Rudolf Staffel was an American ceramist who was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1911. He was initially interested in painting, and took several art courses at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After a visit to the Wiener Workstation exhibition at the Field Museum of Natural History, he turned his attention to glass blowing. Staffel went to Mexico City to learn this craft, but was unable to secure an apprenticeship. While in Mexico, he became fascinated with the Aztec, Incan, and Mayan pottery, and apprenticed himself to a Mexican potter. He worked in stoneware through the early 1950s. In the mid 1950s, he turned his attention to porcelain, the medium for which he is best known. He began to create hundreds of small white translucent vessels that he called Light Gatherers. At first, the Light Gatherers were painted with bright colored stripes, and made in conventional shapes, such as vases, plates, and chalices. As they evolved, the forms became more abstract, and the colored stripes were eliminated.
Rudolf Staffel taught at the Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania from 1940, until his retirement in 1978. He died in Alfred, New York in 2002.
- Jeffri, Joan (ed.), The Craftsperson Speaks, Artists in Varied Media Discuss Their Crafts, New York, Greenwood Press, 1992.