Editor's note: The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University provided the following texts to Resource Library. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:



 

Pewabic Pottery: Patronage, Private Residences, Public Buildings, Sacred Spaces

June 1 - September 29, 2007

Pewabic Pottery: Patronage, Private Residences, Public Buildings, Sacred Spaces opens at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum June 1, 2007 and extends through September 29, 2007. The exhibition is curated by Thomas Brunk.

Brunk says: "Pewabic Pottery was one of Michigan's most important manifestations of the International Arts and Crafts Movement. Begun in Detroit at the turn of the 20th century, Pewabic set a standard in studio pottery. This exhibit presents an overview of Pewabic's significant contributions in a thematic manner with a section devoted to Pewabic tile work in the Saginaw Valley area. Most of the examples in the exhibit come from private collections. Some have not been exhibited in decades."

Related events

Opening Reception:
Friday, June 8, 2007
5:00-7:30 p.m.
Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum
RSVP by June 4, (989) 964-7082
 
Gallery Talk in the Museum
Thursday, June 21, 2007
7:00 p.m.
Pewabic Pottery: The American Arts and Crafts Movement Expressed in Clay
Thomas W. Brunk, Ph.D., Art and Architectural History

 

 

Exhbition catalogue essay:

 

Pewabic Pottery: Patronage, Private Residences, Public Buildings, Sacred Spaces

by Dr. Thomas W. Brunk

 

Pewabic Pottery was one of Michigan's most important manifestations of the International Arts and Crafts Movement. Begun in Detroit at the turn of the 20th century, Pewabic set a high standard in studio pottery. This exhibit presents an overview of Pewabic's significant contributions in a thematic manner with a section devoted to Pewabic installations in the Saginaw Valley area. Most of the examples in the exhibit come from private collections. Many of these objects have not been exhibited in decades.

The story of Pewabic Pottery is that of the collaboration of two highly motivated scientific and artistic individuals who joined their abilities in a common undertaking. Without the partnership of Horace James Caulkins and Mary Chase Perry there would be no Pewabic Pottery. Caulkins' Revelation China Kilns and Perry's artistic talents were the matrix from which Pewabic Pottery emerged.

The uniqueness of Pewabic Pottery lies in the empirical methodologies embraced by Perry and Caulkins. They traded on the novelty of glaze effects created by harnessing chemical mixtures and firing processes. Their goal was to achieve a certain dependability of production without an industrial control of the process.

"Painting with fire," as Perry called their work, is more than a cute phrase. This represents their artistic response to complicated mechanical and chemical processes, and further defines their Arts and Crafts ideal of creating useful and beautiful objects. Their work was standard enough to fit prescribed needs yet unique enough to stand respectfully defiant on their own merit, and in the face of an ocean of mass-produced art pottery.

Pewabic created simple objects with unique glazes rooted in ancient ceramic tradition, yet made freshly their own. Perry and Caulkins were not afraid to harness modern technology as a tool to be used by consummate crafts people without sacrifice of their artistic qualities.

Pewabic's governing aesthetic was profoundly influenced by friendships with Charles Lang Freer, Ernest Fenelossa, and Arthur Wesley Dow. Mary Chase Perry followed the credo that "simple shapes live throughout the ages." Experimentation, glaze development and embracing new technologies continued at Pewabic into the early 1950s. This synergy made Pewabic Pottery a conundrum from the beginning and remains part of its enduring charm.

Our vision of the challenges faced by Caulkins and Perry as aspiring studio potters is jaded by advanced technological innovation. Today, the ceramic process is quite different. While small in its output, the surviving jewels of Pewabic Pottery's creation remain as bright stars in a clear night sky -- beacons of the spirit of the American Art Pottery Movement.

Mary Chase Perry (1867-1961, later Mrs. William B. Stratton) was born in the remote mining village of Hancock in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Her father was a physician and surgeon to the miners working the Pewabic, Franklin and Quincy copper mines. A series of events brought her family to Detroit in 1882 where she began her study of art in earnest with local artists. Five years later she embarked on a two-year study at the Cincinnati Art Academy under sculptor Louis T. Rebisso and others. Here she became acquainted with the women who began Rookwood Pottery and the ceramic art movement in Cincinnati.

Perry later was an influential member of the National League of Mineral Painters and Detroit's Keramic Art Colony. A prominent teacher of overglaze china decoration and drawing, she had a fine national reputation as an artist.

Always yearning to go beyond the primitive limitations of available technology in studio ceramic work, her break came when she met Detroit dental trade supplier Horace James Caulkins (1850-1923). Caulkins was marketing high-heat furnaces and kilns for the dental trade and was anxious to capture the growing market of china decorators. In 1896, Perry agreed to travel about the country calling upon her many ties in the national community of china decorators to demonstrate and sell Caulkins' Revelation Kiln. This enterprise was successful, but Perry wanted more.

Caulkins and his men continued to develop new kiln technology for pottery and underglaze firing. This was exactly the track Perry wanted to follow. By 1900 they established a laboratory in the basement of Caulkins' business where they experimented with clay bodies and firing techniques. After further studies and tours of commercial potteries in eastern states, Perry and Caulkins rented an unused carriage house where they established their atelier pottery works in 1901. Perry was the artistic force and Caulkins the kiln expert and businessman.

Perry held informal exhibitions of her work from time to time during the next years, and then in October of 1903, Pewabic Pottery was introduced to the public. Caulkins and Perry were proponents of the Arts and Crafts Movement and founding members of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts in 1906. The movement's principles guided their artistic endeavor. Pewabic Pottery never standardized their ware nor published any catalog of vessels or tile. Although Mary Chase Perry Stratton lived thirty-eight years longer than her business partner, the joint vision never dimmed.

This exhibit has no pretense of being comprehensive in its scope. The four themes-Patronage, Private Residences, Public Buildings, Sacred Spaces-allow a glimpse at larger groups of work. Interwoven is a chorus of vessels that speaks to a particular aspect of clay art. The "Pewabic Timeline" provides a guiding context for the various themes and groupings within the show.

Featured are some remarkable examples, including two rare Revelation Pottery vessels, Miss Perry's first successful iridescent glazed vessel, pieces from the collection of Charles Lang Freer, and a robust collection of William B. Stratton's ceramic art. The groupings present specific aspects of Pewabic's many artistic, technological and cultural contributions.

Gratitude goes to my long-time friend and colleague Marilyn Wheaton for asking me to be curator; to Thomas Trombley for his help with the Saginaw Valley Pewabic installations; to Tara and David Chicatelli for their personal support; and to Alvaro Jurado, Blake E. Ray, Robert J. Rucinski, David H. Spear, and the Pewabic Society, Inc. for lending generously from their collections. Finally, I thank my "learner" and friend Joaquin Guadarrama, Jr. for his careful restoration of the roundel from the Griswold House Hotel Bar.

I feel delight and great honor having been invited to organize and curate this show. I first met Marshall Fredericks in the mid-1950s as a small child through an "adopted" Danish aunt. Later in life, I had the pleasure of belonging to the Prismatic Club of Detroit with Marsh and enjoyed him on a very different level. William B. Stratton was a member of the club, and in the clubhouse there is a superb Pewabic Green tiled fireplace flanked by two spittoons made by Mr. Stratton for the Prismatic Club in 1934.

I sincerely hope that viewers will gain as much pleasure from the exhibit as I have had in organizing the show.

