Bob Stocksdale grew up on a farm in Huntington, Indiana. His family had no electricity and Stocksdale used a lathe powered by an old washing machine engine to make simple baseball bats, table legs, and croquet sets. He moved to Berkeley in 1946 and produced more than two hundred turned bowls every year from his basement studio. Stocksdale was known for the variety and rarity of materials in his work. He enjoyed hunting for unusual types of wood at auctions and ship-repair yards, and often received unique samples from collectors of rare wood around the world.