Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 10, 2011

Party At Pewabic Pottery

Pewabic Pottery, Detroit

One of Detroit’s treasures is celebrating its 108th birthday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, March 12, and you’re invited to the party.

Pewabic Pottery, the ceramic studio and gallery just east of downtown Detroit, is a State Historic Site and National Historic Landmark, and this weekend will dedicate its Historic Marker at an 11 a.m. ceremony followed by artist demonstrations, refreshments, and door prizes.

Below is a story I wrote in June 2009, rerun here so you don’t have to bother with that pesky click to the previous entry:   Tile, Detroit Style

Two styles of Pewabic Pottery tile with the turn-of-last-century motto, "Detroit, Where Life is Worth Living"

A century ago a creative soul in Detroit experimented and worked to create something never before seen–an innovation that brought national renown to the city and its inventor. Sure, Henry Ford was tinkering with his Model T and automobile assembly line. But at the same time ceramic artist Mary Chase Perry, in the spring of 1909, introduced an iridescent glaze that had the art world agog.

Born in the Upper Peninsula town of Hancock in 1867, Mary’s long and winding road to potter’s posterity began as a girl in Ann Arbor. She took art classes and became a china painter and teacher of that popular art form. In 1893 she opened her first studio in Detroit and exhibited at Chicago’s World’s Fair; by the late 1890s the artist was traveling the country demonstrating the portable Revelation Kiln developed by her friend and business partner Horace J. Caulkin. What a woman: Imagine her on the road, carting the supplies, painting the china, and firing her creations in the hot oven, all the while wearing who knows how many layers under the long sleeved, full-skirted dresses of the time.

Vases for sale

Mary launched Pewabic Pottery in 1903, naming it  after an Indian term for “clay with a copper color.” The Arts & Crafts movement embraced her handmade vases, urns, and architectural tiles in earthy colors with a warm, uneven, human touch.

Pewabic tiles decorate floors and fireplaces, walls and water fountains in homes, churches, and commercial buildings from Detroit to the State Capitol of Nebraska and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The 1907 Pewabic Pottery studio and gallery building designed by architect William Stratton (who would marry Mary) is a National Historic Landmark. Mary Chase Perry Stratton’s contributions of more than 100 years ago continue to add beauty to the world, and are proof that there’s more to Detroit than cars.

You can visit the free museum, browse the gallery, and purchase works based on original Pewabic designs as well as art by other ceramic artists. The nostalgic, the true believers, the optimists, and collectors can buy the tiles bearing the city’s turn-of-last-century motto that still insist, “In Detroit, Life is Worth Living.” 

Paige browses the Pewabic gallery shop

Self-guided visits to the exhibits, gallery, studio and store are open to the public free of  charge, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Saturday and Noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

Check the Pewabic Facebook page for news and updates.

Visitor Info Clicks:

Pewabic Pottery


Pure Michigan



  1. I learn so much from you, as I did with this interesting post about “Pewabic”- look forward to visiting there someday.

    • You’ll enjoy it, and I’m sure you’ll find something to add to your collection of works by Michigan artists!

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