FROM THE DESK OF OUR EDITOR

 

Who can believe it? Convention-time has come and gone, and the holidays are on the way. But never fear – Convention 2019 is just around the corner!

 

You’ll find an exciting recap of our 2018 event in this issue of CAS Collectors Quarterly, plus so much more.  There’s a preview of our 2019 Convention, “The CAS Magical Mystery Tour”. .  .Anita Guzik-Miller’s solution to a “CAS Mystery” (“How To Create A Prize-Winning Display”). . .Betty’s hints on showing off CAS pieces to their best advantage, circa 1952. . .a “Q & A” on that barnyard favorite, the Modern Colt. . plus, of course, the latest adventures of our club mascot, Mr. Mouse! So, off we go! Enjoy!

 

AND THE WINNER IS. . .

 

In our Summer issue, we posed a “CAS Trivia Contest” brain-teaser with the following clues:

 

“One day, I accidentally dipped hundreds of these in green!  The glazes looked alike, you see, and you had to read to get the right one! So if you run across a ­_ _ _ _ _ with a green _ _ _ _ _ _ , you’ll know it’s one of mine!”

 

The answer: our club mascot, Mr. Mouse and his Cheese. The CAS decorator quoted was Bonnie Jean Kinne – and several CAS Collectors have reported running across those green Cheese wedges in the years since!

 

The first person to submit the correct answer was Pat Johnson. (Yes, she’s definitely related to your Editor, but he definitely provided no hints!) In recognition of her winning efforts, Pat received one of our 2018 Commemoratives, the CAS Latte Mug & Coaster. Congrats, Mom!

 

By the way, in honor of Pat’s 91st birthday, you’ll find her photo on the cover of this issue. That’s Pat celebrating “Afternoon Tea” with an assortment of her CAS head vases. Pat submitted this in the “Remote Photo Entry” category for this year’s “On Display” contest at the Convention, and won first prize. Congrats again, Mom!

 

AND THE NEXT CONTEST IS. . .

 

 In observance of our 2019 Convention theme, “The CAS Magical Mystery Tour”, this issue’s “CAS Trivia Contest” question is all about a proud fellow with a bit of “CAS mystery” about him. Here are the clues:

 

“I first saw the light of day in 1955, and am ready for a frisky canter across the fields. You might want more than one of me, because no two of us are exactly alike. Why’s that? Because our glazes are all different!”

 

You’ll find the answer to this month’s question included somewhere within the articles of this issue. Once you’ve found it, rush your response to Editor Don Johnson (donaldbrian@msn.com). The first correct respondent will receive one of our 2018 Convention Commemoratives, the CAS Latte Mug & Coaster. Off to the races!

 

FAREWELL TO AMBER

 

We’re sorry to report that Amber Stoeberl, longtime CAS Collector and good friend to all, passed away on August 31st. Amber and husband Gerry were among the very first members of our club, and have been mainstays at our Conventions each year. (In fact, until just a few days prior to this year’s event, Amber and Gerry planned to attend.)

 

In a note to us, Gerry wrote: “Amber loved collecting CAS figurines. She always looked forward to the Convention, and the people involved in the club. I’ll miss my antique-hunting partner.”  Gerry also noted that, in the months to come, auctions are planned for the couple’s varied collections, including plenty of CAS. He’s promised to let Club members know when the dates are set.

 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gerry and the rest of Amber’s family. As club president Hank Kuhlmann noted, “Amber and Gerry have been great assets to the club over the years, and Amber’s wit and upbeat personality will be sorely missed.”

 

In tribute to Amber, this issue’s “Chat Room” revisits an interview with her, which first appeared in our April, 2003 edition. If you’d like to send Gerry a note, his address is: 29 Stacy Lane, Madison, WI 53716.

 

LETTERS, WE GET LETTERS

 

Ross Campbell, who won our Spring “CAS Trivia” contest, was delighted with his prize, a CAS Latte Mug & Coaster, the 2018 Convention Commemorative. Wrote Ross:

 

“It sure will keep me in good humor as I have my coffee in the morning. Later this year, as I hunker down when the snowflakes surround us, I will try my hot cocoa with some whipping cream on top – Yum!! My thanks, and my best to all my favorite CAS Collectors!”