 

Catalogue Introduction

by Marilyn L. Wheaton

Pewabic Pottery is a studio for the design and production of custom architectural tile and vessels, and a center for the advancement of the ceramic arts. It was founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry (later Mrs. William Stratton) and her partner, Horace Caulkins, developer of the Revelation Kiln. The Pottery, a Tudor Revival building designed by William Buck Stratton, was built in 1907 on its current site at 10125 East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit.

Throughout the 1970s I worked in the Midwest Area Center of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, which was housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts. One of the great collections of American art papers that were loaned for microfilming to the Archives during that period were the Pewabic Pottery records, 1891-1973. I had the good fortune of processing and cataloguing those historic records.

It was during the many weeks of sorting and reading correspondence to and from Mary Chase Perry Stratton, files on commissions, consignments and exhibitions, and looking at dozens of photographs of beautifully glazed ceramic art, interior and exterior views of the Pottery, and Stratton working in her studio that gave me my first glimpse of the importance and historic significance of Pewabic Pottery.

The day I returned the loaned records to Pewabic Pottery on East Jefferson, I fell in love with what I experienced: Heat emerging from indoor and outdoor kilns where ceramic art pieces were being produced; shelves in galleries filled with beautifully glazed pottery and tiles for sale; a sense of history in the making; and the knowledge that I could return to the Pottery anytime to purchase a work of art.

It was during this time I met Thomas Brunk, Curator of the exhibition, Pewabic Pottery:Patronage, Private Residences, Public Buildings, Sacred Spaces. Dr. Brunk, a top authority on the history of Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Pewabic Pottery, also has a stunning and extensive private collection of historic Pewabic pieces.

We are fortunate to have Dr. Brunk curating this exhibition, and I am grateful for his enthusiasm for the Museum's galleries where the exhibition is on display.

When I joined the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum as the Director in October 2006, one of the things I noticed immediately was a striking photo of Fredericks' Siberian Ram (located in the Detroit Renaissance Center People Mover Station). Irene Walt's Art In The Stations, The Detroit People Mover publication describes the art installation this way: "Michigan sculptor Marshall Fredericks' Siberian Ram stands before an elegant arched backdrop of Pewabic Pottery tile donated by the Stroh family. The artist coordinated the final bronzing of the piece to match the lush green hue of the historic tile. The silent strength and the soothing presence that emanates from the sculpture, enhanced by the merging tones of the tile and bronze, impart a sense of stability and endurance."

I knew that first day at the Museum that a historic Pewabic Pottery exhibition at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum would bring honor to the artistry of both Marshall Fredericks and Mary Chase Perry Stratton, two of Michigan's most cherished artists.

The following individuals have my gratitude for their commitment to helping make this important exhibition a reality: Jill Allardyce, Thomas Brunk, David Chicatelli, Sara Clark, Geoffe Haney, Tim Inman, Terese Ireland, Andrea Ondish, Robert Rucinski, David Spear and Thomas Trombley.

 

Pew Section labels for the exhibition

 
 
Section One - China painting and Underglaze Decortation
 
 
China Painted Pieces
 
Charger, overglaze decoration by Mary Chase Perry, c. 1895
15 _" Dia. x _" H
Painted on a French china blank marked "CFH" / a line / "GDM" / "FRANCE" ­ Charles Field Haviland, Gérard, Dufraissex & Morel [1881-1900].
Signed: "M C Perry"
Collection of the Pewabic Society, Inc., 2004.2.15
 
Saucer, overglaze decoration by Mary Chase Perry, c. 1895
7 _" Dia.
Painted on a French china blank marked "T & V" (in an oblong box) with "France" under the box ­ Tressmanes & Vogt.
Signed: "M C Perry" and "Perry (obscured)
Collection of the Pewabic Society, Inc., 2004.2.11.
 
Small vase decorated by Mary Chase Perry, C. 1895.
3" H x 3" W
Floral and ribbon motifs on shoulder with ochre strip around shoulder and vertical banding surrounding base
Paper medallion label "Pewabic Detroit"
Not in catalog
 
China Painting by Florence Lewis, Cassell & Company, Ltd., 1884
Book belonging to Mary Chase Perry
 
Two boxes of Fry Colors for china painting and miscellaneous tools of a china decorator
 
 
Underglaze Decoration
 
Revelation Pottery squat vase, 1904
3 1/4"H x 4 5/8" W, 1 1/4" W at neck
Underglaze lotus leaves decoration by Mary Chase Perry
Stamped "Revelation Pottery Detroit, MCP"
 
Revelation Pottery vase, c. 1904
3 _" H x 3 7/8" W
Underglaze decoration by Mary Chase Perry
Stamped "Revelation Pottery Detroit, MCP"
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Pitcher with handle, c. 1904
4" H x 6 1/4" W including handle
Underglaze decoration by Mary Chase Perry
Paper "PEWABIC" bar label
 
 
Section Two - Early Glazes
 
 
Matte green glazes
 
Tall vase, 1903
9 _" H x 6" W
Modeled lotus leaves and stems by Mary Chase Perry, Pewabic's matte green glaze; sketch of vase in Grueby's 1903 pamphlet introducing Pewabic.
Impressed Maple Leaves mark
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Bowl, 1903
5 1/2" H x 7 1/2" W
Modeled lotus leaves and stems by Mary Chase Perry, Pewabic's flowing matte green glaze
Paper "PEWABIC" bar label
 
Tankard with handle, c. 1904
4 1/2" H x 4 1/2" W including handle
Pewabic's flowing matte green glaze
Impressed Maple Leaves mark
 
Low bowl, c. 1904
4 _" H x 6 _" W
Modeled four-leaf floral decoration applied by Mary Chase Perry; Pewabic's flowing matte green glaze
Impressed Maple Leaves mark
Collection of David H. Spear
 
Small conical vase, c. 1904
3 _" H x 3 _" W
Pewabic's flowing matte green glaze
Paper "PEWABIC" bar label
 
Low bowl, 1903
2 3/4" H x 6 1/4" W
Modeled floral decoration by Mary Chase Perry, Pewabic's flowing matte green glaze
Impressed Maple Leaves mark
 
Free-form plate, c. 1904
13 1/2" W x 3 5/8" H
Gray semi-matte glaze and blue specks
Impressed Maple Leaves mark
 
Globular vase, c. 1906
7" H x 8 1/8" W
Gray semi-matte glaze and blue specks
Impressed Maple Leaves mark
 
"Snowdrop" vase, c. 1904
5 _" H x 4" W
An early copper glaze reduced to pink iridescence
Mark obscured by glaze covering base
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Small vase, c. 1904
6 _" H x 4 5/16" W
Yellow-orange flowing matte glaze
Unmarked
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Vase, c. 1904
9 1/2" H x 4 1/4" W
Celadon green-blue-white flowing matte glaze
Impressed Maple Leaves mark
 
Vase, c.1904
8 1/4" H. x 5 3/4" W
Blue and white flowing matte glaze
Medallion paper label "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Vase, c.1904
6 3/4" H x 5" W
Multiple brown and green flowing matte glazes
Impressed Maple Leaves mark and Medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia letters
 
Snail-shaped ink well and lid, c. 1903
6" W x 2" H with lid
Two-toned, ivory and brown flowing matte glaze
This was Miss Perry's ink well and was shown at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904.
Medallion paper label "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Low bowl, c. 1904
3 _" H x 5 _" W
Two-toned, ivory and brown flowing matte glaze
"Pewabic" hand-inscribed and "PEWABIC" incised in reverse
 
