Education Archive: Raku Intensive

Intensive Raku Workshop

with Peter Fulop and Brigitta Varadi

Image of a raku piece by Peter Fulop

About the Workshop

This workshop will explore the art and craft of the raku firing technique. Raku means “joy and gathering” in Japanese, and the technique was developed in the 16th century by a Japanese Tea Master. In the 1950s several American artists looking for a new voice began to use the raku technique, creating the so-called “American Raku” style. One of the most exemplary artists to explore this style was Paul Soldner.

Raku can provide various surfaces and textures for the artist who is seeking to use clay in their contemporary practice. Whether you want to create an installation work with several objects or are trying to concentrate the flow of your creative energy into a single sculptural piece, the raku technique can provide one of the most diverse ranges of gestural marks, surfaces, and textures allowing the artist to partly become an observer of a process. The closest feeling to raku-making is the method of action painting and the various forms of “happenings”. 

During the week-long Raku course, you will learn techniques to create your ceramic objects (slab, coiled, pinched, thrown and carved). You will learn glazing and surface decoration and the way of raku firing. The workshop will focus on guiding participants toward a personal aesthetic that reflects their own creative motivations, developing strong interactions between form, surface and the raku technique. There will be daily demonstrations and discussions. All levels are welcome!

Weekend Opportunity:

Spend Saturday and Sunday at the workshop glazing and firing your pieces. Pieces should be brought made, dry, and ready to fire. For this option, you would need to bring your own food and housing would not be provided. Weekend firing fee is $175.

General Information


The workshop runs April 9th – 16th, 2017

First Day (Sunday the 9th)

  • Arrival begins at 2pm
  • Dinner: 7pm

Monday – Saturday

  • Workshop: 10am-1pm
  • Lunch: 1pm-2pm
  • Workshop: 2:30pm – 6pm
  • Dinner: 7pm

Final Day (Sunday the 16th)

  • Workshop: 10am – 1pm
  • Lunch: 1pm-2pm
  • Departure 


  • Breakfast (self-service from stocked kitchen)
  • Lunch (provided)
  • Dinner (provided)

*Vegetarian and vegan options will be available as well as catering for allergy need. Please let us know your dietary restrictions in advance.


The all-inclusive fee for the seven-day raku course is $1200 and includes housing in a private room, work space, all meals, basic tools, and clay. A deposit (half of the total fee, $600) is due by March 20 and the complete payment due upon arrival. Students are welcome to attend the workshop without room and board for $575 (the deposit for which is $300, also due March 20). Joining for lunch and dinner is an additional $200 for the week and can be paid upon arrival. Deposits may be paid either by PayPal or by check made out to The Wassaic Project and sent to:

The Wassaic Project c/o Bowie Zunino

PO Box 220

Wassaic, NY 12592


Teaching Artist Bios

Peter Fulop

Peter Fulop is a Hungarian-born Irish artist. He studied ceramics in Hungary and later became the student of Japanese artist Koye Ryoji. He undertook several residency programs in Japan, Korea, China and the USA. His most notable residencies include: Sculpture Space in NYC, Leitrim Sculpture Centre Fellowship in Ireland, Wingate Scholar Archie Bray Ceramic Foundation in Montana, Shigaraki Ceramic Centre in Japan, FULE International Ceramic Museum in China.

During his study trips and residencies in Japan, Peter extensively focused on the research of the ancient Japanese Raku technique, studied from Japan’s National Heritage Masters during the IWCAT Tea Ware Symposium, Tokoname (2004) and various ceramic artists from Japan, China, and Korea. Peter is a personal student of Professor Koie Ryoji, working with him at his studio in Gifu prefecture, Japan (2012). His other teachers include Rizu Takahashi, Hiroyuki Yamada, and Toshihiro Tomimoto.