 

Our good friend Betty Carson also enjoyed her Commemorative, and has it proudly on display – check out the photo on this issue’s cover.

 

And, another good friend, Studio decorator Alice Dahl Noltemeyer, expressed her appreciation for the Commemorative in this note to us:

 

“It just arrived – a pleasant surprise! Thanks so much for today’s gift, which gave me a boost! You are all so thoughtful. I love and appreciate your loyalty to Ceramic Arts Studio, and to me, too! With my love – Alice (“Two Gold Dots”)

 

Thanks, Ross, Betty, and Alice. It’s always a pleasure to hear from our members!

 

AND SPEAKING OF COMMEMORATIVES

 

Want to know what Ross, Betty, and Alice were so happy about? Well, if you were unable to attend this year’s Convention, but would like your very own CAS Latte Mug & Coaster, you can go right ahead and order one! (And if you were in attendance, and just want to order an extra, you can do that, too!)

 

A Latte Mug is shown on the cover of this issue, and we think you’ll agree that this year’s Commemorative is both useful and stylish. Our special thanks to Commemorative Queen Lisa Louis for coming up with yet another winner!  Full ordering details for a mug are given in this issue’s “Classifieds” section, so don’t delay – order today! Your hot beverages will never have tasted better!

 

ALL THOSE SMILING FACES

 

The happiest crowd around were in attendance at this year’s CAS Convention, “Ceramic Arts Studio: Decorating The Decades!” The fun-loving group are pictured in a wonderful color photo featured in this issue. The photo was taken by Norm Lenburg, who helps in so many ways to make our Conventions a success. Thanks, Norm (and thanks for making us all look so good!) More Convention photos, from 2018 and past years, can be found on our club website, www.cascollectors.com. Go to our site, and enjoy a walk down memory lane!

 

By the way, the berets many of the Convention-goers are sporting were in celebration of the “artistic” theme of this year’s event. No, real CAS decorators didn’t usually wear berets – although in another fun photo, shown on the back cover of our August issue, Studio owner Reuben Sand was decked out in one for a CAS party!

 

Incidentally, Convention attendees were given an opportunity to try their hand at CAS decorating – sort of! Copies of pages from the 1952 Studio catalog were provided, along with boxes of crayons, and Conventionites were encouraged to color in the line drawings. Champion at staying within the lines: Rick Feltman!

 

More about the 1952 CAS Catalog can be found in this issue’s “As Betty Intended”.

 

QUILTING TIME

 

Anita Guzik-Miller had her heart set on winning this year’s Raffle prize – a lovely quilt, created by Board member Bunny Lenburg. When the winning ticket was drawn, the number was Anita’s, making her evening extra-special. Check out the photo of Anita, Bunny, and the quilt on the cover of this issue. And many, many thanks to Bunny for this wonderful contribution to our club!

 

UNLIKELY DUO

 

She looks a little old for you, pardner. That’s the first response that came to mind when the unlikely CAS duo shown on the cover of this issue were spotted at an antique show. Yes, the young Cowboy, and the slightly more mature Young Love Girl, were being offered as an “authentic Ceramic Arts Studio pair”. Authentic, yes. But a pair?  What would the Cowgirl and the Young Love Boy have to say about that?

 

LET’S CHAT

 

Your CAS Collectors friends would like to learn all about you and your collecting interests! If you’d like to be featured in an upcoming “Chat Room”, just fill out the enclosed form, and send it to Editor Don Johnson: donaldbrian@msn.com (3329 South 56th Street, #611, Omaha, Ne 68106). We’ll take it from there!

