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Artisans on the Islands

With the support of the Wrigleys Family, who were owners of Catalina in the early part of the 1900s, an artisan industry flourished on the island for a time.

William Wrigley, Jr., the generous benefactor of the Island - and friend of the local residents - sought to create year round employment for the residents and opened a tile and ceramics plant at Pebbly Beach that became recognized nationally as the producers of exclusive ceramics and tiles. There was also a blacksmith shop established, and a furniture manufacturing operation. They developed a distinct Catalina style that was sought after across the country.

The tile and ceramic operation produced tiles that decorated streets, fountains, storefronts, and patios in Southern California - and even the tile-lined pool of the Phoenix, Arizona Biltmore Hotel, also owned by the Wrigleys. Department stores from Marshall Fields to Wanamakers featured Catalina Island ceramics, which also included vases, tables, floral pieces, and tableware in soft pastels with a satin finish that has since become highly collectible internationally. The red tiles for the roofs of Catalina’s Spanish-style buildings were also produced as the factory.

Local clay and talc were used for the production, and glazing techniques of exception skill set the ceramics apart from others being produced in the twenties and thirties in California. The factory was closed at the beginning of World War II. The molds used to make the ceramics were purchase by a mainland factory after the war by Gladding McBean Pottery who continued to produce the Catalina Pottery and Tile line in Los Angeles for ten years after the end of Word War II.