Martz Memories, by Stanley Lee


Demonstrating in Public              Tale #14


     The practice of exhibiting pottery, and demonstrating pottery procedures in public was much encouraged by Karl Martz.  He knew the importance of publicity for the advancement of ceramic arts, and he encouraged us to perform and show wherever we could be seen, especially at County Fairs, Art Shows, and the like.  Indoor or outdoor performances were all fair game for our purposes. 


     It was a pleasant experience to attend art shows in Indianapolis.  Now there was the opportunity to appear as a performer.  A letter to the organizers asked, “Can you extend an electric cable from a nearby building?  If so, I will bring a potter’s wheel and demonstrate the way to throw a large plate”.  My article, “Throwing the Large Plate”, had been published recently in Ceramics Monthly, so some interest was expected.  My offer was accepted, and following Karl’s advice, the press was notified to say a potter would be attending and demonstrating. 


     At the Indianapolis Fair Grounds, the cable was brought out, and tables were in place for me to work on and to display the pottery I had brought with me.   Before long, I had groups of small boys up close and adults in the background.  The afternoon found me alternating between throwing plates and displaying and talking about the techniques involved in finished pottery.  It was an enjoyable day.   


     However, not all appearances were so successful.  My exhibition of the Aquarius series included a set of twelve thrown and individually decorated dinner plates.  The title piece was a twenty-inch serving plate, depicting the water goddess pouring water from ceramic pots to fall on Earth below.  I took the set to a meeting where faculty wives were enjoying an afternoon on campus, and spread out the exhibit.  To those interested, it was easy to explain some of the techniques involved.   Spontaneously deciding to be generous, I offered to sell any one of the dinner plates to a faculty wife for the token sum of twelve dollars.  To my chagrin, not one plate was sold.


      My friends tried to console me by reminding me I never was a good pottery salesman.  They saw me as one who preferred to give a work away rather than ask a price they considered was its true value.  Occasionally the receiver of my gift would echo my feelings in a delightful way.  There was one time in 1977 that I gave a thrown plate and some cherry wood to a fellow artist who specialized in making pewter goblets.  He used cherry wood to connect the goblet-base to the four-inch tall liquid container.  I admired his craftsmanship, and he enjoyed the plate.  A few weeks later he gave me a beautiful pair of pewter goblets.  On the bottom of each was the inscription, “Made for Stanley H. Lee,” together with his name and the date. 


     The pewter goblet gift reminds me of a behavior that Karl Martz practiced.  He would   gladly give a piece of pottery to a friend, or an acquaintance.  It was one of the ways he expressed his feelings about the relationship.  He was a generous man, and I am still consciously aware of the way he generously gave of himself to me. 


     Thank you, Karl.