"Crème Pompadour" jar with lid, 1906
3" H (with lid) x 2 5/8" W
"Stearns Bright Blue" glaze. This was Pewabic's first attempt to bring the Arts and Crafts Movement's ideal of incorporating beauty into the arena of commercial packaging for the Frederick K. Stearns & Company. These "Crème Pompadour" jars first appear in the Pewabic Pottery Daybook on July 2, 1906 at $9.00 per gross. A total of 10,494 jars are recorded in the Daybook from 1906 through April 1908. These jars were challenging to produce for the fledgling atelier.
Bottom raised letters: "Stearns / Perfumer / decorative line / Detroit"
 
Oval box and lid, 1908
3 _" L x 2 7/8" W x 2" H
"Roman Holiday" box made to celebrate opening of the pottery on Jefferson Avenue, Detroit. This is a molded piece of buff Pewabic clay wiped with brown slip
Incised from the mold "Pewabic Pottery / Detroit / 1908
 
Lamp base, c. 1904
15 _" H x 10 7/8" W
Geometric key design carved by Mary Chase Perry; two-toned, ivory and brown flowing matte glaze. The original leaded glass shade was discarded by the purchaser's family during the 1950s in favor of a cloth shade.
Impressed Maple Leaves mark
 
Pentagram-shaped with carved ribs "Electrolier" lamp base and leaded-glass shade, 1904
13 _" H (including shade finial) x 5" base. Shade dia. 8"
Base was carved by Mary Chase Perry; Pewabic's flowing matte green glaze. The leaded shade was designed and made at Pewabic using Kokomo Opalescent green and white glass.
Three sets of impressed Maple Leaves marks and paper medallion label "Pewabic Detroit" with "16.00" written with pencil in center. This price was for the base only..
 
Vase, c. 1910
14" H x 10" W
"Rabbit's hair" brown glaze with white steaks; semi-matte glaze
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
Collection of Blake E. Ray
 
Section Three - Iridescent Glazes
 
 
Tall vase, c. 1908
9 1/4" H x 5 1/2" W
Japanese influenced shape with Pewabic's "Blue Matte 201" glaze
Impressed medallion "Pewabic Detroit" mark and medallion paper label "Pewabic Detroit" in large black letters with "800" penciled in center
Collection of Robert J. Rucinski
 
Vase baluster shape with flared rim, c. 1909
5 _" H x 4 1/8" W
Thin copper iridescent glaze with un-reduced copper green splashes
Impressed medallion "Pewabic Detroit" mark
 
Tea bowl, c. 1909
2 _" H x 4 _" W
Delicate copper iridescent glaze with un-reduced copper green passages inside
Impressed medallion "Pewabic Detroit" mark
 
Bowl with globular shape and throw marks, c. 1909
7" H x 9 1/3" W
Copper-red iridescent glaze
Impressed medallion "Pewabic Detroit" mark. This pot is shown in Mrs. Stratton's wedding photograph.
 
Bottle with long neck, c. 1910
9" H x 5 _" W
Crackled iridescent glaze
Impressed medallion "Pewabic Detroit" mark and Medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia letters
 
Bowl, c. 1912
4 1/4" H x 6 3/8" W
Thin copper-red iridescent glaze with red geometric decorations underglaze, Persian influence
Medallion paper label "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Bottle with long neck, c. 1912
11 _" H x 5 _' W
Delicate matte iridescent glaze dripping about shoulder in shades of purple
Two impressed medallion "Pewabic Detroit" marks
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Chalice, c. 1912
7 _" H x 5 _" W
Rose-green iridescent crackled glaze,
Partial medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia letters
 
Bottle, c. 1914
8 7/8" H x 6 1/8 W
Pear-shape design with Persian influence, matte copper-red iridescent glaze with brithe blue lights
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Lantern hanging light fixture, c. 1915
6 7/8" H x 5 3/8" W
Reticulated butterfly design, matte green-gold iridescent glaze with violet passages
Unmarked
 
Bottle, c. 1915
6 1/2" H x 4 1/2" W
Bright copper iridescent glaze with various matte copper lights
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Bowl with flared sides, c. 1915
2 1/3" H x 4 1/8" W
Extraordinary iridescent glazes, nacreous gray inside and finely crackled silver-violet exterior
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Vase, c. 1915.
7" H x 4 _" W
Varied matte iridescent blue glaze over matte Blue 201 glaze, golden highlights on lip
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Vase baluster shape, c. 1918
15 _" H x 9" W
Brilliant deep blue iridescent glaze over matte Blue 201 glaze, pronounced throwing marks and foot
c with "#1" written in center, a second medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" with "MARY CHASE STRATTON" written by Mrs. Stratton in center, and a strip of cloth tape with "#120"
 
Vase with bottle neck, c. 1918
12 1/2" H x 6 1/2" W
Mottled blue-black dripped iridescent glaze
Medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia letters
Collection of David H. Spear
 
Bottle with two squared handles, c. 1918
11 _" H x 7" W
Semi-bright black glaze
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Pair of baluster shape vases, c. 1920
9 _" H x 4 _" W
Varied copper red-green iridescent glaze with bright and matte finishes, delicate crackle
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
"Egypt Blue" iridescent baluster vase with flaring lip, c. 1920
11 3/4" H x 7" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Bowl, heavily green shoulder, mottled violet-white base, c. 1920
6" H x 6 1/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" and medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery"
 
Bowl, copper iridescent glaze, c. 1920
4 3/16" H x 5 _" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
Anonymous Loan
 
Baluster vase, silver-gray iridescent glaze, c. 1920
9 _" H x 6 7/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Vase, baluster shape, gold iridescent glaze, c. 1925
3 3/8" H x 3 1/4" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Pp Detroit" and medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery"
 
Vase, baluster shape, delicate violet-green iridescent glaze, c. 1925
10 _" H x 7 1/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Vase, baluster shape, yellow glaze with streaked gold iridescent glaze over, c. 1926
9" H x 3 _" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Low bowl, throw marks, "K-4" blue interior, Chinese red exterior, c. 1930
7/8" H x 3" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Vase, deep purple iridescent glaze, c. 1930
4 _" H x 4 _" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit," glaze covered
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Baluster vase, "K-4" blue glaze, c. 1930
11" H x 7 3/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Wall planter, "F-99" black matte glaze, c. 1930
5 3/8" L x 4" W x 4 _" H
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" with 14.00 handwritten in center
 
Lamp base, bee hive shape with pale blue glaze, c. 1935
11 _" H x 10 3/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" glaze covered
 
Pair of bottles, Art Deco style, light blue-green, c. 1935
5 _" H x 3 3/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Bowl, quatrefoil molded, gold iridescent glaze inside and copper turquoise outside, c. 1935
8 _" L x 5 5/8" W x 3" H
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Pp Detroit"
 
Cup, mottled blue-black iridescent exterior and a silver iridescent interior, c. 1940
4" H x 3 7/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Pp Detroit"
 
Vase, copper-red bright iridescent glaze dripped over silver-gold matte, c. 1940
2 _" H x 3 _" W
Medallion paper label "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Bowl with frog, violet iridescent glaze, c. 1940
3 _" H x 5 3/8" W; frog 2 1/8" W x 1 _" H
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Hexagonal glaze sample plaque set in gold iridescent glazed frame, c. 1940
10 _" W x 8 15/16" W
Unmarked
 
