Paul Soldner (April 24, 1921 in Summerfield, Illinois — January 3, 2011 in Claremont, California) was an American ceramic artist, noted for his experimentation with the 16th-century Japanese technique called raku introducing new methods of firing and post firing, which became known as American Raku
Soldner, who served as an army medic during World War II, began to pursue a career in art upon returning to the United States. He earned degrees in art education and art administration from Bluffton College and the University of Colorado, then turned his attention to ceramics. He focused first on functional pottery.
In 1954, Soldner became Peter Voulkos' first student in the nascent ceramics department at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (now the Otis College of Art and Design). As Soldner helped his teacher establish the program, he made several changes to the studio pottery equipment, which lead to him founding Soldner Pottery Equipment Corp. In 1955, to market his inventions, he held seven patents related to pottery equipment.
In the 1960s Soldner helped found Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Colorado. He was also involved in starting the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
Soldner developed a type of low-temperature salt firing. Along with Voulkos, Soldner has been credited with creating the "California School" of ceramic arts by combining Western materials and technology with Japanese techniques and aesthetics.
While teaching at Scripps College, Soldner organized the Scripps Ceramics Annual - a nationally recognized ceramic exhibition. In addition, as a result of his lifelong friendship with ceramic collectors Fred and Mary Marer, Scripps became the fortunate recipient of the extensive Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics. In 1990, Scripps received an NEA Grant to research and organize and exhibition titled, "Paul Soldner:A Retrospective'" that travelled throughout the United States.
Soldner retired from Scripps in 1991.
He died on January 3, 2011 in Claremont, California.
- Honorary Doctorates of Fine Arts from Bluffton College (OH) 2003  and Westminster College (PA).
- 2008 Awarded the Aileen Osborn Webb Gold Medal by the American Crafts Council, NYC, NY.
- Nothing to Hide Exposures, Disclosures and Reflections Clay Times Inc., (2008) ISBN 9780981629612
- Kiln Construction American Craftsmen's Council (1965)
- Makers, A History of American Studio Craft by Koplos, Janet & Metcalf, Bruce; University of North Carolina Press, July 2010, ISBN 978-0-8078-3413-8, 544 pages, 409 color and 50 b&w photos, notes, index
Film and video
- Paul Soldner:Playing with Fire, American Museum of Ceramic Art, Renegade Pictures, Santa Barbara, CA.
- Paul Soldner, The Courage to Explore, SEMELKA and Kasper, Chapel Hill, NC.
- Paul Soldner:Thrown and Altered Clay, School Video, Chrystal Productions, Aspen, CO and Glenview, wIL.
Galleries and exhibitions
Soldner's work is included in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum UK, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Arts and Design New York. Work can also be found in the following galleries:
- American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, California, USA
- Australian National Gallery, Sydney, Australia
- National Museum of Modern Art, Koyoto, Japan
- Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, California, USA
- Scripps College, Claremont, California, USA
- Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., USA
- Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
- Steven Biller (2007). "Palm Springs Art | El Paseo Art Galleries | Paul Soldner | Palm Springs Life". palmspringslife.com. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
introducing unorthodox methods of firing and post firing
- "Paul Soldner - the Man". Paul Soldner official website. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Paul Soldner biography". Frank Lloyd Gallery. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- Holly Bornemeier (2013). "Anderson Ranch Arts Center - News - In Memory: Paul Soldner, ceramist, artist, teacher, 1921-2011". andersonranch.org. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- "art ltd. magazine". artltdmag.com. 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
Marsh considers Soldner's most significant artistic contribution, the invention of American raku, to be a truly remarkable innovation, both technically and aesthetically
- Soldner essay
- Makers, A History of American Studio Craft Chap.7, Voulkos and Soldner at Pages 224 - 231
- "Paul Soldner on artnet". artnet.com. 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- American Crafts Council (2013). "Aileen Osborn Webb Awards 2008 | American Craft Council". craftcouncil.org. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- "Paul Soldner: Playing With Fire". Renegade Pictures. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Paul Soldner Dies at 89 - Ceramist Created Sculptural Vessels - NYTimes.com". The New York Times (New York: NYTC). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
His work is included in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Arts & Design.