While retired high school art teacher Martin Price has been working in clay for more than 40 years, he discovered the artform of raku pottery to be the most challenging.
“My old way of making pottery was to make the pot, then decide how it should be glazed. In raku pottery, I find that the opposite is true,” Martin says. “Each form is made for a particular raku process, whether it be horsehair, saggar, crackle, or another of the endless combinations. The raku process tells the pot what form it should be.”
Western-style raku typically involves removing pottery from the kiln at glowing red-hot temperatures of up to 1,840 degrees, then placing it into a container with combustible materials. Once the materials ignite, the artist closes the container, which produces an intense reduction atmosphere.
Martin places his red-hot pottery into a metal trash can lined with newspaper, then suffocates it with a metal lid. This allows the smoke carbons to bake into the clay body, and results in a drastic thermal shock that produces cracking, or crackling.
“I listen for the glaze to start singing,” Martin says, adding that the pottery has no color when it’s red-hot, but once he treats the surface with various solutions, “it comes out like Christmas.”
The 68-year-old Randolph County artist enjoys making large pots (some are close to 30 inches tall), which he finds challenging because they must be crafted in sections and then put together.
Even though the process requires some time to complete, “the results are tremendous,” Martin says.
Martin retired as an art teacher at Wapahani High School in 2007, and has worked as a peach farmer for 40 years. He discovered raku pottery in 2008 and now works solely as a ceramic artist.
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