Free-form dish, gold iridescent exterior and bright blue-green interior, c. 1945
13 _" W x 3" H
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Leaping gazelle pin, iridescent glaze, 1945
3 1/8" L x 2 15/16" W x 3/8" T
Unmarked
 
Victory pin, wreath and letter "V", iridescent glaze, 1945
1 5/8" W x 1 5/8" L x 3/8" T
Unmarked
 
Leaf broach and earring set, iridescent glaze, c. 1945
Broach 2 3/8" L x 1 _" W x 3/8" T; earrings _" W x 3/8" T
Unmarked
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Bowl, bright, deep violet blue iridescent glaze, c. 1950
3"H x 7 _" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" and medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia letters
 
Bottle, brilliant copper-red glaze with turquoise lights, c. 1950
3 3/8" H x 2 7/8" W
"PP" hand incised and evidence of medallion paper label
 
Cigarette box and lid, peacock design, turquoise and grey iridescent glaze, c. 1950
5" L x 3 _" W x 2" H with lid
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Pp Detroit" and medallion paper label "Pewabic * Detroit *" with "8.00" handwritten in center
 
 
Uranium and chrome - orange and yellow glazes
 
 
Pewabic's orange pieces were usually made using a uranium-based slip over a pre-fired bright yellow or bright white glaze creating a delightful crackle effect. Some were made using a chrome-based glaze. These objects were generally produced in the decade from the mid 1920s to the mid-1930s and Mrs. Stratton exhibited her orange pieces grouped in a one cabinet.
 
Vase with small flat lip, c. 1915
4 _" H x 3 _" W
Orange chromate glaze over bright yellow glaze, bright yellow interior
Impressed medallion mark Pewabic Detroit
Collection of David H. Spear
One-handled pitcher with streaked orange glaze, c. 1920
4 3/4" H x 3 3/4" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Bowl, flared, orange with iridescent glaze over, drips inside gathering in bottom, c. 1920
8 3/8" W x 4" H
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Small vase, dull red chrome oxide glaze, 1925
3" H x 3" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" with impressed dot in center
 
Baluster shape vase, uranium orange glaze over bright yellow glaze, c. 1925
7 5/8" H x 5 5/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Bottle, long neck, orange glaze over bright yellow glaze, c. late 1920s
12 1/8" H x 7" W
Unglazed bottom with "Pewabic" and "18.00 16.00" handwritten in pencil and a medallion paper label "Pewabic Detroit" in sepia with "188" written in red ink
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Orange gourd shape, footed vase c. late 1920s
8" H x 6 _" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Small bulbous vase, "Bough Red" Glaze over F99 black matte glaze, c. late 1920s.
3 3/4" H x 3 3/4" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
 
M1, M2, and M3 Paper Labels
 
 
Bottle vase, c. 1915
10 1/2" H x 5 3/8" W
Copper iridescent glaze with rough surface.
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"and paper medallion label "Pewabic Detroit" with "10000" penciled in center and "M1" penciled under "Detroit." This pot was purchased by Ella Peters, Mrs. Stratton's assistant, in January 1938 for $100.00.
 
Tea bowl, copper-red iridescent, c. 1915
2 _" H x 6" W
Impressed medallion mark Pewabic Detroit" with impressed dot in center, "M1" paper label and remains of a paper medallion label "Pewabic Detroit."
 
Bottle, baluster shape with high neck ring, c. 1920
8 _" H x 5 _" W
Green-violet iridescent glaze
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" with "40.00" penciled in center, "M1" paper label
 
Vase, globular, 1924
6 _' H x 7 _" W
"Grey with violet-rose lights
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit", medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia with "60.00" penciled in center, and an "M1" paper label
 
Small jar with frosty green-brown semi-matte iridescent glaze, c. 1915
4" H x 3 1/2" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit," medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia and an"M2" paper label
 
Bowl, dark matte green exterior and violet-gray iridescent interior, c. 1920
4 1/4" H x 10 3/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit," two medallion paper labels "Pewabic Detroit" one with "#9 50.00" written in the center and the other with "M2" written in center
Vase, globular, copper-red iridescent glaze, c. 1925
7 _" H x 6 _" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit," a medallion paper label "Pewabic Detroit" and an "M2" paper label
 
Tea bowl, light green glaze and nacreous iridescent glaze inside, c. 1925
"M2" label
1 _" H x 4 _" W
 
 
William B. Stratton (1865-1938), Architect and Potter
 
Small, twisted neck vase with carved leaves, c. 1930
5 _" H x 2 7/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
William B. Stratton
 
Vase, multiple iridescent glaze firings with crackled finish, October 1932
5 _"H x 5 _"W
Inscribed "Oct. 1932 WBS for John Challis," impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Pp Detroit"
William B. Stratton
Collection of David H. Spear
Not in catalog
 
Vase with K-4 glaze and carved diagonal marks, c. 1933
3 5/8" H x 3 _" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit," inscribed WBS, an medallion paper label "Pewabic Detroit" with "not for sale" penciled in center
William B. Stratton
 
Bowl with green iridescent exterior and blue interior, 1933
3 _" H x 6" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Pp Detroit" and "1933 WBS" inscribed
William B. Stratton
 
Scarab Club Box and lid, gold iridescent glaze, 1934
2" H x 7/8" W
Inscribed "Scarab Club 1934 PEWABIC W B STRATTON
William B. Stratton
 
White globular bowl with "Crude White" glaze and impressed geometric decoration, c. 1935
9" H
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" and inscribed "1935 WBS"
William B. Stratton
Collection of the Pewabic Society, Inc.
 
Vase with carved edelweiss blossoms, "Crude White" glaze, c. 1935
9 _" H x 6 5/8" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
William B. Stratton
 
Small oval purple iridescent bottle with vertical lines, c. 1935
5 _" H x 3 7/16" W
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
Attributed to William B. Stratton
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
Tall bowl with semi-matte gray glaze, 1935
6" H x 7 7/8"
Semi-matte gray glaze, form following principles of Dynamic Symmetry
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" with hand inscribed "1935 WBS"
William B. Stratton
 
Christmas card tile, c. 1935
2" H x 3 _" W x 5/8" T
Molded with embossed animal design in colors; impressed in reverse "GREETINGS FROM WM. & MARY CHASE STRATTON"
Unmarked
Collection of David H. Spear
 
 
Tile
 
 
Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit, floor sample, 1908
21 _" x 22 _" x 2 _"
One of a series of floor sample plaques made for architect Ralph Adams Cram and the trustees of the Church of St. Paul
 
Five embossed tiles, c. 1910
Each aprox. 1 _" x 1 _"
Typical of those embossed tiles used in both ecclesial and domestic installations
Collection of Alvaro Jurado
 
Circular plaque of two seated monks toasting, 1910
16 _" Dia. x 1 _" T
Sculpted by Mary Chase Perry for the center of the Griswold House Hotel Bar, Detroit, northwest corner of Griswold Street and Grand River Avenue, demolished 1959.
Restored by Joaquin Guadarrama, Jr.
 
