Sam Maloof | Rocker #60
Sam Maloof

born 1916
Resides in Alta Loma, California

Biography      Statement      Ask the Artist      In the Studio
Sam Maloof was honored in 1985 with a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant--one of many honors he's received in his distinguished career. One of his rocking chairs was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for their publication entitled Masterpieces from the Boston Museum.


Many of my friends call themselves artists...

I guess if you can't sit on a chair or can't eat off of a table or can't use a set of drawers, it's art. Today I have a lot of friends who hand you a card and it's artist in wood or everything but being a woodworker, and I don't consider myself an artist. I never have. I'm a furniture maker, I'm a woodworker, and I think woodworker's a very good word, and I like the word, it's an honest word, and that is what I am, a woodworker.

There is one thing that I remember very vividly as I look back over the years: my wife once said to me, "Sam, God has been very good to us." I hope somehow, in some way, that I have been able to give some of this blessing to others, perhaps in my writing, or in my lectures and workshops. I have tried to do this in the furniture that I have made for so many who have become my friends. So much of me goes into each piece that I make, how good it is, that in making each new piece, a renewal takes place. So it continues: a renewal in my commitment to my work and what I believe.

Too often we who make objects - and I speak of all media - become quite taken with what we have done. We accept all credit, all praise. We become smug and conceited. I believe no man has ever designed anything that approaches the complexity of the simplest flower or the grandeur of a great redwood tree. God is the Creator of all things, and the beauty He has given us is awesome.

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

They happen.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

I design and put all pieces together - have 3 co-workers.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

I give 2 workshops a year for the University of California -Riverside, and also teach at Anderson Ranch, Snowmass, Colorado.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

Viewing the end result.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?


What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

Common sense. For the true woodworker, not much.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

Discipline - integrity.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

There are no secrets. That it was going to be difficult.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

Nothing will take the place feeling - touching etc. - but the Internet will let those who cannot attend an exhibit become a part of what is happening.

In the Studio

Sam Maloof may be best known for his exquisitively crafted rocking chairs. Here's a glimpse of how he makes the "rocker."

From the video
Sam Maloof, Woodworking Profile
available from The Taunton Press

"This is my form that I make my rockers on. I've used this for about thirty years. See, and what I do, I use six pieces, this teeth with a piece of ebony in the middle, and this here like so. That gets glued, ... and then I go ahead and add my clamps."

Dona Look Dante Marioni