Inside Pewabic, a timeless staple in Detroit

- The name Pewabic is known around the world and the artisan pottery is a Detroit original.

Founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton was an innovator, and that continues to show today in the ceramics produced inside her studio on Jefferson Avenue.

"We date back from 1903 and this building was built in 1907," says Steve McBride, Pewabic's executive director. "So, to actually come to a national historic landmark building and actually see work being made continuously using a lot of the same traditions and equipment that we used 100 years ago is something that you just don't see anymore.

The company has had a massive influence in Detroit. You can see detailed tilings in homes throughout the region. You can also find them in Detroit's landmark buildings like the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Guardian Building and even Comerica Park. This is why the artists pay close attention to every detail.

"It could potentially last centuries; it's going to be around forever," says Pewabic Glaze Development Specialist Alex Thullen. "We have to be thinking about if people are going to want to live with this object for a long period of time and pass it on potentially to somebody else."

The landmark studio fosters a progressive environment, celebrating new artists and innovative work while providing opportunities to explore, experiment and invent.

"I like just sitting and making," says Pewabic's vessel making supervisor, Nicole Marocco. "It's the making that does it; it's not the finished product; it's not the rest of it. It's the making. I really enjoy that part."

Pewabic continues to redefine it's role in the community, expanding it's outreach and education and finding new ways to make ceramics relevant and accessible to people of all ages and skill levels.

"This year we're also launching a new program called the Pewabic Street Team, which is traveling mobile clay museum. We've got portable kilns that we're making so we're able to do pop-up and do clay parties throughout the city and get people really excited about some of the work we do," says McBride.

The building is open seven days a week and the public is invited to register for tours or classes. The artists say it's an experience you won't forget.

"There is something to be said for, in such a digital and technological world, having something very analogue and very hands-on in your life," says Marocco.

For more information on Pewabic, visit www.pewabic.org.

Pewabic's annual Garden Party is also this weekend, June 8-11. The House and Garden Show kicks off Thursday evening with preview party fundraiser. It continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday with tours, live demonstrations, live music and more. You can get more information and purchase tickets at www.pewabic.org/gardenparty/

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