Last month while visiting family in Michigan, I had a whole day to hang out with just my parents. That doesn’t happen very often, as my trips are usually quick and fully scheduled. I had warned them that I wanted to play tourist on my visit, if only for one day.
My husband had finally convinced me to take a longer trip instead of running in, doing a Tasmanian devil for three days and running out…only to return home drained of energy and completely wigged out. I almost doubled the length of my normal trip and it was a relief. MY HUSBAND WAS RIGHT. Not only was I not a complete disaster when I came home, I got to spend lots of time with my nephew.
So with a free Friday and my parents all to myself, we did some exploring and it was totally awesome! I love Detroit. LOVE. IT. I know that probably has a lot of you giving this the side glare like whaaaaaatt? But just wait. I’ve got some really cool stuff to show you that’ll have you wanting to add Detroit to your travel bucket list. It might take me some time, but I will make a Detroit convert out of you!
First stop, Pewabic Pottery. Now I know that when you think of Detroit, pottery is not the first thing that comes to your mind. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t on my mind either until I was reading an article that mentioned tiles from Detroit that were decorating a building at Rice University. On further inquiry, I discovered that this Pewabic Pottery was a really big deal. I started following their Instagram account and have subsequently become completely obsessed! It was number one on my list of places to explore, so that’s were we headed!
So here’s the DL on Pewabic Pottery. It’s a design studio that was founded by Mary Chase Perry Stratton and her business partner Horace James Caulkins in 1903 at the height of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Together they combined their love of arts and science to create a distinctive type of pottery known especially for its iridescent glaze. The pottery and tiles where highly sought after and can be found on buildings all over the United States including Herzstein Hall at Rice University in Houston, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. Basically…it’s kind of a big deal!
Of course these unique tiles can be found all over Detroit as well. Some of the more famous installations can be found at the Detroit Zoo, the Henry Ford Museum and Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. Pewabic tiles also adorn the inside of many of homes in Detroit. When we were visiting the show room, one of the designers told us that people sometimes throw away Pewabic tiles when they are renovating because they don’t realize how valuable they are. On the other extreme, people will save tiles and bring them in to find out if they are Pewabic, because they know some of the tiles could be worth tens of dollars or more each!
The awesome thing about the Pewabic Pottery studio is that in addition to continuing to create new and unique tiles and ceramics, it’s also a functioning school. They offer ceramics classes, host exhibitions for artists from all over the United States and offer design and fabrication services. Design experts can create one of a kind pieces that range from individual tiles to full bathroom designs! If you’re in love with tile, you’ll definitely want to scope out some of the behind the scenes videos on their Instagram feed!
I hope this post got you at least a little curious (or even excited) about Detroit and what it has to offer. There are so many gems in this city. This was one was hidden to me until now, but that is the beauty of being a tourist in your hometown!