Unique Tile Applications: Pewabic Fountains Past and Present
Custom residential fountain photographed by Jim Haefner
We recently featured this colorful Metro-Detroit residential fountain installation and the excitement you all expressed for this project inspired us to dive into our past fountain designs!
Every tile project is customized to the client’s design goals. Iconic features of Pewabic tile designs including glaze color, surface texture, and accent tiles make them instantly recognizable. Many customers request designs informed by historic Pewabic tile installations. The residential fountain shown above took color and layout inspiration directly from our historic fountain found in the Detroit Institute of Art.
Historic Fountain at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Over the years, Pewabic artists, designers and glaze specialists have left their indelible impressions on the visual legacy of Pewabic tile. This legacy is ever-evolving, pulling from the past while creating new designs for future projects.
Harlequin centerpiece detail
Residential fountain commission from Pewabic’s past with a similar centerpiece
The process by which Pewabic tile is created at the pottery remains much the same. Learn more about the clay-making methods still in place after over a century of production in our blog post “Clay Making Then and Now”.
Earlier this year, Education Director Annie began collecting images of fountains from Pewabic’s past. Here are a few highlights from her findings:
Women’s City Club fountain (left) and Schulze School fountain (right)
Earhart fountain at Concordia University
We’ve also been looking back on custom historic work that remains a staple for many Detroiters when they think “Pewabic Tile”. Pewabic has been commissioned for a few large-scale fountains over the years–– notably the James Scott Memorial Fountain that resides on Belle Isle State Park and the Rainbow Fountain on Cranbrook’s campus.
James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle State Park
Detail of the Scott Fountain built in 1925 featuring Pewabic Tile
The tiles have since been removed during major repairs to the fountain. An early sketch of the fountain’s original layout is available in our Pewabic Prints collection. “Sea Star” tile design sketch from the Scott Fountain
Crab tile design detail
Rainbow Fountain on Cranbrook’s campus
The Rainbow Fountain was restored in 2004. It was first constructed in 1916 by George Gough Booth along with architect Marcus Burrowes. Pewabic tile was added a few years following its initial build. The fountain got its name from the radiant rainbow the spray of water would cast across the structure at sunset.
Co-Founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton laying out the Rainbow Fountain tile design
Pewabic Tile Tech Supervisor Brett lays out a new tile design at the pottery
Share your favorite Pewabic fountain photos or tile installations with us through firstname.lastname@example.org or by tagging @pewabic on social media. See our recent blog post to get involved in our celebration of 40 years as a nonprofit organization.
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Also in Blog
“Aretha Franklin, Rosa Parks, Gilda Radner, Martha Dodge, a list that screams Detroit’s defining women. Often one person is left off that list…Mary Stratton, the mother of Pewabic Pottery.” explains WWJ 950’s Zach Clark in a segment for International Women's Day this year. Zach Clark took a look at the century-long legacy of one of Michigan's finest artists with Pewabic’s Education Director and Archivist Annie Dennis and the Detroit Historical Society’s Manager of Education and Public Programs Kimmie Dobos Wolfe. You can listen to the full story here.
As we honor the 155th anniversary of Mary’s birth, we are thrilled to celebrate her life, legacy and impact on Detroit, Michigan, and beyond.