab table across from me. The design and the engineers were very close together. The way my mind worked, I wanted to see what everybody was doing. They tested and did the tensile strengths. We had a great plaster workshop which I loved. I remember when I went there I'd made up plaster the only way I thought it was. When Mr. Harder started, he had me do one step at a time and then got me cutting plaster. When I got to New York I got a plaster wheel, a jigger wheel and a plaster wheel, which I wished I'd never sold. I saved enough money to get it working at Choate's, and I was able to really maintain my living expenses and so forth by doing molds for companies.
ELAINE LEVIN: In New York?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, I did a line of bowls. I would do the molds that were flower bowls and flower vases that were produced by a company for Aristan Dated Flowers. I did a lot of molds. I did the original mold and then the case mold, then all the company had to do was to produce their production molds.
ELAINE LEVIN: Dan Rhodes was there at Alfred at the time?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, he left the year before. I think he was in Palo Alto. He left the year before and got his master's degree in absentia the year I was there.
El: Was Hal Reigger there the years you were there?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, but I knew Hal because he came up to visit Miss Fosdick. No one was there except Doc Burnham and me the first year. Alex came for the summer from Brooklyn, and he stayed that year. The year I got my master's degree, Bill Crandall, who now is head of the Research Department, got his master's degree in Engineering and I got mine in Design. There were only two master's degrees.
ELAINE LEVIN: How many undergraduates in the school at the time?
VIVIKA HEINO: You can't really consider the number correctly because the War was on. There were probably sixty or seventy, considering the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors. Now they take ten or fifteen graduate students, or they even had as many as twenty. When I left, I had enough credit, and maybe with a year, I would have liked to have taken a degree in Engineering. But at that time I was still a non-resident, and I would have had to pay. Even though my mother lived in Rochester, New York, I'd come from San Francisco. But now, after you are there a half a year, you're a resident; you can get the tuition free for being a New York State resident. I really would have liked to have gone on. I would like to know some of the things I don't know about it. But Dr. Sutter was there. He was the plaster man and he was a great influence too. There was a long runway from the Engineering school to the Ceramic, and the wheels were all along that little runway. I remember he always would stop. He showed me a lot of the pieces he had gotten in Fuking, because he had a fine collection in Fuking. He was a friend of Dr. Plummer who left all his pottery to the University of Michigan. It was a very alive time. But still it was a searching time. You had the library, and I liked to read. But there wasn't anything to do but work. There was no gasoline. I remember one Easter, one of the seniors said, "Let's go to a movie," and we went into Hornell. We had to get a taxi to go in and it cost $5, which was expensive then. I only got $750. I don't see how I lived on it, but I paid for room and board. But there weren't any expenses. I bought a radio phonograph at that time and paid $2 a month. Now they get $2,500-$3,000. But it was even expensive then, because hamburger used to be 80 cents because everything was brought into that town. But your life was at the school. I went there to learn. I wasn't interested in going on dates.
ELAINE LEVIN: What did you think you would do when you got out of Alfred?
VIVIKA HEINO: Be a potter.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you trying to get closer to that in New York when you set up a studio?
VIVIKA HEINO: What do you mean, "Get closer?" I was always a potter. I potted all the time. I wished I had some of the things I made at Alfred. But as I went, the things sold. I was asked to join the Philadelphia Art alliance. I had an exhibit when I got down there and I sold there. In New York I sold. I sold right from my studio. It was on Seventh and Bleeker, right on the way to the Cherry Lane Theater. I had many foreign people, refugees, who would come in and say, "This is pottery." Don't forget, that was the beginning of a lot of cast stuff.
ELAINE LEVIN: What do you mean "the beginning?"
VIVIKA HEINO: Cast. You had a lot of people setting up doing casting. There wasn't that much cast stuff. If you were a potter, you did pottery. It was during the War that all the casting came in. In California there were 600 little backyard potters because it wasn't possible to get imports. That was the start of many of those people in San Francisco. People who set up usually . . . a potter was a potter. But there were some of these little places around the Village where they cast little vases. I remember so many Hungarians would say, "This is pottery." And there were a lot of Germans coming in. While I had that studio I was asked to teach a glaze class at Greenwich House which was right across the street from me. That was before it moved. Jane Hartsook had gone back to Alfred and graduated and came to New York when I had the studio and she worked in New Jersey. I told her they wanted me to take over the department in Greenwich House and I asked if she would be interested. She's still there.
ELAINE LEVIN: Who was at Greenwich House when you were? Any interesting teachers?
VIVIKA HEINO: There was Pat Clark and Mrs. Gilchrest and myself teaching pottery.
ELAINE LEVIN: So it was very small.
VIVIKA HEINO: It was on the third floor. Pat had to take everything down to the first floor. That's one reason I wasn't interested. I didn't think I wanted to take everything down to the basement. It wasn't that I didn't want to work, because I had worked hard at Alfred's, I just didn't want . . . .
ELAINE LEVIN: The setup was difficult to work with.
VIVIKA HEINO: It was only upstairs. It was an interesting group. It had a marvelous background with Maude Robinson and those people who were there earlier.
ELAINE LEVIN: It began as a settlement house, didn't it?
VIVIKA HEINO: It is still. It was a settlement house. Mrs. Simkovich was there, a vibrant, fascinating person. She really wanted me to come and teach. It was a settlement house where La Guardia and everybody of note who lived down in the Village went there.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did it have any of that atmosphere when you were there?
VIVIKA HEINO: Sure it did. It was a livewire place. You're talking about 1944, 1945. Where were there good places? California had kilns in every school, grammar schools and everything. That was due to Lukens and his teaching in Los Angeles. But there weren't many possibilities for adult study. So what you got there was pretty good. There was a good kiln and we had quite a number of wheels. Mr. Soini, a fantastic Finnish man, built many of the wheels. There was a man from Long Island. But when I set up my studio in New York, I had my kiln sent from San Francisco. I had a terrible time because it was on natural gas in California. It was on city gas in New York, and I couldn't get it up in temperature. I called everywhere. The Gas company would come out and engineers would come out. They didn't know anything about a kiln. They wanted to take it out and put a burner in the bottom. Finally I took off the sides of the kiln and found out how it worked. I got Bunsen burners and attached them to rubber cords just to see. I hooked it up and it went off in four hours. So I knew I could slow it. Then I designed a little piping for the burners and set it under. It worked beautifully.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were there any books you could consult?
VIVIKA HEINO: No. You couldn't find out anything about that except in engineering books. What books are there now even on kilns? I found the principle and then I found out about city gas compared to natural gas. I went down to Braun, which was a supply house, and bought the Bunsen burner for natural gas, or for city gas, and then it worked. When I moved to New Hampshire I already had that behind me. So I used the old burner.
ELAINE LEVIN: What impelled you to go to New Hampshire?
VIVIKA HEINO: I stayed here all the time, and then I met Carl Drerup, an enamelist and Maurice Heaton, the first one to do bent glass. Maurice and his wife asked me and Carl Drerup up for a weekend. Carl talked about New Hampshire. I decided I wanted to get away from the Seventh Avenue subway. I was right over the top of it. That's why I also worked at night in New York, because it would quiet down. Although I had two apprentices with me at that time, two girls from Alfred, Carl talked about the peace in New Hampshire. We had an exciting evening because here was glass, enamel and pottery.
ELAINE LEVIN: We were discussing that you had just heard about the League of New Hampshire Arts needing someone to take the Scheier place. The Scheiers used to teach nights in some of the places in Concord. As well as teaching at the University of New Hampshire.
VIVIKA HEINO: Maybe they had just gotten the job at the university. They didn't want to teach anymore in the League, so they needed somebody not only to teach, but also to work with the craftsmen. I applied and got the job. I went there as Assistant Director to David Campbell, who later became American Craftsmen's Director, and also Director of the Craft Museum. I enjoyed my work there because before I started to teach I taught two days a week in Concord. Every other week I went way up to Littleton, which was ninety miles. I had to take the train. I didn't have a car at that time. I would carry forty-five pounds of clay in a suitcase. I would go up and change at white River Junction and get there just in time for class. Sometimes the clay froze. The following year I taught over in Sharon, which was thirty-five miles. There aren't very many people now that drive like we did then. We were so involved in what the League was doing, and it was such a marvelous institution. The other part of my job was to take the work that was submitted to the jury which didn't pass. I would go to see the people and try to help them with design.
ELAINE LEVIN: We should get into a little bit about what the League is and how it functions.
VIVIKA HEINO: This is its fiftieth year. It was started by Mrs. Randolph Coolidge to help the people during the Depression. There were so many craftsmen in the little town of Sandwich. She felt they could do something with it. So she started the organization in Sandwich, Sandwich Home Industries, and then one in Conway. They used to go back and forth, selling the people's things in Conway and selling Conway's things to Sandwich. Then she convinced Mr. Wynant, he used to be Ambassador to England and was Governor, she approached him about putting it up on a statewide basis. That's when it started on a statewide basis. The people who belonged to the League were not on relief during the Depression. The state had so many tourists, and tourists always want things. She felt they should buy good things. She brought in teachers, the best of the embroiderers, the best of the crewel workers, the best of the weavers into Sandwich to teach classes. That's how the classes started. They were very professionally taught. We built a kiln. I loaned my kiln at first to Concord and we built a kiln over in Sharon. The Sharon organization was set up by two people, Mr. and Mrs. William Young, who were philanthropically-minded. They gave a little studio and a room. It's grown to now where there's a big gallery and a big sales place in Sharon, which is outside of Peterborough. These centers were set up where tourists went or where people gathered. Now the McDowell Foundation is in Peterboro, Concord being a center and the capital, Sandwich, which has a big summer colony, and Wolfeboro, which has a big summer colony on the lakes, and then in Conway. Later, the year I went there, they took over an old railroad station in Franconia. That was the one the League ran. Others the shops ran and maintained. Then they gave a percentage like twenty percent of the sales to the main office, to pay salaries and all the work. Now it has grown tremendously. Many people started there. Gerry Williams was in one of my first classes when he first started. Dave brought him up to Concord because he wanted to get away from where he was. Later he went and worked with Butler as an apprentice. Then he was setting up just about the time we came out in 1952.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were there other people like Gerry Williams that have gone on?
VIVIKA HEINO: Ruth Toby's done it all the time. Red Anglim, who later was Director of the Blue Cross, even taught classes for quite a while. I didn't want students in my classes to have to go through what I had in trying to learn. At that time they mostly worked at 04 because my kiln only fired at 04. The Scheiers were only firing at 04, but it was good work.
ELAINE LEVIN: Sometimes the League is thought of as promoting a hobby craftsmanship.
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh, not at all. I don't know where that was started. It might be from a few people. Some of the people who have been given the most from the League are the ones who run it down the most. Dave was just marvelous. He could come in and in five minutes give more ideas than it would take a person a week. A lot of people felt he was missing it by not be at the League all the time. The League has never really sponsored hobbies. Maybe in the starting, but they've all gone on. There was a little woman who was retired from the telephone company. I said, "How did you get to be so important?" She said, "Because I sign my name, E. Ryder." She just died at ninety-four. She made little lobster pots and little things. Whatever they did, they were good, though. They had to pass the standard. I don't know really where you heard that. Especially when Dave Campbell was there. He was anxious to know my background when I came. He was the one who brought the Scheiers to New Hampshire. He brought Carl Drerup. He'd known Carl in New York. George Salo, the jeweler. He really went out of his way to try and help get them settled.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you enjoy working there?
VIVIKA HEINO: I loved it when I went around to the people and I enjoyed working with them. I never thought we'd leave. We left U.S.C. to go back there because we had our studio. I built a studio, David helped design it. We closed it when we came out to California.