Peter has exhibited both nationally and internationally including Ireland, USA, UK, Sweden, Korea, China, and Japan. Curatorial Projects include “The Clay Way” (2013) at the Danforth Gallery in Livingstone, Montana. Peter has received several awards and bursaries in support of his work including the Culture Ireland Award, Arts Council of Ireland Travel and Training Awards, Craft Council of Ireland Continued Professional Development Award and Roscommon Artist Bursary. His work has been selected for the public collection of Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Japan, INAX Corporation in Tokoname Japan, IWCAT Collection in Japan, Mungyeong Ceramic Museum in Korea, the Korea Ganjin Celadon Museum, Fule International Ceramic Art Museum in China, Ulster Museum in N.Ireland, Office of Public Works in Ireland, and The National Museum of Ireland.

Brigitta Varadi

Brigitta has extensive experience hosting events, workshops, and cooking for people. She is one of the unlucky few who is allergic to nearly everything, so she knows how to look after people with different dietary needs. For many years Brigitta ran the Eden Hill Hostel in the Northwest of Ireland, which has become Ireland’s “must-visit” hostel according to the Lonely Planet guidebook. Brigitta is also a former Wassaic Artist in Residence.


Information on Raku

What is Raku?

Raku originates from Kyoto around the 16th century developed by Sen Rikyū, Japanese tea master, and passed down through the family to the present 15th generation. Raku is a happening form of art where the artist becomes the first viewer of the piece created by the contrasted elements of fire and water. The technique involves heating the ceramic quickly to high temperatures where the artist suddenly removes the object from the kiln and dips it into various materials such as dry leaves, water, and sawdust. This achieves a reduction atmosphere on the surface of the ceramic body and glaze, creating a piece which follows the rules of the wabi-sabi aesthetics (to create an aged/worn feeling). In the late 1950s Paul Soldner created the so-called “American Raku”, where he kept the general firing process but continued to form his own unique style of raku. Unlike traditional Japanese raku, which has a meditative quality, western raku tends to be vibrant in color and with the emphasis on the spontaneity of surface pattern creation and expanded its application from pots to sculptural ceramics.

How does the raku firing process work?

Using a specially built raku gas kiln, the bisque ceramic is quickly heated to high temperatures. The work is suddenly removed from the kiln and dipped into various materials such as dry leaves, water, and sawdust to achieve a reduction atmosphere. The process is known for its unpredictability, where the artist becomes the first viewer of the piece originating in its zen approach. The firing times for raku ware are short (an hour or two), kiln temperatures can be raised rapidly, the kiln is loaded and unloaded while hot, and can, therefore, be kept hot between firings.


Because temperature changes are rapid during the raku process, clay bodies used for raku ware must be able to cope with significant thermal stress. The clay body must withstand thermal shock, as it is generally bisque fired at 900 °C (1,650 °F) and glaze fired (the final firing) between 800–1,050 °C (1,470–1,922 °F).


The glaze used for raku is generally a low-fire glaze made of specially formulated recipes that “crackle” or craze (present a cracked appearance) because the crazing lines take in the carbon during the reduction.


Important Information for Workshop Participation

During the workshop, students will create their own work which will be bisque-fired in an electric kiln. Then each student will raku-fire their own work.

What to bring with you


– Sketch pad or something to record, take notes, plan

– Favorite tools for working with clay and brushes for glazes (basic tools will be provided)

– Rubber gloves (needed for washing and scrubbing your work)

– Ceramic heat protective gloves and apron (if you have them)

What to wear during raku firing


Please dress appropriately to protect yourself from the sparks. Wear long sleeves (woolen sweaters work well), long heavy pants, shoes/boots, and socks. Long hair needs to be tied back or a hat can be worn. Additional protective gear will be provided. All participants will assist in the loading and unloading of each kiln. Prepare for team work!



Who is eligible to participate?

– Anyone age 18 or older. There will be a children’s workshop concurrent with the adult workshop–children are welcome to attend the children’s version.


What is your cancellation policy?

– The Wassaic Project must be notified of any cancellations by March 20 in order for deposits to be returned.


What are the accommodations like?

– All rooms will be private, within Wassaic housing shared with other course participants. Friends and/or partners are welcome to attend and share a room with you for a reduced/shared room fee of $825. Please let us know if this is the case when you register.


Where will the course be held?

– In a studio space in the Maxon Mill at 37 Furnace Bank Road, Wassaic, NY (within easy walking distance of all course housing).


For more information and to register for the workshop, email