Dragon stoneware vase
The four Martin brothers, (Wallace, Walter, Charles and Edwin) produced a distinctive type of stoneware pottery from the 1870s through to 1914, when their pottery closed, with a little work being produced through to 1923, when the last brother, Wallace died.
The firm’s most popular pieces were their eccentric, grotesquely modelled ‘Wally Birds’, as well as the wheel-thrown and sculpted face jugs, and vases reminiscent of art and architecture of the Middle Ages.
They worked mainly with a salt glaze stoneware. This technique involved the ceramics being fired at a high-temperature with salt thrown into the kiln during firing to create the ceramic glaze, which fused with the clay and gave a surface which could be glassy or matt depending on the conditions of each firing. Whereas many stoneware glazes are coloured and obscure the body underneath, the salt glaze method served to highlight the impressed and incised decoration on the surface of their pots. The colours included browns, greens, greys and blues, and this subdued palette is distinctive of Martinware.
Described then as art pottery, Martinware now fits better into the studio pottery category.