ELAINE LEVIN: Before you went to California, you did plan on going back to Hopkinton?
VIVIKA HEINO: That was in 1952. Yes, and when we left, our place was going to be taken in Los Angeles. We looked around, and things seemed expensive at that time. So we finally decided that if we went back to New Hampshire where we had our studio, we could just go.
ELAINE LEVIN: Tell me about how you met Otto.
VIVIKA HEINO: He came to the class I was teaching.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did you go from student to . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: Well, he was interested and sometimes he would come around to ask if he could mix glazes or help me. Because I made all my own clay and always did. We made it up until the time right now when we don't have a dough machine. But I always made my own clay in New York. We made it in New Hampshire. So he'd come and sometimes he'd mix the clay. I'd mix it up in the blunger and then I dried it out. That's how we met. But he only coiled in the beginning and that's why we came to U.S.C. We had one wheel. I had to throw everything to make a living. Two years before I'd stopped when I built my house. I really wanted to work full-time. I just taught a class in Concord and the class in Sharon. That gave me a substantial amount to take care of my utilities and everything. Since the Scheiers threw mugs, I thought I should do something different. So I cast some tall drinking glasses and juice glasses. I knew that if I fired fifty of them and sold them for two dollars, I could pay my expenses. So I cast fifty a week. That only meant two days of casting. Then they were all finished and hand-decorated. They were straight, with no handles, because the Scheiers had handles on theirs. Somebody just told me recently that they'd been given some that somebody had. I don't have any of that period.
ELAINE LEVIN: But that kept you afloat.
VIVIKA HEINO: When I built my house I got a mortgage and it cost me nineteen dollars a month, and expenses weren't that much. Then when we were married Otto had a job. I had to get out something very quickly and I needed help. So I said, "Why don't we do it?" We filled an order for $150 in three days. We had marvelous ducts for the heat, and if we put it going, we could put things on top and they dried very nicely so we could get them into the kiln. I said, "We made that much, why don't we keep on?"
ELAINE LEVIN: I gather he was very enthusiastic.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes. He coiled a great deal. He had some odd jobs. He did some landscaping. He has a feel for setting and planting, where trees and plants should go and stone walls. While we were in New Hampshire we had a couple of shows. We had one at the Currier Gallery the year after we were married. In Manchester. We had one in Fitzburg at the college. Otto and I were artists-in-residence for three days.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did Otto show pots as early as that?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, his coiled pots. His coiled pots were beautiful. Those great big coil pots. I think that people who coil have a real feeling of the clay that they don't always get when they throw. He knew how to manipulate it.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you pleased when you heard from Lukens that he needed someone and he thought of you?
VIVIKA HEINO: He was going to Haiti. He asked if I would teach for a year, and we talked it over. We thought it would be great because it would give Otto an opportunity to learn to throw. We had the money to live off so I wouldn't have to use the one wheel. We took our wheel and we took five hundred pounds of clay to California because we had just got a commission, our second commission, to do great big altar vases for a church in Chicago. It was for a Lutheran church. They were to stand on either side, on small marble pedestals at either end of a huge black marble altar. We both coiled them because they were thirty-six inches high. We had a blue slip under a matt glaze. We scratched through fish on them. I did two small altar vases for that church. When I went through once, when I was Craftsman Trustee in California, I stopped in Chicago to see the vases. We had previously done two for a church in Connecticut.
ELAINE LEVIN: You didn't take the vases there on your way to California?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, we got the commission just the week before we left. So we brought the clay out and it was the first thing we did out here. We wrote Lukens and, when it came through that we were hired, we left. We had a time before leaving to get everything done. People came to see us. We said we were going on Friday. We shut the door and parked the car away. We had a studio open downstairs so we could get all our orders out, because we had quite a lot of orders then.
ELAINE LEVIN: You had to finish everything before you left.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, and to get things into the League that people had wanted.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you surprised at what you found at the lab at U.S.C., because it had been a long time since you were there?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes. I remember Dr. Lukens was being very particular about the studio. I knew that it would be in order, and when I got out here, I don't know whether he left it for a lab technician to finish, but it was just chaotic. We found 100 pounds of mineral products and white clay that people were casting and using which fired to 04. Otto and I spent all Friday and Saturday and most of Sunday cleaning it up. I called Gladding McBean. Having been here before I knew of this Mexart clay. So I called and ordered a ton. It was their sewer pipe clay. They delivered a ton of wet clay. Also there were little boxes all over the lockers, little apple crates. Everything was small that we found in the studio. I got rid of those and put up some boards. The first thing I told the students, they had to coil something that was over eighteen inches, was that they could go as high as they wanted. The kiln was four feet high, but they had to be over eighteen inches. They were all so startled, because everything had been made little.
ELAINE LEVIN: Why do you think that was?
VIVIKA HEINO: I don't know. They just couldn't believe it! Jean Louthian, who later became a very successful sculptor, did a lot. I tried to get her to change the form of her throwing to make sculpture, and she did things and put it together. You probably saw shows of her work. They were all very interesting as soon as they got going. We coiled at 04 and then we started throwing. There were six sewing machine wheels and two Stetler electric wheels. That's all there was in the department. Stetler is like our stand-up wheel that we have in the studio. I couldn't get over the fact that there weren't any kick wheels. I don't know whether he took them to Haiti, or where, but there were kick wheels when I had studied with him. And there were buckets and buckets of glazes which I kept until January, and didn't use, and then finally got rid of all that because the students made all their own clay and their own glazes. Even the last time I taught in Henniker, New Hampshire, when I set up the department, everybody made their clay and everybody made their glazes.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you weren't even going to use up what he'd left. You wanted to start them off fresh.
VIVIKA HEINO: No, because it was all done still at 08. And we fired at 04. After Hamada was here, that first year, they had an afternoon meeting at UCLA. Laura had just moved into the new department, which is now the old department. We had a party when Leach and Hamada and Yanagi were there at her place before school started.
ELAINE LEVIN: 1953?
VIVIKA HEINO: December, 1952. This was maybe January or February 1953. They had a meeting at Laura's and Jane Heald was the only one who had a high temperature kiln to fire the pots that Hamada and Leach did at the workshop. She fired them and brought them to this meeting and we each got one piece. Ricky Peterson of Scripps organized it. He was the one who was very influential. In fact, after we arrived in October, or late September, he invited Laura Andreson, Susan Peterson, Jane Heald, and Otto and me to come to Chinese dinner. He said that Leach and Hamada and Yanagi were coming and they would like to have a workshop. Susan had the facilities on Saturdays or during Christmas at Chouinard's. Jane Heald said she and Nancy Hitch could house them. They slept at one house and they ate at another house and they brought them into Chouinard. I've forgotten what I was to do, publicity or something. Laura later had them to the party. That was the starting of that first meeting. At that meeting at UCLA., we were all potters. It was a little bit different than the Design Division of the American Ceramics Society which had a lot of people who did little figurines. These were all potters. So we had such a good time at that meeting discussing the pots. Ricky said, "Now, the next one will be at U.S.C. with Vivika." So I thought, I must give them something, because that's always been my nature, either a lecture, or a workshop. So I got Jack Peterson to talk on California clays. I don't remember who else I had on that program. Then I made 04 body and I changed the color so it was grey and it was white and it was red and it was black. I fired it bisque and I fired at 04. I made test bars so they could see the shrinkage. I did a cone 5 body that I also made white or made red. We did test bars of that, fired bisque and at cone 5. We did some cone 10 bodies. So I mimeographed the sheets, and they saw the test bars. Almost everybody said, "What are the test bars and what are they good for?" They had never seen that, or many of those glazes. In fact, just recently somebody brought us some clay called "L.B." It's supposed to be Long Beach. I wanted to know what it is. So I called Ward Youry and said, "Ward, I wonder. Somebody brought us that L.B. clay and I wonder if you can tell me what's in it. I want to see how our glazes will do." He said, "It's the one you gave at U.S.C. years ago. Maybe we've just changed a little bit of it, still using Lincoln clay and so forth." That was one of the first things, the base for anybody who made their clays. Much of that clay was then made up at Westwood Ceramics, when it used to be out in West Los Angeles.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you do test fires at Alfred's? Is that where you began?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, but I'd never do a clay unless I did it. That was the first time I ever saw a test fire.
E: Did you introduce test fires for glazes then?
VIVIKA HEINO: You mean to run tiles of tests? Of course everybody's always done that, or I thought they did. I made a lot of tests. I tried to make a lot of colored slips. Before I ever left Alfred I mixed up a clay body and added all these different oxides to see what color slips I'd get. On one I'd put a shiny glaze and on the other I'd put a matt glaze. You get a completely different thing. I did some pots where I glazed one side with shiny and put the matt glaze on the other side.
ELAINE LEVIN: You also ran a glaze class.
VIVIKA HEINO: That was the second year I was at U.S.C. We approached Don Goodall, who was the director. He didn't think people would be interested. First, in the summer I'd given a summary, and I'd always taught a beginning, a feeling of glazes. They had frits and we tried working at additions to a frit to find out how, and with colorants. That summer was an exciting summer. I had a lot of college teachers there. The last week they handed in twenty pieces of all kinds of things. Many of them had two or three things of it. The critique went all day along. They had to do pitchers. They could do a pitcher and cups. Or it could be a teapot and cups. But they still had to do a pitcher. They did everything that summer. Everybody had two and three things each. But a lot of those people wanted to know if I wouldn't teach a glaze class. So I went to Goodall. It was put in on a Friday night, and I had twenty-eight people and I never had one absence. In the one term they did what really takes one year. Then I taught at Chouinard after that. They were very popular, because people came from all over to take those classes. But it was the first one that was taught as a glaze class.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was it the first? Didn't Laura Andreson teach glaze?
VIVIKA HEINO: There was somebody that taught a class, but he was an engineer. But you see, they did the work, they did the experiments, they saw the whole thing. I used to get out at twelve at night because I felt it was all so individual that I had to go over everybody's work. At that time people didn't have calculators. That was terrible because many didn't know how to multiply and divide.
ELAINE LEVIN: I want to ask you how the American Ceramic Society functioned in Southern California when you came. Was it a viable organization?
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh, probably. About sixty-five or seventy people went to it, Ricky Petterson and Ward Youry came to it. Susan Peterson, Laura Andreson, and many people that had small selling studios. Many people who sold supplies. There were a lot of people at that time who sold supplies. During the first year we had a show at Bullock's.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did they originate the shows? Did they encourage the shows as a group?
VIVIKA HEINO: I think so. There were committees and we had pretty good programs. I remember doing one at Ward's with Laura and Bernie Kester. We did all kinds of treatments. I did slips and I told how you could make your own slip. I received a call from someone who made slips to sell. He said I was ruining his business because I told them how to do it. Because people bought colored slips. Then we would have speakers.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you involved to, Otto?
OTTO HEINO: Not so much. I would just go along and listen.
VIVIKA HEINO: You juried a couple of shows that they had a little later on. Ricky Petterson was there and Al Driscoll as chairman. He made only planters for bonsai. Susan and Laura and then Bernie Kester, and then I followed, as the chairman. I hadn't wanted it, because I don't like to be into that. Finally I refused so many times I didn't feel that I dare refuse again. I should do my part. I always helped. We set up shows at the Biltmore when they used to have the American Ceramic Society. Two or three years I organized . . . they had two days for designers and it used to be a big drawing card. The engineers even came in because we had more people sometimes there than in our groups.
ELAINE LEVIN: You didn't have any conflict in the group at that time, between having so many different channels?
