The Art and Craft of Sam Maloof
Throughout his sixty years as a woodworker, Sam Maloof remained remarkably consistent. Never formally trained, Maloof’s designs emerged from an organic process of instinct and craftsmanship; he hand-sketched and hand-worked each of his designs, adjusting elements by eye, not measurements, to make each piece unique. Further, his works feature rich, tactile surfaces, achieved by applying a mixture of linseed oil, tung oil, and beeswax to the wood, which was then polished with steel wool to create a high sheen, his signature finish. This labor-intensive method imbued his furniture with warmth and character. Despite a long wait-list for his pieces, Maloof’s output remained small averaging only eighty pieces a year and only rushing orders for baby cradles.
Maloof’s most famous form is without question his rocking chair.
Maloof’s most famous form is without question his rocking chair, the first of which he created in 1958. He reinvented this American classic by identifying the inherent problem of the form and reworking it; most standard rockers have a grain of sawn wood that weakens the ray of the chair while Maloof’s rockers feature a sturdy construction composed of seven layers of laminated wood. Not only are his rocking chairs structurally sound, but with graceful, elongated runners, simplicity of form and a refined finish, they have a distinct sculptural quality and are a true melding of art and craft.