Gladding, McBean is a huge ceramic factory in Lincoln, California. The company was established in 1875 and continues in operation today. It became renowned for the excellence of it’s architectural terra cotta, but the company also produces huge quantities of more utilitarian products, including floor and roof tiles, bricks, planters, and sewer pipes.

The factory contains many acres of production rooms, drying rooms, and kiln rooms under one roof. Some rooms are used daily for current projects; others look like they’ve hardly been touched in decades. Many areas are covered in a fine, monochrome, clay dust. Some rooms are very dark, with only a hint of reflected outdoor light; others have bright window lighting with shadows that change by the hour. Outside in the yard are many more acres of pallets loaded with finished pipes and tiles, plus mountains of excess and broken ceramics waiting to be recycled.

It’s an amazing place to explore with a camera. Photographic excursions into this historic pottery are made possible by Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento, California.