Whistling Frog Tile Co. crafts passion, dedication into porcelain creations

By: 
Dave Lein, Editor

Photo by Dave Lein

Experienced artists Tonya Lutz and Rick Pruckler opened the Whistling Frog Tile Company earlier this summer on SE Torch Lake Drive, nearly halfway between Alden and Rapid City.

 

Photo by Dave Lein

Pictured is a sample of a popular local 'Destination' tile designed by artist Tonya Lutz.

ALDEN – Situated along Southeast Torch Lake Drive, at the intersection with Crystal Beach Road Northwest, sits the Whistling Frog Tile Company, a unique art studio located between Alden and Rapid City.

Open since the Fourth of July, owners/artists Rick Pruckler and Tonya Lutz have enjoyed a steady stream of customers checking out their creations – which have been available for years at retailers throughout Michigan, across the country and online.

“It’s been great,” said Lutz. “A lot of people have stopped in to check out the shop, not realizing that we’ve been at this for a while.”

Originally started by Pruckler in 1987, the Whistling Frog (more about the name later) has evolved, but remained true – or truer – to its founding intentions.

Prior to that time, Pruckler was involved in tile projects and installation pieces, such as the People Mover murals in Detroit with Pewabic Pottery and the Michigan Welcome Center mural at the Ambassador Bridge with Hubert Massey, as well as years of instructing students in the art of ceramics. Additionally, he had the experience of hand-crafting the look and feel of the contemporary vase designs and glaze formulas used today by Pewabic.

While that work drew accolades and valuable experience, Pruckler said he wanted to create a place where he could allow his artistic expertise to evolve unhindered – leading to the birth of Whistling Frog Tile.

With this newfound freedom to create, Pruckler said “designs came to life, incorporating elements of nature, traditional technique, and beautiful contrast. The architectural tile work was equally striking, utilizing techniques, custom glaze formulas, and unique design elements to create aesthetically beautiful spaces and inspire the senses.”

But that didn’t happen overnight, or with a single set of hands.

In 2011, Pruckler partnered with Lutz, an honors graduate of Wayne State University. A sculptor by nature, she was just what the company needed for the next step in its artistic evolution, he noted.

“The addition of her work ethic and original perspective allowed Whistling Frog’s tile line to expand even further,” Pruckler stated. “On the business side, she handles the administration; on the artistic side, she introduced tile narratives featuring woodland creatures, cats and dogs.

“Additionally, the ‘Destination’ tile series (featuring landmarks and towns throughout the country and beyond) continue to be an important endeavor for her. Feeling the need to have each tile make a difference in the world in addition to the joy they bring, she instituted the Saving Lives, Saving Lakes policy. Now, Whistling Frog helps preserve our natural world, with the sale of each and every tile, like a business should.”

Read the full story in our regular edition of The Review. To subscribe to the paper for just $34 a year, which includes access to our full online e-edition, please go to the subscription page on this website at: http://www.antrimreview.net/subscribe/

 

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