Prior to opening Pewabic with Mary Chase Perry Stratton, Horace Caulkins was an entrepreneur of dental supplies in the late 1800s. Caulkin’s dental supply business included one of his very own inventions, The Revelation Kiln. Caulkins sold his kilns to dentists for firing enamel for their patients. He was positive that his kiln would be a perfect addition to his trade business.
Caulkin’s kiln was more than an invention or a boon for his current business. The Revelation Kiln was also thing that helped shape the partnership between Caulkins and Mary Chase Stratton. About the same time he started selling The Revelation Kiln, the Arts and Crafts movement was reaching a high point in the United States. This movement was a response to industrialization. The Arts & Crafts movement focused on handmade goods. Mary Chase Stratton – a participant and believer in the virtues of the movement – purchased one of Caulkins’ kilns. Although it was intended for dental practice, Stratton used the kiln for her pottery and china paintings.
The unlikely duo, brought together by Caulkins’ ingenious invention and Stratton’s artistic mindset, started selling the kilns to ceramic artists all over America. The kilns were incredibly useful because they were smaller than most kilns, less expensive and marketed towards artists as “portable”. They were perfect for the everyday potter.
In 1903, Mary and Horace co-founded Pewabic Pottery together. Mary and Horace both worked on firing the pottery and Mary focused on glazing. Together, they had an impact on pottery in Detroit and around the United States. In 1923, Horace Caulkins died. However, his contribution to art and the ceramic community carry on today through Pewabic.