Silhouettes of figures, animals and insects dance around the surface of this spherical form. Paul Soldner’s two-dimensional figurative style is inspired by ancient Egyptian and Greek pottery. The silhouetted shapes, applied as resist stencils to the body of the pot, are derived from found images in magazines which, removed of their details and original context, communicate afresh.
These shapes are then further abstracted by the firing process. During the 1960s Soldner developed a firing technique which he termed, ‘American Raku’.  A key difference between Soldner’s process and traditional Japanese raku is the use of post-firing reduction. Once the ceramic has been fired in a raku kiln, it is immediately placed in a covered container with combustible materials, whereas in traditional raku the ceramic is cooled in water after firing. The result of Soldner’s smoke firing is a softer colour palette than that seen in traditional raku, and the halo effect – a white outline around shapes, scan be seen here, which is achieved by varying oxygen during the reduction process.
In the mid-1950s Soldner was the first pupil of the seminal American ceramicist Peter Voulkos at theLos Angeles County Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design). Soldner’s practice embraces Voulkos’ experimental approach to clay. He marries the spontaneity and expressiveness associated with raku ware with unexpected forms and surfaces, to create work that reconfigures ceramic traditions and possibilities.
Sim Panaser, June 2020
 Paul Soldner, ‘American Style Raku’, (1990), http://www.paulsoldner.com/essays/American_Raku.html [accessed 26 June 2020].
Lynn, Martha Drexler, American Studio Ceramics: Innovation and Identity 1940-1979, (London: Yale University Press, 2015)
Soldner, Paul, ‘American Style Raku’, (1990) http://www.paulsoldner.com/essays/American_Raku.html
Raku Pottery by Paul Soldner (exhibition catalogue, 1964) https://digital.craftcouncil.org/digital/collection/p15785coll6/id/2895
Not on display
Artist/Maker: Paul Soldner
Born: 1995 c.
Object Type: Sculpture
Measurements: h. 400mm
Accession Number: 50772
Historic Period: 20th century
Production Place: United States
Copyright: © Paul E and Virgina I Soldner Family Partnership LLLP
Credit Line: Accepted under the Cultural Gifts Scheme by HM Government from Leslie Birks Hay and allocated to SCVA, 2016