One last post on the Maloof Rocker. At one point in my woodworking, I wouldn’t have thought that I would be reproducing or copying someone else’s work. I thought that I could do cool stuff on my own. Well, it turned out to be one of the best things that I’ve done for my self. I picked a project that was outside my comfort zone, had help in the form of plans, a book, and a god-awful dvd that I had to finally start watching on mute, and tons of furniture books that show this great piece in the many permutations. It forced me to study which is something I haven’t done much of since school, and not really much there. It gave me, ultimately, so much more than just a few pictures and happy friends that paid me. It gave me the knowledge and intimate appreciation of the work and lines and details. These are lessons that I’ll be carrying over to my work and refining and interpreting.
If it works out, build something from plans, but don’t build it if it isn’t a challenge. If you are already building furniture, don’t pull out a plan for a wooden car from Wood Magazine. You can do that better. If you’re new to making things with wood, then by all means, grab a beginner plan. Just push your limits and don’t be afraid to fail. I took a huge risk on the rocker. I’ve been building for 10 years, but waaay not at that level. I talked a friend into paying for the plans and materials and committed to getting it done before the baby was born. After 120 hours of work over 3 months (damn day job), I delivered on the day mom and baby came home, and most importantly, I was proud of the result.
It added to my skill set, added to my confidence, and added to my knowledge set, and it would have taken a lifetime to learn those lessons had I tried to do it on my own.
What do you think, is this juxtaposition or harmony?
I can’t say that Sam first conceived of the finish. But, he is certainly its ambassador. He made his furniture humanistic by finishing by hand and rubbing. Rubbing. Rubbing. There is a toil in creating his look that can only come if you love the piece and the reasons for making it in the first place. If he had sent it out to a professional finisher, a specialist, there would have been a barrier created between him and his client. It would have been hard and protective. These chairs are vulnerable just like we are. They can be healed too, just like we can. These chairs need attention, just like we do, to maintain their luster and depth. They grow with us and become members of the family. The finish begs you to touch it. The chair requires you to sit in it, so it can comfort you. It wants your children to play on it. Sam brought these qualities in a wood chair to us.
The design of the arms is genius. They look as if they have been extruded from the upright. Then they have been taken and hammered flat against the anvil and welded to the front leg. They visually and physically hold this thing together and are a source of strength in the design and structure. Most importantly, I think, is they hold the chair together ergonomically. The flats give you the arm support at the height and angle that allows you to rest them there. How many chairs make you hold your arms on the rest, exert energy to use the arm rest? The fronts are rounded to the the scale of your hand and give you a handle to use to get up, (if you really need to). But look at where the flat curves back to where it joins the upright. The placement of that curve allows the nursing mother to pull her elbows back and let those bony parts hang just off of the edge while she is supporting her baby.
When I was building this, I thought that I would set the center of gravity a little forward to assist the client when nursing. At the fitting, this being her second child, she wanted to sit more in repose. As a sleep-deprived mother, she relished any chance to catch a wink, that includes feeding time. The only observation she had after using it for a year, was that she would have liked to have the head positioned a half inch forward. It’s the slightest of adjustments that are so important.
Here’s a project from a couple of years ago. Maloof Rocker in walnut. Derived from the Charles Brock plans. Super fun project. Lots of little problems to work though when you do it for the first time. Lots more little problems to work through when you repeat it. That’s why Sam kept making them. They stayed interesting and kept changing. How do you take that line that forms the inside bottom of the arm rest? How does it transition from the arm to the back leg? How do you use the grain to the greatest benefit? So much to have fun with.