Into the Breach Craft Detected

Tepco Beach, Richmond, CA

Tepco Beach is accessed down a fire road and behind a Costco in Richmond, CA. When I arrive in the late afternoon, nobody is around but seagulls and some ducks. The road slopes to the water, which I smell before I can see, and just past boulders and broken concrete, there are ceramics everywhere.

Tepco was a company in nearby El Cerrito that made basic dinnerware with cheerful patterns in the 1930s-1960s. The factory workers used to take broken stock and dump it into the water at Point Isobel, which is the actual name of the area.

The pieces are surprisingly large and I spend time guessing what was a plate versus a mug or a bowl. They are mostly sun-bleached but there is less fading higher up where there is shade. I happen to be there at low tide; the porcelain that lives below the waterline is stained green with growth, so bright that I think it is painted. Ceramics, rocks, and mussel shells all blend together and look alike, pressed into the mud. It’s very exciting to find a shard with their wordmark on it, or a tacky bit of pattern.

While the clay on this beach will never return to its original state, it serves a purpose to remind people of the area’s manufacturing roots. This is in drastic contrast to the Costco across the street that might not carry any local products at all.