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Pewabic Pottery in Detroit Brings Sculpture to Life for Kids

Playing with clay is a gateway to discovering 3D art forms. And at this historic place, families are welcome to explore and spark creativity.

It's a well-known icon, and it's wide open for kids to explore. Pewabic Pottery, Detroit's historic pottery founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry Stratton, is a city treasure – and National Historic Landmark. Its renowned glazes cover tiles found in key local places, and you can take home a piece of this art, too, from its gift shop.

Your family gets a serious dose of clay and kilns here. Every day of the week (minus a few holidays), Pewabic has public hours. It frequently has an exhibit on display, showing off the handiwork of both renowned artisans and talented staff and students – from vessels and tiles to sculptures sure to inspire.

Pewabic Pottery

Want to nose around? You're welcome to take a free, self-guided tour at any point between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Start with the exhibit called Journey of Pioneering Spirit: The Life of Mary Chase Perry Stratton, and take a peek at the museum (featuring early Pewabic pieces) and the fabrication studio, where you can watch artists at work. A gallery shows off fine contemporary ceramic work by 70-plus artists in North America.

There's a chance to get your hands dirty, too, says program director Jessica Guzman – who notes that, for kids kids, clay play can boost finger dexterity, self-soothing and expression. Occasional workshops happen on an ongoing basis, typically on a Saturday (about $30), and beginning wheel throwing classes run eight weeks for about $165 and are great for teens, she notes. Be sure to register in advance for both.

Once you've explored here, head out into metro Detroit and try to spot Pewabic in public. Its tiles are in spots like the Detroit Institute of Arts (look at the fountain alcoves and stair risers), Detroit Public Library (the fireplace in children's reading room – can you believe it cost $520 to install in 1921?), Detroit Zoo (peacock mosaics in Wildlife Interpretative Gallery) and Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers (facade tiles).

Swing by for special events, too, like the Earthy Treasures shopping show, which happens annually around the holidays (roughly early November through Christmas Eve), to get an even broader glance of the magic you can create with clay.

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