"In Detroit Life Is Worth Living" tile, c. 1910
4" x 4"
This tile was made for the Detroit Board of Commerce and features the Detroit skyline with the old wooden bridge to Belle Isle. Featured in its corners are hammers representing the construction trades, a winged wheel for the automotive industry, leaves for agriculture and an anchor for the maritime interests. This tile is the only original known and is now frequently reproduced by The Pewabic Society, Inc.
Field tile, c. 1912
4" X 4"
Pewabic's "Egypt Blue" glaze first fired with Pewabic's Blue Matte 201 then reglazed using an iridescent glaze to obtain the depth of color. A typed exhibition label is glued to the reverse "PEWABIC POTTERY (Mary Chase Perry
(H. J. Caulkins
2261 Jefferson Avenue,
Detroit, Michigan"
 
One tile, 1916
4" x 4"
A semi-matte brown glaze, this tile is from the fireplace in the Society of Arts and Crafts Building, Watson Street, Detroit. The building was demolished in 1976.
Collection of Alvaro Jurado
 
Embossed tile, c. 1917
4" x 4"
Two seated monks contemplating a champagne glass, gold iridescent glaze with violet highlights. This tile is found in the entrances of the old Cass Technical High School, Detroit, MI
 
"Chi-Rho" modeled tile, c. 1920
6" x 6"
Pewabic's "Egypt Blue" glaze, Christian monogram formed from the first two letters X and P of the Greek word for Christ, also called a Christogram.
 
Circular Pelican Plaque, c. 1920
8" Dia. x _" T.
Like that in the sanctuary of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit. The pelican biting its breast to feed the young birds is symbolic of the role of a cathedral church.
 
St. John, the Evangelist (eagle) tile, c. 1920
8" x 8"
Bright copper red glaze; there is a tile of the same design in the sanctuary of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit
 
Two sea horses made for Scott Fountain, Belle Isle, Detroit, 1925
15 _" L x 13 _" W x _" T,
Comprised of nine units so made to reduce tile setting time.
Collection of Tara and David Chicatelli
 
Souvenir oval tile, s, 1925
4" L x 3 7/8" W
Made for Leonard P. Reaume, president of the Detroit Board of Realtors.
"Pewabic Pottery" molded along tile's edge
 
Moses tile, c. 1926
12 _" L x 4" W
Gold iridescent glaze, made for the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC
 
Souvenir medallion tile, 1935
3 1/8" Dia.
"Detroit" skyline, copper-red glaze, blue sky and water
 
Alexis V. Lapteff (1905-1991), Architect and Artisan Apprentice
 
Pair of unglazed figures sculpted by Alexis V. Lapteff, c. 1935. Each sculpture depicts a young boy riding a horse-like creathre with a fish-tail.
Boy with his left arm and hand outstretched
A yellow glazed test tile supports horse's chest.
11 _" L x 8 _" H x 3 _" W
Pencil signed "ALEXIS LAPTEFF"
 
Boy with his left arm out and hand pointed toward his chest
10 _" L x 9 _" H x 3 3/8" W
 
 
Case one - Patronage
 
 
Charles L. Freer Pieces - Patronage
 
Gourd-shape tobacco jar with lid, 1903
6" H x 4 3/8" W
Ivory and brown "flowing matte" glaze
Made by Mary Chase Perry and exhibited at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. Given to Charles L. Freer by Mary Chase Perry.
Freer's paper inventory labels
 
Vase with peacocks, baluster shape, c.1904
11" H x 5 1/4" W
Peacocks painted under glaze by Miss Perry, gold iridescent glaze. Gift to Charles L. Freer from Miss Perry when he acquired Whistler's "Peacock Room."
Impressed bar mark "Pewabic"
 
Miniature bowl, c. 1906
2" H x 2 5/8" W
Blistered, blue-black iridescent glaze
Unmarked
 
Oval box (lid missing), 1908
2" H x 2 7/8" L x 2 _" W
Gray iridescent glaze
Freer's paper inventory labels: "5538" above "2289"
 
Small jar without neck, 1910
4 1/2" H x 3 _" W
Varied purple-blue iridescent glaze
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Vase with sloping sides and foot, 1917
6" H x 5 5/8" W
Volcanic purple iridescent glaze over Pewabic's black matt "F-99"
Impressed medallion mark "Pewabic Detroit" and Freer's inventory number "6523" painted in orange on inside of foot.
 
 
Iridescent Glaze beginnings (Patronage case)
 
 
Tall vase, c. 1905
13 1/2" H x 6 1/2" W
Early iridescent glaze experimental slip-cast vase; uneven dripped glaze with passages of Pewabic's nascent copper-red iridescent glaze
Unmarked
 
Small experimental bowl, c. 1905
2 _" H x 3 _" W
Experimental iridescent glaze on a slip-cast form similar to "First Iridescent" vessel; blue, Rose-silver iridescence emerging from reduced black semi-matte glaze.
Medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia letters
 
Bowl, "First Iridescent - 1906"
2 1/8" H x 3 _" W
Nacreous semi-matte gray glaze with brilliant violet passages on a slip-cast form. Mrs. Stratton sent this vessel to the Detroit Institute of Arts for consideration as an addition to their Pewabic holdings. On her handwritten list of objects prepared June 4, 1946 she sketched and described this piece as "First Iridescent - 1906."
 
Vase, c. 1908
5 7/8" H x 4" W
Semi-matte silver-blue iridescent glaze dripped over brown glaze, distinct throw marks, no lip
Handwritten in pencil: "TANBA[?] & BLUE"
 
Four "bull-nose" tiles embossed with geometric designs, c. 1910
3 _" L x 3" W x _" T with 2" lip
Red iridescent; gold-rose-blue iridescent; silver iridescent; and gold iridescent glazes; similarly glazed tile were made for Freer's gallery fireplace in 1911.
Unmarked
 
Vase, c. 1910
4 _" H x 4" W
Multiple iridescent glaze firings creating a rose-green gold crackled finish
Medallion paper label "Pewabic Pottery" in sepia letters with "7.50" penciled in center
Collection of David H. Spear
 
"Han" style jar with lid, c.1928
9" H x 4 15/16" W
Imitation of Han grain jar with three animal-form feet and lid
Impressed medallion "Pewabic Detroit"
 
Bowl, c. 1915
3 5/8" H x 5" W
Copper iridescent glaze with crackle
Mark glaze covered
 
Bowl, c. 1915
3 3/8" H x 5 _" W
Deep blue-gray glaze with volcanic copper passages around mouth
Mark glaze covered
 
Photographs
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919) by Edward Steichen, 1916.
 
Pewabic Pottery exhibition at the Detroit Museum of Art, c. 1925.
 
 
A monumental Pewabic Pot from the Freer Collection displayed on the sideboard in Whistler's Peacock Room, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1929
 
Eliel Saarinen Residence Living Room Fireplace
Cranbrook
Bloomfield Hills, MI 1930
The Cranbrook Architectural Office commissioned tile for the living room fireplace in the new Headmaster's Residence in 1929. Mrs. Stratton worked according to Eliel Saarinen designs to produce the dark brown, half-octagon tile and the silver border. The particular brown glaze was the forty-second trial in that color. The fireplace was completed for the Dining Room of "The Architect and the Industrial Arts Exhibition" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1929. After the close of the exhibition, the fireplace was installed in Saarinen's living room at Carnbrook.
 
My IRIDESCENT has been developed from a fortunate beginning into the present stage, always uncertain but less so each time.
 
It is an expensive glaze to make.
 