 

FROM A DECORATOR’S KITCHEN

 

As we head into the holidays, what could be more taste-tempting than another delicious recipe courtesy of one of our favorite CAS decorators, Marlys Wilkinson? During their years at CAS, Marlys and her co-workers exchanged many favorite recipes, which we’ve included in previous newsletters. After awhile, those ran out – but Marlys was kind enough to provide us with additional delicious recipes from her own kitchen! Here’s one that’s just right for Thanksgiving – or Christmas – or both!

 

ICE CREAM PUMPKIN PIE

 

Graham cracker crust (with 1 tsp. cinnamon)

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt, cinnamon, and ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 qt. soft vanilla ice cream

English walnut halves

 

Mix pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together thoroughly. Fold into soft ice cream. Pour into unbaked graham cracker crust. Place walnuts on top. Freeze until ready to serve. Take out for 10 minutes. Serves six.

 

Sounds so good even Santa will want a slice (but he’ll have to fight me for it!) Thanks Marlys!

 

And now – on with our celebration of all things CAS. Happy Holidays to all!

 

Donald-Brian Johnson

Editor

 

 

 

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REMEMBERING REUBEN

 

By Donald-Brian Johnson

 

Reuben Sand, founder of Ceramic Arts Studio, died on October 21, 2005 of double pneumonia. As per his wishes, Mr. Sand’s ashes were distributed in Half Moon Bay, near his San Mateo, California home. On November 4th, Reuben Sand would have celebrated his 90th birthday.

 

The story of Mr. Sand and the Studio has, over the years, been told so many times that it has assumed the status of familiar legend.  How, in 1940, Reuben and potter Lawrence Rabbitt teamed up to turn a deserted lean-to on Madison’s Blount Street into the loftily-named “Ceramic Arts Studio”. How the Studio’s early hand-thrown pots met with little success (and how many of them leaked!)  How a chance meeting in 1941 with the amazing designer Betty Harrington led Reuben and the Studio in an entirely new direction—the creation of figural ceramics.  And how, thanks to Betty’s talent for design, and Reuben’s talent for production and marketing, the little lean-to in Madison soon became the nation’s top supplier of decorative ceramics.

 

What’s often forgotten is just how young Reuben Sand was when he embarked on his CAS venture—only 25. And, while collectors see the Studio years—from 1940 until 1955—as an endless source of study and enjoyment, for Reuben Sand this was just one stop along the way, in a long and successful life and career.

 

That may be why, for many years, Mr. Sand resisted the urge to reminisce about Studio days—he had, after all, done so much more!  Collectors were overjoyed when, in 1993, Reuben agreed to travel to Madison for the first-ever comprehensive Ceramic Arts Studio exhibit, sponsored by the Wisconsin Pottery Association. A touching, final reunion between entrepreneur Reuben and designer Betty was a highlight of the occasion.  Then it was back to California, and on with life.

 

When it came time to begin work on our book Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington, my co-authors and I felt it was extremely important to include current commentary by the man who started it all—Reuben Sand.  We already had, thanks to Betty Harrington’s diligence, and the generosity of her family, extensive materials documenting her part of the story. Thanks to CAS researcher Roseann Lindner, we also had detailed recollections by Lawrence Rabbitt.  We’d spoken with many past Studio workers.  What we needed was Reuben.

 

Every several weeks, I called and left a message at the contact number I’d been given. For months there was no response. Then one morning, the phone rang. I picked it up, and a deep, somewhat gravelly voice said, “This is Reuben Sand. Why do you keep calling me?”

 

I explained who I was, and the project I was working on. There was a pause, then Reuben began to express his doubts. He’d “been interviewed before”;  they “always got it wrong”; they “never asked the right questions” and “never let him read it first”.

 

This went on for awhile. When there was a lull, I assured him that we had something different in mind. We planned on using his comments in the first person, just as he conveyed them, editing only for length or repetition. He would see the material before it went to print, and would have the right to correct (or delete) anything inaccurate.

 

Another pause. I could tell he was considering the idea. Then he continued: “What if my comments don’t agree with what other people say?” 

 

“Well,” I replied, “folks will have the opportunity to read both, and can make up their own minds.”

