Wednesday, October 3, 2018

MASTER WOODWORKER SAM MALOOF: FURNITURE WITH A SOUL




Here's how this week's arts and culture column begins:

Sam Maloof, Southern California master woodworker, is known as a pioneer of the post-WWII Studio Craft movement.

Born in 1916 to Lebanese immigrants, Maloof was the seventh of nine children. The family was raised in Chino.

With neither college degree nor formal training, he was known for creating a 2-D design on paper and a 3-D design in his brain.

His wife of 50 years, Alfreda, was not only his business manager but the heart and soul of his vocation. “Her faith and love sustained me,” he said. She died in the fall of 1998.

His woodworking vocation was launched when, still single, he rented a bungalow and thought to replace the cheap furniture with pieces of his own that he fashioned from castoff plywood and red oak floorboards salvaged from railroad cars.

He and Alfreda Ward, a teacher and artist, married in 1948. He landed a job with designer Millard Sheets, head of the art department at Scripps College, but the pay was low and the couple started out with next to no money. Five years later they bought several acres, dotted with semi-derelict buildings, in the Alta Loma district of Rancho Cucamonga.

His first work area comprised an old shed and a chicken coop. Unable to afford even a router or band saw, he crafted his early works from the 1950s — a table with “tree branch” legs and a cork top, for example — almost exclusively with a lathe.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE. 

A VERY EARLY MALOOF CHAIR
HIS WIFE, FREDA, EXPERTLY WRAPPED IT WITH CLOTHESLINE. 

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