2012 AAW Symposium archive

Monday 3 September 2012

This year the AAW Symposium took place in June in San Jose. Mark Baker attended the event and reports here along with a number of other turners who share their thoughts and experiences


The AAW is one of the highlights of the turner's yearly calendar.

It is without doubt the largest event of its kind in the world and continues to provide an event that will suit all skill levels with a world class teaching/demonstration programme, combined with the trade show for those looking to purchase new tools, and a visual feast as far as special exhibitions - there were three this year - and the Instant Gallery.

There is literally something for everyone. I must admit that I love to go, when I get the opportunity, and when I do, I always find something to see and learn. And of course, you mustn't forget the fact that you can meet and catch up with people whose work you may only see via publications and on websites, all

of which opens up new possibilities and thoughts for new work, etc. It is so difficult to convey in words how I feel about this event and the following pages only give a taster of what happened this year, but if you get a chance to go, I promise you will not be disappointed. Next year, the event will be held in Tampa, Florida.

Thoughts on the Symposium

Art Liestman

One of the highlights for me was Frank Cummings' rotation entitled 'why do we feel the need to create?' In this demonstration he explained the cycle of creativity which goes from experiences to feelings, ideas, materials, objects, judgement, response, and back to feelings. His presentation was made richer with the examples from his own life story.

Ed Pretty

There were three things that grabbed me at the Symposium this year. First, there was an overwhelming feeling of welcome and 'glad to see you' from members that I knew, knew of or didn't know until I shook their hands. Second, the Instant Gallery and the special exhibitions set the tone for me. The ambiance of the exhibition room especially allowed me to enjoy the pieces that were displayed there. Lastly, I was very pleasantly surprised when I attended the discussion groups. I attended the first out of curiosity, but found that I was enlightened and given tremendous food for thought that I hadn't expected.

Ambrose O'Halloran

The most unique feature of the AAW Symposium is the number and variety of panel discussions it offers on the programme. These discussion panels which are usually of very high calibre on specialised interest topics is one of the main reasons I attend the AAW Symposium. By having such a large delegate number it means you can find a small but viable audience for niche interest subjects. It is vital to have ongoing debates on the craft and these panel discussions offer what can be best summed up by David Ellsworth as an opportunity to "constantly relearn what we already know."

Chris West

Hal Metlitzky's beautiful segmented bowl entitled 'Double Helix' was the highlight of the Symposium for me. Placed in the Instant Gallery for all to see, the piece has a stepped pattern inspired by Native American arts. It is 485mm (19in) in diameter and 255mm (10in) tall and is made up of 6,500 pieces of wood and as you imagine, it took months to design, construct and turn. A stunning piece of work.

Ian Woodford

Art Liestman continues the creative exploration of his pyrographed jigsaw series by turning wall plaques. Made from bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), they are approximately square and have an offcentre raised area where some of the jigsaw pieces are missing. This draws the eye and truly reflects his artistry and imagination.

David and Alison Buskell

The varied programme of rotations appeared to have an emphasis on colouring, texturing, carving, inspirational sources and of course turning. Alain Mailland's work is multi-centred, multi-axis pieces of wood art and he shared with us all his techniques that enable him to produce his work. The combinations of using sculpture, colouring, texturing and turning were the main theme of Doug Fisher's presentation. Marbling was a new experience for both my wife and I. The effect is simply marbling on wood but the results were amazing. The techniques used by Carole Floate gave us food for thought as to how we could incorporate it on selected pieces of our own design. The symposium provides a showcase for what is going on internationally in woodturning and opened our eyes to a myriad of ideas, techniques and opportunities.

Woodworkers Institute

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Symposium Rotations

The symposium featured 85 plus demonstrators
45 rotations - items to make
68 rotations - techniques, tools and materials
35 rotations - energising your creativity
27 rotations - with a professional and collector focus
29 rotations - emphasising the basics

A Selection Of Demonstrators

Alain Mailland
Art Liestman
Benoit Averly
Bill Luce
Binh Pho
Carole Floate
Curt Theobald
Dale Larson
Deborah Kermode
Dixie Biggs
Don Derry
Douglas Fisher
Eli Avisera
Elizabeth Lundberg
Graeme Priddle
J. Paul Fennell
Jacques Vesery
Jason Breach
Jean-Francois Escoulen
Jerry Bennett
Joey Richardson
Kurt Hertzog
Meryll Saylan
Mike Jakofsky
Mike Mahoney
Terry Martin
Tib Shaw
Stuart Mortimer

Exhibits & Galleries

Instant Gallery: An eclectic collection of items brought by attendees. It is the largest display of woodturned objects shown under one roof, an amazing showcase of interesting and varied work.
Beyond Containment: The theme of the Professional Outreach Program exhibit this year, with the challenge was to think beyond the expected, to step outside the physical and metaphorical restraints of turning. Beyond Containment is the sixth in an exhibition series created by the POP. As in past years, the pieces were auctioned on the Sunday, and proceeds went towards helping to support POP initiatives, including the Instant Gallery awards and panel presentations. View the online catalogue via the AAW website.
Walk in the Woods: The juried member show this year featured works by more than 30 AAW members.
It reflected a wide range of styles and approaches and offered a glimpse into the creative workings of the woodturning mind. The theme this year was chosen in honour of the many trees and forests of California, but artists were free to interpret the title for themselves. The exhibition offered a walk through a forest of different species, concepts, and techniques.
Richard Raffan Retrospective: The POP Merit award is given to an artist whose body of work has contributed significantly to the growth of woodturning as an art form. The 2012 recipient was the highly esteemed Richard Raffan, one of the best known, most respected, and influential turners in the world. This award is both a timely recognition of his own contribution to the field and an acknowledgement that a person who has devoted their life to turning as a craft can make as significant a contribution as those more celebrated for their artistic contributions.

Contact Details

Contact: The American Association of Woodturners (AAW)
The 2013 event will be held in Tampa, Florida. Tampa dates are 28-30 June, 2013, with special exhibitions opening on Thursday evening