I have received honorary degrees from the U. of M. and Wayne University mainly from the qualities beyond the usual in the various uses of my Iridescent glazes.
It gives me an additional item in the make up of color combinations as in mosaic and color pattern decorations, a most decided advantage over competitors. In quality this glaze approaches the nearest to the effect produced by the long rest in the earth of the pottery of Persia and China, and it is from the experts in these fields that I have received the greatest friendship and encouragement which, of course, is one of the most satisfactory experiences of my life.
Mary Chase Perry Stratton
 
 
Panel Two - Private Residences
 
 
Dodge-Gray Residence Entertainment Room Fireplace Alcove
Historic Indian Village, Detroit, MI
 
Auto magnate John F. Dodge commissioned Smith, Hinchman & Grylls to design and erect a mansion on Iroquois Avenue in Detroit's Indian Village district for his daughter's wedding gift. A Tudor design was settled upon and Pewabic was commissioned to create tile for the vestibules, the sun room floor and ceiling, and the entertainment room fireplace and alcove floor. While the work throughout is exceptional, it is the entertainment room fireplace that is most interesting. Perry created a rich effect through careful juxtaposition of color, surface texture, and form. The fireplace and floor tile are unglazed, oxide-tinted oblong tile interspersed with smaller bright iridescent decorative tile, quite effective with the reflection of a blazing fire. The central panel is bounded by small blue unglazed tile. Across the top and bottom of the panel is a row of five four-inch modeled tile depicting various entertainment activities, among them cards, dice, darts, chess, fencing, croquet, and racquets. In the center of the panel are four sculpted, vertical panels each with a different woman dancing - Egyptian, Classical, Ballet, and Folk. These panels are of oxide-tinted brown clay with colored slip glazes, giving a subdued matte finish. This is a superb installation from the point of view of design, ceramic technique, and harmony with intent and location.
 
Roscoe B. Jackson Library Fireplace
Historic Indian Village, Detroit, MI
Leonard B. Willeke, architect, 1918
 
Stan Hywet Hall Garden Room Fountain
Akron, OH 1916
A wonderful garden room installation was completed for the Frank A. and Gertrude Penfield Seiberling residence "Stan Hywet Hall" at Akron, Ohio in 1915-16. Seiberling, a founder and president of the Goodyear Rubber Company, began this mansion on his 3,000-acre estate in 1911. Charles S. Schneider of Cleveland was selected as the architect and H. B. Huber served as the interior decorator. Typical of the wealthy, Seiberling took his architect and decorator to England to see first-hand old English manor houses for inspiration. Mrs. Stratton later wrote that Stan Hywet Hall embodied "...the best traditions of Gothic architecture."
 
Pewabic was commissioned to design and produce a large wall fountain and the floor paving for the Fountain Room. Perry's inspiration came from the English legend of St. Keyne of Cornwall as recounted in Robert Southey's poem, "The Well of St. Keyene." According to the legend, St. Keyne spent her life performing good deeds in the West Country some five hundred years before the Norman conquest. She is remembered there by the well bearing her name. At the time of her death, she imparted magical power to the well's waters. Whichever of a married couple should drink of the well first would rule the household.
 
In Perry's interpretation, there is a wedding party who has come upon the mythical figure of St. Keyne holding forth a broken Roc's egg from which bubbles a spring of water. Perry prepared a sketch of this her scheme and presented it to Frank A. Seiberling. He was delighted with the concept, but made one stipulation that the bride's eyes would show a look of triumph!
 
The wall fountain is nine feet high by ten feet wide and the room is seventeen feet wide by thirty-seven feet long. This was the first time that Perry undertook a sculptural decoration in half relief. A wooden frame was erected at the pottery upon which Perry modeled the clay directly. After a couple of failures, she perfected the technique. Once completed the panel was cut into pieces that could be fired safely. A number was inscribed on the reverse of each section in order to put the puzzle together in between firings and finally at the job site.
 
Perry's initial idea was to have the water gently pouring from the egg. However, Mrs. Seiberling felt that for realism the water should be allowed to gurgle from the shell like a real spring. The sound of the rushing water adds to the vitality of the Fountain Room.
The central figure of the fountain is St. Keyne holding the broken Roc's egg in both hands. The egg is glazed with a wonderful silver iridescence in contrast to the largely unglazed background of the fountain. This iridescence gives a special sparkle to the water rushing over the edge of the egg. The left half of the design features the kneeling bride, bearing a slight smile, with her hands outstretched toward the bubbling egg with two maidens standing at her back. The kneeling groom and two standing attendants occupy the area at the right of the design. One of the standing figures has a falcon on his arm and the other is resting on one knee with a barking dog nearby. The background is filled with tall trees, small animals, and random-placed incised sketches depicting medieval occupations.
 
The fountain is the focal point of the room and occupies an end wall. The floor paving consists of unglazed buff and brown tiles in various sized squares and oblongs arranged in a geometric patters. Glazed embossed tile are randomly set in this field. The whole gives a most harmonious effect with the brick and plaster walls, warm brown woodwork and ceiling beams.
 
 
Panel Three - Public Buildings
 
Michigan Art Building
 
An installation that demonstrated Perry's ability to interpret a landscape into a tile mural was the fireplace for the Michigan Art Building, executed for the Michigan State Fair between 1905 and 1908. Unlike painters who see the final colors as they are applied, potters must depend on their knowledge of glazes and the test of fire to visualize their results. Each tile was one-foot square and glazed with a soft matte finish. A tall green pine tree with a dark brown trunk flanks each side of the fireplace. Converging golden yellow hills and a soft gray sky complete the background. The tile installation was 8 1/2 feet tall and 7 feet wide. The fireplace opening was 2 1/2 feet by 3 feet wide and the hearth was 2 feet by 7 feet. Firing tile of these dimensions requires a keen understanding of the material and firing process to avoid breakage, cracking or severe warping. This fireplace exhibited the basic characteristics of Pewabic tile: rounded edges and an undulating surface set with wide grout. Miss Perry's impressionistic treatment is sculptural and the fact that each tile was handmade is clearly visible. The effect is refined and elegant. The location of this superb Arts and Crafts installation in unknown.
 
 
Union Trust Building
Lower Banking Room
Detroit, MI
Matte glaze in blues, greens, buffs and reds, travertine walls
Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, architects, 1929
 
Chancery Building
Vestibule ceiling,
Detroit, MI
Donalson & Meier, architects
 
Architects Donaldson and Meier commissioned ceiling and floor tile for the vestibule of the Detroit Diocesian Chancery Building on Washington Boulevard in November of 1924. The square groin vault ceiling had a field of unglazed blue tesserae with black inserts. Four Evangelist tiles create the central square with the twelve octagonal tile each bearing a sign of the zodiac radiate in groups of three from the center of the design. Bands of modeled iridescent 2 by 2 inch tile border the composition and complete an inner tracery design. Alternating three-inch units of red and black frame the groin edges. This remarkably handsome ceiling installation is now covered over. The commission cost $1,269.32 when completed in 1925.
 
 
Detroit Public Library
Storybook Fireplace
Detroit, MI, 1918
 
Pewabic's storybook fireplace was the focal point of the Children's Department with its ten storybook tiles designed by Mary Chase Perry Stratton. The tales represented are: Pocahontas and John Smith; Alice in Wonderland; Ulysses; Tar Baby and Brer Rabbit; Hansel and Gretel; The Tin Soldier; Bottome and Titania; Alladin and the Lamp; Mowgli and the Bear; and Robinson Cursoe. Across the top is a conventionalized frieze illustrating Æsop's fable of the Owl and the Birds. Each of the storybook tiles have both incised and modelled designs that skillfully juxtapose bright colors with unglazed portions. The ten panels are tied together with a border of iridescent tile, and the entire installation is bordered with strips of the unglazed blue clay that was used to form the tesserae of the mosaics.
The idea was to avoid a too fixed theme. Therefore, we made attractive pictures that children will not tire of. There is always something for them to discover in the abstract design.
 
