The Studio & The Potter
Rach SebellShavit is a community art educator and potter who designs unique custom pottery using stoneware clay that challenges conformity and embraces texture and color. Rach is fascinated by the beauty and possibility of handcrafted pottery. This craft has been a part of the human experience for thousands of years, and still, potters are constantly reinventing new ways to engage with the medium. When she creates new work, she thinks about the people who will ultimately use her pottery; how will they hold it in their hands, look at it with their eyes, touch it to their lips?
Rach’s love of pottery began at 7 years old at summer camp. She was so captivated by clay that she used the money from my bat mitzvah and babysitting when she was 13 to buy her first potters wheel. Her love of pottery continued through high-school into college and in 2004 she graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Ceramics. It was at RISD where her love of pottery transformed beyond the potter’s wheel into a love of many ceramic techniques including – slab, slip cast, and potter’s wheel.
Teaching Experience & Community Arts Programming
After completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Rhode Island School of Design, Rach went on to run the ceramics program at the Art School of the Berkshires from 2004-2005. During that year, she founded Rach Sebell Ceramics, a handcrafted ceramic dinnerware company. She continued to teach at various ceramics programs including the Vermont Arts Exchange and The Putney School, until the recession of 2007, which caused her to temporarily closer her studio. Returning to Boston, Rach pivoted into the non-profit sector which led her to get her MBA at night. In 2012, after a 5-year hiatus from clay, Rach returned to the studio, finding an incredible community in the Mass College of Art & Design continuing education program.
Inspiration & Process
Her inspiration comes from her childhood; dishes her mother and grandmother used in their kitchens. She thinks about the hundreds of moments spent with those dishes – enjoying a cup of coffee and laughter on a weekend, eating a last bite of cake after a birthday celebration. The patterns of these dishes and the feeling of their smooth glaze in her hands are fused into these wonderful memories. She likes to think about the lives her own pottery will enter. Where will these vessels live? How will they celebrate joys and comfort loss in their new homes?
Rach makes pottery out of stoneware clay. It has a strong body with a hint of gritty texture that comes out as subtle iron flecks when it is fired. She loves to play with a balance of simple and vibrant colors in her work using oxide washes and mid-range fired glazes. Clay has captured her love for almost 3 decades because it offers constant possibility – slabs, potters wheels, slip cast. With clay the options to create are innumerable.
Rach’s hope for her pottery is that it is woven into the day to day lives of the people who possess it – dinners with family, quiet afternoon cups of tea, a late-night bowl of ice cream. A big part of why she uses stoneware is because it is durable, unlike fine china, able to handle to the daily routine of dishwashers, microwaves, and other modern conveniences. Her proudest moments as a potter are when she receives a letter or hears from someone who is enjoying her pottery in their everyday life, knowing not only that her work has entered their life, but their life has added new meaning to her work.
In 2016, Rach moved to Arlington, where she opened SebellShavit Studio, a small ceramic dinnerware company that she operates out of her home. She currently works by day in the software space, at night teaching community art ed, on weekends is a potter, and always is a parent to her amazing daughter.
Where To Find Rach & Her Pottery
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