VIVIKA HEINO: I don't think so. They met for what they had. Maybe some of those people resented the potters, but I didn't think there was any conflict. At one of those we had Herbert Saunders. He gave his first talk on crystalline glazes. I had him come down and he spent the day with us.
ELAINE LEVIN: Herbert Saunders from San Jose.
VIVIKA HEINO: It must have been 1960 when I was chairman. There was this conflict with shows and with professors giving their students awards and there was a lot of writing in Ceramics Monthly and a lot of hassle. I felt that instead of those students sending to professional shows, it would be good to have exhibits of students with their peers. We organized that. I remember we planned that at the time of the Democratic Convention, because we kept stopping to listen to what was happening. Tom Fereras and Helen Slater were on my committee. We planned what we'd do to approach companies. We got about $1700. Mrs. Ward gave money, Westwood Ceramics gave money, and different organizations gave some money for prizes.
ELAINE LEVIN: To plan a student show?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, prizes for a student show. There were people from UCLA. and Long Beach, and from Scripps and from Otis, and from Glendale even. James Sullivan who was UCLA. got an award for his beautiful spotted glazes. Don Pilcher who was only a student at Glendale got an award. Later he came to be a student at Chouinard with me, and at Rhode Island and is now teaching in Illinois. Hacik Gamityan got a prize. It meant something, because they were tops, and we had a very good jury. I've forgotten now who was on the jury. That was the fist all-student show.
ELAINE LEVIN: Where was it held?
VIVIKA HEINO: It was held at Otis and Wayne Long displayed it. It was an exciting thing. At that same time, when I was at U.S.C., it was very difficult to have people display student ceramic work with the paintings because it was always the last thing that was displayed. So I approached them about an all-ceramic show. And, except for Scripps, that was the first one. Because at UCLA. I don't think they had any except with the whole art department at the end of the year. So we did it and it was the second show they had in that new gallery. We drew 600 people that time. We did everything. We even built all the sets for it and we designed it and it went up overnight. When I went to Chouinard I carried on the same thing because after the first year the pottery was put down on a lower level or set back in a corner, and we had those shows. It was so important for students to see their work in a real exhibit. They never worked for the shows, whatever they put in the shows came out of their regular assignments. I always gave assignments. They weren't definite assignments, but they were with feeling. Like that next to the last show of the class you had, Otto. It was so great when they were all coiling . . .
OTTO HEINO: . . . individual things.
VIVIKA HEINO: Jun Kaneko's wife Fumi made a marvelous, almost stone-like thing.
OTTO HEINO: Juanita was in the class, too.
VIVIKA HEINO: Juanita was in that class.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was Scripps the only professional show that was happening at that time? Scripps started in 1946.
VIVIKA HEINO: At the time we were there it was usually an invitational show. Sometimes Ricky had themes. Sometimes he had it for flowers or flower bowls. It wasn't until when Soldner took over that it was individuals. We were in that first show of six pieces of different individuals, when it began like it is now.
ELAINE LEVIN: What about your own work at the time? You did something for the movies, the first one was Dimitrius? How did you happen to get involved in that?
VIVIKA HEINO: I got a call one day saying they needed some potters, and could I bring four men the next day. They'd like a technical advisor. I arranged with four boys to meet us at 5:30. They were going out to Twentieth Century Fox. One of them didn't turn up and I needed four, so I asked Otto, and he said, "Well, don't take your family." But we went and he was in the movie. They had to throw. Dimitrius hid the robe in a potter's village and Mr. Everett Glass was supposed to be blind. I'd throw his pots and then he'd get on. It was interesting because when I got there the kiln was completely wrong. All the flame was coming out the bottom. They had to change it, and that was why they . . . .
ELAINE LEVIN: . . . and so they needed a technical advisor.
VIVIKA HEINO: I was there three or four days and the fellows and Otto were there five days.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that how you got the job for the Egyptian movie?
VIVIKA HEINO: They had some goblets and they said they had gotten these from the Metropolitan. They paid fifteen or twenty dollars for them. This was 1953. I said I could do those for five or six dollars. So they took me over and introduced me to Walter Scott, the set designer. Just out of the blue, two days before Christmas 1953, we got a call saying could we come out to Twentieth Century Fox. He wanted to know if we could do it. We worked between Christmas and New Year and then we couldn't work two weeks because school was on. Then we had three weeks off between terms. We made 751 pots. Otto couldn't throw at that time, so tell them what you did.
OTTO HEINO: I coiled the big amphoras, five a day. They were forty-five and forty-eight inches high.
VIVIKA HEINO: Twenty-four of them were fifty-four inches with a neck. They all had to be pointed.
ELAINE LEVIN: On the bottom, because they . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: So I made a mold of the point and then I cast six or eight. So you see, you press the bottom and it would set up and then he'd coil the rest.
ELAINE LEVIN: What a job!
VIVIKA HEINO: We used three students. One girl did nothing but coil all day long. I threw everything. I had to throw thirty-six-inch water jugs. They had to be thirty-two inches. I had to do everything thirty-six inches. Shells to drink out of. We needed 200 of those and I thought, that's easy. I made the molds of twelve and trained somebody and the next day they didn't come back. We trained three people for those and finally did them ourselves. Because I thought they could do them in four or five days. Then I had to do the blue lotus cups. It worked out that I could do the goblets in one piece. It took sixteen tests to get the right turquoise for technicolor. The directors would come out. Mrs. Rygstall who was the advisor from the Brooklyn Museum. Her husband had gone with Carter into King Tut's tomb. It was exciting to work with them. Leonard Gross, the technical advisor, would come out and they'd look at all these and he'd say, "That's the one." They weren't like what you thought they would be. But when they were photographed, they were beautiful. At the last minute they called and said, "We need Canopic jars." They needed them of course for the serfs and for the middle class and for the pharaohs. I just didn't see how I could get the heads done. Because they all had to be thrown alike. The small ones, the medium-sized ones and the high ones. Horus and the Sphinx and the jackal. I went to Steve Zakin who was teaching sculpture and said, "How much will you do these heads for?" He set a price and so he did the heads. But I had to do the jar and the cover so they were used in the kitchen as well as in the embalming scene. We finished on time. Everybody came on the day before school was to start and said, "School starts tomorrow." It was just chaotic because we had the tables all moved around and we had pots everywhere. We had everything fired but eight pieces. When they wrote us, they said, "You have the privilege of the studio." But we bought all the clay for it, and I paid for the firing, and we used three tons of clay. All the scraps the students used for the next two years because they made their own clay. We couldn't recondition it. We didn't have time. But we finished everything and, the morning school started, everybody came in to look at the studio and it was just all in order and classes were going on.
ELAINE LEVIN: They must have been surprised.
VIVIKA HEINO: We couldn't fire the last six. Italian terra cotta was going on. Mr. McGuire came over and took them over and fired them for us in his big kiln.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you ever go to the movie?
VIVIKA HEINO: We finally saw the movie when we were at Chouinard. A student came and said, "The Egyptian is at the movie house." We got in at the very end. I saw it once on television. Every time it's come it's always later and we have something on. But the first time I saw it, I was so tired because I thought of how we had worked. Now I'd like to see it again.
ELAINE LEVIN: What year did you go to Chouinard?
VIVIKA HEINO: We decided to go back East.
OTTO HEINO: We decided to go back. If we were going to be individual potters we were going to go back and not teach.
VIVIKA HEINO: Because we came for one year.
OTTO HEINO: Then Mrs. Chouinard called you.
VIVIKA HEINO: No, first Susan Peterson. I'd asked her if she'd like the job. She applied for it. So did Carlton Ball. But he couldn't go that first year because he had to go back to Illinois.
ELAINE LEVIN: To apply for U.S.C.?
VIVIKA HEINO: He had to go back to teach where he had a leave. I stayed to take a class in cinema, because I wanted to do what you're doing. I wanted to record all the old craftsmen when I got back to New Hampshire. I made a tape of quite a number of them. There was a course at U.S.C. that was for non-cinema majors. I stayed and Otto went own to Chouinard. He worked in the high temperature kiln, which we didn't do too much of at U.S.C. because we only had the little tiny one. They had a big reduction kiln that Susan had made after she had come to U.S.C. to see if it would work in an updraft kiln because we all knew downdraft kilns. She had that first kiln made at Chouinard. Otto went to work there. I kept saying, "Has Susan gone to U.S.C.?" He said, "No, she hasn't heard." We were all packed. The classes were over. We were all ready to leave in a couple of days, when Susan came by at eight o'clock in the morning. She said she had just been asked to go to U.S.C. and she didn't want to leave Mrs. Chouinard because school would be starting in a week. She said would we consider teaching for a year. So we thought, well, it's got a high temperature kiln. She said, "You can, of course, use the facilities." Because she said that, I never thought to ask Mrs. Chouinard. I called Mrs. Chouinard. Sometimes at U.S.C. you had to wait a long time to see the director. But she said, "Oh, come right over." I went over and she said she didn't want anybody who had to make their living off teaching. Her principle of the school was to have professionals. I said well we'd always worked, even though we taught. She didn't say, "Do you want to teach?" She just took me around. She took me to Bill Morris and she took me to Mr. Graham. She said, "This is the next ceramics teacher." Otto and I went there and worked three days to get it organized.
ELAINE LEVIN: You taught there also?
OTTO HEINO: Not at first. I taught night classes. Afterwards I taught in the daytime. They went on an eight-week cycle. They taught beginners eight weeks. Every eight weeks a new class.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that concentrated?
VIVIKA HEINO: Concentrated.
ELAINE LEVIN: You'd work as much in eight weeks as you would in a semester.
OTTO HEINO: That's right.
VIVIKA HEINO: That's a little hard in ceramics because you have that drying period. But they got things out. It was just amazing.
ELAINE LEVIN: You taught an advanced class?
VIVIKA HEINO: Then I taught the other classes. Then we had Ralph Bacerra teach on Saturday.
ELAINE LEVIN: He had worked there before?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, he came there to study. He went to, I think it was Orange Coast, for a semester and then he came. He was a sophomore when he came.
ELAINE LEVIN: How could he teach on Saturday?
VIVIKA HEINO: That was by the time he'd had it a year. There were children's art classes on Saturday and they coiled and did most of that. But I guess maybe that was his second year. The first year I taught everything. The second year you taught at night. Then I started the glaze class and I taught at night. Then I started a History of Ceramics class and that was at night.
ELAINE LEVIN: You hadn't taught History of Ceramics at U.S.C.?
VIVIKA HEINO: Not as a class. I had always talked about it. But this was really . . . it went for a whole year.
El: Was there a lot of response to that?
VIVIKA HEINO: Just the advanced students took it. It was an exciting class because they had all had glazes. They all knew how to throw. When we'd end a period I'd say, "You've got fifteen minutes to go over and do something with the feeling of the period." They would go a throw it and the following week they'd have it fired, bisque fired and glaze fired. They did the whole range. The whole point is that they had the feeling but they never thought they had to copy. I'm amazed at some of the potters that have a book open and copy the form.
ELAINE LEVIN: But that was good exercise.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, they just loved History of Ceramics and so did I.
ELAINE LEVIN: It sounds like an exciting class. You also set up The Pottery on Hoover Street.
VIVIKA HEINO: Immediately. We told the man where we lived that we were going back East and he went sailing. I didn't think to ask Mrs. Chouinard if we could use the facilities, which most teachers can. So we saw this little place. It had been a ski shop, hadn't it, Otto?
OTTO HEINO: A ski shop and a bookstore.
VIVIKA HEINO: We went and looked at it. We had already told several of the graduating students who wanted a studio to go. They all said, "Ugh," because it was painted purple and blue. We went in and painted it all white. When the man from our apartment came back, he had rented the place. So we had to move in and we lived in the studio. That was heaven. You got up and you were right there.
ELAINE LEVIN: There was enough room for you to do that?
VIVIKA HEINO: We had our living quarters. We had what had been maybe the dining room. It was a little Victorian house. But it was right on the street. It had been made into a shop. That was our workshop.
OTTO HEINO: It had four rooms.
VIVIKA HEINO: Four rooms and a salesroom. It had this marvelous room with a big window. Finally by Christmas we said, it's a waste to have that. We ought to have a little display. So I think it's the first one in Los Angeles, where there were pots in a private studio.
OTTO HEINO: For sale?
VIVIKA HEINO: The students from U.S.C. and from Long Beach came from all over to see our shop. I remember Ralph said once, this was the influence, that they could go and see that people were selling.
ELAINE LEVIN: But it was inconceivable. I remember your telling me that it was unusual for any of the students to see a working potter being able to sell and sustain himself.
VIVIKA HEINO: We threw in the room and outdoors glazed.
OTTO HEINO: We glazed outside. We had a table set up out on the patio. We did all the glazing outside. We got the water, hooked it up, a spray booth and everything out there. It was great out in back.
ELAINE LEVIN: As long as it didn't rain.
OTTO HEINO: Later we built a big overhang over it.
VIVIKA HEINO: We started first with a cone 6 kiln there. A Dickenson, because we had a cone 10 we thought we could use, which Mrs. Chouinard said we could fire some things in. We started at cone 6. Then we bought a big Kalen 100 cubic foot kiln. The woman in back left, and we really needed more space, so I asked the woman if we could rent it. We rented it for about half a year and she died and then we bought it. We had the studio in front and a garden which we had a high fence around and the living in the back. It was never like living in the same place you worked. It was another thing. You went to it. And there you just rolled out the bed and you were there.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did your time go if you were teaching classes and trying to maintain a shop at the same time?
OTTO HEINO: We were open in the afternoon.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, and we varied. Otto taught on Mondays and Wednesdays and I taught Tuesday and Thursday. At night it was different, we just . . .
OTTO HEINO: . . . closed up. We always closed at five o'clock.
VIVIKA HEINO: In the summer we had an apprentice. Dora worked one summer as an apprentice. Mark Vilagren worked. He just got his master's degree at Otis. Riko, and Karen Porter.
OTTO HEINO: They took care of it while we were teaching summers.
VIVIKA HEINO: Riko has a gallery.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you do anything experimental that you wouldn't have done, say, with less time, because of teaching?
VIVIKA HEINO: We were always experimenting. We did a lot of new glazes. When we first went to Chouinard it was interesting because I had been to the Dominican Republic for a month and I reorganized all my glazes after Alfred. I have a pictorial mind. I put everything on cards. When we got there with the high temperature kiln, I didn't know them. If I'd left them on a yellow sheet of paper and a brown sheet of paper, I'd have known. The first thing we did, we'd make tiles of white clay and red clay; we made up enough so we did all the glazes from A through P. I just went through and gave them alphabet names. We put them on white clay and on red clay and we fired them at oxidation reduction so the students would know the whole thing. They're still using the "C" glaze and the "A" glaze and the "J" glaze. I saw somebody just recently and I said, "That's nice glaze." She said, "That's your 'N' glaze." They knew what they were instead of being called something or other. It was just that. So we knew immediately what they'd do. But they used all the different glazes. We never kept any.
OTTO HEINO: We got a lot of commissions from decorators and architects, like Victor Gruen. We did a lot of tile for hospital walls.
VIVIKA HEINO: Then you did those big planters.
OTTO HEINO: For a drive-in bank. It was the first time they used pottery in drive-in banks in San Francisco.
VIVIKA HEINO: This was even before . . . well, architectural ceramics. Not David Cressy's, but the white was being done. David studied that first summer with me. He came over to learn to throw. Laura was away and she sent him over to take the summer class.
ELAINE LEVIN: What about the American Craftsmen's Conference in 1957 at Asilomar?
VIVIKA HEINO: I was on that panel.
ELAINE LEVIN: Which panel?
VIVIKA HEINO: There was Ed Scheier and Dan Rhodes, Tony Prieto, Carlton Ball, Marguerite Wildenhain, Peter Voulkos and myself.
ELAINE LEVIN: What was the discussion?
VIVIKA HEINO: About pottery. It was one or two times, wasn't it? I know I spoke from the standpoint of teaching, and the sale, which was done in the studio. Could you make a living as a potter? I maintained you could and said why. It started at Chouinard because they wanted to take the ceramic room. The students didn't want that. The students said if we could have a sale we'd make enough money to maintain the room for a year.
ELAINE LEVIN: They wanted to take the ceramics studio?
VIVIKA HEINO: They needed it for a library. Because, in the beginning, when you went to Chouinard, the only time they could take ceramics was in their senior year, and if they got interested, they didn't go on. A few people would come to take just ceramics. But they said if they could have a sale, and they sort of looked at it and didn't think it was very important. I said, I'd give all my time on Saturday and Sunday if they wanted to do this. So we had the sale. We worked Saturday and Sunday. They did all kinds of things. They did things out of sewer pipes. We did candle lights. A woman in the class had a husband who had a sewer pipe plant in Whittier. I used them for a show, we glazed them. Instead we cut them and made candle lights out of them. They pressed into the bases of those Egyptian pots. I took those and they made big planters. We sold about $2,000. That would be 1956. 1956 or 1955?
OTTO HEINO: The second year.
VIVIKA HEINO: The next year when we were going to have a sale I decided that it would have to be a little more organized. Because I found myself teaching all Saturday and getting people going and we had everybody in the class working. It was the next year or the year after that we said that people had to be there for two terms. It then had become a teaching cycle. They had to have two terms of ceramics before they could work so that I would work along and I'd set the pace and Otto would come and he'd throw some of the bigger things. But I'd work right along. We started out with simple things, cylinders. Cylinders going into vases, cylinders going into pitchers. Then we'd do bowls; bowls going into cover jars. Halfway through we'd stop and they could do anything they wanted to do. We called that "Thing Day." Cliff Stewart, who does the little figures, did our first stamp. He went with me from U.S.C. over to Chouinard. So did Joan Harness. He made the little stamp. The little pot with a C in it. That went on every pot. The administration said students who did that wouldn't have as much pride as if they signed their name. It worked very well.
ELAINE LEVIN: It was worth more.
VIVIKA HEINO: Sometimes things would come out, not the way they expected, but quite handsome and they'd want to break them. I'd say, wait, look at it, because it would have something. Like if they made a majolica once, and forgot the tin and it gave them a whole new concept because it would be shiny and blue. After the "Thing Day," then they went on until we got the complete line. We used to set the sale up, the night before we'd paint everything and get it all cleaned up and we'd set it up. Mr. Moore's room behind would have everything that we didn't know where to put. There were stacks and stacks of ashtrays and mugs. At two o'clock I went into see if I couldn't bring something into the front room and it was all gone. So you see, they really learned how to work, as if it were an apprenticeship.
ELAINE LEVIN: They learned it could be sold.
VIVIKA HEINO: They learned and they saw. We stopped at ten for coffee and everybody stopped at noon and we shut off the wheels. Always there was a new person who wanted to work. But they'd just turn off the switch, so you'd stop. Then there was always a manager or somebody who was in charge. A chairman and somebody in charge of glazes. We tested the glazes after the buckets were made up, just as you should. Then, as we fired things, always with the first kiln something would happen. It was really sad. We got our dough machine as a result of that. I ordered clay. They decided if they did 04 they'd have color and if they did 010 they'd have what they liked. The color was still something that was sold. We started out with the 04 once. They kept saying there's something in it that feels rubbery. I couldn't figure it out. I thought it was maybe a gasket. When everything was fired, everything was ruined. It had all these big holes. I called Ernie at Westwood and said, "Did you make up a glaze for Edward Jay?" He used to be a potter who did big planters and he'd put coffee or cork in it to give the holes. He said, "Aren't you smart." I said, "No, you ruined everything." So I marched in. Mr. Disney was just interested in the school and I said to Mr. Wilder, the director, "If we could buy a dough machine, we wouldn't have this problem." I said, "They've lost all this work, all the time." We threw in the morning, we stopped at noon. We trimmed all the afternoon. Everything was finished that day. So we got our first dough machine. Interestingly enough, Peter Voulkos came over the day after I got it. He said, "I've got a great thing to mix clay with." I said, "So have I." I took him out, and we'd both gotten it unknown to each other. There was a lot of exchange back and forth.
ELAINE LEVIN: I believe you took your students over to his studio.
VIVIKA HEINO: And he would bring them over to us. At that time there was McLean and Paul Solder.
ELAINE LEVIN: What was their reaction to what was happening at Otis?
VIVIKA HEINO: It didn't happen at first. The second year I remember going over and Rosanjin had just been here.
ELAINE LEVIN: The Japanese potter.
VIVIKA HEINO: Pete said, "This is the newest thing I've done." He had a pot that wasn't quite as pure as he always threw. It was a little bit bashed and so forth. I wished I hadn't said it afterward, I said, "Rosanjin."
ELAINE LEVIN: You thought it was his work? But no, the influence was there.
VIVIKA HEINO: He was starting then, because they all did, pretty pure pots. It was interesting to watch him. Many times we've been on the same programs. There was one time, we were on a program with him at Otis for the American Ceramic Society. Somebody had thrown first and had thrown for quite a long time. Then we had to go to a meeting for the Finnish Ambassador. So we got there a little bit late and Otto threw something. I threw great big plates and Otto said, "Do you want to see the bottle, what it's like?" He cut it in half and Peter was doing something so he used Otto's bottle to make epaulets. There was a lot of fun going on. Grant Beach's school was going on. He had Peter once and then he had Peter and me next.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that the starter workshops or the idea of a workshop where you demonstrate? Had that sort of thing always been done?
VIVIKA HEINO: No. Peter did a workshop at UCLA. and I couldn't go to it.
OTTO HEINO: I think Ricky started them.
VIVIKA HEINO: He had Charles Lakosky out here once to do a workshop and he had Tony Prieto and he had Marguerite.
OTTO HEINO: Who got Hamada out here?
VIVIKA HEINO: He was traveling, but I think it was Ricky who brought him here.
OTTO HEINO: He did the workshop and then Ricky took it up.
VIVIKA HEINO: And brought it to them. Ricky really organized that. It was nice at Chouinard because people brought tea and we sat around and we had our lunch and we got to talk.
ELAINE LEVIN: What was the reaction to Hamada? I never really asked you that, when you brought them to U.S.C.? How did people feel about the work they were doing?
VIVIKA HEINO: You mean later when they came to U.S.C.?
ELAINE LEVIN: Wasn't that in 1953?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, that was . . . he gave his workshop at Chouinard for a week.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that 1952?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: I see, and Susan had him there then.
VIVIKA HEINO: No, Ricky arranged it. Susan had the place there, and Lennox Tierney was in the class and William Eng, and Al King came. Just about everybody went to that class who were potters you would know. Later in 1962 Susan had Hamada at U.S.C. People were amazed at some of the throwing. I know one teacher said to me, "I'm glad my students don't see it." Because he was so casual but so full of life. People were making it and screening it and scratching it and trimming it and taking all the life out of the pot. This was marvelous. But I was so impressed with Hamada. He had a little round head, round body, and round ears and round hands and, as he sat and threw, you just felt this completeness of this ball into the clay. I've so often thought, his glasses were round, and his pots were round. Then Mr. Yanagi was exciting, with his lectures on the . . .
ELAINE LEVIN: . . . unknown craftsman.
VIVIKA HEINO: He talked about the Korean woodworkers. Remember what he said about the wood? They used green wood, because it had life.
ELAINE LEVIN: Green wood, yes. The crack makes life in the wood, instead of dry, kiln drying, like we do in America here. That must have impressed you.
VIVIKA HEINO: We weren't sure. Mr. Hamada never spoke. Any question, he would speak in Japanese to Leach, and Leach would answer.
ELAINE LEVIN: He could understand, though?
VIVIKA HEINO: None of knew whether he understood. Maybe Jane Held, where he ate, or Nancy Hitch or some of the people. But there hadn't been any parties right at the beginning because it was a long time. We started at nine and we left at five or four. Laura Andreson had this party in this new building for all of us who were at this meeting. I was put next to Mr. Hamada. Fortunately I didn't say something like people speak to foreigners sometimes. I turned and said what an exciting week it was. He said, "Wasn't it." I was so shocked, and we had a very nice conversation. There were a lot of parties afterwards. Al King had one and Ricky had one where we went and we had real time to talk.
ELAINE LEVIN: They were very approachable.
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did Leach . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: I found Leach must nicer than the first time he had come. The first time I had heard him in Worcester. It upset a lot of people because he said nothing was happening in the United States.
ELAINE LEVIN: That he thought was worthwhile?
VIVIKA HEINO: I remember I couldn't stand it. I'd gone on a very blustery day from New Hampshire. I stood up and asked if he didn't think there would be a future since Dr. Binns and Sam Haile had come from England.
ELAINE LEVIN: What did he say?
VIVIKA HEINO: He was much warmer when he came a second time. Of course, he had been all across the country. He was a marvelous person but it was hard. You read his book and you idolized him. Then, to be so severe in his talk. Afterwards I had a chance to meet him for tea at Worcester. I had a nice, very quiet conversation. We were alone and a lot of the people were in the other room. I felt that one-to-one was so important.
ELAINE LEVIN: Had you met him in England when you visited the pottery?
OTTO HEINO: No, I met David Leach, his son.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you never met Bernard.
OTTO HEINO: I met him over here.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you mention that you had been to David Leach? What about Asilomar? By the time the conference at Asilomar occurred, for the American Craftsmen Conference, a lot of things were stirring in pottery in Los Angeles. Were you talking about how to market pottery or were you going to the things that were happening?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, I think it was each of us, what we were doing, wasn't that it? Really, I've forgotten now.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you show slides?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, we didn't show slides. We sat around a table and talked. The Asilomar conference was exciting because it was national and for the first time we met people we had read about. Ceramics Monthly had just started when we were at U.S.C., and you read about people there or you heard about people and you sent to Syracuse and you'd get the catalog and see the names. Then Wichita started and St. Paul, Fiber Clay and Metal. Those are the three important shows that you could send to. They were all juried shows. You would see things. Like we met Toshiko for the first time and we met a lot of the people out here. Dan Rhodes was chairman of the Asilomar potters panels. Where we stayed were all the people I guess were on panels because it went on until all hours. Great discussion.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were those associations helpful in terms of influence or in terms of knowing other people who were in your craft?
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh, I think of just knowing . . . like we met Bob Stockdale. He came down a couple of weeks ago and stayed with us and we were talking about that. It was like the first friends you meet, like in college, or after college. This was the first meeting of all the craftsmen together. They had a show, Toshiko, Betty Feeves, Tony, Lakowsky, wood people, Lenore Tawney. That was the first time we had ever met her and seen some of her things. It was very good.
OTTO HEINO: It was very stimulating.
VIVIKA HEINO: Everybody did their own thing at that time. I've felt there have been certain periods in California and places where you begin to see everybody doing what everybody else is doing. But you felt it was really very individual here.
ELAINE LEVIN: What about the rest of the country?
VIVIKA HEINO: I think we were leading.
OTTO HEINO: Yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: What gave you that feeling?
VIVIKA HEINO: Just because everything was being done here, except for a few places.
ELAINE LEVIN: Where else was that?
VIVIKA HEINO: Where else in ceramics was Toshiko and Lakowsky. Franz was doing some, but they were in the East. Don Frith . . . .
ELAINE LEVIN: Ted Randall.
VIVIKA HEINO: In New York, Dave Weinrib was very active. It was sparse.
ELAINE LEVIN: California was really the most active center.
VIVIKA HEINO: We were still doing cooked stoneware except for those people who went to Alfred more than any other place. McKinnels, they were pretty active.
OTTO HEINO: California set the trend for reduction firing in this country.
VIVIKA HEINO: That and Archie Bray. But I think we had more in starting it. Of course, it had always been done in the East, and some went out. But they did some cone 10 at Rhode Island. But when we went to Rhode Island, I was amazed. They only had one little top loading kiln and the rest were electric kilns.
ELAINE LEVIN: Before we get to Rhode Island, were you surprised when you got the Silver Medal Award at Ostend in 1959?
OTTO HEINO: Yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: That must have been a great pleasure. Name some of the prizes you had gotten in between.
OTTO HEINO: I got it in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I got it at Wichita.
ELAINE LEVIN: What years, do you recall?
OTTO HEINO: They were in the Sixties. We got a first at Utah.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were those important shows to people in California?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, because there were so few places where you could send anything. Then we were in a ceramic show in Iowa, which was one of the first ones. Then one in Illinois. We were invited to one in New Orleans.
ELAINE LEVIN: By the Sixties, then, the number of exhibits you could send to were . . . ?
OTTO HEINO: More.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, and of course, the California Design Show in Los Angeles was good, the Scripps show. The first award I ever got was at City of Paris, 1943.
ELAINE LEVIN: That was when you were still on San Francisco?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, I was in Alfred. I sent back to it because I was still considered San Francisco. Laura Andreson was one of the jurors of that show. The second one was in New York. That was an exciting show. Henry Varnum Poore, Archipenko and Mr. Bach juried it. Later I used to see them off and on. Poore lived in Nyack. It was fun because I had also helped him a little bit when he was doing a mural for Fresno. That was probably 1939 or 1940.
ELAINE LEVIN: That was the tile mural?
VIVIKA HEINO: He worked over at N. Clark & Son.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that in San Francisco?
VIVIKA HEINO: It was in Oakland, but he lived in San Francisco. His daughter, Ann, was out here. She was a good friend of mine.
ELAINE LEVIN: What help did you give him?
VIVIKA HEINO: I held things, big things.
ELAINE LEVIN: You hadn't really been doing very much in clay at that point?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, but he liked some of the things when he came to the studio. He liked what I was doing. It was all beginning.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you know very much about his work when you were working with him?
VIVIKA HEINO: I read once in American Artist, or The Federated Artist. He had shows of paintings and he didn't sell. So he decided when he started to do pottery . . . he had a show out of his place and he sold every one of them and then he took his family and went to Paris. He told me that he could always sell his pots but he couldn't sell his paintings. People weren't buying then, there wasn't a market.
ELAINE LEVIN: He was working during the Depression.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, and then Archipenko, the other juror, had a studio just down the street from me in New York.
ELAINE LEVIN: He did some work in clay, too.
VIVIKA HEINO: He'd do some figures and I'd fire them for him.
ELAINE LEVIN: You went to Rhode Island in 1963, and on the way you taught a summer school session in Wisconsin.
VIVIKA HEINO: That was before I went there, 9162.
ELAINE LEVIN: The year before you went to Rhode Island?
VIVIKA HEINO: The year before. Harvey Littleton. Now we'd met him out here too.
ELAINE LEVIN: At Asilomar?
VIVIKA HEINO: At Asilomar. It was funny because he was showing slides of his work and I was showing slides of my work and some of Otto's work. Jake May, who is a woodworker, came along and said, "Did you buy your molds in the same place and your decorations?" Because they were very similar in form, the roundness and also the decoration. Two old ladies went by just then and the came up after us and asked us where we bought our molds. They really thought he meant it. That was, I guess, 1960 or 1961. Harvey got a grant to see if he could establish a glass furnace the students could use. He called and asked if I'd teach that summer. Years later he was out here and I said, "Well, you're the grandfather." He said, "If I'm the grandfather, you're the grandmother." Because he worked out all that and then he had the first glass class after that. Just think, all the glass today was after that time when I taught in Wisconsin. Because he worked all summer on glass. Then he had his class, and then people who took his class went out and taught. Those twelve spread all over into a thing, because even at Asilomar, do you remember, he had a little piece of glass he tried to do. He said he really thinks it could be done. He was interested because his father used to be at corning.
ELAINE LEVIN: That's a relationship.
VIVIKA HEINO: It was related. He was a good potter and then he formed the first class before I went, in 1962. Because John Karrish had been a student at U.S.C., a student at Chouinard, and then was getting his master's degree at Rhode Island. He was in this first group of twelve that went to Toledo, that the Toledo Art Institute helped set up. They had Lubino and different people talk on Glass.
ELAINE LEVIN: What was Otto doing while you were teaching summer school?
OTTO HEINO: Teaching at Chouinard, summer school.
VIVIKA HEINO: And coming up here and working. That was the year Beatrice Wood took a class.
OTTO HEINO: She took a class once that summer in L.A. with me.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did she happen to do that?
OTTO HEINO: We taught Lustre that summer. She used to do just that blue and rough stuff.
VIVIKA HEINO: She did some lustres before then because I sent all my notes to her when I was at U.S.C. I did a lot of lustres at U.S.C., not knowing she was doing lustres. When we came out she was saying how difficult it was to get information. I gave her some that I'd had since I was in San Francisco. Because I'd copied it out of a book, thinking that some day I might do that.
ELAINE LEVIN: That was the first time you had met her?
VIVIKA HEINO: No, we came up in 1952 to call on her.
ELAINE LEVIN: Because you knew she was here?
VIVIKA HEINO: Because we knew she was here. She had studied with Lukens the year before I went down. She had a real studio in Crossroads.
ELAINE LEVIN: Crossroads of the World? Was it a crafts . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: It was on Sunset, with a lot of little shops about 1940.
ELAINE LEVIN: Like a craftsmen's center?
VIVIKA HEINO: Well, shops. And she had a little studio. Then she moved to Ojai.
ELAINE LEVIN: So she came to your class?
OTTO HEINO: Yes, and studied. We were teaching lustre glazes. She came down one summer and she brought a trunk full of pots, all bisqued, ready to put the glaze and the lustre on.
ELAINE LEVIN: She knew just what she wanted.
OTTO HEINO: Then she threw extra stuff here. But she wanted to get a lot made through the summer. We got beautiful results, we got all colors.
VIVIKA HEINO: Do you remember that grey one when you went down, the grey one with the crackle glaze?
ELAINE LEVIN: Did she use earthenware still? At that time also?
OTTO HEINO: Yes, she fires around 06, 04. Then we put the lustre on and then cooled the kiln down to dull red heat and then smoked it and then you get the smoked lustres. They're not bought lustres. They're just made from scratch. Bismuth 3195 I think I use.
VIVIKA HEINO: That's a little bit different than what people are doing now. They're buying the lustres that are already prepared. They have the resin in it. That was interesting. When I first started to do them, the first result didn't work when I was at U.S.C. Then I thought, now there's resin in the kind you buy, now what could I use? Then I got the idea of soaking little sticks in shellac. I'd soak the sticks in shellac and then roll it in paper so you could handle them. Then I'd stick those in and I got beautiful golden glaze.
ELAINE LEVIN: You'd stick the sticks into the kiln.
