To become a finished Motawi Tileworks tile, slabs of raw clay must run the gauntlet of an elaborate production line, where they'll be crushed under a 60-ton press, dipped or drizzled in colorful glaze, and fired in a kiln at 2,000 degrees. Though the handmade process lends itself to variations in colors, it creates uniformly durable tiles built to withstand the heat of a fireplace, the splashing of a kitchen sink, or the futility of existence atop a shelf.
The company's artisans have handmade their tiles in Ann Arbor for two decades. They draw on this experience while creating three types of tiles: flat field, polychrome, and molded. Each catches eyes on its own, or transforms into an artful mosaic when mixed and matched. During the design process, the craftsmen draw inspiration from a huge range of American influences, from Native American artists to Frank Lloyd Wright.
Geology guru Bill Rotay stocks The Golden Apple's shelves with sterling silver and semiprecious-gemstone jewelry, drawing from his University of Michigan degree and lifelong adoration of sparkling baubles. The shop's name alludes to the Greek myth that amber was harvested from the garden of Hesperides, where immortality-bestowing golden apples grew. Over the course of more than a decade, the store's original, predominantly amber, inventory blossomed to include a collection of Chinese freshwater pearls, sterling silver, and gemstones from Thailand, Mexico, Bali, and India. The Golden Apple also peddles a variety of mineral rocks and pottery, as well as fossils of ancient organisms and Betamax tapes.
Phoenix Theatres transports its audiences to exotic lands, forbidden romances, and CGI-animal kingdoms of the 100% digital silver screen. With some films shown in RealD XL 3-D, crowds can immerse themselves even further into the suspended belief of film. Phoenix Theatres' Ensemble offers a rotating selection specialty programs such as plays, operas, and ballets. Concessions provide free refills on sodas and large popcorns, fueling imaginations for sprints toward stories' thrilling or heartwarming resolutions.
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History showcases a wealth of knowledge about the living world with focus on anthropology, zoology, and paleontology. On the Museum's second floor, the hall of evolution houses fossils and dioramas of dinosaurs, prehistoric whales, and mastodons. On the third and fourth floors, a wildlife gallery explores Michigan's native flora and fauna through taxidermy mounts and habitat scenes, anthropology displays feature archeological finds from around the world, and geology exhibits highlight colorful amethyst clusters and sparkling pyrite crystals. The butterfly garden provides a living example of the natural world. Its 55 herbaceous perennials—including goldenrod, black-eyed Susan and spicebush—attract butterflies through all four of their life stages, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to fully grown winged beauties.
Extending its reach beyond the galaxy, the Museum's recently renovated planetarium projects the night sky on a dome. Sitting under the curved screen, visitors can travel to the most distant reaches of the universe. As part of its efforts to get families involved in hands-on learning, the Museum also runs weekend demonstrations, leads dinosaur tours, and partners with local libraries for its family reading and science program.