Santa Fe Rockers

Santa Fe Rockers

About The Artist

Robert B. Wing • Santa Fe, NM

I have been making these rocking chairs for sale for two years. I'm 76 and I'm certain the chairs I make will constitute a "limited" collection. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all must credit our mentors and teachers, especially if we can't sell what we make. My inspiration was Sam Maloof and my teachers were YouTube craftsmen. I'm a "hybrid" woodworker; using both hand & power tools. My chairs combine contrasting hardwoods and have a very forgiving oil & hard wax finish.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I use mostly North American hardwoods and usually combine contrasting woods in each chair. I start with custom made patterns for the major parts (legs, seat boards, arms & slats). There are 75 +/- separate pieces in each chair. The back slats and rockers at laminated pieces. The seat and the headrest are coopered. I use a bandsaw to rough out the shapes and curves and sculpt the shapes using hand tools & sanding equipment. The leg joints are "Maloof" joints. Most surfaces are sanded to 400 grit and all are finished with an oil & hard wax combination.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

By the nature of the wood and the process, each chair is unique; each chair is sculpted as my eyes and hands behold it coming together. Yes, there are patterns to start but important choices arise as the work progresses: the pattern of grains, textures, and colors; the curve of the legs, the shape of the headrest, the spacing and the shape of the back slats. Attaining mastery or precision in the work, and design choices is a constant challenge and a source of delight. Finally, watching the surprise at the level of comfort people experience is very rewarding.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

Yes, failures were unexpected but ultimately beneficial. When I began, I bought three different patterns from established chair makers and blended them. My first potential customer was an 87-year-old woman. She loved the chair but it was too hard to get out of. I reshaped all the patterns, lowering the arms, raising the back of the seat, and tightening the radius of the rockers and the back legs. It works. Of the hundreds of people who have tried the chairs at festivals, no one person has found it difficult to get or out of my chairs since.