Another Florida Woodturning Symposium Completed

Two weekends ago we were in the midst of the 14th Florida Woodturning Symposium. It is definitely interesting participating from the inside. We’re know as “Red Shirts” at the Symposium, since we tell the attendees to just look for someone with a red shirt if you need some information or help. It make us easy targets.


This was my second year as Registrar. Last year was a steep learning curve, but I ended up learning a lot and was able to send our developer some recommendations for improvements that eliminated many of the mistakes that kept cropping up last year. However, I have learned that there is no end to the creativity that a woodturner can muster to create some new and unique registration problem. This year though, my biggest problem was finding name badge holders after two companies I’d ordered from failed to make their deliveries. Some last minute scrambling caused me to get to the Symposium five hours late, proudly clutching five boxes of holders, but I was clearly behind with the people registering early. Thankfully two attendees volunteered to help stuff the attendee packets while I completed the last minute registrations.

It was a little smaller Symposium this year, I think mainly due to the proximity to Christmas. The Baptist Conference Center at Lake Yale, where we hold the Symposium only had the first week of January and another week in April available to us. Last year we were a bit overwhelmed taking all the hotel rooms we could, filling to overflowing all the demonstration rooms and challenging the food service meal counts. This year things were less crowded and I think people did enjoy things more.

One thing that ws good about the crowd last year was that we raised a lot of money, which we decided to give back to the attendees and vendors this year. We decided to hold a “shopping spree”. n Friday evening we gave everyone that attended the activities and door prize ticket and at the end of the night drew five names. Each of the winners received to $500 at our vendors. Some people got really excited about that.

One other event that happens of Friday night is the Instant Gallery critique. I brought some interesting pieces this year and once again I had the national turners select my pieces to review. My Monopus made them wonder how I had created it, which made me feel good. Trent also liked my elm hollowform – Jug, because of the very nice shape it ended up after warping. I even managed to sell that one during the Symposium.



We finished the evening with the Florida Chapter President’s meeting. Linda Ferber from the AAW Headquarters gave us a good review of what was happening at the main offices.

We also had a great group of demonstrators and workshop leaders again this year. Florida demonstrators included:

National turners were:

Workshops were led by:

  • Don Geiger doing his foundational, “How to Sharpen Your Woodturning Tools”
  • Dixie Biggs teaching our only full day workshop which is needed to get through her Relief Carving basics.
  • Walt Wager, who was new to us this year and did two types of specialty boxes
  • Rudy Lopez, perennial favorite with his challenging workshops.

Saturday is our busiest day and we always start with a number of walk-ins needing a quick registration, but then the pace slows down. Even so, almost none of the Committee Members, ie. Red Shirts, got to see any of the demonstrations. There were always things t do with the video and turning equipment, helping out the vendor and getting ready for Saturday’s big event – the Auction and Raffle. Turning Arts Group member, Bob Hunt working with some other committee members gets everything set up for the auction and goes over the process with the audience and then our Auctioneer, Bob Winters takes over. Bob really gets things hopping and we had some pretty excited bidding. The Raffle is always a popular event because we give away scholarships and grants for the John C. Campbell Folk School, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and we added Jimmy Clewes’ new school in Las Vegas to the mix this year. We also give away four “Day in the Shop” awards, where the winner gets to spend a day with a talented Florida turner, getting some one on one instruction.

Craig Buchanan

Shameless Plug – If you’re interested in learning the basics of woodturning, I’m teaching both a week long class called Turning Fun for Beginners and a weekend class called Learn Woodturning on the Mini-lathe . Come and join us. I’ll guarantee you’ll learn something and have a lot of fun doing it.

After the scholarships and grants we added something new. Pete Richardson from Viable Lumber sponsored a prize for the pieces voted the best from the Instant Gallery. The hands down winner was Richard Morris with his beautiful pierced hat.



Then we moved on with the rest of the raffle. This year our big prize was a Trend Airshield. It makes for a full night.

One other thing that happened on Saturday was the first Women in Turning meeting in Florida. In fact, it was only the second meeting held. Women in Turning is a virtual chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, That had it’s start at the 2014 AAW Symposium in Phoenix, AZ when Betty Scarpino organized a meeting of women to see if there was interest in forming a group focused on the support of women woodturners. We love to see the women setting their own direction.


By Sunday we know it’s downhill. The last series of demonstrations, trying to find that last bargain with our vendors and packing up your Instant Gallery entries.

This thankfully was my last year as Registrar. However, at our February meeting I am taking over as Committee Chairman, so the 2016 Symposium will be my responsibility. I’m pretty excited.

James Lee, our newest committee member is taking over as Registrar. He’s also pretty tech savvy, so while the Symposium was going on he created a Facebook page for us.

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