You cannot miss seeing the Gladding McBean plant if you drive through Lincoln, CA on Highway 65. Simply, it just looks awesome from the outside. Better yet, once a year Gladding McBean opens its doors to the public for tours of the plant and a contemporary art exhibit of remarkable works done in ceramic. You cannot miss this either.
The pictures below should help you see why.
Starting with the factory tour:
The bread and butter of the company is producing sewer pipes like these:
Inside the furnace area.
The sewer pipes are set on these rings when they are fired so they will cook evenly.
The opening to one of the massive furnaces.
A corridor of furnaces.
However, the company really shines when it comes to producing beautiful terra cotta work and they take the most pride in this.
Gladding McBean produces a lot of commercial art intended for office buildings, museums, etc. They also happen to save the molds in case the customer ever comes back seeking repairs or replacements. Below are some examples of this type of work:
I’d love to know which building this came from (or is still on).
From back when they (BofA) were still a decent company…
A lot of the buildings on which this art was featured no longer exist. And so, Gladding McBean serves as something of a repository for an American golden age (And, yes, even though the original buildings may be gone, there is still demand for the artwork that once adorned these extinct buildings).
Lion face by Jesse Cardenas.
The workshop and mold storage area on the top floor of the factory.
It was fun riding this old-fashioned industrial elevator.
Another view of the top floor.
Some of the Gladding McBean artisans working on new molds for new customers. It’s interesting (to me anyway) to think of these incredible gargoyles, lions’ heads, etc. being installed on buildings around the world, hundreds of feet above pedestrians’ heads where few people will see them.
Jesse Cardenas working (the master artisan at the plant). The artisans work entirely by hand.
Eduardo Juarez working on a project.
A view along the bottom floor where the artisans work
FEATS OF CLAY
Half of this contemporary art show is exhibited in a beehive kiln on the ground floor of Gladding McBean. The other half is on the third floor in an adjacent building of the plant that was established in 1875. The competition amongst artists to display their work at this annual show is rather fierce (over 1,000 entries are received yearly).
Here is a view from inside the beehive kiln: The kiln’s walls are encrusted with residue from salt firings.
Shane M. Keena
Diamonds are Forever
A prickly pouring jar
White stacked ceramic squares – not an easy project
Diana J. Bjel
Earthenware, Fabric, Latex, Bees Wax
Babe in Arms Trio (That’s an RPG the baby is holding in case you can’t tell).
All of the Above, All of the Below
Eathenware, Porcelain, Mixed Media
Slip Cast, Airbrushed, Ceramic