Martin Solis Hernández
Prolongaciòn de Corregidora #293
Col las Tinajas Zinapécuaro
451 355 2289 casa, 443 328 4181 WhatsApp
Negative Ceramics (esgrafiado)
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Martin Solis Hernández was born and raised in Zinapécuaro, Michoacán. He has been making utilitarian and decorative objects out of clay since he was six or seven years old. However, he made barro (clay) his primary occupation when he married at the age of 18, started a family, and also had his parents relying on him for support. Poverty was his main motivation to earn a reputation so his work would sell, but Marin has always loved working with the clay. He now works with his wife and four of his seven children in a family workshop, Taller Solis Hernández. His love of creating objects out of clay is readily apparent as he describes working with his corazon (heart), utilizing his own imagination, creativity and intelligence.
He is from a multi-generational family who have also worked with clay. The technique that Martin uses is pre-Hispanic — bruñido al negativo, esgrafiado bajo relieve or el decorativo en positive. Barro bruñido (burnished clay) is a kind of pottery that has been polished into a bright, fine sheen. Creating this effect requires the use of different tools such as a wood or stone polisher or even a corncob. The piece is massaged, rubbed and caressed until it shines.
Working in the negative requires the knowledge of a specialist craftsman, given the complexity and richness of form and decoration that is found on the pieces. First a box is built and filled with packed silt. With his hands and simple tools, he carves a design into the silt, which will become the exterior of the vessel. From there he pours slip (with roughly the density of a thick milk shake) into the carved cavity. The slip dries slightly over several hours until Martin scoops out all the slip that is still liquid. When the clay has dried completely he breaks the mold and has a completed green ware piece. Homemade kilns made of adobe and red bricks are used to fire their work at a “medium” temperature and wood is used as fuel.
Manuel won a special national award in 2006 for a huge piece in the form of a large rounded bowl, which is now exhibited in the Instituto de Artesano Michoacano in Morelia.
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