Off-Site/Off-Season: Randy Bader

Posted on February 6, 2015 by Sawdust Art Festival

Randy Bader created his first set of chairs out of necessity; he needed something to sit on. When he moved out of his parents’ house in the ’70s, he had no furniture so he built what he called a sling chair, made of a sheet of plywood and one-by-fours.   One can follow the evolution of his chairs over 35 years, from the original sling chair to his one-of-a-kind rocking chair. When you purchase one of his rocking chairs, you are purchasing 35 years of experimentation, exploration and experience.

Educated at California State University, Fullerton, Randy received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in general crafts. He immersed himself in the arts, dabbling in many mediums, including woodworking and jewelry. He traveled the world for two years, studying the craftsmanship of other countries and professions. In 1980, Randy became an artist at the Sawdust Art Festival where he sold handmade wooden cutting boards. By creating these cutting boards, he had the freedom to develop his furniture and keep it pure. For nine years, he sold nothing but wood cutting boards at the Sawdust Art Festival until he decided to make a change. Halfway through the summer of 1989, he took down all his cutting board displays and replaced them with his furniture. And he has never looked back.

Randy draws his inspiration from the ether — from nature and industry. He is not interested in just creating furniture; he wants to make furniture that looks like art. He does not call himself a carpenter or a woodworker; rather he thinks of himself as a sculptor who creates furniture out of wood. For Randy, creating his work is not about making money. He says, “I make them because I like making furniture.”   At this point in his career, he only creates work that has been commissioned, each piece created with its recipient in mind. He says when a client takes away one of his pieces, “they’ve got part of [his] soul.”


Randy sanding a piece from his rocking chair. Made of black walnut.

The back slats of his black walnut rocking chair, created out of one piece of wood.

After finishing one round of sanding, Randy cleans the wood with water to raise the grain and get any excess wood shavings off the surface.














When his clients come to pick up their completed commissions, Randy signs the bottom of the piece with the date of pick up.


Randy uses basic woodworking techniques to create his pieces, laminating and bending with many layers of wood. Randy is known in Laguna Beach for his rocking chairs, tables and clocks. He creates each piece by hand, using molds to bend the wood to its desired position. The rockers on his rocking chairs are made of 15 layers of wood which are molded and compressed. He then sands each piece again and again. Each rocking chair contains about 70 pieces of wood. His small desk clocks are made of scrap wood from his larger pieces. Randy likes to use as much of the wood as possible so he keeps a stack of scrap wood and then spends a few weeks creating his small clocks, each one completely unique.

Salvador Dalí once said, “Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.” Randy creates each piece with this mentality. He says no piece is ever going to be perfect. He completes a piece when it has “reached the right amount of imperfection.”

Randy attributes much of his success to Laguna Beach and all the opportunities it provided him. He said, “Without Laguna, I’d probably be selling shoes.”

Custom-made rocking chair


photo 1

Custom-made table

Custom-made wall mirror.










One of Randy’s desk clocks made of scrap wood.

Custom-made standing clock.



See all of Randy’s exquisite work on his website or contact him directly at 949-494-8696 to commission a piece.