Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Stratton, Mary Chase Perry

Mary Chase Perry Stratton was a Detroit-area ceramic artist and co-founder of Pewabic Pottery. Born Mary Chase Perry on March 15, 1867, in Hancock, Michigan, she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan with her family after her father’s death in 1877. In her early teenage years, Perry and her family moved to Detroit, where she took her first classes at the Art School of the Detroit Museum of Art, the precursor to the Detroit Institute of Arts. She also studied at Alfred University in upstate New York and at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Ohio, under Louis Rebisso, a well-known Italian-American sculptor and educator.

Upon her return to Detroit, Perry began collaborating with her neighbor, Horace James Caulkins, a ceramic artist and kiln specialist who developed the “Revelation Kiln.” The two formed a partnership in 1903 and opened their first studio in a vacant carriage house, calling it the Stable Studio. The following year, they renamed the business Pewabic Pottery. “Pewabic” comes from the Ojibwe word for metal and was also the name of a copper mine in Perry’s home town of Hancock. The company was extremely successful, fully utilizing the innovations of Caulkins’ kiln while Perry used her art expertise to design the pottery and create a new glazing procedure that made Pewabic Pottery known worldwide.

As their business increased, they outgrew the carriage house and in 1906 commissioned the firm of Baldwin and Stratton to design a new studio. The Pewabic Pottery studio and school was built on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit in 1907. Mary Chase Perry and architect William Buck Stratton were married in Detroit in 1918. Pewabic Pottery’s catalog of ceramic products included architectural tiles, lamps, vessels and more. The pottery continues to produce many products featuring Pewabic’s unique iridescent glaze. Works by Pewabic artists can be found in buildings of all types throughout Detroit, and across the United States.

Mary Chase Perry, now Mary Chase Perry Stratton, established the ceramics department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and also taught at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1947, she received the Charles Fergus Binns Medal, the highest award in the field of American ceramics. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986. Stratton continued her work with ceramics until her death in 1961 at the age of 94.



Mary Chase Perry Stratton installing Pewabic Pottery tiles, 1920 - 2014.002.088

Mosaic designed by Mary Chase Perry Stratton, 1980 - 2010.004.339

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