January 9, 2012

Rock on

The rocking chair's enduring appeal makes it a best-seller still today, Maine craftsmen say.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Thos. Moser’s Pasadena rocker has a fluid, sculptural appeal.

Courtesy Thomas Moser

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This chair by S. Timberlake has a Shaker shawl bar for hanging a shawl or a throw.

Courtesy Ross Timberlake

Additional Photos Below

He's tried to modify some of those rockers over the years, often at his own peril.

"I tried to raise the seat by 2 inches once, and I almost killed myself. When they made it they knew what they were doing," said Timberlake. "The (Shaker-style) rockers were designed to be more sitting chairs. You could rock if you wanted to, but you weren't going to go full tilt as soon as you sat down."

Timberlake's Shaker reproduction rockers range in price from about $315 to $655, in a variety of woods and finishes. Some have padded backs, some have traditional "shawl bars" on the back, for hanging a shawl or sweater or blanket. But just about all of them have the traditional high-back design.

Timberlake says the height of the chair's seat has a lot to do with the chair's center of gravity and how well it rocks. So he would not, for instance, raise the seat of a chair for a tall person, because that would throw off the chair's center of gravity.

Instead, his "extra large" rocker for tall people has a deeper seat, just about an inch deeper from front to back. That allows a taller person to sit more comfortably, but doesn't affect the rocker's ability to rock, Timberlake said.

"There is something very relaxing about the rocking chair, and it's good for people who fidget," said Timberlake. "I hate to admit this, but I have recliner. I never sit in it because it doesn't move. I need a chair I can move in."

To see Timberlake's rockers, go to his website at Stimberlake.com.

HISTORY AND AESTHETICS

Thos. Moser furniture is sold all over the world, and the company's designs have received critical acclaim. One of the company's signature chairs is the New Gloucester rocker, which Moser designed some 35 years ago for a group of international investors who met once a year in New York City to talk about their investments.

"They were very wealthy men, and I thought, 'What I could I make for men who have everything?' So I thought about rockers," said Thomas Moser, the company's founder.

Moser said the inspiration for the rocker came from history, with pieces of the chair being inspired by Windsor and Shaker chairs.

In studying the history of rockers, Moser said he found that one of the earliest American rockers seems to be the Salem Rocker, in the 18th century, which also had a Windsor-inspired design. Then came the Boston Rocker, with a few more curves to it. Rockers are traditionally low to the ground, Moser said, because you have to be able to plant your feet on the ground to get out of them.

Over the years, he's experimented with different curves of the rocking piece, trying to get just the right motion. The only good way he's found to do that is to make a chair and then try it.

"It's always trial and error, that's the only way I can do it," Moser said.

Moser's New Gloucester rocker sells for about $1,825, while his more fluid-looking Pasadena sells for about $3,200 and his Eastern-inspired Edo sells for $2,825.

To see more of Moser's rockers and other furniture, see the company website at thosmoser.com.

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Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Thos. Moser’s Edo rocker is a contemporary take on the classic wooden rocker.

Courtesy Thomas Moser

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Peter Turner’s Arrow rocker is made of oak or ash, with a Danish paper cord seat.

Dennis Griggs photo

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A close-up of Peter Turner’s Arrow chair shows the flared armrest.

Dennis Griggs photo

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S. Timberlake’s Enfield rocker is based on a Shaker design.

Courtesy Ross Timberlake

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Moser’s New Gloucester rocker is his nod to Shaker design.

Courtesy Thomas Moser

 


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