The current edition (Oct/Nov 2015) of Canadian Woodworking and Home Improvement (CWHI) magazine includes my most recent woodworking article “Build a Charles Rohlfs Rocking Chair”.
Most people are familiar with Arts and Crafts era furniture makers such as Morris, Stickley and Greene. Their furniture has been widely reproduced . Charles Rohlfs has not received the same popular notoriety.
Rohlfs was born in Brooklyn on 1853. He was trained as a designer and draftsman and spent the early part of his career designing cast iron stoves and dabbling in theatre. After marrying, he and his wife, detective novelist Anna Katherine Green, established their home in Buffalo New York. Like many of us who begin woodworking, Rohlfs couldn’t afford to by quality furniture and began to design and build furniture for his home and then professionally.
His work contains many elements of arts and crafts furniture, but is set apart by its unique design, shapes, artistic ornamentation and carving details. Writers have described Rohlfs furniture as artistic, complex, eclectic and eccentric. His furniture is rare and Rohlfs works are highly valued at auction.
Rohlfs Oak Rocker, first built in 1898, is a mix of arts and crafts and Asian styles. Only one original rocker is known to exist. Until recently it has been in a private collection but is now on display at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (near Pasadena California.)
For that last few years I have worked to recreate many of Rohlfs iconic furniture pieces. I have corresponded with museum curators and travelled to several museums across the U.S. to study and photograph his work. I had an opportunity to see the original Rohlfs rocker last year while in California.
My recreation of Rohlfs’ Rocker was made from repurposed oak timbers rescued from a fire pile.
-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario