Explore Pewabic Pottery, a Historic Pottery Studio in Detroit

Modified: December 08, 2022 | Story by Max White

Along Jefferson Ave. on Detroit’s east side, an iconic building stands out. It’s Pewabic Pottery, and its’ been making beautiful pottery for more than a century in the Motor City.

Pewabic was founded in 1903 and is one of the oldest continually operating potteries in the country. The studio is on the National Historic Register of Places.

It was founded by Mary Chase Perry, who was an artist and educator, and Horace J. Caulkins, a dental supplier and kiln manufacturer.

It originally started in Detroit’s Brush Park neighborhood but moved to its current facility in 1907 because of the demand for pottery.

“Pewabic became a leader of the Arts and Crafts movement in Detroit during a time that was both a golden age for handcrafted pottery and tile and a boom in industrialization with the birth of the automotive industry,” the website reads.

Since 1981, the pottery has operated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit by The Pewabic Society with the goal of continuing pottery, ceramic design, and education.

No matter what you’re looking to do, Pewabic Pottery is a great experience for people of all ages.

Pewabic Pottery Experiences

If you’ve always wanted to get hands-on and try pottery, Pewabic also offers a variety of classes and workshops that people can take.

Winter registration is open for the first few months of 2023. The sessions include beginner hand-building, beginner wheel, tile-making, ceramic jewelry design, intermediate wheel, and open studios.

In the handbuilding class, students will learn instruction in handbuilding over the course of eight weeks. Classes include three hours of instruction, firings, glazes, a studio shelf, open studio time, and the first 25 pounds of clay to work with.

The wheel throwing class will include instruction in wheel throwing, and centering sessions are focused on mindfulness-based art therapy and clay work.

Pewabic also offers one-time experiences with their street team where they bring the Pewabic experience to wherever you are!

They have tile workshops, bulb-glazing workshops, raku firing, and much more.

When you sign up for the Explore Detroit Pass, you can save on your next visit to Pewabic.

Pewabic Pottery Artist

Pewabic Pottery by Joe Vaughn

Shopping

If you’d prefer to purchase items instead of making them yourself, Pewabic has everything you’re looking for.

They offer a variety of items ranging from tiles to home goods, and many of them have Detroit themes representing the city they’re in.

For home goods, they have vases, bowls, cups, mugs, address numbers, and prints from Pewabic.

Some of the beautiful tiles include the Detroit Opera House, Pictured Rocks, hex paperweights, maple leaves, and more.

If you’re looking to represent Pewabic, you can buy shirts, tote bags, or masks, and they also offer necklaces, earrings, ornaments, and more.

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Events

Pewabic is hosting its Holiday Showcase at the pottery running through Dec. 30. It includes ceramic art from over 50 artists around the country and also shows off the history and process of making Pewabic ceramics.

The holiday showcase runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Another major event is the Seconds Sale, which is happening in 2023. The date has not yet been chosen, so keep an eye on their website.

The annual seconds sale is for items that are imperfect. “They haven’t passed our quality assurance for a number of reasons ranging from imperfections on the glaze surfaces, unexpected color results, cracks, fractures, warping, odd shapes, or missing/incorrectly placed stamps or makers marks,” the website reads.

The sale will have items priced up to 50% off and includes vases, drinking vessels, embossed art tiles, and a selection of architectural field tiles.

Photo courtesy of Pewabic Pottery.

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