VIVIKA HEINO: And it would smoke it. So it was injected reduction. Because it would burn and then it would smoke. It worked well. I think she still uses shellac in her electric kiln.
ELAINE LEVIN: Rhode Island was a new experience again for you.
VIVIKA HEINO: We finally decided that if our Hoover Street place was going to be taken by Urban Renewal . . . . We looked around. It would cost so much to move. We had our studio which was closed in the East.
ELAINE LEVIN: The pottery place in Los Angeles was going to be taken.
VIVIKA HEINO: When we came out we just closed our studio that I built in Hopkinton, so Otto said we couldn't do better than that.
OTTO HEINO: So we could move back. Then they approached Vivika to teach at Rhode Island School of Design. So she took the job for two years.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes. They had a big turnover. Dorothy Perkins used to be there. The Dean had been out to California and he'd seen the pot shop and he kept calling and calling and calling. When I finally took it, Chouinard offered me more than the salary of Rhode Island. We already thought that we had better go back if we were going to be potters, instead of teaching.
ELAINE LEVIN: Didn't you have a studio or shop in East Providence at the same time?
OTTO HEINO: Yes, right. We had a studio. I worked full time, and Vivika was teaching three days a week.
VIVIKA HEINO: I taught Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
OTTO HEINO: Then we used to take the things back up to the League in New Hampshire and put then in the shops, take them to the main office and then they would distribute them.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you had an outlet through the League. Did you sell out of the East Providence . . . it was just a studio?
OTTO HEINO: No, just a studio.
VIVIKA HEINO: Nobody knew where it was. It was the best studio.
ELAINE LEVIN: No one bothered you?
OTTO HEINO: No.
ELAINE LEVIN: What about Hopkinton?
VIVIKA HEINO: We stayed at Rhode Island the two years and we had a couple of shows. We had the big show at the University. I was doing a lot of slab things at that time, great big slab pieces. When the two years were up, we went up to Hopkinton.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did your work change every time you made a move?
OTTO HEINO: I think so. People see it, but we don't.
VIVIKA HEINO: I think you do when you get an idea. When you get a thought, you go off and do things. You do a series of them, and then you work them out.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did the environment have anything to do with it?
VIVIKA HEINO: I think it did when we got to Hopkinton.
ELAINE LEVIN: In what way?
VIVIKA HEINO: The white glazes and the glaze with the black on it.
ELAINE LEVIN: The ones that . . .
VIVIKA HEINO: . . . that we do here. I think it was a result of the white birches, don't you?
ELAINE LEVIN: The white birches. Were they on your property?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: This was a glaze?
OTTO HEINO: Here we're doing brighter colors, sunsets in the hills, browns, flowers.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did the Sheraton College of Design . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: We were at a crafts show, weren't we? While we were there, we also taught two summers at Brookfield, which is an art center in Connecticut. They had a craftsmen's sale. We met Don McKinley and Ruth Gaudy McKinley. She's a potter and Don a woodworker. We used to know them and he was up at Canada. It came about because we made that workshop all over the Midwest. We did a whole lot of workshops all through the Midwest and on the way to Kalamazoo. We went up to Canada. We went through Detroit, through Canada, but we took a detour to see Don and Ruth at Sheraton College. When we got there, Don said, why didn't we let them know and we could have done a workshop. So he said, "Well, you do one at the end." So after we went all through these states we came back and went through Pennsylvania and did the workshop.
ELAINE LEVIN: In Ontario.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, outside Toronto. Also I wanted Otto to see the Royal Ontario Museum because they have such a collection of Chinese things, Bishop White's Collection. Don later called and said would I consider coming and teaching glazes. They'd been at this school a year and nothing had been fired. They had a kiln but they never glazed or fired anything. We talked it over and Otto said he'd like to teach, so I went for two years. He came up afterwards. But it was almost the worst winter we had. We couldn't leave the place.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you stayed in Hopkinton? Were you still selling out of the League?
OTTO HEINO: We were selling through the League and wholesaling to people with shops around.
ELAINE LEVIN: And taking commissions. Did you commute then?
VIVIKA HEINO: I stayed there and Otto came up, but he couldn't get there too many times because of the weather. In the meantime we went back to our studio. On a week after we were there they told us they were taking some of the land because they drilled water and it's a New Hampshire Law you have to have 500 feet. So they took two acres of our land, of the studio I built. We spent mostly that first summer trying to find . . . no, they told us the second summer that we were going back to work. So we went all over the state trying to find a place that would be suitable. Finally we found a place a mile from us. We had a beautiful 1790 barn that we fixed into a studio.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you moved.
VIVIKA HEINO: We had to. There wasn't any place we could build a kiln room or anything unless we built it on the front. I went in and people at the bank that I had known helped me in the beginning. It was all paid for. We went back free and clear to live in our studio. They said it would be better to sell it as it was or it might lose its value for other people . . . if we built on the road.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you sold that place and moved to the bigger one on the hill.
VIVIKA HEINO: It was still Hopkinton.
ELAINE LEVIN: But it was a different location.
VIVIKA HEINO: We had ninety acres, but nothing to take care of because you don't water there.
ELAINE LEVIN: That's true. It's different here.
OTTO HEINO: Then after that you set up New England College.
VIVIKA HEINO: When I came back from Canada I was asked to set up a department in New England College which was at nine miles from the studio. We had a little building. They gave me $2,500 to set it up. I ordered the bricks immediately for the kiln. Then I ordered the equipment but the bricks came the first weekend school was there. We worked the first weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and the second weekend we built the kiln. So the kiln was done. We laid the concrete first.
OTTO HEINO: The students did the work.
VIVIKA HEINO: The students did all the work. They dug the hole. They laid the concrete and then we built the kiln. We were all ready to fire before the wheels came or anything. They built the shelves. They built their environment for their glaze section, so they understood everything. When I went to start teaching it hadn't even been cleaned up, so I took them all home that weekend. We didn't even see the studio. I didn't want them to see something that wasn't finished and they would be disappointed. So we sat outside and just talked about what pottery was. The next time I went it still hadn't been cleaned, so I went to the maintenance and we got brooms and garbage pails and we cleaned the place up. So they completely made their environment. And there are eight of those students who are now potters.
ELAINE LEVIN: Professionals.
VIVIKA HEINO: There was an article in Ceramics Monthly this time by Peter Shope. He was in the class.
ELAINE LEVIN: You must see the names of your students constantly.
VIVIKA HEINO: I'm always getting calls from a boy in Vermont about his kiln, and a little girl came out who was later our apprentice. She doesn't have a reduction kiln, but she fires porcelain in an oxidation kiln and does very nice things. That class was such a nucleus, and of course being small, I could only take fifteen. There wasn't room for more. They asked me if I wouldn't develop that whole craft program there. I had signed it, and went out and decided and we heard about Beatrice's studio.
ELAINE LEVIN: So you almost stayed there, then?
VIVIKA HEINO: I thought we were going to live there forever. I'd signed the contract in December. She wrote us a letter at Christmas time.
ELAINE LEVIN: What did she say?
OTTO HEINO: She said it was hard for her to maintain the place and she didn't know what she was going to do. I told Vivika to call her up and see if she wanted to sell it. She said, "Yes." So we said if Vivika could get a reservation she would go out and see it. So she did.
El: How did she happen to think of you?
VIVIKA HEINO: She didn't write us about her place. She just always wrote us at Christmas and other times.
OTTO HEINO: We were good friends.
VIVIKA HEINO: I feel so guilty because she wrote for a collection of slides when she went to India. I guess I'm the only one that didn't send any. It was the same old problem, time. So I came out. But I still didn't want to come because I had that contract, eight years. I felt it was the ideal place for a crafts school, and I'd finally gotten it.
ELAINE LEVIN: You thought New England College would develop a Craft Department.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, because it had the facilities in the summer. And in New Hampshire they could be juried and they could sell when they got confident. They could have the experience of a big crafts fair, one of the early ones, and they could teach in the classes. They'd get the whole experience.
ELAINE LEVIN: And being in New Hampshire they could work with the League.
VIVIKA HEINO: That's what I meant. They could sell and they could teach and they could go to the fairs of the League as soon as they were confident.
ELAINE LEVIN: But what made you decided that California . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: I came back and I said I didn't want to move. Every day Otto said we'll never get another place. So I said, well, the climate. I said, all right, let's go out.
OTTO HEINO: We had to pay too much for fuel for the firing and heating the studio. Here you don't need much fuel. You leave your clay and everything out and nothing freezes. So it's easy. You have a low cost. We were paying about $3,000 a year for fuel, and here we only paid $200 or so. A big difference.
VIVIKA HEINO: And that was at 19 cents a gallon. Now, it's $1.20. I would be way up to about $20,000 before we could eat.
OTTO HEINO: Here, you have the natural sun to dry the pots. You put them out at ten, ten to four, and they're all dry. Back there in the summer you have to have heating, because it's so humid. Year-round you have to have fuel back there. We used to turn the heat way up to 90 degrees and 100 degrees in the pot shop to dry them out.
VIVIKA HEINO: And a fan to circulate it so we could get things dry if you got a rainy season. We had an awful time. We bought an electric kiln. The only place we had 220V was in the house. So we'd unplug the kitchen stove and we kept firing the electric kiln until we could get enough to fire big kiln loads. We had a 100 cubic foot kiln that we built in the barn.
OTTO HEINO: The elements work for you here. There, you have to support against them.
VIVIKA HEINO: I finally said if he had to buy it, because he always sees cracks in everything, I said he had to go out to see the cracks. So we came out and spent a week and stayed with Beatrice about three or four days. We decided to buy it. But she didn't want it until October. So we went back and had our sale and had summer sales and so forth.
OTTO HEINO: When I went back in 1978 to receive the Gold Medal in Vallauris, France, they all looked toward California for designs in clothes, pottery, painting, everything. California's the center of the world now. It used to be New York, now California's taken over, Los Angeles took over.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did that influence you in terms of coming out here?
OTTO HEINO: No, it was just the climate. But I think it came afterwards. It's more free. It's too conservative back there.
ELAINE LEVIN: Did you feel your pottery was affected by an atmosphere that was more conservative?
OTTO HEINO: Yes, because it was hard to market and sell. Here you get people coming. There's all three of them, to look and buy.
VIVIKA HEINO: Our biggest market was our fall sale at the time of the foliage. We used to have four and five hundred people that would come. They'd come from Washington, New Jersey and New York, because they'd come to see the foliage and then they'd plan on it. We always had a good market, but in the main, things were down.
OTTO HEINO: In California they see more of everything. Because they get out on the week end because the weather's good. They ride around to see something.
VIVIKA HEINO: But California's been great. When I think of what Scripps has done and the people who have gone there, and UCLA. and the galleries and writing. People are pretty much aware here.
ELAINE LEVIN: Has it changed at all in the East? You've gone back to visit.
OTTO HEINO: It's just the same. It looks like it's going downhill, because I went to visit the League shops.
ELAINE LEVIN: Didn't you feel that everything was just little things?
OTTO HEINO: Little things. Because they wanted production, and it's all small. No big showy things at all.
VIVIKA HEINO: We left a lot of things until we left last year. Every so often the big pieces would sell. But there aren't that many big pieces.
ELAINE LEVIN: How did you get everything out here?
OTTO HEINO: We had Consolidated trucking Company and the biggest Mayflower van for the household. It cost us almost $10,000.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you moving a kiln also?
OTTO HEINO: A kiln and all the equipment, shelves, everything.
VIVIKA HEINO: We brought all our pallet boards and shelves because it was a good thing. What we should have brought, the bricks, when we took our 100 cubic foot kiln down we lost two bricks. And we fired it 675 times.
