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Raku

Rick Epstein has spent years crafting his “Slip Resist” or “Naked Raku”vessels. The results are always one of a kind - ranging from crackle glazes to richly colorful metallic luster. Rick exhibits in galleries as well as craft shows throughout the Northeast. He is a member of the American Craft Council and the Asparagus Valley Potters Guild. He lives and works in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.


Raku describes a 16th century firing technique whereby the ware was abruptly removed from the hot kiln and scorched in water. The Raku tea bowls of that period were steeped in philosophy that spoke of nature and an embrace of spontaneity in the process.

Rick’s latest work is in a “Slip Resist” or “Naked Raku” technique in which no glaze remains on the final surface. Fine clay slips(terra sigullata) are applied and the surface is burnished to a satin sheen. After one firing, another slip is applied and followed with a white-crackle glaze. The piece is fired to approximately 1800 degrees fahrenheit and removed from the hot kiln and placed in a pit of wood chips and newspaper. As the piece cools, the outer layers begin to crack and pull away from the surface thus allowing the smoke an avenue to reach and carbonize the porous clay body.

Certain vessels and wall art tiles are often left smooth and carefully burnished. While on others, sculptural additions of birch trees, persimmon fruit and bittersweet branches wrap around the vessels before a blue sky full of movement. Rick paints his clay like a canvas. The fire and smoke of his Raku pit imprint its gift of rich organic patterns onto his
clay landscapes.