21st AAW Symposium archive

Thursday 14 August 2008

Mark Baker visits 21st annual American Association of Woodturners symposium

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I have been a busy bee over the last few months and had the privilege of attending quite a few symposia. You saw in the last issue I was at Provo and what a blast that was. Well, it would have been remiss of me not to have taken up the opportunity to visit the largest symposium in the world - the 21st American Association of Woodturners (AAW) event, this year held in Portland, Oregon at the end of June.

The event ran over three days and probably covered the widest possible array of turning-related demonstrations, lectures and items displayed in the instant gallery of any similar event in the world. With over 140 rotations to choose from, not including the side events, and over 600 items in the gallery, and more than 40 trade stands to look at, it was a huge-scale event.

Three days is not enough to view everything there, but Angelo Iafrate (President of the AAW), Mary Lacer and the rest of the team who coordinate, and make things happen will probably disagree with me. As always the event was well organised and coordinated and I would like to say thank you once again for their gracious hospitality.

Turning into art

Kevin Wallace made an interesting keynote speech on "Woodturning and the Art World" which certainly caused a stir. I thought it was delightfully poignant given the growing pains felt by all people who are striving to get woodturning accepted by a wider audience. The whole speech can be viewed online on the website listed at the end of the article. I think this will echo many people�s thoughts and probably provoke others.

It is important to note that the AAW is committed to training, development, education and furthering turning in all its aspects to a wider audience. To this end, they use all of their muscle and clout to shout about what they are doing. This generates interest and maintains their profile in the public eye.

A large aspect of this symposium was the focus on young turners. The AAW provides free placement to turners under 16 and hands-on rotations were organised throughout the three day seminar. These proved to be very popular.

Two three-hour sessions were scheduled for Friday and six 90-minute project sessions were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. The $75 registration fee was waived for youth turners aged 10-17 when accompanied by a registered adult AAW member.

Turning Japanese

There was also another exhibition of works, as a side feature to the demonstrations and lectures, called 'Japanese Bowls - a Western Perspective'. A full description of this can be found on the AAW's website shown in the information panel. I recommend you having a look. I was inspired by the pieces on display and the diverse avenues people took with the pieces they created.

The auction, held at the end of the banquet always causes a stir and this year was no exception. They usually raise a large sum of money, which goes to the development fund, but this year they raised over $100,000 from the items donated - a staggering sum by anyone's reckoning.

For those of you that fancy looking at things from further away, I thoroughly recommend this event. I have always had fun, learned a lot and never been disappointed.


Woodworkers Institute

Tagged In:

AAW , American Association of Woodturners , symposium , North America

"The AAW is committed to training, development, education and furthering turning in all its aspects to a wider audience"

Further Information

For further information about the AAW organisation and its events see www.woodturner.org