2014 Florida Woodturning Symposium

It was a spectacular Symposium this year. However, I never managed to get any pictures. I knew I would be pretty busy at the registration table, so didn’t even bother to take my camera. I’m hoping that we’ll have pictures available soon on the website.

As I indicated in my last post, I was pretty sure this would be a big Symposium, since we had to shut down registration early. My wife and I had spent the two days before the Symposium printing up all the materials and badges to go into the attendee packets and after going through four reams of paper and a high capacity printer cartridge, I was pretty sure we’d be filled to the brim.

Bob Hunt and I drove down to the Symposium on Thursday to set up. The Symposium is in it’s 13th year, so it was kind of like an oiled machine getting everything set up. Most of the vendors had also been there before, so they were quickly set up as well. There were just a few registering that night so that they could catch an early Workshop Friday morning, but we knew the rush would be Friday at noon. Starting around lunch it was a constant onslaught of the registration desk. Fortunately, we had done a pretty good job of preparing the packets and registration went pretty well without a blip.

Friday afternoon the demonstrations started. We had lots of good Florida based turners, but I was particularly happy that my friend Keith Larrett was doing a demo. However, just before lunch he came by and wondered if anyone had an index wheel. It turned out that the lathe he was using didn’t have any indexing capability which was really important for his suspended vessel demo. He and I discussed for a bit and I thought that he may be able to use the indexing on the chuck to help. We figured out a basic plan and Dave Barringer came over and helped him build a bracket to hold the screw that could tighten against the chuck index mark and he was off to the races. I heard from some other friends that had seen his demo that it was a real cliffhanger, since it wasn’t absolutely clear that the homemade indexing was going to work. In the end everything went fine. The piece was gorgeous. He donated it to the Auction and it ended up selling for the second highest price of the evening.

I also had a chance to meet our national turners, Ashley Harwood, Mike Mahoney, Bonnie Kline and Michael and Cynthia Gibson. I am always so relieved to see how nice the woodturning community is. These people are great and since they are also staying on the Lake Yale campus and eating in the cafeteria, everyone gets a chance to sit with them and get to know them on a more personal level. Phil McDonald, the Executive Director of the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) had also come for the Symposium. It was his first time here and we pretty quickly got him lined up to come to the Florida Chapter President’s meeting Friday evening. He spent a lot of time explaining the current state of the insurance plans available to the chapters, but also shared with us a lot of the issues and plans the AAW is dealing with. I really like Phil’s approach, ie. more of a sound businessman. He has an analytical decision making process and definitely wants forge stronger ties with the chapters.

A nice thing for me was that on Friday night, one of my pieces was selected to be one of the twelve to be critiqued. It was one of my Grapefruit hollowforms that I had covered in zentangles. Both Ashley and Cynthia had nice things too say, describing it as showing the moe artistic side of woodturning rather than the craft of woodturning.

Saturday was our big day with most of the one day commuters showing up first thing Saturday morning. We had left some openings for walk-in attendees who were only planning to come for a day, but we filled these up very quickly. In the end I had to turn away five people, since we were just so full. Again we were so busy with the backstage aspects of the Symposium and the rooms were so full, I didn’t get to see any of the demonstrations. People seemed happy at the breaks and looked like they were spending a lot of time with our vendors. Our local Woodcraft store came for the first time this year and our major tool supplier and we were glad they did.

Saturday evening is the big night with the Auction and Raffle. There were a lot of good items in the Auction and Bob Hunt had been able to ollect a good assortment of raffle items and I had again been supported by Arrowmont, John C. Campbell and Craft Supplies with scholarships and grants to attend classes at their schools. The AAW had also donated a free registration to the next AAW Symposium in Phoenix. Bob had been working hard to streamline the process. In the past the session just went on too long, but Bob had refined things and discussed our strategy with the auctioneer, Bob Winters and as soon as we started we saw that it was going to be a success. It was one of our most successful auctions and the raffle went quickly and the people that won trips to the schools were overjoyed. TAG member Gene O’Donnell won a scholarship to Craft Supply in Provo, Utah and was ready to hit the road.

There were only two more demos on Sunday, so after the raffle the committee relaxed, knowing that things were going to work out alright. The Sunday demos went off without a hitch and between the committee and all the volunteers, we had things cleaned and stowed away in good order. Bob and I were on our way home earlier than we had been in years.

One more successful Symposium under our belt.

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