The woodworking world lost one of the greats last month, when Sam Maloof passed away at age 93. Sam Maloof inspired many with his gentle, generous personality and his unique, beautifully organic style of furniture design. Although he insisted on calling himself a woodworker, his pieces were more than just carpentry — they were art.
Rockler Companies’ founder, Nordy Rockler, had known Sam Maloof for 45+ years. Nordy first visited Sam at Maloof’s California home in the 1960s. Sam was an enthusiastic collector of Navajo rugs and Native American pottery. Nordy remembers Sam’s home as being “like a series of galleries, one connected to the other” that showed off his collections. Nordy tells how, early in Sam’s career, Sam would trade his own work for Native American pieces to build his collection. According to Nordy, besides being a tremendous artist, Sam was “quite a guy,” who was “free with giving woodworking advice and sharing techniques” at shows in order to help other woodworkers.
In fact, Sam and his first wife Freda established The Maloof Foundation in 1994 to foster the arts and crafts movement, and to recognize the importance of crafts in a machine-made world. Working directly with Sam, Rockler Woodworking and Hardware developed a collection of finishes that bears Maloof’s name, and we continue to be the sole proprietors of that line. Rockler supplied these finshes to Sam, and he used them in his own work.
For more on Sam Maloof, see Rob Johnstone’s editorial tribute in this month’s Woodworker’s Journal eZine.