Pewabic is a made in Detroit story that is deeply connected to the history of our region.
I sometimes take my intense love of Pewabic and the arts and crafts era for granted. I have to remind myself that not everyone knows what Pewabic is. Often people don’t realize that what they are seeing is a Pewabic tile, vase or something else, made right here in Detroit.
So I headed over to the studio and did some research to put together these 10 interesting facts about Pewabic. Maybe after you’re done reading this, you’ll love it as much as I do.
1. Pewabic was started in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Horace Caulkins
Caulkins had invented the Revelation Kiln, which was small and portable. Stratton was a china painter and was looking for a small kiln. It was kismet.
2. The first studio was located in Brush Park
The “Stable Studio” was in the carriage house of the Ransom Gillis House. Just one more reason to love that building.
3. The pottery grew quickly
In 1907 the studio moved to the current location on East Jefferson, across from Waterworks Park. The studio was designed by the architectural firm Stratton and Baldwin.
4. Mary Stratton was more interested in creating interesting glazes than throwing pottery
One of the things that make Pewabic so interesting is the unique luster and iridescent glazes. Stratton discovered the iridescent glaze in 1909.
5. The Guardian Building isn’t the only place to find Pewabic
You can find Pewabic all over Metro Detroit. You can find Pewabic at Comerica Park, Trinity Lutheran Church, The Detroit Library, Cranbrook, People Mover stations, and soon the Q-Line stations.
6. The largest commission isn’t actually in Detroit
It’s in Washington D.C at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It took Stratton seven years to finish the Crypt Church and Stations of the Cross. The tiles also filled 14 shipping containers.
7. Pewabic is still a working pottery and they turn out a lot of product every month
The kilns at Pewabic can handle 1,800 square feet of tile every month. In fact they are adding an addition on to the studio.
8. Don’t have Pewabic in your house and want some?
It’s not just old houses that have Pewabic tiles. You can work with designers at Pewabic to create something totally unique for any place in your house. The possibilities are endless.
9. Education is really important at Pewabic
Pewabic has an education studio that offers classes for youth and adults. But most importantly they work directly with schools to teach students about ceramics.
10. Pewabic is actually a non-profit
Being everywhere in Detroit, you might think that it’s a for profit business. After all, you can buy bowls and vases and tiles from them. But in reality, Pewabic is a non-profit. All of the money raised gets plowed back into programs around art and the community.
P.S.: The 25th anniversary of the Empty Bowls Fundraiser is this year
For the past 25 years Pewabic has raised money for Gleaners by making bowls and then selling soup. Last year they raised $16,000 for Gleaners. Mark March 11, 2017 in your calendars for the fundraiser this year.
So there you have it, 10 facts about Pewabic – plus a way to do some good in the community. I could probably keep going, but I think this is a good start. Want to know more? Leave your questions in the comments.