Brian Martens

Brian Martens was born on October 29, 1949. He graduated with a BA degree from Luther College in 1972 with majors in business administration and psychology. After graduation, he studied at the summer Pond Farm workshops with Marguerite Wildenhain in 1973, 1974, and 1975.

Martens worked at the Clay Bay Pottery in What Cheer, Iowa, between 1973 and 1975. He also was involved with the Oneota Cabin Pottery in Indianola, IA, in 1972.

The Fish Platter which Martens made and donated to the Pond Farm Collection was created at the Clay Bay Pottery between 1973 and 1975. The fish-like design is made with a slip trailer and knife plus other tools. The platter has a small foot with a raised rim around the top. Colors of brown, blue and tan predominate. Martens commented about his platter:

One summer at Marguerite’s she taught me about the “slip trailer.” First of all you have to make your own slip trailer. It’s a small bottle shape which you flatten on all four sides when leather hard. You also have to cut a hole in one of the sides of the bottle to be able to pour the slip in. Then a few of these sample bottles are fired in the kiln. In the narrow end of the bottle you attach a feather quill, with a large enough opening so that the watery slip will flow freely. After making a few of these you find out what feels right and works. Then you can start practicing the decorating.

It’s a very freeing process, because the slip keeps flowing and looks best when done in a free and natural motion, which believe me, takes practice. One advantage is that when the pottery is leather hard, the mistakes can be wiped off with a sponge and you begin again…I started with a slip trailer [on the Fish Platter] and then used a knife and other tools to cut into the clay to add to the design. Fish and especially whales were some of my favorite themes.

Source of Biography
Ripples: Marguerite Wildenhain and her Pond Farm Students. Curated by Billie Sessions. San Bernardino, CA: California State University, 2002;
Pond Farm Collection: Works of Art Created by Students Who Studied with Marguerite Wildenhain at her Pond Farm Studio. Text by Jane Kemp. Decorah, IA: Luther College, 2003