August 3-9, I taught another group of five hopeful craftsman the art of building a Maloof Inspired Rocker. It is so exciting to see their initial enthusiasm and to see them start to believe that this project that they have wanted to do for so long is coming alive through the diligence of their hands, work and effort. As each student sees first that they can sculpt the 7 spindles and cooper a seat into an inviting "smile" they blossom into becoming the chairmaker that registering for the class promised. Each will take their rocker to their home shop and finish sculpting, sanding and finishing. Of course I am always on call to help. Click here to see their slide show.
Wood working is about wood, tools, design, methods and sometimes making a living, but it is really about people and their dreams. The picture of five guys and five rockers at the end of their seventh day doesn't tell the whole story. Everyone brought something different to the class. One man traveled 3000 miles to build a rocker for their daughter who is having their first grandchild in October. He was a shop teacher and retired educator who just drank up the opportunity. A very bright financial planner of 30 was preparing a rocker for their first child in December. Can you imagine gaining these skills at such a young age. I hate to quote the late sports announcer Curt Gowdy who would laughably say, "Well his future is ahead of him!" An electrical engineer listened intently and worked flawlessly without an awful lot of experience. A contractor from South Carolina always wanted to build a rocker like that and worked at each task in the hope they would somehow come together. Another engineer was just into all things woodworking and absorbed every detail. When the seats, joinery, legs, arms, spindles, headrest and laminated skids came together on the last day I could see and hear their pride of accomplishment.
In the process they experienced a lot of woodworking. Some learned rudimentary best practices like how to mark out and how to use a jointer. All searched for and found out how to sculpt a line as a transition between two adjacent surfaces, fit joints in curved parts and find square reference points with which to work. I knew that they would no longer approach their woodworking the same.
I love to work with each student and to help them see their dream coming together. Long after my name disappears from the conversation each of them will be a hero to their family, friends and community because they built this great rocker.
Helping them achieve their dream is what mine is all about! It doesn't get much better than this!