Martz Memories by
Reasons Throwing the globe Y bowls
He practiced teaching by example, and his whole life showed it. I don’t believe Karl Martz consciously thought about his method. It seemed to come naturally to him, and it was practical. For his students, the method was a gift, and a gift that was also a blessing, for it saved us from making many mistakes. I cannot recall Karl ever giving the answer, “Because I said so”. He always gave a logical and reasonable answer to us.
As his students, we often saw pottery he made for exhibition, because if he needed them for illustration or demonstration, he would bring to class, pots from his private collection. We learned to recognize pots that seemed to “spring up”, and pots that seemed to “squat down”. We took note of decoration that seemed to be “too busy” or that which had too little interest.
Of course, we tried to follow the wheel-throwing practices of our master, but some of the skills were not always easy to follow. One shape that was pleasant to behold was the globe shape. When we had seen it thrown a few times, we tried making the shape with our own hands, but without success. We could start a pot easily enough, but before we could get beyond half-way, the pot would begin to slump and squat. Karl saw we needed more than a few demonstrations. So he asked himself, “What more can I do?”
The next day we received practical benefits of his pondering. He realized we had difficulty in remembering the different danger zones and the times when they required attention, so he had gone through the sequences and noted them. Step-by-step instructions, with enough warnings and drawings to illustrate the steps were needed. Over-night, he typed onto two “ditto” sheets, the required directions, and then drew five profile diagrams of a globe pot to show the different danger stages. Enough copies were run off so each student could have an illustrated copy.
We didn’t need to make notes while he demonstrated. We watched and listened. Many times I followed my dittoed instructions until I could easily throw globes. That the shape is pleasing to behold has been confirmed. At a recent E-bay auction in 2003, one of Karl Martz’s globe shaped pots, made in 1960, sold for $2,700.
Another thrown shape that Karl liked, and a shape we also liked to try throwing was the Y-shaped bowl. We soon learned it was not enough for us to follow the Y angles. Angles, width of base, height, proportions, all had to be considered. All had to function together with the glaze and convey a sense of unity. Karl showed us how to do this.
As he threw, he added an important touch to the top of the Y-pot. Near the rim he re-curved that part back toward the center. This treatment gave the rim extra thickness. Then, with a strip of chamois leather, he smoothed the rim itself. The throwing part of the pot, and the throwing technique could then say, “I am finished”. We note, a blue glazed, Y-shaped bowl that Karl threw about 1960, sold, in September, 2003, for $685. The sale seemed to say, “A Y-bowl, carefully thrown, finished and glazed, is a joy to behold.”