 

Whether that did the trick (or whether he was just tired of talking to me), Mr. Sand agreed.  I was to send him a list of the questions I would be asking. He would call me at a set date and time, and answer those (and only those) questions.  “And I want a transcript.”

 

“No problem,”, I said, (instantly hoping to avail myself of Roseann Lindner’s transcription talents).

 

And so it began.  On the set day, at the set time, the phone rang.  I switched on the recorder. “Hello. This is Reuben Sand.  Question number one---Donald-Brian Johnson asks. . . . Question number one---Reuben Sand replies. . . .”

 

Oh boy, I thought. Is this going to be tedious.  But I’d put together what I felt were some pretty good questions, and at least we’d have those first-person responses, even if they were being read from a carefully prepared script.

 

I tuned back in, just as Reuben was intoning a very lengthy explanation of how he met Larry Rabbitt, and determined to start a business. “We found an empty lean-to at 12 North Blount Street that was 50 feet long by 25 feet wide, and at the time was used for storing rebars. . .”

 

“What are rebars?” I interrupted, in spite of myself.

 

“That’s not on the question list,” said Reuben, and continued: “Lawrence wanted the name of the pottery to be called the ‘Ceramic Arts Studio’. . .”

 

“Why?”

 

“I answer that in question number 5.”

 

“Oh”.

 

There was a pause. “But I suppose I might as well talk about it now. Larry had been making  a few items such as ashtrays and bowls and little pots, and fashioned himself to be working in a ‘studio’—had sort of a nice ring to it—an ‘arts studio’. I simply said, ‘if you think that is a good name, OK’. Later on, people wondered how this ‘arts studio’ was kicking out thousands of pieces—there must have been a lot of artists hard at work!”

 

He chuckled, off script, and enjoying the recollection. From that moment on, the question-and answer list was forgotten, and the memories poured forth fast and furious.

 

This was just the first of many wonderful phone conversations I had with Reuben Sand. Over the next several years, we’d talk on a regular basis. Sometimes I’d call, to make sure I was explaining a particular facet of Studio life correctly. Sometimes he’d call, to clarify or expand on a previous response, or to tell me to look for “a package on its way” (thanks to Reuben, original Studio catalogs, copyrights, photos, and the like soon added to our treasure trove of research material.)

 

 Sometimes, one or the other of us would call “just to talk”.  And, true to my word, I always kept a transcript.

 

When our book was ready for print, I sent Reuben’s sections to him, as promised, for his approval. He was effusive in his praise, offering few corrections, and asking only for the elimination of one brief anecdote. (An early CAS worker had an unhealthy fondness for knives and other sharp objects. Reuben had found the story amusing when he first told it to me, but now thought it might be best removed.  “Who knows?”, he said, “that girl may still be around.  And she may still have those knives!”)

 

Basking in Mr. Sand’s praise, I couldn’t resist adding, “and your words are just as you said them—I’m sure you checked the transcripts.”

 

“Oh”, replied Reuben, “I never read those. I just wanted to see if you would keep your promise.”

 

Reuben Sand was easily one of the most fascinating, entertaining people I’ve met in my life—and I never even had the opportunity to meet him in person!  Imagine the response he must have evoked in those who knew him and worked with him first-hand.  Over and over in my research for our book, I would encounter former Studio workers who would describe Reuben as “the best boss”, and CAS as “the best job ever”.  Somebody was doing something right—and that somebody was Reuben Sand.

 

I once asked Reuben if he ever gave much thought to the Studio “legacy”. A moment or two went by, and then he said, “You know, one of my biggest worries used to be that two thousand years from now some geologist would be digging, and nothing could be found but Ceramic Arts Studio figurines. And the pundits of the time would say, ‘in the years 1940-1960 or so, this was the state of the civilization that existed.’ A pretty good state though. Better than a lot of things they could be digging up. You know, I have so many fond memories of Ceramic Arts Studio and those I worked with. They were all solid, wonderful people.  I guess I am just one of the luckiest guys in the world.”

 

We were the lucky ones, Reuben. Our thanks, for a life well-lived.

 

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