Archie Stapleton received his primary influences as a potter while growing up in the small mountain town of Sagada,in the Philippines. This is where Archie’s reverence for Chinese pottery began, particularly that of the Song Dynasty. His only formal training in pottery was a one-year high school ceramics class taught by Merissa Tobler. All knowledge of throwing, glazing, and firing, since has been acquired from a self-directed course of study involving books, conversations with other potters, and for the most part, experimentation. Archie tries to use locally found ingredients as often as possible and is presently using clay from his own back yard. Many of his glaze materials come from the Eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina region.
He is fascinated by the firing process, which is, in essence, human manipulation of the geologic processes that turn dirt and clay into stone. What takes nature millions of years can be achieved in a day of firing. However, he finds glazing infinitely perplexing and exciting. Archie’s main goal in all of this experimentation is to rediscover some of the glazes used by the ancient Chinese masters that have been lost over the years. However, in the process of trying to recreate ancient Chun, Ru, Kuan, and Celadon glazes, he has discovered a whole palette of his own glazes.
Archie’s primary motivation is to create work that is beautiful and harmonious, rather than provocative and cutting edge. His forms, all wheel-thrown, are classical, simple, and delicate. Archie simply wants to make beautiful ceramic pieces to be either used or just admired. He has participated in group and one-man shows in galleries in Tennessee, Georgia, the Philippines, and New Jersey. From 2001-2003, he returned to the Philippines with his family where, with a grant from the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust and the donation of a building and land from then-mayor, Tom Killip, he organized a pottery cooperative for the people in his home town of Sagada. He outfitted a workshop and trained local men and women in all the various stages of pottery making: locating and processing clay from the surrounding mountains, throwing forms on a wheel, locating glaze ingredients in nature, mixing and applying glazes, as well as building and firing kilns. Archie Stapleton lives in Sewanee with his wife and three children and now works full time as a potter in his basement workshop at his house in downtown Sewanee.