Handcrafted with Pride in Detroit

June 24, 2021

Pewabic Glaze Specialist Alex Thullen set out to create a hand-painted tile that could serve as artwork anyone would be proud to display in their home. While in discussion about what this Pride Tile would look like, Thullen wanted to make sure that the tile was being made in earnest support of the LGBTQAI+ community. Alex remarks, “It was vital to me that if we were going to produce this image, that it had to be for the right reason, and in the right spirit; a desire to support the community above all.” 


Pewabic’s new 8x12 Pride Tile (left) and 4x6 Pride Tile (right) 

The biggest design hurdle Thullen faced in the beginning was trying to find a new way to express a sentiment that the pride flag already encapsulates. “The “pride flag” is the perfect expression of this idea, representing ideas of Diversity, Individuality, and Unity. At its core, this image is so powerful and enduring because it extends beyond the LGBTQAI+ community and touches on the fundamental and universal rights that all of us struggle for: to be our most genuine and authentic selves, to express this openly, and to be not just tolerated, but loved, respected, and celebrated for who we are.” 

Snapshot of Thullen’s office where he conducts glaze testings


Each Pride Tile is meticulously hand-painted by Pewabic artisans such as Lexie (pictured above)


Anyone who knows Alex Thullen or those who are familiar with his work know that he’s a modern-day ceramic alchemist whose passion is informed by great potters and glaze chemists before him. Alex has a deep respect for the craft, but has forged his own way through glaze experimentation and the creation of original designs. The intricate color palette configuration of the Pride Tile is no exception.  


Hex Paperweight (left), 8x12 Pride Tile (center), and 4x6 Pride Tile (right) 

Alex states that “At Pewabic’s core, our identity is based in our history, and one of the focal features in that story is our greatest strength – our tradition of exceptional glazes and surfaces. 

It’s through celebrating the richness and diversity of our color palette that I felt we could best encompass the spirit that we wanted to express through this tile and create an image that not only spoke to these ideas, but said something about who we are; celebrating our uniqueness, our identity, our individuality, and our own diversity as a community of makers.”


Artist Seamus putting the finishing touches on a batch of hand-painted Hex Paperweights

Sincerest thanks to all who helped bring this tile to fruition. It was born from the ideas and  efforts of many in the trusted hands of a Pewabic artisan who continues to inspire us with his integrity and attention to detail. 

A portion of the sale of each of our new Pride Tiles will be donated to the Ruth Ellis CenterFounded in 1999, the Ruth Ellis Center (REC) has established a national reputation for quality and innovation in providing trauma-informed services for lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ+) youth, and young adults, with an emphasis on young people of color, experiencing homelessness, involved in the child welfare system, and/or experiencing barriers to health and wellbeing.

The Ruth Ellis Center's mission is to create opportunities with LGBTQ+ young people to build their vision for a positive future. What better way for this new tile design to make an impact vision is a world where LGBTQ+ young people are safe and supported no matter where they go. 


We hope this tile serves as a beautiful reminder that we are all worthy of love, understanding, comfort, and safety. As we work toward building a better future and continuing to foster a space where everyone feels welcomed, we are grateful to have the guidance and support of our incredible team of makers. In Alex’s own words, “For me, pride above all else is a celebration of our individuality and uniqueness, and the richness that this diversity adds to us as a culture.” 

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