Above the fireplace is Frederick J. Wiley's relief-mural map "A Tale of Michigan" illustrating the state's history and legends in blue and gold. The simplicity of the design for the Children's Room fireplace contrasted with the complexity of the mosaics for the loggia clearly demonstrate the versatility and sophistication of Mary Chase Perry Stratton as an artist.
 
 
Society of Arts and Crafts
Withrell Street and Watson Street fireplaces.
 
Called the "soul of the room," the broad chimney breast, unbroken by any shelf, was tiled from the hearth to the ceiling with warm, unglazed red and brown Pewabic tiles, a gift from Perry and Caulkins. The tiled hearth was bordered with brilliant, small iridescent tile animated by the flickering flames to remind the craftsmen to "Keep the fire alive." The only other adornment on the fireplace was the monogram of the Society of Arts and Crafts designed by Alexandrine McEwen. Comprised of small, iridescent Pewabic tile, it was placed at a proper vantage point high on the chimney breast. Tile-setting was a gift of Craftsman member and profession tile worker George Mehling who installed many Pewabic tile commissions. The formal opening was on Friday, December 1, 1911.
 
George G. Booth offered a parcel of land on Watson Street to the society where their building could be erected. William B. Stratton and H. J. Maxwell Grylls offered to design the new building, free-of-charge, and Pewabic Pottery pledged to supply tile for fireplaces and the brightly glazed chimney pots. The building opened in 1916 and was demolished in 2006.
 
 
Women's City Club
Swimming pool
Detroit, MI
William B. Strartton, architect, 1922
 
 
Panel Four - Sacred Spaces
 
 
Cathedral Church of St. Paul 1909-11 *
4800 Woodward Avenue at Hancock
Detroit, MI
1910-11; [1012:0875-0927]
Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, architects
George D. Mason, Detroit, Associate Architect
 
 
Church of the Most Holy Redeemer
1721 Junction at Vernor Highway
Detroit, MI
Donaldson & Meier, architects, 1921-23
 
 
Christ Church Cranbrook
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Mayers, Murray and Phillip, architects, 1926-28.
 
 
North Woodward Avenue Congregational Church
Now St. John's Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
8715 Woodward Avenue at Blaine
Detroit, MI
Baptistery lunette, mosaic and floor and tympanum ­ "Love" and "Law."

Pewabic Pottery Timeline

 
1850 Horace James Caulkins was born at Oshawa, Ont., a British subject, son of William and Elizabeth Ann (Burns) Caulkins, Jr.
 
1867 Mary Chase Perry was born at Portage Lake, Hancock, MI.
 
1881 Frederick Perry moved his mother and sisters to Detroit where he opened the Detroit Drug Co.
 
1886 Caulkins purchased the Michigan Dental Depot (established in 1877 by Frank S. Ackerman) to form the Michigan and Detroit Dental Depot, 29 & 31 State Street, home of the Michigan Dental Depot.
 
1887-88 Perry studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy under sculptor Louis T. Rebisso (1837-99). She met Mrs. M. Storer, Miss Newton, and Miss McLaughlin. Storer was then a student at the Academy. "Then came two broke years with a few months of each at the Cincinnati Art Academy worked until became ill and joined my mother and sister in Asheville, NC," from Mary Chase Perry's Autobiography.
 
1897-99 Perry traveled to various cities including Cincinnati, Chattanooga, Chicago, Omaha, Des Moines, New York and Boston demonstrating and selling the Revelation China Kiln. She was also active in the National League of Mineral Painters.
 
 
1901 Perry toured major potteries of the Ohio Valley and eastern states: Weller, Zanesville, Merrimac, Cook, Lenox, Vodrey, and Grueby. The Cook Pottery, Merrimac at Newburyport, MA, The Ceramic Art Company, The Vodrey Pottery Co., Knowles, Taylor & Knowles, East Liverpool Pottery Company. Perry rented an unused carriage house and set up her ceramic studio on Alfred Street and John R in Detroit.
 
1903 Pewabic Pottery opened its books.
 
1904 Pewabic ware exhibited in the First and Second Annual Exhibitions of Applied Arts at the Detroit Museum of Art.
 
1906 Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts organized - Caulkins, Perry and William Stratton, architect, served many years in various officer positions. First successful iridescent piece was produced, a result of the influence of Charles Lang Freer on Miss Perry. Ground was broken for new pottery building on East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit.
 
1907 New pottery building opened.
 
1909 Pewabic's six iridescent glazes were announced.
 
1918 William B. Stratton and Mary Chase Perry were married in the home of Horace J. Caulkins on Parker Avenue in Detroit.
 
1923 Horace J. Caulkins died at age 73.
 
1929 Pewabic Pottery was incorporated.
 
1938 William B. Stratton died at age 73.
 
1941 Mary Chase Stratton published her book, Ceramic Processes.
 
1947 Mary Chase Stratton received the Charles Fergus Binns Medal, the most prestigious award for ceramics. The award presentation cited her "outstanding contributions have been decorative tile for churches and art galleries," Binns was Mary Chase Stratton's first instructor.
 
1961 Mary Chase Stratton died at age 94.
 
1965 Pewabic Pottery was deeded to Michigan State University by Henry L. Caulkins, son of Horace J. Caulkins.
 
1979 The Pewabic Society was incorporated.
 
1981 Pewabic Pottery was formally transferred to The Pewabic Society, Inc.
 
2003 Pewabic Pottery celebrated its 100th anniversary.



Text panels for the exhibition

Pewabic Pottery was one of Michigan's most important manifestations of the International Arts and Crafts Movement. Begun in Detroit at the turn of the 20th century, Pewabic set a high standard in studio pottery. This exhibit presents an overview of Pewabic's significant contributions in a thematic manner, with a section devoted to Pewabic installations in the Saginaw Valley area. Most of the examples in the exhibit come from private collections. Many of these objects have not been exhibited in decades.
 
The exhibit has no pretense of being comprehensive in its scope. The four themes-Patronage, Private Residences, Public Buildings, Sacred Spaces-allow a glimpse at larger groups of work. Interwoven is a chorus of vessels that speaks to a particular aspect of clay art. The "Pewabic Timeline" provides a guiding context for the various themes and groupings within the show.
 
Featured are some remarkable examples, including two rare Revelation Pottery vessels, Miss Perry's first successful iridescent glazed vessel, pieces from the collection of Charles Lang Freer, and a robust collection of William B. Stratton's ceramic art. The groupings present specific aspects of Pewabic's many artistic, technological and cultural contributions.
The story of Pewabic Pottery is that of the collaboration of two highly motivated scientific and artistic individuals who joined their abilities in a common undertaking. Without the partnership of Horace James Caulkins and Mary Chase Perry there would be no Pewabic Pottery. Caulkins' Revelation China Kilns and Perry's artistic talents were the matrix from which Pewabic Pottery emerged.
 
The uniqueness of Pewabic Pottery lies in the empirical methodologies embraced by Perry and Caulkins. They traded on the novelty of glaze effects created by harnessing chemical mixtures and firing processes. Their goal was to achieve a certain dependability of production without an industrial control of the process.
 
Pewabic created simple objects with unique glazes rooted in ancient ceramic tradition, yet made freshly their own. Perry and Caulkins were not afraid to harness modern technology as a tool to be used by consummate crafts people without sacrifice of their artistic qualities. Their work was standard enough to fit prescribed needs yet unique enough to stand respectfully defiant on their own merit, and in the face of an ocean of mass-produced art pottery.
 
Mary Chase Perry (1867-1961, later Mrs. William B. Stratton) was born in the remote mining village of Hancock in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Her father was a physician and surgeon to the miners working the Pewabic, Franklin and Quincy copper mines. A series of events brought her family to Detroit in 1882 where she began her study of art in earnest with local artists. Five years later she embarked on a two-year study at the Cincinnati Art Academy under sculptor Louis T. Rebisso and others. Here she became acquainted with the women who began Rookwood Pottery and the ceramic art movement in Cincinnati.
 
Always yearning to go beyond the primitive limitations of available technology in studio ceramic work, her break came when she met Detroit dental trade supplier Horace James Caulkins (1850-1923). Caulkins was marketing high-heat furnaces and kilns for the dental trade and was anxious to capture the growing market of china decorators. In 1896, Perry agreed to travel about the country calling upon her many ties in the national community of china decorators to demonstrate and sell Caulkins' Revelation Kiln. This enterprise was successful, but Perry wanted more.
 
Caulkins and his men continued to develop new kiln technology for pottery and underglaze firing. This was exactly the track Perry wanted to follow. By 1900 they established a laboratory in the basement of Caulkins' business where they experimented with clay bodies and firing techniques. After further studies and tours of commercial potteries in eastern states, Perry and Caulkins rented an unused carriage house where they established their atelier pottery works in 1901. Perry was the artistic force and Caulkins the kiln expert and businessman.
Although Mary Chase Perry Stratton lived thirty-eight years longer than her business partner, the joint vision never dimmed.
 
-- Thomas W. Brunk, Ph.D. Curator
 
 
Horace James Caulkins and Mary Chase Perry
 
Horace J. Caulkins was born a British subject at Oshawa, Ontario, Canada July 15, 1850, the son of William and Elizabeth Ann Burn Caulkins. He began his business career in the dry goods business in Niagara, Ontario and came to Detroit in April 1871 to work as a salesman and cashier in the George Peck & Son store. Caulkins left this job in 1874 to work as a salesman for the Detroit Safe Company.
 
In 1877 Caulkins purchased an undivided one-half interest in the partnership of Prittie & Buffum from James F. Buffum and established the firm of Prittie & Caulkins, druggists and dental suppliers. Two years later he sold the drug, soda and mineral water aspect of the business to Prittie and organized the Detroit Dental Depot.
 
Caulkins was keenly attuned to meeting the needs of the emerging dental profession and was a founding member of the American Dental Trade Association in 1881 and served as its president for several years.
 
By 1892 Caulkins was collaborating with Detroit dentist Dr. Charles H. Land to manufacture dependable high-heat furnaces that would not generate carbonic gas and discolor porcelain teeth and crowns. Land is credited with the invention of the gold and porcelain inlay system of dentistry. Among Land's many patents was a "kiln for burning china" in 1887.
 
Caulkins was interested in the use of vaporized kerosene as a fuel for these kiln and by 1895 introduced his own kiln for china decorators -- the Amateur Revelation China Kiln No.1. Discord developed between the two men and they parted company. Caulkins continued developing kilns for the dental trade and for china decorators, jewelers' enamel work and assaying uses while increasing his national position as a dental supplier.
 
He allowed William Egle to patent the clay-muffle kiln design in 1897 under his exclusive sales agreement for the life of the patent. Caulkins asked Mary Chase Perry, a nationally-known china decorator and educator, to promote the Revelation kilns among china painters. Perry traveled about the country on behalf of the Revelation Kiln but by 1899 she felt "restless and not on any direct path toward artistic fulfillment on any nature."
 
Mary Chase Perry was born at Hancock, MI on March 15, 1867 to Dr. William W. and Sophia Barrett Perry. Her father provided medial care to the miners working in the Pewabic, Franklin and Quincy copper mines. Perry studied sculpture at the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1887-88, and in 1893 joined with a small group of women artists to form the Keramic Art Colony in Detroit. Perry was a prominent member of the National League of Mineral Painters who championed education and women's rights. She was interested in making the transition from a china decorator to a studio potter and her association with Caulkins offered promise.
 
In 1899 she partnered with Caulkins in the kiln business and they focused on developing a studio pottery kiln for underglaze decoration. Caulkins provided a balance of cash and kiln technology and Perry brought the artistic talent. A small muffle kiln was set up in the basement of the H. J. Caulkins Company where they conducted experiments on clay bodies, vaporizing kerosene as fuel, and high heats.
 
Perry toured the major commercial potteries in the Ohio Valley and Eastern states including Weller, Zanesville, Merrimac, Cook, Lenox, Grueby and Vodrey early in 1901. Confident with their research, the new Revelation Pottery Kiln was introduced in April 1901 in the New York studio of Clara Poillon. Demonstration pieces fired in this kiln were marked "Revelation Pottery Detroit."
 
Perry attended classes conducted by Charles F. Binns at Alfred in the summer of 1901 where she learned glaze chemistry, mould-making and other basic pottery production techniques. In the fall of 1901 a vacant carriage house on Alfred and John R Streets, across the alley from the Caulkins' residence, was rented and Perry began her studio pottery. Pewabic Pottery made it debut on October 8, 1903. The first recorded sale was to Burley & Company, a major art store and china white ware supplier. Burley & Company held an exhibition in Chicago and sent out a flyer announcing this new American pottery.
 
With growing success and a desire to embrace tile production, land was purchase and a new pottery building was built on Jefferson Avenue in 1906. Horace J. Caulkins, Mary Chase Perry and William B. Stratton were among the founders of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts in 1906 and their craft ethic was a common bond.
 
Pewabic Pottery never standardized their ware or tile. True to the "craftsman" spirit no catalog was every produced. Horace Caulkins died in 1923 and Perry, then Mrs. William B. Stratton, continued the operation until her death at 94 in 1961. The pottery continued under the direction of Mrs. Stratton's assistant Ella J. Peters until 1966. Henry Caulkins, Horace's son, gave the pottery to Michigan State University in 1965 as a contemporary ceramic center. The Pewabic Society, Inc. was formed in 1979 and assumed ownership of the pottery in 1981.
 
Pewabic Pottery was not a commercial manufactory. Indeed, its total gross sales from 1903 through 1966 did not exceed 1 million dollars. In comparison, Rookwood Pottery sold nearly 1 million dollars of pottery alone in 1929.
 
This exhibition has no pretense of being comprehensive; rather it is intended to show highlights of the pottery's rich artistic contributions.

 

(below: Pewabic Pottery. All images courtesy of Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum)

 

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is located at Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Road, University Center, MI 48710. Please visit the musuem's website for hours and fees.

 

Resource Library editor's note:

The above essay was reprinted, without accompanying illustrations, in Resource Library on June 7, 2006 with the permission of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.

If you have questions or comments regarding Thomas W. Brunk's essay or other texts, or if you wish to obtain a copy of the exhibition catalogue, please contact the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Marilyn Wheaton, Director, Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, for her help concerning permissions for reprinting the above texts.

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