ELAINE LEVIN: At cone 10.
VIVIKA HEINO: Well, bisque.
OTTO HEINO: I didn't count the bisque.
VIVIKA HEINO: We gave some of them to the League. When they came they took it all down except for two courses. They left them up there, which I thought was funny. But we should have brought those bricks, because we paid 50 cents, which was exorbitant for that time. Because bricks used to be 20 to 25 cents. Now they're $1.20. We should have brought those bricks. They don't weigh much because they were soft bricks. While we were there, too, we built that big 400 cubic foot salt kiln.
ELAINE LEVIN: And now, out here, do you have a . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: We built the salt kiln immediately because I was afraid we wouldn't get it if we built the other one. We never got the other kiln back. Then all of a sudden we had a call.
OTTO HEINO: Don Gibbs's wife. I had a dinner set. So he came after a couple of weeks to pick it up and they both came and they were sitting out here. I said, "I have to get a bigger kiln because I have to fire two fires to get a complete full place setting." About three weeks after that they called me up and said he bought a warehouse and there was a big kiln in it. He wanted to know if I could come down and look at it to see if I could use it, and to make him an offer for it. Vivika and I went down and looked at it. We decided to offer him $1,500 for it. He accepted that. So we figured a $1,000 to move it up here, but it cost us $450.
VIVIKA HEINO: But it cost us $1,000 because the burners were hurt and work had to be done on them. It was used to make little beads. Also, I didn't like the hood. It looked like it came over a restaurant stove or something. I designed a new hood for it because I said it's the last kiln we're going to have. It's a car kiln. There were two cars, but we don't have room for two cars, so we only have one car. When we did the big wall this last summer we got ninety foot square tiles in one firing.
ELAINE LEVIN: Which wall was this? Who was this for?
VIVIKA HEINO: This was for a family in Minnesota. It's the end wall beyond an indoor swimming pool, and it was 10' x 34'.
ELAINE LEVIN: And what kind of design?
VIVIKA HEINO: We went through a series of models for it. First, the decorator came and thought maybe she wanted black and white and red clay. So I did a tile for that. Then I did some sort of linear tiles since the water was going to be rushing in the pool. Then the woman said she had a lot of wildflowers. She saw some iris I had done. She wanted iris and ladyslipper. I did a few of them. We finally decided on just iris. Originally it was raised, and then they finally came to the idea of the painted ones. It was a little easier doing the painted ones because we might have had some problems with the raised.
ELAINE LEVIN: It's all finished now?
VIVIKA HEINO: It's all finished. I went back last October while they installed it. Well, 340 tiles. We made 400 but only one tile cracked, an inch from the top and an inch from the bottom all the way through. They liked it because they said it made it look handmade. It's just a straight crack. I knew it was going to happen because we made them and then I grooved every one and I knew that one groove. I said to Otto, this is too deep. Two had just a little line crack, but we had no loss.
ELAINE LEVIN: That's close. You've been getting commissions since you moved in 1973 to Ojai. Have they been fairly steady?
VIVIKA HEINO: A lot of dinnerware.
OTTO HEINO: Plant bases.
VIVIKA HEINO: And some ecclesiastical. Quite a number of communion goblets.
ELAINE LEVIN: How do people know?
VIVIKA HEINO: I don't know.
OTTO HEINO: We did one for Bellville, Illinois. The minister came. He teaches at the prison.
VIVIKA HEINO: He's also the priest for the prison.
OTTO HEINO: He wanted a goblet and a plate.
VIVIKA HEINO: Then I have one to do now. Somebody's giving it to a little chapel for a Presbyterian church.
OTTO HEINO: We do one or two a year.
VIVIKA HEINO: Somebody called not long ago from Nebraska. I didn't know who this man was. He said he bought a bowl here and he wanted to know if we would do the two cruets and platen and little wine goblet. I haven't done a model for him yet.
ELAINE LEVIN: You have one sale a year.
VIVIKA HEINO: One sale. We try to have enough stock when we have the music festival, because we always entertain with punch here.
ELAINE LEVIN: Is it in May?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes. But our other sale is always the second week in November. Last year I came back and I didn't see how I could get out all my notices. So people began calling. We had the sale without sending out notices. But we did very well.
ELAINE LEVIN: People know to expect that in November you're going to be ready to sell. You mentioned that you went to a class at U.S.C. so that you could learn more about filming. Did that result in the film, The Potter?
VIVIKA HEINO: Oh yes. The graduate students did it after that summer. I had the feeling that all movies that I would take of these old craftsmen in New Hampshire . . . I wanted to take in the first person, so it looked like you were doing it, instead of always being across. Most movies until that time were always taken across from the potter or anybody you're looking at, and not as you see him working. That movie was made more or less over-the-shoulder. They did it quite with that feeling because the movie I had to make was a simple little thing. Like making a scale out of a coat hanger. We just had simple things, like teaching the difference between wholes and halves and quarters. I used apples on these pans. I took it so the children could see how their hands did it. Those graduate students did The Potter in 1955.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that used for classes at U.S.C.:
VIVIKA HEINO: All over, except U.S.C. didn't publicize it as much because it was one of them. We had Dora and Jack Karrish.
ELAINE LEVIN: Dora DeLarios?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes. And they came for the critiques in it and so forth. But it was to show that people didn't all work alike. Because there was a thing happening in 1954, 1955 and 1956 that I felt many people were doing pots like everybody else. If you saw a pot with little indentions all over it, everybody in the class did it then. I was trying to bring out the individual. I think Raul Cornell came here a couple of weeks ago and he said that, as far as teaching, there's one thing about it, that so many people studied with us and they're good and they're in it now, but it didn't look like our work. I thought that was the nicest compliment. Because that's the way I believe in teaching.
ELAINE LEVIN: In other words, you're forceful about your philosophy in terms of teaching, but the students don't imitate.
VIVIKA HEINO: No. Like I threw covered jars. I would throw eight or ten covered jars. I'd put the cover right on it, even though it's wet. They'd see how to make all these different covers. Then, when they weren't looking, I'd just destroy them. So they didn't see the finished thing. I've seen people who demonstrate. They make it, they finish it and then they set it up and then everybody makes a pot like that. Because all these students have their own ideas. They should develop their own. But it doesn't happen in many schools.
ELAINE LEVIN: How do you promote not following, besides destroying the pot?
VIVIKA HEINO: We gave them problems.
OTTO HEINO: Gave them a lot of variations. We stress that you should put yourself in it, make your own thing.
VIVIKA HEINO: Maybe the form and the feeling for the form.
OTTO HEINO: Make it from your soul and not your two eyes. That's what we try to get across to the students. Give them a philosophy of how to approach pottery so that you'll always have a following to come and buy your ware.
VIVIKA HEINO: Dora DeLarios doesn't work like Ralph Bacecca. They were both students. Dora had me three years. Ralph had me three years.
ELAINE LEVIN: Oh, yes.
VIVIKA HEINO: This is so great when you see these. Don Pilcher doesn't. Karen Porter is doing all kinds of things. This girl is supporting a family. Karen Porter Sternard. Her husband isn't well and she's almost maintaining twins and a little boy at home. Elsa Rady was a student. Her work doesn't look like any of them.
ELAINE LEVIN: That's certainly to be commended.
OTTO HEINO: We get that across so they don't have to rely on copying our things.
VIVIKA HEINO: Somebody said, "Don't you wish they looked like yours?" No, why should they?
OTTO HEINO: That's right.
ELAINE LEVIN: Getting back to film for just a moment. You did some educational programs for the University of New Hampshire that we didn't mention, for Educational Television. You supervised those films.
VIVIKA HEINO: They just called and had a meeting at the League. They thought they'd like to have something done. I was the first one that did the pilot. I went over and they made it. We all had a test made and then they decided, and so I was in it. I just organized my series.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were there various craftsmen involved?
VIVIKA HEINO: Later they did one of a weaver, and then they did one of a woodworker and a sculptor and a jeweler. They showed all five of them. It was a little boring because they went through a show and then they had their exhibit. But they were good. I don't know whether the others are shown. But I used to get a copy from the N.E.T. They were shown 400 times and in Europe. Somebody saw them out here, because the second day we were out here we brought two students. One was going to be an apprentice, and the little boy who had always worked for us since he was twelve, just mowing the lawn and so forth. We brought them out with us to help us set up here. They saw a sign down at the Ventura Potters Guild. We went to it and when we walked in, somebody said, "Oh, I've seen you on television." Often people recognize me. This was the second one, which was a result of our series of ten, the life of a potter. And the director put in for an N.E.A. grant and forgot Otto. Because I had done the other set. I said, "Oh, it has to be Otto and Vivika." He said, "We can't change it now." So in the script it says, "Thanks to Otto Heino, potter. " Because it was our life. But the series was very interesting. I had a lot of comments from people.
ELAINE LEVIN: There have been others that have followed that.
VIVIKA HEINO: Susan Peterson did a series.
ELAINE LEVIN: Were you out here when Carlton Ball was at U.S.C.?
VIVIKA HEINO: We were at Chouinard.
ELAINE LEVIN: Was that period any different when you were at Chouinard than when you were teaching at U.S.C.?
VIVIKA HEINO: Voulkos had come, and more people were working.
ELAINE LEVIN: Had Paul gone to Scripps?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, he'd gone to Scripps. And Long beach was getting very to the fore.
ELAINE LEVIN: They were becoming more active and involved?
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes.
ELAINE LEVIN: That's something I wanted to be sure we mentioned. There are other things about your philosophy in terms of living and working as potters that you have mentioned to be in the past. I wonder if you can recall some of these things. Otto said you wanted a certain kind of life; that's why pottery appealed to you.
OTTO HEINO: If it's a free life and you're contributing something for your country. If you're good, I mean. You hope to be good. I wanted to achieve that a person sees a pot and knows it was a good potter that made it. He knew his glazes, he knew how to fire, so it's a complete, honest pot.
ELAINE LEVIN: How do you feel when you're making a pot? Are you thinking about how it's forming, or what you're doing with your hands, or is it more intuitive?
OTTO HEINO: It's more intuitive. I capture what's in the cylinder on a big piece. Only when I do it, in dinner sets, I have to weigh each ball of clay, to make soup bowls. Now if it's an order, I have to weigh the clay and make the same size all the time. So it's a discipline. But when I'm making a big piece, I just capture what's in the cylinder, because everything's based on the cylinder. You make the cylinder first, then you shape it. I just glance back and I know what I can make out of it. The clay suggests what I can make out of it.
ELAINE LEVIN: Do you think about what glaze you're going to put on it?
OTTO HEINO: After I finish it, yes.
VIVIKA HEINO: I think it goes through anyone's mind, an idea of what they're going to do.
ELAINE LEVIN: As they're working on the pot.
VIVIKA HEINO: I've been so fragmented so many times, where I have to teach. And also I find that California is demanding on me for many things. Maybe because there's work to do outside, which we both like as a hobby, the garden. But I do have interruptions. That's why I love the salt kiln because I make it, and I see it. I just visualize it and I can put the slip on, and it's done. All I have to do is maybe trim it. It goes into the kiln and you don't put a glaze on it. Maybe you put one on the inside, if it's something, a covered jar. In the porcelain I usually know what I'm going to do. But many of the big things -- right now I've been doing a series of a lot of big plates. I want to decorate them. I've done a lot of irons under celadons on stoneware, which I've never done before. I work in a series, but sometimes I don't get to decorate them until the next day instead of when you should.
ELAINE LEVIN: So the momentum is lost for you?
