Otto Heino, the Ojai-based master potter, educator and symbol of the midcentury California studio crafts movement who along with his late wife, Vivika, reformulated a lost-to-the-ages Chinese glaze that made him a multimillionaire, died this year in 2009. He was 94.
The Finnish American Heino, who worked in collaboration with his wife until her death in 1995, earned an international reputation for robust yet beautiful wheel-thrown stoneware with artistically applied glazes that included glossy cobalt blues, silky reds and raspy earth tones.
In the mid-1990s, he became celebrated in Asia for a buttery yellow glaze that he and his wife had labored on for more than a decade. He claimed to have been offered millions for the formula but never sold it.
Otto's work is a wonderful blending of Scandinavian modernism and Japanese folk pottery," said Jo Lauria, a coauthor of the ceramics book "Color and Fire" (2000). "He had a macho relationship with clay, and it was a badge of honor to be able to throw huge pieces, but they were always functional, emphasizing the sensuality of the glaze, the way in which it catches the light and invites you to touch it."
Heino's handmade vessels, which retain the ridges his fingers formed when shaping the clay, exhibit a style that was wholly his own.
He will be sadly missed.
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