Richard Pruckler & Tonya Lutz • Ferndale, MI • Stoneware


Whistling Frog Tile Company was created in 1993 by Rick Pruckler.  He specialized in creating handmade gift tile and architectural installations.  Other artists, soon joined in with their own styles.  Susan Cassabon created a softly stylized line of florals and Tonya Lutz explored exuberant narratives with her ‘Birds and Cats’.  

We use a low-tech approach in fabricating our tiles.  Everything is done by hand, one at a time.  Our tile begin with the sculpting of original designs which we cast into individually crafted molds.  

Clay impressions are made and fired in our kilns using custom glaze formulas.  Rick has plenty of experience formulating his own glazes for his architectural installations and glaze matching.  


While relaxing on the beach in Bermuda, in 1998, Rick Pruckler was thinking about what to name his tile company.  He had many ideas, but what would convey the whimsey of his original designs, the fact that he makes all his own glazes and clay, and made each tile by hand in his studio?

The gentle beach breeze made the naming process enjoyable, save for some persistent jungle noises. However, he had a hard time trying to find the right words.  


Rick had already started making tile and selling under the name ‘Tapas’ pottery.  He chose this name because of its East Indian roots and it meant literally, ‘fire of transformation.’  Spanish cuisine was becoming more widely enjoyed then in the ‘90’s, so Rick watched the waves rolls in, knowing the name ‘Tapas’ wouldn’t last.

Birds chirped their condolences from the palms. He figured this was for the best, since the Indian term refers to a spiritual transformation.  Lots of difficulty could be brought on in the kiln room by asking for this, and he wanted the whole process to be more like a song.


Speaking of song, the jungle sounds increased, causing his brainstorming session to be interrupted.  As the sun descended and a fiery sunset crept across the sky, Rick was thinking that ‘Burnt Clay’ might be the name.  The darkened trees were alive with the piercing sound of animal calls.  He tried to concentrate, scratched his head, and covered his ears. Late ‘80’s terms kept bubbling up, vying for the opportunity.  ‘Rampant’ tile? ‘Emerge’ Tile?  What were these names even saying?  And for the love of all that is holy, what is that confounded sound?!?


A native had been watching his very American distress from afar on the beach.  He called out in the twilight, “Whistling frogs… they're okay!”

And on the advice of that kind and helpful man, Rick had the name of his company.



Outside the Lines Art Gallery • Connie Twining & Stormy Mochal, Owners
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