Malibu tile is a visual reminder of an integral part of Los Angeles history; the end of the era of Spanish land grants. In the 1920s, the Rindge family fought to keep their 13,000 acre Malibu rancho intact, only to lose a court battle to prevent the construction of the Pacific Coast Highway along the pristine beach that fronted the property. The Malibu Potteries that had been built on the beach was intended to provide income as economics forced the parceling off of land. It was in operation for only six years, from 1926-1932, when a fire ravaged the factory and closed down production.
The legacy of the Malibu tiles can be seen in the colorful tilework around Los Angeles, and at the Adamson House, the beach house of the Rindge family. In its six years of production, the Malibu Potteries had left an indelible stamp on the California arts & crafts movement. Then it closed down forever.
The second family house in the hills was begun but never completed. Sold to the Franciscan Order in the 1940s, it was destroyed in a fire in 1970. The Serra Retreat was rebuilt on that site, with many of the original Malibu tiles that were recovered from both fires.
The Serra Retreat sundial was born when the Franciscans contacted me two decades later with a request: they had discovered boxes of burnt Malibu tiles that had been thrown in the basement of the Serra Retreat and forgotten. They asked, could I design and construct a tiled memorial on the peninsula, beneath the cross, and could these tiles be used?
The sundial's panels were constructed as murals out of the tiles that were useable, and many were so badly burned, I re-fired them to remove the carbon stains and bring out the original lustre and vibrancy. The sundial itself I designed to be accurate to the latitude and location, using my own tiles combined with historic pieces.
The four panels of the memorial sundial are a tribute to the seasons of life; spring, summer, fall, winter. This also mirrors the fleeting existence of the Malibu Potteries, and the retrieval and re-use of 'lost' pieces was the inspiration for the current line.