The origins of the Snowdrop Vase

April 16, 2020

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. 

Snowdrop vases in Sorrel (left) and Birch (right) currently in production at Pewabic Pottery



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