VIVIKA HEINO: Lately we don't do too much socially because this is our life. We don't want to be exhausted. You know too many people anyway, but you just need to have a continuum.
ELAINE LEVIN: Do you still find . . . ? I know you continue to do workshops, do you have a certain stimulation from . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: We don't do that many, maybe a couple a year. I love it. I really get going. I said to Otto, I really miss the teaching, because I got so excited down there. I felt it among the students.
ELAINE LEVIN: At the Rio Honda workshop.
VIVIKA HEINO: At the Rio Honda. And the first week of April we go to Walla Walla, Washington. I did one before at a junior college. This is at Walla Walla College. A young man, he got his master's degree at Otis, with Luckman Glasgow. Luckman bought all his students up here and we sat around. They brought their lunch. I had a letter from every one of them. The most concerned questions were from the girls. If they could make a living and what about women being in the crafts. Some of them said that one of the things we had discussed about being a potter and so forth had taken place down there. This boy came up and I let him copy the plans for our salt kiln. He's built one up there. Then he's written and asked us to come up.
ELAINE LEVIN: What about women in pottery? When you were in it, was it accepted?
VIVIKA HEINO: I never felt that there was any question until ten or fifteen years ago. You did what you did. Not until after the War, when men began going into education and they taught grammar school and they taught high school. That used to be a woman's job. When they got in, the women got pushed out. But I never had a feeling when I was a potter; there was never anything at Alfred you couldn't do if you were a woman, or afterwards or in New York. Then there was that great influx of all G.I.'s who went back to Alfred and all these other places. Suddenly the men were floundering. But there are a lot of young women in it now. But of the past, who do you think of, if you think of Karen Karnes, and Toshiko Takaezu, and ourselves. Maybe Ann McKinnell. But you think of her more as Jim and Ann McKinnell.
ELAINE LEVIN: I think that there are young women in it now.
VIVIKA HEINO: Many young people now.
ELAINE LEVIN: But there was a period in which it had a macho appearance for a lot of women.
VIVIKA HEINO: They started the N.C.E.C.A. I was on the first board. We got a letter from Ted Randall. We went to Toronto when they had the American Ceramics Society meeting there.
ELAINE LEVIN: What year was that?
VIVIKA HEINO: 1960. That was the first meeting we had. The Perkinses were there. That's how I really got to know them. They came to Alfred for their degree after I left. I'd known about them. We also knew each other, but we never met people until either the conference or this. This was just a group of people that went. Dan Rhodes was there, Ted Randall was there, Glen Nelson, Harvey Littleton, Val Cushing, Don Fritz, the good friend of mine -- at the Chicago Art Institute -- Leah Balsh and myself. We got the thing going and we divided it all up. But for ten years of that organization they never had a woman in it. They never had a woman officer. I was to do the West. I'd write all these letters and I wouldn't get an answer. Then somebody else, a man, would do it. I don't know whether this had a lot to do with the group. I think maybe Ted Randall wanted to keep it around Alfred, because for about five or six years he was chairman. Then it began to go. Now I feel there's something about it that's a little self-destructive. They give fellowships now. But they give it to the person who's been a chairman. Or they've given it to another one. It seems to be a closed shop. But for a long time they didn't have any women. I met Bill Daily when I went to Syracuse, at the show. He said, "I don't know whether you heard or not, but I gave a talk on women potters." He said, "I showed slides of yours." I said, "Where did you get them?" He said, "Oh, out of magazines or wherever you get them." He had Karen, Toshiko, and I don't know whether he had Cynthia Bringle or not, and myself. I guess he included Ruth Duckworth, who really isn't American. She's British, but she's worked here so many years.
ELAINE LEVIN: Besides the fact that women seemed to be somewhat excluded at that point, what was the need for N.C.E.C.A.?
VIVIKA HEINO: The greatest need was the first meeting. It was like the Asilomar meeting. All these people you'd known or read abut or seen their work, suddenly we met.
ELAINE LEVIN: N.C.E.C.A. stands for the National Council of Ceramic Art Educators, or education for the ceramic arts.
VIVIKA HEINO: But everybody was a known potter that was in that group. I didn't go to the Washington one, but I went to several after that one. The one in Rhode Island and Philadelphia. Then they began to get wholesale job hunting things. It began to be a real raucous thing. They had so many kids that were coming.
OTTO HEINO: Looking for jobs.
VIVIKA HEINO: There were almost 2,000. But it was more like 50 or 60 when we went. Karl Martz was at one. I'd talked with Karl since 1939. Out of that group many of us made very good friends. We had known of the work but had never met.
ELAINE LEVIN: The American Ceramics Society didn't fill a need for the people.
VIVIKA HEINO: I think it did, because they had good meetings. But some of the people didn't want to be aligned with it. We didn't go to that meeting when they voted not to join the American Ceramics Society, because they always used to give an award, the highest award, and the only award that we got in the United States was the Binns Medal which was given to people. Maggie Cable got it and Poor got it and Likens got it. Schreckengost and different ones, and it really meant something. They had a good design meeting because I enjoyed it when I went to them. But they seemed to want to withdraw because they felt they didn't get any support. They're supporting themselves now. What difference would it make? That's the only meeting we didn't go to. We didn't go to Washington, D.C. when they voted it. Because I was very adamant about them pulling out. And Mr. Venturi has done so much. He's been a potter in the United States and he's seventy-eight now and still working. He was very active in that. He's trying to get it going again. He was out here last year, but they don't understand it. You get the abstracts and you get that literature. When I was in New York I heard of a potter out here who did dinnerware and used 04. He didn't fire high enough. They didn't know that at the time. Someone had been married here and was given a dinner set. They moved to Atlanta, Georgia and became very ill. The doctor finally diagnosed it. It was lead poisoning. They traced it back to the dinner set, to Bullock's or wherever the store was. They were really out of business. The American Ceramics Society sent in and said they really would help. They would fight our battles. It's nice to belong to something of stature.
ELAINE LEVIN: At this point is the American Ceramics Society . . . ?
VIVIKA HEINO: It's not as active now. It could have been the potters group of the Ceramics Society. Now, I don't know. The last time they had this big conference with 2,000 people. It's also joined now with the workshops in Pennsylvania, "Super Mud." It was exciting.
OTTO HEINO: Most of the people were only looking for jobs, to teach.
ELAINE LEVIN: The original idea was to be able to get ceramic teachers together, to share problems.
VIVIKA HEINO: And most of them were potters. There really isn't an organization for potters, per se.
ELAINE LEVIN: How would you want it to function?
VIVIKA HEINO: Information, exchange of information, getting together, although most people don't want to go to meetings. There's so much information now. But I think it would be more interesting. You see, the educators go from a different angle. Don't forget, they all have a good living without potting.
ELAINE LEVIN: But most of the educators I know are known for their potting.
VIVIKA HEINO: But how many pots do they do? I don't want to sound negative in any way, but many of those pots are only five a year.
ELAINE LEVIN: That sounds like a small number, but that may be the case for some potters, that's true.
VIVIKA HEINO: I don't mean like Voulkos, or someone like that, who's a potter more than he is a teacher. I remember talking to Tony Prieto once. I said that I'd much rather be known as a potter who teaches than a teacher who pots. Because at that time there were a lot of people that didn't. There are some who do a lot, but I think many of the things you see from teachers are done when they have a little more time. I didn't mean that they didn't work, some only do five, some do more, but they still don't have -- which I wish we didn't have -- the pressure of knowing you live by it.
ELAINE LEVIN: And yet, you love to teach.
VIVIKA HEINO: Yes, but where can we teach here? The workshops are great, or we have classes that come up. Bakersfield always comes down when their kiln fires the last in the summer, and I always do something. The American Ceramics Society is coming up in April.
ELAINE LEVIN: Is there anything you haven't done in pottery that you'd like to do, or any goal you want to reach at this point?
VIVIKA HEINO: I just want to work in the studio quietly until I see what comes out now. I feel I have such a potential and I'm always harassed to get out work for either a show or for our salesroom or orders. I would just like to develop things that I want to do. I think it's a little easier to develop when you're working. When I taught, I'd get an idea and then I'd throw it out as a problem. Then it was students and I never wanted to do it, because I'd seen it done. I would just like to throw and see what comes out of it, follow the clay's lead.
OTTO HEINO: I like achieving a lot, every day. But I hope to get more out every year, different things. So now we'll be working on trying to achieve something out of salt glaze.
VIVIKA HEINO: I'm a little concerned right now. When I go to some shows I see one woman does one thing and somebody does one thing and somebody does something else. I wonder if it's wrong to be interested in all phases of ceramics, and go from one thing to another. I wonder if you're established enough to be known by one line. I don't know. I've been going through that a lot thinking about it. But then, when you look at someone like Voulkos, whom I greatly admire as a friend and as a potter, he's always changing and doing something. You know it because of the strength of the work. Maybe something's coming out of all these new plates that I've been doing. But I don't get slides enough so I don't have records of the things. They go as soon as I make them. People say isn't that good. But on the other hand, I can't see it always from the beginning to the end.
ELAINE LEVIN: Where do you think ceramics work in clay is going?
OTTO HEINO: It's going to achieve a higher level because the people have a living quality to it. It's going to be better, because, if a depression comes, people will buy a pot to satisfy their ego or soul. Because it's peaceful, even in the depression, you sell more pottery or more art than any other time.
VIVIKA HEINO: I started in the Depression, the end of the Depression.
OTTO HEINO: There will always be a place for pottery.
VIVIKA HEINO: We're going to have a turnaround. We're going to come back. I don't know how to say it. Right now I feel that everybody is trying to be so different. I don't know how much of it comes from inside and how much comes from trying to be something different. I'm just not sure. I don't know the people. I don't know their working ways, their philosophies. But it seems sometimes that everybody is doing what will shock. It's not that I don't enjoy it. But I just wonder how long that can go on, and how different they can get. They're doing it for a show, or they're doing it and then you see these . . . what do they do every day, if they're potters? As long as it's got substance, it's all right. But sometimes I'm curious.
ELAINE LEVIN: Would you like to tell me your maiden name?
VIVIKA HEINO: I was Vivien Place. I was married to Ivan Timiriasieff in San Francisco. He gave me my first kiln. It was in San Francisco. I started working as Timiriasieff. I used to sign "Vivika" all the time. So when we were married, we used Vivika and Otto. I felt if people saw Vivika, it would establish it was me. Because at that time I was one of the . . . you know, from New York and from Alfred.
ELAINE LEVIN: That's something else you should mention, the fact that you sign your pots with both names, no matter who does it, who made the pot. Why is that?
VIVIKA HEINO: I signed them always Vivika. I don't why we started.
OTTO HEINO: It just happened.
VIVIKA HEINO: We started working. When we were first married, Otto started glazing the things and mixing the clay and so forth. I made them and I guess I included him. It was very interesting. I took a pot somewhere and I signed Vivika. I had to take it off and put Vivika and Otto on it. It didn't seem . . . .
ELAINE LEVIN: Right?
VIVIKA HEINO: . . . inside. Those things that I did for that commission in the East. I had to do a lot of things that somebody wanted me to do. They knew me as Vivika but I put Vivika and Otto on them.
ELAINE LEVIN: So your collaboration is complete because it's on the bottom of every pot as "Vivika and Otto."
VIVIKA HEINO: We sign it different ways, though.
OTTO HEINO: I print it and Vivika writes it.
VIVIKA HEINO: But sometimes he doesn't sign his big pots and he'll hold them up and I'll write it on. He'll sign some of mine, the porcelain and so forth. But lately I've been doing more porcelain.
END OF INTERVIEW
Last updated... May 27, 2004