Otto Heino: On the Shoulders of Giants
Four years before Nate Pidduck took his first pottery class, a twist of fate introduced him to the late Otto Heino, one of the region’s best-known potters. Pidduck’s grandfather was in a hospital room adjoining Vivika Heino’s, Otto’s wife and an acclaimed potter herself. Because of this arrangement, Nate’s grandmother and Otto became friends.
Otto Heino had a remarkable life, including getting shot down over Germany twice during World War II and working for NASA. In the late 1960s, he and Vivika moved to Ojai, where they had purchased a home from their former student Beatrice Wood, another renowned ceramicist. They subsequently became famous for re-creating a yellow glaze that had been popular during the Chin Dynasty. Apropos of this life experience, Otto Heino’s pottery was often described with terms like robust, macho and rugged.
Pidduck remembers Heino’s stories as larger than life and treasured visiting the studio. He still has a treasured memento of this chance friendship: a large wood-fired pot his grandmother purchased that was a collaboration of Otto and Vivika Heino.