I just returned from the American Association of Woodturners 25th Anniversary Symposium that was held in St. Paul, MN. Whenever I go to a symposium, I have new ideas swirling in my head for weeks, new concepts to try, techniques to improve what I am doing now and a opening up of my mind of what art is possible through woodturning.
Since this year was the 25th anniversary, many of the best names in turners were there adding just that much more to the experience. For me, the key components of the Symposium are the demonstrations and the Instant Gallery. Over the three days of the Symposium there were 176 demonstrations showing things from the most basic to the extravagantly artistic.
I was a videographer this year, so for six of these sessions I was up close and personal with the demonstrator trying to provide the best views possible to the audience. When I wasn’t doing video, I was absorbing as much information as possible. One thing that can be said about the wooturning community is that they are a sharing bunch. Even the most famous woodturners share their secrets on how they create their beautiful work.
The second component of the Symposium that provides a lot of artistic stimulation is the Instant Gallery. Each AAW member can bring three pieces to display and the work is amazing. Here are a few of my favorites, but to get a more complete feel for the Instant gallery, check out Jeff Schnell’s You Tube video.
Here’s my effort this year. It’s my Asian Cranes bowl.
Michael Hosaluk is one of the most “out of the box” artists I know.
Binh Pho is doing some incredible work and is now even having some of his pieces cast in glass.
Douglas Fisher does some extraordinary carved wall hangings.
Trent Bosch adds carving to his hollowforms making them really unique.
Derek Weidman and Keith Holt have both taken multi-axis turning to the next level. I was impressed by Derek’s African animal themes and Keith’s humanoid visages.
One other aspect of the Symposium that is really great is the contact with other turners. We had a dozen members from our woodturning club there, so we could debrief and discuss ideas every evening over dinner. It’s also great to reconnect with the well know demonstrators. We have had a lot of the featured turners to our local club to do demos and hands-on sessions and we have worked with quite a few at past Florida or AAW symposia.
I also had high praise for the Northeast Florida Woodturners who submitted 47 bowls for the AAW’s Empty Bowls charity project. By noon on the opening day of the Symposium, nearly two thirds of our bowls were already sold helping to raise money for Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization.