Pewabic vase

Pewabic vase

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Before becoming an international phenomenon, the Arts and Crafts movement began with the ideas of British artisan William Morris (1834-1896) and writer John Ruskin (1819-1900). Morris and Ruskin believed that the growth of cities isolated urban workers and that mass production negatively affected artisan crafts. They proposed to solve these issues by returning to a medieval-inspired village model where everybody participated in a community lifestyle. In the United States, artisans adapted these ideas into the studio art pottery movement. Unlike their British counterparts, who often focused predominantly on social issues and therefore made objects that incorporated Gothic and Renaissance motifs, American craftsmen developed a cohesive and novel aesthetic.
Pewabic Pottery was formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1903 from the collaborative efforts between Mary Chase Perry Stratton (1867-1961) and Horace James Caulkins (1850-1932). The pottery originally produced classical forms with a distinct iridescent glaze, and the name “Pewabic” likely came from the Chippewa term for the color of copper. Stratton, who was intimately familiar with the copper mines of the Upper Michigan peninsula, used copper oxides to mimic Asian and Islamic pottery. Along with other early twentieth-century artisans like Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stratton was fascinated by the iridescent glass and ceramic forms that were being excavated in Europe, Eastern Asia and the Middle East and sought to imitate them in her own designs.
She decorated this classical urn with a signature blue iridescent glaze, achieved by coating the vessel with metallic salts before its last firing. Its spiral handles reference Roman glass vessels, which likely also inspired the blue and gold color on this particular object. Assisted by her friend and patron Charles Lang Freer, who supplied her with ancient ceramic fragments, Stratton developed a wide range of classical shapes and iridescent glazes towards the later part of her career. Her tiles adorn a number of well-known structures, including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Herald Square in New York City, and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Pewabic Pottery
place made
United States: Michigan, Detroit
Physical Description
monochrome, blue (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic (overall material)
overall: 12 in x 6 1/4 in; 30.48 cm x 15.875 cm
overall: 12 in x 6 1/4 in; 30.48 cm x 15.875 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Frank C. Miller
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object