The origins of the Snowdrop Vase
It all started in the early years of Pewabic, when Pewabic Co-Founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton created Arts and Crafts style vases featuring wildflowers found in Michigan such as the common bluebell, irises, poppies, and hollyhocks. The snowdrop vase was created in that same time period (circa 1903-1905).
Photos of Pewabic historic vessels depicting different spring and early summer flowers
Pewabic’s first official order was placed by Burley and Company in Chicago, Illinois in 1903. They had a long-standing relationship with Mary Chase Perry, supplying porcelain blanks for her early china paintings. Mary Chase Perry’s records indicate that the Snowdrop was one of six “modeled vases” included in that first order.
Bottom of historic Snowdrop Vase acquired in 2005 with original maple leaf stamp
The bottom of the vase has the maple leaf stamp which was only used on Pewabic vessels made from 1903-1907.
Burley and Company logo (left) and Pewabic’s first order recorded in Mary Chase Perry’s daybook (right)
Photo of Pewabic’s first archivist, Thomas Brunk, examining the Snowdrop vase acquired by Pewabic in 2005
This historic snowdrop returned to the pottery in 2005, around 100 years after it was created, when Pewabic acquired the vase at auction. Thomas Brunk, Pewabic’s archivist at the time, can be seen examining the new acquisition with other staff members looking on.
We fell in love with the vase’s elegant shape and sculpted blooms and beautiful green glaze. Snowdrop flowers begin to emerge around the beginning of March and persist through the early weeks of April. While this flower is delicate, it is a symbol of resilience and perseverance, which aligns perfectly with the legacy of the pottery and the city of Detroit.
Master Mold Maker Sherlyn sculpting what would become the Snowdrop vase in production present day
In order to honor the legacy of this vase, we decided to recreate this historic treasure and add it to our historic collection in the store. Sherlyn, our master mold maker, can be seen adding the delicate snowdrop flowers to the recreated vase above. This model was used to create the master plaster mold we use to cast the vase today! The historic Snowdrop vase is still part of our museum collection. After the stay home order has been lifted, visit the museum on the second floor of the pottery to see this gem in person.
Historic Snowdrop vase in Pewabic’s museum collection on the second floor of the pottery
Pewabic has weathered some difficult times and continues to operate as Michigan’s only National Historic Landmark pottery. We have so many more stories to tell, and ours is far from over! We are proud to continue the legacy that our co-founders and community have helped foster.
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that resonate the most. Our handcrafted ceramics celebrate the creativity of our makers today, while paying homage to what brought us to this very moment. There’s something spectacular about holding a piece of history in our hands and in our homes. They are daily reminders that there are brighter days on the horizon and so much more to look forward to.
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BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Pewabic has operated in Detroit for over a century. We recognize the inequity our Black community faces on a daily basis and we share the grief and horror following the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others.
The challenges currently facing this nation are severe and will require all of us working together to overcome. But progress will only be made when we recognize that the pain and suffering has not been equally shared. Black Lives Matter. We stand with those calling for an end to racism and injustice. We know that we have much more work to do ourselves, but we will continue our efforts to build an organization that is welcoming to and fully reflective of Detroit's diverse community.
We’ve been mostly quiet this week, listening, but we believe that art can be a powerful vehicle for understanding. In that spirit, we wanted to share some of the work being created by Kyle and Kelly Phelps, two of our favorite artists working in clay.